Striking A Chord
Illustration: Sadatuddin Ahmed Emil
Drive all the way to the airport and take the first flight out!” was one of the replies on Facebook, a social networking website, to the question -- what are the fun things that one can do in Dhaka city. In fact, only a couple of responses out of the 16 or so were positive and certainly out of the box “eating the roadside food with friends,” “going to the stadium and observing how business takes place amongst the small scale businesspeople,” “visiting the Buriganga river,” “promoting products to prospective consumers at traffic jams as a new advertising strategy,” and so forth. The rest of the replies were depressing. While one cribbed about how it was impossible to plan anything in Dhaka since the traffic jam took away most of your time, others wrote about how the lack of security on the streets prevented young people, or anyone for that matter, to move freely or do anything constructive for that matter.
One might feel that some of the responses that the young people gave were slightly far-fetched, nevertheless adventurous (climbing over the PM's office wall and greeting the security officers Eid Mubarak and asking for Eid money), it is clear that many youngsters living in Dhaka city are absolutely clueless when it comes to doing something different on weekends, other than watching movies together on their DVD players, playing video games, going to occasional concerts or eating out at restaurants or lounges. Whatever happened to the idea of doing something constructive or challenging the young thoughts to do better? Clearly, the security reasons and the everyday traffic problems do tend to block out many of the ideas that young people come up with. However, what about transferring all the young energy and thoughts to doing something collectively and not just for individual satisfaction?
Weeks ago, a news report on the daily Prothom Alo excited the readers very much. Indeed, the article reported something refreshingly different and undoubtedly encouraging for the younger generation. A school for girls was training up a girls football team, who had even beat the women's national team in Dhaka last year at the Citycell Women's Football Tournament. This team of young girls belong to an area in Thakurgaon, far away from the city of opportunities, Dhaka city. As we read this article, the team of girls are still being trained up in some field in their village. This had been possible because of the strong determination of their coach and also the changing attitude of the people living in that village. However, one might also say that the collective effort shown by the young schoolgirls in the football team might have actually done the trick.
There are similar stories of young people getting united to make a difference. Remember the school children who had come together to protest the marriage that was about to take place between their young classmate and an older businessperson? As soon as this story hit the newspaper, a few more groups of young people living in different parts of the country followed suit and stopped underage and illegal marriages taking place in their respective villages as well.
Going back to the topic in mind, one can probably do plenty in Dhaka, if one decides to bring along a few more friends into the team build a library or a community reading room especially for the younger people and also the senior citizens living in the community, start a literacy club for adults who can't read or write, teach the young children on the streets about hard work, nutrition, hygiene and reading and writing as well, or maybe start a group which would encourage the young girls to come out and play cricket or football in the field every evening, rather than letting the young men take it over all the time. Sounds far-fetched, does it? Well, it is always better than taking the next flight out of the country!