<%-- Page Title--%> Slice Of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 144 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

March 5, 2004

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A Circle Without Reason

Richa Jha

Allow me to introduce myself. I am, what was once known as the Gulshan 2 Circle. Like many other roundabout rings of Dhaka, I no longer exist. I have to wait and watch how I will be renamed in future, but so far I remain the Gulshan - II Circle. Ironic, because I have ceased to exist.

Three people, whose names I shall withhold from you, visited me from a Government office a few days ago. It was an unplanned visit, of sorts. They had a meeting to attend in Banani. Though they came from the same office, started at the same time, and knew that all three were headed to the same destination, they got into three different cars. None of them wanted to be the one to be seated next to the driver in the front, so they opted for the safe way out. Besides, A was B and C's boss, so they couldn't have sat with the big man in the same car.

At peak traffic time, they tried to beat the traffic mess in Gulshan. So instead of following the usual two string of crawling cars, they created their third, fourth and fifth lines. The boss' car was slightly ahead of the other two. Mind you, it was imperative that these two remain aligned; being officers of equal ranking, neither could afford being spotted trailing behind the other. Following a resultant traffic gridlock, the boss spoke into his mobile to one of them, "Something needs to be done here, why aren't the cars moving today?"

"Sir, my driver says that the situation is similar everyday"
"Hmmm, we'll have to do something".
"Sir, how about stopping the further sale of cars to…"
"Don't even think of that. My son plans to buy a new one soon", the big boss roared.
"No, no, sir, you didn't let me finish. I meant sale of cars to people with three previous cars, or a steep fee on buying a fifth car, something."
"Oh, a car-planning kind of scheme for families, I see. But no, I shall have to pay heavily myself".
"Don't worry sir, we'll make the government officials exempt from this law"

"That sounds better. But no, why do we have to touch the cars. Cars are man's best friends the more, the better". In the middle of this animated discussion, the big boss' driver suggested that few designated car parks, or mandatory parking space in all buildings would perhaps ease the situation on the roads a bit, but he was shooed shut. By which time, they have crawled up to me, when suddenly the big boss' eyes lit up. He immediately called up the other officer this time.

"Hey C, what do we have here?"
"Sir, Gulshan 2 Circle"
"What do we need this roundabout for?"
"Can't say, sir. It's been like this forever".

"There, you see? This is the root cause of all our traffic woes. Break it down". Thus decreed the big man in all his might, and so these bulldozers razed me.

Difficult as it will be for you to recall, but I used to be a dense green patch of land those days. There were so many trees on me that I often wondered if I existed because of the trees, or they because of me. For a while, when only the trees were felled and dug out from here, I thought I reigned supreme. But my illusions were short lived, of course. The next day, they came back for me.

That first afternoon, once the officials set foot upon me, I heard them discuss my, and the other circles' future status. Transforming Dhaka from being a city of circles to being a city of small circles was one, or city of squares was another.

"Yes, square sounds like a modern idea. There is the Trafalgar Square and Piccadily Square, and then there'll be the Gulshan Square."
"No, no, that's Piccadily Circus."
"Okay, but there is a Times Square, I remember having seen it in somewhere in the US".
"Yes, yes, we can do that. But what do we do with this square then?"
"Hmmm, perhaps make it into a parking lot for cars"
"What! And waste such precious land! No, no, we'll have to think of something else".
"Maybe a park for children."
" What? In the middle of the road? And what do kids need parks for, they have their televisions".
"Yeah, that's true. In the west, they have statues".
"That's worth thinking over. But then, statues are passé".

They brainstormed for more ideas. One of them wanted a new mall to be built there, the other suggested a 7-Star hotel, both of which were shot down when realised that several of these already exist around the roundabout. Falling short on ideas, the big boss suddenly remembered the original intent behind planning to exterminate me- the unmanageable traffic. Which was when it was decided that I be reduced to a point, and be called Gulshan2 Point henceforth. RIP.

Last evening I saw that eccentric man, The Hubby, go overboard clicking photographs of all trees in Gulshan and Baridhara. I heard the bewildered looking Wifey reason with him, but he said he was doing so for their child's sake. "Who knows when the rest of them will also be chopped, and before we know it, this little fellow won't even know what actual trees looked like. These snaps are for posterity". He may have a point, and excuse my deliberate pun there. Dead entities develop a wry sense of humour.

Around the same time, I received a distress signal from my slain counterpart at Gulshan1. It said that vehicular traffic had come to a complete standstill around it because, now, with no circle to regulate the flow of motors, the drivers misread it as a 'free-for-all-in-any-direction' sign. It is easy to imagine what followed next.





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