This neighbourhood of Niketon is full of buildings. Every inch is occupied and if there is an empty plot one is shocked. Why is it being wasted?. After all, in a city where every inch is measured in lakhs, crores left not built on is not a waste but an insult to both money and housing needs. A few are still empty but they are very few and people walking past them sigh with puzzled emotions. This is a place which needs to be built quickly and high.

Most of the owners are senior citizens and that is an interesting phenomenon. They are retired gentlemen who have slogged through their years and now are happily slotted into apartments in one of the top floors while collecting rent from the above and floors below. That is how life was meant to be. Many are government servants and many of them have more than one address. No one needs to ask more but this is where they live, at least most of them do. It's a nice address. Gulshan's younger brother or maybe half sibling, called Niketon but still close enough. It has a nice ring to it.

The shamers, the slow walkers and others

Age slows people down and feeble lower limbs turn walks into shuffles. The owners walk on the narrow roads partly occupied by parked cars and one is not sure if they are illegally parked or not. After all that is a state of mind. But the Niketon Society has actually hired public shamers, perhaps the only one of this kind in Bangladesh to do something about it. And they have an interesting job to perform.

As per the rules of the Society, only the owners' cars can be parked inside the apartment gates. Good. According to the same rules, cars can't be parked outside on the road. That is great. So where do they go? Well, there is supposed to be a parking lot somewhere in the area which has been built where no one knows.

So you're telling me that my guests who decide to visit me first come to my home, then I explain where that parking lot is, then they spend half an hour finding it and then after parking walks to my apartment and then repeats the same when it's time to go home?

The message I get is that you don't want visitors at least in a car owning crowd and you want to encourage getting lost and walk in a not so interesting neighbourhood quite lost and wondering if this is why we wanted an independent state in 1971.

The problem is, about one-third of the apartments are rented out as offices which people are not supposed to and these tenants are mostly car owning. They don't have sign boards but pay rents so who is going to ask them out? That is why Niketon thrives partly anyway.

So you can't ask them to leave but the professional brand of "shamers" come to the car parked boldly on the road and then should on their megaphone, "please remove your car. Have you no shame? Is there no mercy in your heart? No sense of guilt? ". It goes on and on till local people half deaf from their cries shoos them away.

And that leaves only the shufflers alone, treading softly through the lanes, which can suddenly be jammed as cars use it as a thoroughfare and diversion to escape the traffic insanity of the main Gulshan Road and spread their madness inside the lanes of Niketon where feeble legs compete with feeble heads and hearts.

The Gulshan market death row

Or one can walk for around half an hour and reach Gulshan 1 crossing and stand on the pavement and look up and see the death mask of the once Gulshan market. It's an awesome scene really. Hundreds of shops, establishments, outlets and even a few offices all shut down, death staring from their derelict windows. Nothing looks so much like death as all five stories of unlit windows as they stare down from the eyeless sockets at anybody who bothers to glance. All gone, all empty, all over.

So where do shops go after they die? Some go to new addresses and badly printed paper posters stuck on the walls that surround the ex-market hold a few of these directions which none read. After all they are no longer necessary, needed and so a new address is another reality. And most importantly they are not owners so they can't operate, No one owns, no one knows, no signs to offer and no shamers even. One who doesn't own, doesn't exist it means.

One can stare with fear or pity and then walk back to Niketon not far away. No sir, we are fine, we own even if we can't walk anymore and shuffle on the road like an ancient trolley carrying stale but still colourful vegetables of the last season gone and done.

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