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|Volume 11 |Issue 01| January 06, 2012 ||
Recently, I sprained my ankle and almost became crippled. With my bandaged leg and a cane to keep me in balance, I found it quite difficult to get around for a couple of weeks. During this temporary disabled phase of my life, I realised how unfriendly Dhaka is towards disabled individuals. Most of the modern buildings do not have disable-friendly accessibility. Many have elevators, which can only be accessed if you climb a few steps first. I went to meet a friend at a modern office building and we wanted to talk over tea and a snack. The office had a rooftop canteen, which was only accessible through stairs. As a result, we had to drop the idea of tea. I kept wondering how a handicapped employee in that building; would eat and drink if necessary. I faced similar problems when I went to Dhaka University with a friend to show her the DACSU museum. But there again were the stairs, no ramps or railings for crippled individuals to make it accessible. I wish at least the architects of public buildings and modern architecture would consider the plight of the handicapped while designing their buildings.
Jumping up for Fire
There have always been at least twenty able-bodied men hanging around the front of my apartment complex. These receptionists, guards and drivers look alert whenever a resident of the building approaches, but I suspect when left alone, they do little about the security of the building.
One afternoon, two weeks ago, I heard sudden shouts and cries from outside. I rushed to the window to see a corner of a chhala (sack) hanging off the 10-storey construction site next door on fire.
The fire was spreading quickly and the men from our complex soon found a purpose and determination to rise to the occasion. Armed with garden hoses and small buckets, they began hurling water up the garden wall. Just as they mobilised, so did the men standing on various floors of the half-built apartment complex. What started as a fear for our own building soon became an amusement, as while one man threw up a bucket of water, another bucket of water was thrown down upon him by the builders above.
With all that water flying about, not only was half the chhala and bamboo scaffolding saved, our men on the ground were also saved from just another boring day.
Gift of the Magic Box
I sometimes help with my father's business. My interest in taking charge of his business eases his workload and helps me get acquainted with different sorts of people. One evening, while I was having a tête-à-tête with one of my uncles, a group of people entered the shop. They were decrepit day-labourers in shabby attire. We were talking about the game show 'Ke Hote Chay Kotipoti' (Who Wants to be a Millionaire) screened on Desh TV. The topic was about a participant who won 25 lakh taka during an episode aired the day before. My uncle said that since the participant had already expended all of his lifelines, he would be at risk while answering the next round of questions. If he failed to answer the 50 lakh taka question, his prize-money would decrease from 25 lakh taka to 3 lakh taka. At that time, one of the labourers, about sixty-years-old, interrupted our conversation. He said that the participant would do better to 'quit' the game so that he could be the winner of 25 lakh taka. We were really amazed that the man despite his seemingly poor educational background knew the game term 'quit' without knowing its etymological meaning!
Today people, no matter how old they are or what their education is, find no barrier in keeping themselves in pace with the continuous flow of information and the entertainment simply by watching TV.
Ashim Kumar Paul
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