<%-- Page Title--%> Impressions <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 126 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

October 10, 2003

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Through the Windscreen

Imran H. Khan

Gulshan, once known to be a posh residential area, with mostly foreign and diplomatic residents and embassies, has transformed into an ugly concrete jungle and a commuter's worst nightmare.

WHen it comes to 'class', Gulshan 'was' one locality that had it all. I put it in past tense as the word class finds no place in the present Gulshan scenario anymore. Known as the posh neighbourhood of the city, Gulshan has rapidly been invaded by indiscriminate construction of high-rises and germination of commercial organisations. As the Agents in Matrix term humans as 'virus', urbanisation seems to be the epidemic that is plaguing our beloved city. The sophisticated fairy-tale houses and quiet alleys have been replaced by traffic infested roads choking with open garbage dumps.

If we turn back the time, we will see that Gulshan (and Baridhara for that matter), was supposed to be used for offices and embassies of diplomatic missions. As most of the peaceful residential areas, these places too have been sacrificed to make way for banks, clinics, schools and HQ to many other commercial concerns. Pretty soon, it will all become a concrete jungle.

Greek Houses may fit perfectly into the common scenario in Greece but when a colossal structure representing a mansion from Greece is replicated in Dhaka, the result could be quite an eye-sore. Where there were once houses with lawns and lush greenery, there is now concrete grey and drab looking apartment complexes. All the previous plans and dreams for Gulshan are now in the past, only to be looked back with nostalgia.

The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) must have been on vacation while the floor plans for the drainage system of Gulshan 2 were being made because each and every year, right about the monsoon time, this place is heavily hit with a torrent of rainfall creating miniature floods. It is one thing to have a poetic affiliation with rain but quite another to have the vilest of raw sewage floating Around your ankles and to be forced to withstand the smell of long decomposed feces. Nonetheless, the water usually disappear within an hour or two, leaving behind thick sticky mud pies on the road, all ready for the speeding and screeching tires to generously bombard the pedestrians with. The potholes too that have been left unattended only add to this pleasant(?) scene. Maybe Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) hopes that there will be an earthquake that will shake all the odd pieces of the puzzle (I mean rubble) into place.

As most of the houses of Gulshan 2 have pretty high foundations, the roads in between the houses end up as basins for all the excess water. This water has no place to go because the authorities were a little short on pipes that may lead the water out. We are only humans after all, susceptible to making mistakes and then unwittingly (?) repeat them.

The government has been quite ingenious in their intentions to reduce traffic in these areas by not allowing rickshaws in certain roads at certain time slots. What they failed to recognise is that a Pajero V8 or a Lexus Jeep for that matter is much larger in size and is usually driven by some maniac who might fail when it came to even driving the rickshaw. Also falling under this category are Cab drivers. Driving with the 'I'm the king of the World' motto, these lunatics usually enjoy the traffic and the bad road conditions and sometimes can be seen having their own 'Formula 1' race.

An ever expanding English Medium school has recently opened its Playgroup or Kindergarten section in Gulshan 2's Road 55. There are now constant jams, with endless traffic starting from the school all the way up to Gulshan Club, which has been quite 'smart' by taking over the road in front and turning it into its parking. This ties another knot in the long twisted line of problems.

While crossing the bridge over the Banani Lake, one can't help but wonder where all the wires come from, hanging loosely over the footpath, hanging dangerously at the level of one's head. Digging up the sides of the streets have not been enough for the DCC. Recently, they have been found digging up the footpaths. Now, people can be seen being forced into an army training ground, carefully avoiding certain chances of electrocution from above and adding the fancy foot works with the potholes on the pavements. The amra wallas on the bridge must sometimes have a ball watching the people lead their 'normal' everyday life.

Even though the developers try hard to make their brick and sand piles by the road merge with the scenery, we have been blessed with the magic of sight that simply tells us that everything about the modern Gulshan scenario …is wrong. It won't be long before we lose Gulshan to the grips of this urbanisation epidemic, which is always out to wreck havoc with our peaceful existence.

Photo by Imran H. Khan


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