<%-- Page Title--%> Musings <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 108 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

June 6, 2003

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Krishnachura tree in bloom

S. Islam

Every time I see a krishnachura tree in bloom, I am awestruck. There were three krishnachura trees next door to our house when I was growing up. I spent many a days staring at them lost in thought, all year round. They were beautiful when they were green but in bloom they became ethereal. So red. So bright. So happy, it seemed. Now in space of one house and a dozen trees there are multiple monstrosities called apartment buildings and no krishnachura trees. Pity. Because in my opinion there isn't another more beautiful sight to behold in an otherwise quite ugly Dhaka city. Hold it! I love my city -- I'd die for my city -- there is no other city like Dhaka -- but it is ugly.
Think of all the open garbage dumps around us, even in Gulshan, which is supposed to be the place of the rich and famous. Well, I'm neither rich nor am I famous but I have an office in a Gulshan high-rise with a spectacular view. From my window I can see a part of the Dhaka City skyline, part of the Gulshan lake, beautiful houses, if I lean down daringly, I can also see the lowlands in Badda and the very unique American Embassy. Whenever I stand at the window the wonderful view greets me, that is, if I refrain from looking down. Because if I do, I can see this road in Gulshan residential area with a huge garbage dumpster with garbage scattered all around it. The view of the dumpster slaughters the rest of the breathtaking beauty completely. Why is a road in Gulshan so dirty? Doesn't it bother the people living in those pretty houses?
Then there are the posters. Political posters, commercial posters, each one pledging something, be it Sonar Bangla or cure-all medicines. Whether they can deliver on their promises or not, what they can do successfully is to make our city look like the aftermath of a madman's rampage in a circus tent. An American friend of mine once commented that Dhaka looks like it's been under attack and then we reconstructed the whole, city over the ruins without cleaning the debris first. I was mad at her for stating the fact. It's okay for me to say bad things about Dhaka it's our city, not hers!
Shall I now mention the noise pollution? Or, should I go for the horrendous public transportations and people hanging from there retching? Every time my car is beside a bus in a traffic jam I try to use my willpower so that no one throws up on my car. If it ever happens I will be traumatised for the rest of my life. Another American friend (beginning to think I have too many of them!), when she saw the beauteous convertible Mercedes in the showroom couldn't stop laughing because she said she could visualise the aforementioned unfortunate incident happening to the owner of that car very clearly. This time I couldn't help but laugh with her. Hey, it's funny and it's very likely! The only thing I'm going to say about noise pollution is that it is enough that we honk away from here to eternity. Why do some people have music coming out of their cars when they stop (and I'm not talking about the kind coming out of their stereo)?? People, what's wrong with us?
I could rant and rave for another half an hour or so about the unpleasantness of Dhaka city but I won't. Because there are still some beauties left in our city as well. I hope we don't manage to spoil them before long. There are parts of Dhaka University campus; parts of Dhanmondi that all those commercial buildings couldn't ruin. There is Hayer Road and there are Sangsad Bhaban and Crescent Lake areas. And then there are krishnachura trees in bloom.
In the summer when one could almost see the heat coming in waves, up from the ground, down from the sky, feeling it sterilising the city sitting in cars and buses, rickshaws and taxis, people try their best not to notice it at all. Pretending the heat doesn't exist; the raw smell of decay doesn't exist. We all know rain will make it worse for us; floating garbage all around, flooding under-construction roads and overflowing potholes and uncovered manholes. But sometimes, somehow it's possible to ignore it all because amidst all the chaos stands a krishnachura tree in bloom. Every time I see one I wish that I had a tree of my own. So much so that, my sister has threatened to push me out of the car if I say that one more time! So I won't say it aloud anymore but I will be waiting eagerly for the Satmasjid Road trees to bloom all at once and I'll be forever grateful for having krishnachura trees in my city.


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