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An odd little city!

Dhaka is beautiful. I am not kidding! Okay maybe I am exaggerating…

Look around you… you will admire how our artists are covering up wretched algae-stained walls. There is a reason why I am calling these people 'artists'; they can draw amazing Bangla calligraphy with spray paints, that too with little or no money. Why? This is because they tend to be some party activists most of the time. And for those artists who aren't in any political party, they sign their gang names on the walls of private properties. Names like “Hell boys”, “Youth Bengali”, “Moguls” and blah blah rule the Dhanmondi area. I wonder who they are though. Are they some high school kids bored with their lives and just living up their dreams of becoming a don some day? Or are they aspiring graffiti artists who can really paint beautifully once you give them the spray bottles, and the walls? Tainted red wall etched with “Learn Guitar” has managed to go from Dhanmondi, to Mirpur, Mohakhali to as far as Banani! I wonder how many guitar students the guy has. Moreover, I wonder why are the wall painters wasting their time and money, covering up other people's walls, while they could earn double the amount if they become good graffiti artists.

Anyhow, another reason why Dhaka is beautiful is because there is continuous construction work going on all over the place! I mean if you see a nicely built footpath today, you are going to stumble on that same path tomorrow since the walking lane has vanished! I wonder why the authorities do such an superfluous beautification while there are countless of open dustbins across Dhaka? There should be individual black dustbins for every three house in a block. And it should be the responsibility of those three houses or buildings to keep their respective bins closed. Well, the bin collectors should be there in time too! Is it that we Dhakaites have fantastic eating habits that we pollute too much or is it that the dustbin collectors dose off three days a week before dump collection? Well, here's a tip…the tchilkas of most vegetables like kumra, lau, potol and alu, can be fried and eaten. Trust me it is delicious while at the same time healthy. Just imagine, if people ate half of what they used to throw away before, then the waste would decrease to half, and proportionately the smell would decrease to half! Or maybe I am too ahead of myself!

Coming back to roads and pathways and potholes and drain caps. I would love to ask the road authorities why on earth do they build the drainage caps so high. The other day while I crossed the 8 number Dhanmondi bridge and turned to road 9A, my rickshaw almost tipped over as the stupid rickshawalah was trying to forcibly cycle his way on top of a drainage cap! Those wee big drain-caps are almost a foot and a half above the road level. Maybe the road and drainage authorities (!) have 5.5 power spectacles!

Dhaka is queer for another reason. It is the most unique and versatile car showcase in the planet! Roving across the streets of Dhaka are priceless collections of Beatles, 87 Toyota Corolla, age old Mazda side-by-side there are rusting Toyotas and Hondas turned by Leepu to imitation Ferraris and Lamborghinis! There are ral cars too…like the BMW, Z600 and so on so forth. For those who can afford, they can show off their pricey posession, for those who can't afford, they show-off anyways using subwoofers, and sleek spoilers. Now won't this be an exciting thing for Travel and Living Channel to showcase on?

I love Dhaka's people. They are queer too that's why! There are people who talk like kids and yet are the leaders in their respective jobs, while there are people who act like leaders and yet are scorned by many. Leadership is all about leading by example. I have seen this in the street last night! While on the way to Rifles, my rickshaw stopped at a crossing. In my front left was a CNG with a lady inside. Out of nowhere, a beggar came with a little kid and asked for some alms. He was crying and said that he didn't have food for days. The lady gave him some money and then he left. Just few seconds after this, another one legged beggar came to the lady in the CNG and cried. “Afa ami lengra manush amakey shahajjo koren!” So yeah…leading by example alright.

Dhaka's teenagers are way too cool to be in the country! They have the fashion sense that not even the western world would dream of. Just enter into an underground concert venue, and you'll see the perfectly conservative girl in your Physics class converted to a diva, wearing tank tops, tight jeans and showing off her tattoo (apparent sign-pen marks). And then there are those who take pride talking in Bangla in a perfectly English accent. You won't see this abroad I bet. And this is just half the teenage population.

Eating out is a pleasure around here. You get everything and anything from alu-puris and shingaras (yum) … to exclusive Indian and Italian buffet! Did I mention KFC (100% original Kentuky Fried Chicken) is coming to town? As you eat out in the hot classy Kozmo Lounge, or browse away in the super-new Moo's Barn, remember that half of the population of Bangladesh dies hungry everyday. But, even then …people eat, and get fat, and like me …they love to eat out.
Sigh! I love Dhaka!

By Shamma M. Raghib
Photo: Niloy, Ronny


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