<%-- Page Title--%> Chintito <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 115 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

July 25, 2003

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Misunderstood Miss


Got up on a CNG the other day; you know those new, green, speed menaces that are driven both by the chalok and the gas. It says so on their body. Chalok chalito. CNG chalito.

Luckily I got one as soon as I began looking for one. Luckier still, I got one of those talkative drivers, looking rather tidy in his blue uniform. I enjoy a good conversation. It makes the journey shorter.

As he stopped at a red light on the east end of Dhanmandi's Road # 27, also known as Road # 16, also as Sheikh Kamal Sarak, he half-turned and said out of the blue: 'What has happened to this sarkar, God knows'.

Before I could decide whether and how to react, not knowing his political inclination and intent, and discover the appropriate expression to tally with his enthusiasm for pal talk, he continued: 'What have they got these mohila traffic police for I don't know. They cannot control this traffic. They stand on the island all day. And go home in the evening. It is not hego kaam to manage this traffic'

I think I read something like they were being introduced, among other reasons, for helping women and children cross the busy roads. I told him so in a few words, as we waited for the lights to change.

'As if without them our women and children were not crossing the road?' he countered, and responded to the green lights in front of him.

'It will perhaps open more jobs for women. You know half our population are women,' I said while trying desperately not to agree with him that the ladies in uniform were going to be ineffective.

Amid the noise of the traffic, occasionally jerking his head left sideways to acknowledge my presence and at the same time keeping his eyes on the road, the driver was not convinced. 'There are so many other jobs fit for women and in which they are good; office work, for example. They could open more jobs in the offices for them,' he said.

'Teaching! What about teaching? They are excellent teachers. These policewomen must be educated. There is no good teacher in my village school. I am sure they would prefer teaching to standing in the sun like a statue all day, doing nothing.

'They are also good at taking care of patients. They could work in hospitals. Listen, shaheb! If government officers are sincere, they can think of a hundred suitable jobs for educated women, instead of making an unnecessary spectacle. How does it look?' saying which he swerved his vehicle sharply to the right to stay on course to my destination.

He seemed disturbed. I craned my neck to see if I could catch a glimpse of the cause of this man's annoyance. I tried to think of something that would make him believe that appointing women to the post was justified.

So I said: 'A friend told me that since purush traffic police will not stop taking bribe on the road, this was a government measure to deploy women at critical junctions in the city to keep an eye on their corrupt colleagues'.

'What then? Do you think these decent ladies will go and report their colleagues to their bosses?

Shaheb! I think your friend is not in Bangladesh,' he said while wiping his forehead with a piece of cloth, shaking his head sideways.

'Shaheb, don't mind. But shaheb I believe is not reading the newspapers regularly. Have you not seen the fate of some of the police informers?' he continued sombrely and sighed.

I had told him I wanted to get off near Nilkhet. We stopped. I gave him a hundred Taka note. He had no change. So he parked his CNG quite bluntly on the main road and went to a roadside paan shop to do the needful.

I waited on the footpath and watched in horror as a traffic policewoman walked up to the offending vehicle, parked near a 'No Parking' signboard, hitherto unheeded by all and sundry. The lady went round the CNG once. She had a good look at the front numberplate and then the back, took out her slip pad, wrote something and attached it to the windscreen. She then moved on. No fuss!

The driver had not a clue about the goings on as he was facing the other way.

He came back after a while, jovial, and handed me the change. His mouth was full of paan. He gave a salaam and was about to get on to the driver's seat but stopped in his track when he saw the piece of paper. He knew what it was. He looked at me, as if it was my fault.

'I did not inform anyone about anything. Promise!' I said before hurrying to get lost in the maze of old book shops.


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