Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 18, 2003






By Hamdu Mia

Back in 2nd grade, when I was told to write a paragraph on Dhaka, I was taught that Dhaka is the city of mosques and also the city of rickshaws. Now I'd rather say Dhaka is the city of traffic jams. Traffic jams are the greatest feature of 21st century Dhaka. Below I've presented the results I've come up with after carrying out a qualitative analysis of jams in Dhaka city. For your kind information, the analysis was conducted while I was stuck in a typical traffic jam of Dhaka.

The ajaaira jam: This jam is of the most irritating kind. It is caused for ajaaira reasons by people who have abundant ajaaira time to waste. You can fall in such jams almost every day. The jams usually occur when one vehicle hits another e.g. a rickshaw hits another rickshaw, a car hits a scooter, a gorur gaari hits a tricycle etc. Whenever such a collision takes place, the drivers leap out of their seats and start blaming each other for the damage done. Instantly people all around gather beside the drivers, who by this time have chosen to show off their amazing grasp on offensive vocabulary. The onlookers enjoy this circus show with great fun, as if there's nothing better to watch back home on TV. Gradually more and more people are attracted towards the crowd, asking questions like "Ki hoise, bhai?" or "Ganjaam ken laagse?" and stuff like that. By now some over enthusiastic people in the crowd start giving slogans like "Haat thaakte mukhe kii?" (Why bother using your mouths when you have hands?) or "Oi, gaara gaara!" (Beat 'em up!). The slogans do work because very soon the drivers do realise that God has blessed them with hands to wreck havoc upon other fellow beings. The fighting starts (play Mortal Kombat music in the background) and the open-air show gets even more interesting and the crowd are even more satisfied. Suddenly, to spoil all the fun, these peacemakers appear out of nowhere and stop the fighting, as if they are traffic-controlling messiahs sent by God as a blessing to mankind. Soon afterwards the traffic policemen bother to show themselves. Throughout the whole even they had been missing for some reason; they were probably enjoying a tea break that never seems to end. As soon as the cops arrive, the entire crowd disperses since fun's over and finally the vehicles that had been stuck helplessly on the middle of the road get a chance to go on along the road. If you're lucky, the ganjaam causing the jam can end within minutes; otherwise it may waste half an hour of your valuable time (unless you've been enjoying the ganjaam too).

Prime Minister's Jam: In the worst of conditions, this jam can be the worst of all jams. You'll fall in this jam when you're in the way or route the Honourable Prime Minister of The People's Republic of Bangladesh is about to use. When you're in this particular sort of jam, you'll be stuck for an indefinite period of time until you see a long line of cars with blinking lights passing by. It is then when you realise that you've just been helplessly stuck so long thanks to the Prime Minister who is supposed to be helping us normal citizens live better lives. This jam has some sub-divisions, like the Minister's Jam, which is less harmful and shorter, but it can still drive you mad.

The regional jam: This jam occurs in specific areas of the city. Dhanmondi is one such area. Here schools seem to be springing up like mushrooms every month. Every oli-goli has different schools or different branches of the same school. And traffic jams come free along with every school. Another area is Mohakhali, where the fly-over under construction makes it one of the worst places in Dhaka city. There are other such places in the capital that are notorious for their jams.

The seasonal jam: These jams are in existence during specific seasons of the year. One season is the Eid season when everybody's on a month-long shopping spree. The shopping goes on for hours till late at night and the jams also live on. Another season is the winter, the season of getting married in Bangladesh. Every winter you'll find some relative or acquaintance of yours getting married and with biye comes biyer bajaar. And with biyer bajaar comes jams along all the roads with shopping plazas and big markets.

The Grand Canyon jam: When people get money, they try to make things better. In Bangladesh, when the government gets money, it tries to make things worse. The foreign donors come to Bangladesh and when they go to Hotel Sheraton or Sonargaon, they feel sorry for us and give us money to build better roads and highways. And what does the government do? It builds dividers of various shapes and sizes (triangular, semicircular, hexagonal, octagonal etc) everywhere and make the roads even smaller than they actually are. Then they dig up newly-built roads within months in the name of repairing and reconstruction. All the Grand Canyons created across the roads cause more jams, in complete irony to the original objective of building better roads. (Ask a rickshaw-puller even he'll say the original objective was to steal money from the foreign donations.)

As you can see, traffic jams are not the ordinary horrendous things you think they are. There is actually a lot of subtlety and uniqueness in each and every jam you've ever survived. Had jams not been so regular and common, we could have even come up with a "Traffic Jam Survivors' Foundation". What we can do now is wait for the new era of traffic in Dhaka to begin when the fly-over will be completed: the new era that will rid us of traffic jams! (But doesn't everything always turn o be just the opposite in Bangladesh?)


Zombie: Another One For Early Retirement?

NEW YORK (Billboards) Nowadays a career retrospective rarely marks the retirement of a musician, but in Rob Zombie's case, the release of Past, Present, & Future just might.
"I don't know what's true, I can't say," Zombie said, addressing rumors that he is going to leave music to make movies full-time. "I would like to make more records and do stuff, but it becomes a time thing."

Either way, Zombie is definitely entering at least a temporary hiatus from recording while he directs the sequel to "House of 1000 Corpses." "I sort of made that mistake [by recording while I was directing the] last movie, so this time I'm going to shut down and just work on the movie," he said.
The horror connoisseur is currently putting the finishing touches on the script for the flick, which will take place a week after the events in the original. Shooting will begin later in the fall.

"It's kind of a different movie, a little more serious, a lot darker, more violent," Zombie explained. "Horror-movie sequels are by nature horrible, just terrible movies, because what happens is your scary characters become likeable, almost funny. So my thought was to make the scary characters less likable, so they retain some sort of edge.

Along with the sequel, Zombie has "House of 1000 Corpses" masks ready for release in time for Halloween ("So every little kid can dress up like Dr. Satan!"), plus a book collecting his favorite horror stories and another film project.
"It's too early to talk about," he said of the new film.
As for Zombie music, the CD and DVD set Past, Present, & Future is due September 23 and will feature 19 tracks from the past 20 years, including two new ones, "Two-Lane Blacktop" and "Girl on Fire.

['Two-Lane Blacktop' is] based on this really cool movie starring James Taylor and [the Beach Boys'] Dennis Wilson, about two guys driving cars," Zombie explained.

The DVD will include eight of Zombie's memorable videos, plus two previously unavailable clips.


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2003 The Daily Star