By Professor Spork
It is said we live in a world of fear. You may have met a person absolutely terrified of something as ridiculous as butterflies or the TV. Or maybe not. Still, you've definitely wondered at some of the things people can be afraid of. Phobias are very common in the everyday world. But Bangalis aren't exactly part of the 'everyday' world, are they?
Fear of darkness
Nyctophobia in the developed world is usually triggered by power outage in a stretch of area. So how many of you scream bloody murder when the electricity decides to pop in and out throughout the night, every night? Sure it creeps you out, but there are few Bangalis who weren't walking down the road after hours, right in time for a blackout in that very place, soon followed by a blackout in the area they were headed towards, just as they reached the light. Besides, when nature calls, nowadays you're usually forced to answer in the dark.
Fear of germs
Can you imagine a mysophobic person in Dhaka? Where spit flies like rain during Ramadan and like dog slobber at other times, where the guy standing in front of you in the bus blows his nose with his hand and returns it, unwashed and un-wiped, to the rail above his head, and you know someone else might have done the same to the part of the rail you're clutching for dear life at the very moment? Yeah.
Fear of collapsible structures
Thousands of Bangalis live in more dilapidated versions of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If during the earthquake next Eid your building decides to tilt a couple inches to the left, you'll panic for a day, and then your dad will figure five inches isn't a big deal at all. Moving just costs way too much. You might think moving isn't an option for the poorer people. Truth is, they just don't give a… you know.
Fear of jaywalking
It's odd; Bangladesh probably has the highest rate of death via traffic accident directly below an over-bridge. Yet there are few people who hesitate to take the way that doesn't involve climbing stairs. Not long ago this author witnessed a bus mauling over a guy in the middle of the road, about ten steps from an over-bridge. The bus escaped, and three more people had ignored the bridge and crossed over before the public assembled. Granted, there is no scientific term for fear of jaywalking, but maybe most Bangalis suffer from climacophobia. That'll be the fear of stairs. Really, if you live on the first floor and the elevator was hovering on the ground floor, how often would you take the (read: faster route) stairs?
Fear of closed spaces
In Bangladesh, when you're in an elevator and you can't breathe, it's not claustrophobia. It's probably just the stench of sweat coupled with lack of ventilation. Your trachea didn't close up due to terror; there really is no air. The ones in Bashundhara City take the cake. Is there even a weight limit? Flats in the country aren't any better. Living in Dhaka would be death for a claustrophobic even without getting into a small room.
Fear of public transport
Apparently this is a common fear, but yours truly was unable to find a difficult-to-pronounce term for it. But to be afraid to ride a rickshaw. Everyone's scared of CNGs so they don't count, but a bus! In Dhaka, this would translate to… walking. You're probably afraid of walking. Hey, there are two names for that: ambulophobia and basiphobia.
Fear of foreigners
You can claim to be polite if you want, but we all know what you do whenever you discover a foreigner within sight. None of you suffer from xenophobia, but you may know someone who does. Chances are that someone is a foreigner themselves. In China, they run away from you, especially in the countryside. In Bangladesh, even the reclusive village women will leave their abodes, along with their husbands and children, and great-grandchildren, to stare at a visiting foreigner until they try to run away. In such a case, the throng (which grows mysteriously in number) will give chase.
Fear of crowds
Enochlophobia, on the other hand, is a valid fear. Crowds are scary. Even more so in Bangladesh. But for some reason, no one cares. You can be uneasy about stepping into crowds, but you need to get that matching pair of shoes or grab that last bus ticket. And you must have stopped at least once to see what was going on if a circle of people was ogling at something in the middle. Maybe pushed your way to the front to get a better look?
Fear of the Unknown
Ooh, a well. Wonder if China's really on the other side. Maybe Russia. Let's climb down and see.
There are kids who do that you know. It's natural for the average Bangali to take the proverbial 'leap of faith'. Usually, the 'leap' is literal. They see a path, they want to take it. A dark alley, they want to know if it's a dead end. Pointless? So what? Call them stupid, but the gathering mentioned above, would you really just pass it by?
Fear of mosquitoes
You're acquainted with arachnophobia, but anopheliphobia is like one of those SAT words: you didn't know it existed. There's probably a mosquito buzzing somewhere near you right now. Around the world, the fear of mosquitoes is prominent. It's actually a very common phobia, coming in the form of fear of insects in general. Now many of you could be afraid of insects, but it's almost guaranteed that you never really considered a 'mosquito' an 'insect'. Newsflash: they have six legs, three body segments, and antennae; they're insects. Scared yet?
So be proud of being a Bangali, if only 'cause you can point and laugh at the world and say, “Hey, at least I ain't a wuss!”