The other day I had to walk for a long time before I caught sight of a few rickshaws parked a little away from the Gulshan Club. As I came closer to the parked rickshaws, I noticed something different about these rickshaws and also the rickshaw pullers. While the rickshaws looked extra colourful in the adorned orange and red papers designed like flower petals on the rickshaw hoods, the rickshaw pullers themselves were all made up as well - clean-shaven faces, gelled up hair, trimmed moustaches and dressed in vibrantly colourful shirts and lungis. I asked them if they would be interested to take me to DOHS Baridhara, which was hardly a 10-minute ride away. For a while all the rickshaw pullers ignored me, treating me like nothing more than the noise on the streets. Finally one of them asked me annoyed, “Where do you want to go?” he asked, wiping his cycle bell with a piece of rag. “DOHS Baridhara please,” I said, with a silly smile of victory. With great effort (and annoyance in his eyes), the rickshaw puller took me aboard and cycled me all the way home. The rickshaw puller was not at all happy with the extra 10 takas I had given him. Instead, he became all the more distraught and finally let loose an outburst, “This is the reason why I don't like to take non-foreigners on my rickshaw!” he screamed. “Madam, who do you think I am, a rickshaw wallah?” I didn't know what to say. He surely did not look like a bus driver and beneath all the eye-hurting, vibrant colours and fluffs of papers, that thing surely looked like a rickshaw to me. “Do you know how much a foreigner would pay me for a trip like this? At least a Tk 100 and you pay me a mere Tk 20!” It finally dawned on me that the rickshaws near the club were actually hired for the foreign residents who lived in the area. It is unfortunate, I let him know. Neither was I a foreigner and nor was I ready to pay an absurd amount for his services. With the haughtiest of all looks, he cursed and finally left the scene.
on the Fly Over
On a fine Ramadan day, I was in a CNG auto-rickshaw, stuck in a worst traffic jam possible, on top of the Mohakhali fly-over. At one point, the commuters became tired of waiting. A few began to stroll on the fly-over while others were dozing off. One girl was seen working on her laptop. Another girl got down from her car and started to take pictures of the jam with her camera. A young man was having a heart-to-heart with his beloved on the phone, walking up and down the fly-over footpath. Just then, right behind him, the driver of a mishuk got out to stretch his arms and legs. While stretching his arms in the air, he let out a loud noise from his throat which sounded a lot like a wounded bull. The young man jerked suddenly and turned around to see what the noise was all about. What happened next was like watching a slow motion scene from a movie. The man's fingers slipped from the railing. He fell backwards on the stretching and howling mishuk driver and then finally rolled on to the street from the footpath. To make matters worse, the cell phone flew from the young man's hands and from the fly-over as well. While the out-of-breath mishuk driver was being helped up, the crying young man had to be stopped from jumping after the cell phone. From nowhere, the girl with the camera appeared and began snapping pictures of the scene from all the different angles possible. Even though it was quite a tragic scene, I must admit that Ramadan gets just all the more exciting in Dhaka every year.
Elephant Road, Dhaka
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