If you Google Image-search Dhaka every 80% of the pictures on the first and subsequent pages are about the streets of Dhaka full of thousands of vehicles and thousands of people. Sure you’ll get a glimpse of a closeup of a Rickshaw or a random snapshot of a bride and groom at a Dhaka wedding (that was the 12th picture that came up!!!) but mostly its traffic..traffic… TRAFFIC.
Anyone who lives in Dhaka develops two perspectives on traffic.
- They complain about it ALL THE TIME. Even when they’re sitting at home sipping their milky tea and wondering about the state of the world or their slowly diminishing hairlines. They bicker about it when they’re stuck in the middle of traffic to their chauffers, their rickshawpullers, their CNG drivers (CNGs are three wheelers that use Compressed Natural Gas as fuel, and are hence called CNGs. What else will you call them?), their annoyed kids sitting with them with the traffic, and to no one listening in particular.
- They ignore it like an embarrassing moment of a young age. Like say if you ever walked into your parents grabbing each other in the kitchen. Would you ever acknowledge that? I wouldn’t. People in this category develop a sort of patience that, well, only Dhaka-ites who are patient with traffic can develop. There is no appropriate simile for this.
Most people belong to category 1. A few handful alternate between 1 and 2. No one is on 2 alone. If I had the time, or the artistic abilities that I so desire right now, I’d draw a funny little venn diagram cartoon to make this more interesting. I don’t so let’s just move on.
But why is an entire being of a city- a city that has so much going on it- be represented to the rest of the world by just its traffic scenario? Granted it’s a big deal but there are other cities that have major traffic issues as well like Tokyo and Sao Paulo. Do you know what you get when you google Tokyo and Sao Paulo? Exactly what the cities look like. Hundreds of sky scrapers and brilliant lights and people and everything you see in the city. Not just traffic.
Maybe one day it’ll change. Not any time soon, but maybe one day. Till then I’m just going to keep my headphones on as my mother panics over being stuck on the road for an hour. I can be category 1 tomorrow.