Tuesday, February 10, 2009

To Dhaka!

Thanks to my new job… started waking up in strange new places again! And this time I woke up at the Lake Shore Hotel in the Ghulshan area , Dhaka, East Bengal or today’s Bangladesh! It was serious work this time, so dint take my camera – so no early morning strolls, and no pictures folks!
Contrary to an average person’s perception of Bangladesh – a poor, dirty, generally flood hit, densely populated Islamic state… Dhaka seemed pretty much like Calcutta to me! Ya..all you got to do is may be add a couple of million people, import about 8 million Cycle Rickshaws, put grills to the driver side on the Auto Rickshaws and paint them green (dint figure this out…is this to protect the Auto driver or to keep him from getting out?)…horribly beat up Maruti 800s and call that a taxi, take out all the Indica’s, Hondas Marutis, etc and convert them to a used Toyota Corrolla ( every car in Dhaka has to be a Corolla), get people to drive up and down the roads and build a few more traffic jams and that’s it Calcutta could become a Dhaka! Yes, the Buses, Roads, and everything else can stay!
But seriously, I came back thinking Dhaka is a lovely place ( as lovely as any other Indian City) , and Bangladeshis are a lovely people ( much more lovely than any other Indian City).
Yes, of course, the country has serious problems – the economy is all about its farmers (who keep getting screwed as the countries over 50 rivers bloats up), or the Emigrant laborer or the Garment Factory worker. Therefore the protectionist government policies of licensing, high duties, etc (eg: Bollywood movies are banned on theatre screens to help the local film industry!). And this obviously means a heavily corrupted ( morning’s paper said that something like 65% of the government advertising budgets were spent on newspapers than merely existed on Paper- name only!), aid driven economy ( I think I saw more UN Type people going around in Dhaka than Sudan!) .
Yep, that’s evolution…and Bangladesh would evolve. One well travelled and well meaning Professor I met at the University of Dhaka said… “the world is no more about segregation..its about aggregation…look at the EU”. Maybe closer ties with India could really help the average Bangladeshi much more to start with!