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     Volume 4 Issue 9 | August 20, 2004 |

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Dhaka Diary

A Close Call
As I was walking down Mirpur Road near the Kalyanpur bus stand, I was witness to an accident that was caused by reckless driving. It was a police pick-up van, most probably of the detective branch, that suddenly took a u-turn without taking into account the rushing cars from the other side. Luckily, most of the cars managed to skirt round the van while it swerved without slowing down, but a mishuk could not. It just rammed into the van. Before we, the passersby, could understand the consequences, as it happened in the blink of an eye, we could make out an old man lying flat on the ground -- unconscious. He tipped out of the van itself and the crushing mishuk only missed him by an inch. Had he dropped a little further to his left he would have been crushed between the two vehicles. Now, accidents can happen anywhere, but the sheer lack of responsibility on the part of a driver of a vehicle that belongs to the law enforcement agency is mind-boggling. And what followed the accident was even more frightening. The walky-talky carrying officers were just instructing other men, who were fellow riders of the unconscious elderly man, to carry him to the van that was by then parked on the roadside after hitting and almost running away leaving their own man lying on the street. They never even paid much attention to the mishuk and its passengers. The mishuk driver was badly hurt and was lying on the street with a head injury; one of the two female passengers was also hurt on the head and was bleeding profusely. However, other than the people on the street, the officers seemed impassive to the whole affair, their personnel even needed their officer's instructions to carry their own man to the van. These were the men on duty, who would not even lift a finger without the order of their superiors.

Mashruf Ahmed, Kalyanpur

The hassles of bus travel
I have been commuting from Shahbagh to Farmgate for a pretty long time. Because of the short distance of my destination, I usually travel by local buses that ply between Gulistan to Mirpur or Airport Road. Each day offers something new to enrich my experiences on this bus route. Amidst the relentless shouting of bus-conductors, I have to push hard to get into an overcrowded bus and, if lucky enough, find a seat and wonder how these ramshackle buses pass the fitness test. The bus-conductors ask for the fare over and over again even though it has already been paid. The agile assistant bus-conductor or "helper" makes his presence known by uttering words from his personal dictionary like "plastic" (by this they mean private car) on the left-side, "borabor" (go straight), 'halka" (go slowly), etc., and acts as the driver's guide. Passengers start bickering over the most trivial matters. Vendors of various items try to persuade people to buy their wares. All of a sudden the bus is stopped by a traffic sergeant for wrongful parking, though he will soon be "managed" before the driver takes another wrong turn. As I get off at my destination and out of what feels like hell, I tell myself that this Dhaka lifestyle is what makes it unique from everywhere else in the world.

Md. Nazrul Islam Sumon, Department of English, University of Dhaka





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