Smirks. Incredulous looks. More than just a sideways glance as they check the mirrors. What one earth is a she doing behind the wheel?
They watch her closely for any signs of incompetence. One mistake, and it's all put down to her gender. (What were they thinking when they let them onto the streets?) Um, hello! There's a fourteen-year-old unlicensed hooligan trying to overtake you, if you're done staring at the lady!
And that pretty much sums it up. Driving in Dhaka is not something that most people enjoy. And if you happen to be a girl, then well, worse luck to you. So you can guess by now that the streets of Dhaka aren't exactly the prettiest place for girls who choose to drive. But so what? Just because the guys don't like it doesn't mean that they shouldn't do it. And so, slowly but surely, the ladies of Dhaka are making their way onto the streets.
And what do they find when they get there? They find fat truck drivers leering down at them from their vantage point on top of the engine, just because -OHMYGOD - they're driving! They find every other driver honking their horns at them just to get their attention. They also find private cars trying to overtake them simply because it hurts their pride to keep behind a woman on the road (wow, so much for 'ladies first'). Even the rickshaws and CNGs think it amusing to find a female behind the wheel. Consequently, they will butt their noses in front of the car she is driving, just to see if she can handle it. For the girls who have to face this, it's frustrating beyond belief. Trying to drive here is bad enough as it is. Knowing that the people around her are trying to make it worse for her on purpose just adds insult to the already pathetic situation.
Interestingly, while most of the guys learn their driving from the chauffeur or their friends (that too, while they're underaged), the girls actually take proper lessons and have bothered getting a license before they take out the car. And yet it's them that have to prove themselves every second of the way.
An interesting group of female drivers are the ones who plan on going abroad in the near future. Driving lessons can be expensive abroad and learning while they're here is simply a better deal, with relaxed rules and cheaper fees. And as one gentleman puts it, “If you can drive in Dhaka, you can drive anywhere in the world.”
That being true, Shopon Babu, a driving instructor says, “I have to be extra careful when I take on a female trainee. People are more likely to try something stupid when they see a girl in the driving seat.” Samiha, who recently learnt how to drive, complains “There was this one time when a guy was just standing in front of the car and he wouldn't move! He saw me, so he knew there was a car behind him, but he still kept standing there. It took all my willpower not to run him over.”
The attitude that people have towards female drivers is prejudiced to say the least. Even the traffic police will throw looks if a girl drives past him at an intersection. A look that clearly says, “You think you can drive? Well, guess what? You can't, because you're a GIRL! Haha!” It's attitudes like these that prevent most ladies from driving, or even trying to drive. A mother in her mid-forties explains, “I learnt to drive when I was abroad. I would definitely be doing it if I was back there. But driving here is out of the question. The streets are every woman's nightmare come true.”
Even then, there's always a silver lining to it. “It's great being behind the wheel!” says Samiha. Learning to drive for themselves means that the ladies won't have to depend on their chauffeurs, who always happen to be male. It also makes sense for the older women. “I can drive to the bazaar or go and pick up my daughter from school,” says another mum whose three-year-old daughter is in Playgroup.
With the way things look right now, it's going to be a long time before Dhaka sees a man driving alongside a woman and NOT trying to overtake her just for the heck of it. Till then, we wish all the ladies out there good luck and a safe journey.
The Script Guide Used to Churn out Half Baked TV Shows (CIP: Castle)
Oh, how far Nathan Fillion has fallen from his glory days of being the lead in Firefly. To go from doing a wonderfully rebellious and adventurous show like Firefly to one with a dollop of political correctness, like Castle, must mean a big loss in the paychecks in-between.
Trust us when we say that the cast of Castle is quite good: really good, in fact. What makes Castle number one in our list of half-baked shows is the script writing: it's stupid. It seems to be written by a child ape trained to copy paste and fill in the blanks for every single episode. Obviously, he has been paid off with a lifetime supply of bananas so that we don't ever hear of it.
After only watching the first two seasons, a pattern emerges. The following is a worksheet for you. Fill in the blanks, think up rarely believable (super lame) characters, motive for murder, method of discovery, etc. and you have a perfectly good Castle episode.
Every single Castle episode to date has started with a dead body being discovered, in one way or another, with one or two exceptions (we assume the ape got an extra banana for thinking up those episodes). You, the loyal Castle-ista, will argue that all crime dramas start with murder. You'd be right, but the point here is the way that the discovery is shown. They ran out of ideas to such an extent, they had to use the outlandish concept of BMX bikers running over a corpse.
After the body is discovered, we move on to Castle making breakfast. The continuity is conserved by a vague reference to the previous scene (eg: if the dead body was discovered with a lot of blood dripping down from a certain height, Castle's breakfast entrance starts with him dropping ketchup from a bottle onto a plate). While serving breakfast, Castle is confronted by some family problem or the other involving his daughter or his mother. This “problem” is fairly stupid and has absolutely no relation to the actual storyline at all and involves characters we have never seen on the show and probably never will (eg: ageing Martha is anxious because her ageing boyfriend Chet has lost his adult diapers, or Alexis can't find her boyfriend's rat: we don't even see the rat). The scene closes with some wisecracks by Castle and a phone call from Kate Beckett.
Next scene, Castle and Beckett are walking to the crime scene, drinking coffee and discussing Castle's family problems. As usual, Beckett gives him useful advice on dealing with troubled teenagers (if Alexis is involved). This happens because Beckett used to be rebellious herself, and has done and seen a lot of “things”. Of course, how can you be the best detective in New York unless you were a leather-clad-biker girl-dominatrix-with-parental-issues when you were a teenager? Then we have a bit about Lanie discussing the dead body and how it could have died and gone up a tree. Castle proposes some improbable theory, like machete wielding Aliens.
This is followed by a lot of red herrings, wrong turns, right turns, important clues, bystanders being wrongly accused, until someone is kind enough to point the fumbling Castle-Beckett duo towards the real motive behind the murder. They still can't pin the murder on the chief suspect, so Castle goes home, dejected. He resolves the family crisis using Beckett's wise words, and during the hug and make-up scene, Alexis/Martha says something that causes Castle to have a revelation and thereby figure out how to solve his murder. Viola! Case closed. Do-goody daughter happy, annoying old mother happy, Beckett happy, Castle happy. Throw in some baseless, meaningless, humorless jokes between Ryan and Esposito, ZERO character development in three seasons, some “romantic ““chemistry” between Castle and Beckett (we'll never see that resolved) and you have a hit show (God knows why).
If you would like to test my theory of the child ape script writer, you're welcome to take this guide and re-watch every single Castle episode ever made and compare. If you happen to like zero character development, clichéd dialogue, no real background story, vague supporting characters, you're welcome to watch Castle.
By Shaer Reaz
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