Of traffic and our complicity
I was walking home from university a few days ago when I had an interesting thought. I'm a student of Dhaka University. Unlike many other students, we are blessed with a spacious campus and lush greenery. Despite the availability of ample pavements within DU, I was walking on the road. It was a choice—one that I, and many others, make everyday. I realised this was borne out of habit, an involuntary action I could not control. Whether it's overcrowding or the presence of countless illegal vendors blocking the pavements, jaywalking had become a knee-jerk reaction for me. In my haste to circumvent Dhaka traffic, I was unwittingly contributing to it. Jaywalking is one of the main causes behind the worsening traffic conditions of our country. No matter how much time we waste complaining about traffic, I realised that we will never solve this issue if we do not acknowledge our own complicity. We can construct all the flyovers and pavements we want but what we need is a change of behaviour. Only a collective change of mindset can reverse this situation. That, I believe, is at the heart of this issue.
A CNG driver's kindness
A week ago, I was looking for a CNG one night to take me home from Dhanmondi to Mohakhali. Unfortunately, I had only BDT 150 to pay the fare. As any regular CNG-user can vouch, drivers will rarely take passengers unless promised at least BDT 20 over the meter. The fact that I was a woman looking for a CNG late at night put me at a further disadvantage. At least five different drivers declined to take me home before one agreed. He approached me himself, saying that he had seen me struggling to find a transport. He said, Manusher shomossha thaktei pare (People may have problems.) For the rest of the journey home, he carried on a one-sided conversation while I listened. He told me about his life. He has been a resident of Dhaka for 25 years, having moved here to give his family a better life. He has a daughter who had just graduated from Dhaka Polytechnic Institute and a son who had a steady job. This encounter reminded me that kindness isn't a lost virtue, no matter how elusive it may seem sometimes.
Tasnim Dhara Islam