Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 70, Tuesday, December 19, 2006




Trade fair, nightmare


Snort. Grunt. Frrrt. The man beside me was persistently and vigorously blowing his nose. Pressing a wad of tissue papers to his nose, and with several vigorous circular motions, he managed to clear the blocked passage. An amused smile spread across his face (as if thrilled by the prospects), he took one final look at his achievement and tossed out the exhausted tissue. The bin was only a few feet away, but who cares? What are the cleaners hired for anyways?

Although this is the usual scenario in the Bangladeshi streets, every year the Trade Fair becomes the focal point of such assaults. As a result, it is no wonder that the ground resembles a garbage cemetery. Passers-by toss out empty coke cans, disposable plates (with streaming ketchup stains) and half-eaten burgers.

Dismiss me as a mere blab, but this man here has to make a living running to places like the Trade Fair, and come back (alive!) to tell his tale. So there I was, trying to fend off a bad sunburn, while trying to look all happy to be there. Nonetheless, here is my honest observation...

While many would no wonder love to write about the shopping and the stalls, there is another issue that could rival in importance- the unflattering public behaviour. Littering has been dealt with, and that is no news.

Next comes the people's tendency to touch things in the stalls. Even though there are signs hollering “Do Not Touch” to fend off those with such compulsive disorders, there is no way for them to keep their hands off. Be it a Chinese vase or a gaudy pair of shoes, nothing is left uncontaminated by those grimy fingers. Worse still, there are items that one may never think of buying. Even these have to be fiddled with. For instance, there was a man who clearly had no intention of buying the mp4 player he was asking the vendor to demonstrate. Yet, he just had to get his hands on the gadget, press all the buttons, try on multiple earphones, and what not. You would think that these people have no better way to kill time.

Talking of killing time, I was not that great at economising it either. Although it only took me around ten minutes to complete my trade fair tour, this is exclusive of the time spent scouring the food stalls. I teamed up with a colleague from Lifestyle, who (God bless her!) was more a food-aholic than a shopaholic. Given the intimidating price tags, our wallets stretched so far as to order two sticks of kebab and drinks. We- like many others- loitered around discussing the injustices of life and other so-called intellectual matters, almost an hour after we were done. Finally, we had to leave after what felt like the semi-psychotic glare from the shopkeepers.

Then, there is the buzz about the Mother and Child Pavilion. The idea is interesting. However, the objective of the pavilion is not being respected. A glimpse at that corner, and there was a pool of men resting in the shades but no women or children in sight.

All in all, the trade fair shows a good effort. But what needs to be looked into is the attitude of the public. Despite the title, I would not exactly call the Fair a nightmare. It was rather entertaining actually. And it was better still to come back to talk about it…

By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky
Photo: Amirul Rajiv



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