Bangladeshi gari-wallahs

The other day, I was driving towards Gulshan One through Mahakhali. As usual, there was quite an irritating traffic on that street where you get only space for one car to pass through. Despite the slow pace of the motorized as well as non-motorized vehicles, I was not irritated. Nor was I experiencing any problem for driving on.
My daughter was with me and we were heading home from Dhanmondi district where she went for her regular tuition.
I usually love the drive back home after long day’s work and family responsibilities.
I noticed a car popped out from one of the by-lanes and queued up behind me.
I didn’t mind since there were about a hundred cars behind me. Well, why would you mind when it’s normal in Dhaka city that there’d be at least a hundred cars behind and in front of you.
It was about nine o clock at night when everybody seemed in a rush to reach home as quickly as possible.
The problem started when the car started blinking, indicating me to move away from the lane I was driving on. There was no way I could let the car overtake mine. He kept on blinking! I tried to move away to my left, but against fell in the lane due to the rickshaws on my left.
I looked at the people in the car behind me in my rear-view mirror. There he was! He looked like a multinational, neo-elite type of guy. He also seemed quite muscular. The neo-elite [who are mostly young entrepreneurs] and multinational types go to gyms these-days. There was also a lady by his side. I though they were going somewhere and was trying to make some room for them to pass by. But the guy kept on blinking even understanding my inability to let them overtake me.
I pulled down my window pane and waves at him, asking why he was blinking so much. The blinking increased. I couldn’t take that any more! I raised my right hand and showed my middle finger at him.
At first he didn’t see my finger. I think the lady beside him saw my finger and told the macho man. A little later, he started honking desperately. It seemed a mad-mad sound and I thought he wanted to talk to me and fight as to why I showed him the finger. I wanted to let him come by my side, but it wasn’t possible, again due to rickshaws.
A little before approaching Gulshan One intersection, I signalled for turning to left; the macho man behind me also turned left, keeping his crazy finger on the horns. I understood he was following me and really wanted a fight. I decided this time, while turning, I won’t signal. I saw another left-turn and turned abruptly with a 30-km speed. This time, he missed and I could lose him from tail.
The point I’m trying to make is the obnoxious practice of unruly drivers in Dhaka city has to stop. The tendency of honking, to my mind, actually comes from the lack of discipline and patience on the roads. First, we are not disciplined; we don’t want to stay in the lane. Then, even after knowing that there’s no way to go, we keep on honking as if to scare away the driver who is in front of me.
This must stop. And along with it: ‘blinking’ from the back.
During nights, most cars on Dhaka streets ply with high-beam lights. Those who don’t, keep blinking – and confuse your eyes from the light reflecting from the view mirrors –– from behind even if there is no space to let it pass by.
The blinking-spree was at it extreme during the last regime when the son of an former prime minister and his followers used to rule the roads with their SUVs. Now that most of them have abandoned their cars on the roads or now have kept it home so that the present government doesn’t know about their wealth.
SUVs! Yes, Bangladeshi elite love driving sport utility vehicles. If they don’t their prestige would be tarnished before the middle-class Toyota-drivers. The elite have to be outstanding. Well, they deserve that, as they work so hard to make the money they have; isn’t it? But the elite don’t build the roads to drive their SUVs. They just buy huge cars that cannot even run on the roads thatw e have.
So, we are the gari-wallahs of Bangladesh aren’t educated enough to drives cars. I just read a new item in a few papers that about 5500 cars are waiting to be released from Chittagong port and another 1000 cars are on the way to Bangladesh.

The question is: where would we run all these cars?

About this entry