life without rickshaw
Here is an interesting thought. Within the next five years, there will be no obese middle class in Dhaka city. However what happens to the pampered section remains to be seen and right now it is of no concern to us. After all, it's the toiling middle class that helps the economy tick, so policy makers and those who rip them off have taken their welfare to heart and decided they need to walk to keep the pulse going. Thanks to the government and their decision to off limit rickshaw from the city, the mass is finally getting the opportunity to shake off all the extra calories from their system.
The government and their IMF buddies are trying to put it more or less like this, “People should get used to walking. It is good for their health”. All hail the communication minister for announcing this wonderful statement.
Here is however, the twist to the story , the ever grumbling general people's version “My commuting expenditure has doubled since the banning of rickshaw from the Shahbag crossing”, says Rasheda Khatun, a homemaker living in the Central Road area. With the added expense, it is also time consuming she says. Her daughters' school is situated in the DU campus. “It is not really a walking distance from my home. I have to go up and down to the school to drop and pick up my kids several times. Now, I have to change rickshaw once, walk a bit, then again take a rickshaw to get there”, she explains.
“This situation can be easily altered by introducing public vehicles in to our lives”. This idea was also mentioned by the government but nothing is being done to implement it. “There aren't any public vehicles around my alley”, she says. Most of the public vehicles plying in the city are long distance. All the alleys and lanes of Dhaka's residential areas are still to come under their operation. The narrow intricate pathways in the residential areas are not at all designed for public vehicles.
Another homemaker Shahina Akter living in the Pallabi area explains her misery, “To drop my son at the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar School, I used to take a rickshaw before. I cannot cross Mirpur-10 roundabout with a rickshaw anymore”. She is now forced to take the local bus that she dreads so much. “Local buses are simply dreadful. They are uncomfortable with a horrible smell. Sitting arrangement for women are very peculiar and unhealthy”, she points out. Akter also fears the constant possibility of sexual harassment in the public vehicles.
“I don't mind walking as long as the streets are safe”, says Shumona Islam a bank employee living at Pallabi. However she expresses her concern that the streets of Dhaka are not a safe place for women. There are other scary elements like muggers reign free in the streets of Dhaka posing threat to both the sexes.
“The decision to off limit rickshaw completely overlooked the plight of one group. The physically challenged people are going through hard times. Public vehicles are not suitable to their needs. They can hardly board them, as the streets of Dhaka; with its constant hassles is not a very pleasant place for them. “I wish there were rickshaws in all the streets”, says Abul Hassan living in Kathalbagan area.
Md Harunur Rashid a retired govt employee of about 70 says, “I walk in the morning regularly. But going here and there especially the kitchen market has become a lot harder without rickshaw. I can no longer carry the heavy vegetable bag”, he wishes for rickshaw too.
There are others who cannot accept Dhaka without rickshaw simply because they love the environment friendly three wheeler. “Rickshaw is a part of our culture. We all grew up with it. It is the one pleasant memory that we all share. I cannot imagine my city without rickshaw”, narrates Mannan Murshed.
Whether Murshed accepts the fact or not, Dhaka city will see its days without Rickshaw. The government is making sure of it. The city is slowly moving towards that time. Meanwhile, for its residents who do not have the luxury of private vehicles, moving up and about is becoming more and more complicated.
Whatever the dilemma might be, all of these people share one common view, “Before executing the decision the government should have considered all the sides and come up with a suitable alternative. And that life, will not be the same without rickshaw".
By Shahnaz Parveen
Photo: Munem Wasef
Mutton pieces (from the leg) 1/2 kg,
Chana dal (split gram)1/3 cup,
Ginger-garlic paste 1 tablespoon,
Chilli powder 2 teaspoons or to taste,
Green chillies, whole 3-4 or to taste,
Salt to taste,
Black cardamom 4,
Bay leaves 4,
Cinnamon sticks 4,
Yoghurt 1/2 cup,
Garam masala powder 1-1/2 teaspoons,
Green chillies, finely chopped 2-3,
Fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped 1/3 cup,
Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped 2 tablespoons,
Lime juice 3 or 4 tablespoons,
Fresh cream or hung yoghurt 1/2 kg,
Eggs, lightly beaten 2,
Oil or ghee to fry.
Place cream or hung yoghurt in the refrigerator overnight or until firm. Put the meat along with the spices into a pot. Cover with water and boil until the meat is tender and all the water has evaporated. Remove from the pot and discard the chillies and whole spices. Grind the meat to a fine paste without adding water. Add the yoghurt, garam masala powder, coriander leaves, mint leaves and lime juice to the ground meat and mix well. Divide the meat mixture into equal parts (approximately 20 or 22). Take a portion of the paste and roll it into a ball between your palms. Flatten slightly and make an indentation in the centre of the meat, like a small cup. Fill this indentation with a small spoonful of the cream or yoghurt and fold the ground paste over to seal. Make all the kebabs in this way and dip in beaten egg, shaking off any excess, and fry in hot oil or ghee until golden brown.
2 pounds lamp chunks
2 cups water
2 teaspoons Ras El Hanout
1/4cup olive oil
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
1/4 cup raisins
Heat oven to 345 degrees.
Coat the lamb with Ras El Hanout spice. Place spiced lamb in a 5-quart pot with an appropriate lid.
To the pot, add the water, honey and olive oil
Bake in the oven for about 2 hours until the meat tenderizes.
Remove the meat from the pot and keep warm. Remove extra oil.
To the pot, add the raisins. Boil until the raisins are fully cooked and the stew has thickened.
Return the lamp to the stew. Bring back to boil for about 2 minutes.
Decorate with the toasted almonds. Serve with warm bread, or with cooked Saffron rice, Raisins and Almonds.