Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 31, Tuesday March 14, 2006




Ode to the city

Long before the sun sets completely, the lights of the city come on and like strings of golden beads they light up our streets and shine in through the windows in to our homes. The neons flash and the billboards gleam and we have a city that's grown fast and wide and can now be truly defined as a metropolis.

And when the night ends to allow sunlight to filter in through the smog, the mirrored high-rises reflect the grey gold light and throw it right back at our upturned faces. How can we not fall in love with this intoxicating city?

Sure, we have to deal with the traffic growing perhaps a little too fast for the city to keep up with and the poverty homeless men and women and their children sleeping like logs that pedestrians trip over or manoeuvre around and also the corruption and the corresponding apathy that is often a big city's nature. But we also have fast food joints, and cafes and shining hotels and advertising. We have designer stores and flower shops, book stores and VCD rentals. Air conditioned banks that invite us in to share a piece of our wealth with them, and we have coca cola. Also let's not forget all the fountains and the shiny steel works all over the city.

This is a new city, a child almost. Up until the early '90's, I could take my bike out and ride it at top speed from Gulshan-1 to the circle at Gulshan-2 without needing to stop for cars or scooters; well maybe I stopped for cows, sometimes. Now, 15 years later, I often take advantage of the gridlock on that same road, and get down from my car and take a little walk while my vehicle snails through the throng of shoppers and office goers.

I'm adapting to my city, which is growing as an adolescent does, in fits and spurts, outgrowing all her clothes and shoes, and demanding new ones be bought immediately. Isn't this what we say we've wanted? A true metropolis? Well now we have it. Let's see what we can do with it.

We could figure out a practical way to ease the congestion of our city's streets. We could work on traffic ethics and learn some etiquette ourselves so we can train our chauffeurs not to honk the horn so insistently and not to try to overtake every car on the road, since we're rarely ever in need of such a hurry. We could plan more roads and build better-planned flyovers.

We could also practise a little empathy when leaping over a living bump on the pavement or when confronted by an outstretched hand at the car window. We could put our heads together and come up with a realistic plan, if not to eradicate, then at least, to lessen the horrible poverty that often comes with the new and unplanned growth of a city.

I don't know. I'm not the right person to be doling out methods of improving the city. All I know is that it is a beautiful city, my Dhaka, and I'm glad that I have the opportunity to watch its' metamorphosis: no longer a sleepy provincial town and not yet a mega metropolis, it is a city with character the jostling crowds of Motijheel and the bustling streets of uptown; the toothless beggars and the shiny hummers and Lexus jeeps; the constant rush…

You may not like it all the time, but how can you possibly resist the magic, the spellbinding charm of this wonderful paradoxical city?

By Kawshiki Nasser

Reader's chit

Oppress the work stress

There are times when one feels like just relinquishing one's job, storming out of the office and taking a vacation for infinity, as boredom kills all the zest and creativity at work. Since the nature of work has gone through drastic changes over the last century and is still changing, stress has become an integral part of one's profession. Job stress is defined as chronic diseases caused by conditions in the workplace that negatively affect an individual's performance and overall well being of his body and mind. It is indeed a matter of great concern as work related stress poses a great threat to the physical and psychological health of an employer and eventually affects the productivity of the organization concerned.

Stress from work may result from numerous complex sets of reasons. In this competitive world, organizations are at a constant state of metamorphosis, under intense economic transformations and consequent pressures. Aspects like reorganizations, takeovers, mergers and downsizing have become major stressors in the form of job insecurity for employees. High demand for performance also leads to stress at the workforce. Unrealistic expectations, increased workload, extremely long hours of work, intense pressure to perform at peak levels for the same pay, often lead employees to drain themselves physically as well as psychologically. The constant development and application of technology have heightened the expectation for productivity as well as the pressure on the individual worker. The constant operation, management and improvisation require a great deal of attention of the employees, which often put them under great mental stress. Adjusting to the workplace culture can also be stressful, as it requires adaptation to numerous regulations and implications of the office concerned, which can be major strain inducers.

When under duress, one may have trouble making clear-cut decisions and reevaluating and reassessing priorities, thereby becoming a “burnout”. Some of the typical syndromes of burnouts are insomnia, loss of mental concentration, anxiety, absenteeism, depression, substance abuse, frustration and physical illnesses like heart disease, migraine, headaches, stomach and back problems.

It is very important to control job stress in order to achieve a better, more creative, cooperative and productive work environment so both the employer and employee can be benefited. It is suggested that one remains organized, by maintaining daily plans and programs, which will ensure that one is not overwhelmed by work. Also one needs to be aware of the fact that there are limits beyond which a person's performance is unsatisfactory and that is a natural factor. Trying to fit 12 hours of work in a 9-hour day leads to intense strain, if the practice is constant. This attempt leaves one frustrated with the feeling of failure. As a result it is never wise to go beyond ones' work capabilities. This overwork is also a result of the perfectionist attitude, which also motivates stress. No body is perfect but one should do her/his best and this energetic attitude would lead to a productive work approach. Positivistic stance is essential for the success in work as negative thinking drains one's energy and motivation. Also there are some steps that employers can take to ensure motivation amongst employees. It is suggested that employers praise positive work, treat every employee with equal value, communicate and response constantly.

Psychological assistance may help employees to identify the causes of stress and approach the problem more effectively. Besides, regular counseling provides direction, perspective, support and ideas to the employees, which lead to better, more creative and co-operative work environment.

By Obaidur Rahman


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