Many if not most of my generation were not born in Dhaka. The distance they feel from the city they call their own and the villages or towns is wide. They are slightly embarrassed about their origins if you will. At the same time they are embarrassed about this city with its sleaze and puerility. In a rather mild form of way, they are caught between two worlds.
This friend of mine is a Dhaka original but no longer lives here. He used to live in the heart of the old town, then moved on to the suburbs and then on to another land leaving his past and friends behind.
Family tragedies or shall greed played a role as the family was caught between a serious feud over what else-property. He was forced to leave Dhaka never to return. I know it's not the property that embitters him but the fact that some of his own flesh and blood could treat him that way. What was his family home became a foreign land and his exile became his home by default.
The bitter soil
His bitterness comes out in many ways and his remarks, FB posts and sends messages reflect that mien. I understand that pain and I play along. I treat him like a slightly mad friend who is to be joked with. But he sometimes doesn't get the jokes. The point is not that.
The point is that his family lives there, his fine career is there, his lovely children are there but part of him lives here. He is caught between a world he lives in and a world he has rejected as it did him. He is not caught between two worlds; he just can't let one go. For his own sake, I wish he could. I do think if someone suffers from this lack of home sense, the family should become the land. But the hurt is too big in him.
Property is such a player in all this. After all, homesteads are sold to buy apartments in Dhaka. A friend bought a piece of land in Uttara but couldn't take possession due to the locals. Twenty years later, very luckily, his next door neighbour made a decent offer - about 25 lakh less than the market price- and he sold it the next day.
He quickly bought this flat in the building he lived in. He has a very decent rental income from his distant town where he grew up, preached revolution, followed his leader, got arrested in 1971, went on carrying the red flag for long. But red flags always pale with every summer and home is here not there anymore.
Land, property, price, rentals, apartments, housing, land deals etc are defining a city as it swells with the pressure of many people without any options. Where do you come from?
I don't know but I have a flat in Dhaka. In sin city, a person is known by the property he has.
Of howling dogs and bellowing cars and MFs
When Dhaka's municipal corporations went on a dog killing spree, many protested. It became a social issue of sorts and the corporations did have to mute it down. Many have claimed that the pro-dog lobby is made up of the better off people, those who don't walk the streets where mongrels prowl.
In the area I live- there are dogs in our lane but they concentrate on a few houses, staying close to their gates where food is certain. The lonely security guards are friendly with dogs. They collect food from others too and make sure of dog meals. Why?
They have no answer either but they do. In sin city, kindness towards animals and people can be addictive and those hooked find it difficult to get rid of it. These darwans are hardly well off but the true dog lover is at the bottom of the Niketon class pole. No explanations.
During peak corona these dogs became almost silent, as silent as the virus infected days and night. No cars, no dogs, no no one.
But Dhaka is recovering and that's obvious. The dogs now prowl at night and slowly the howl is returning at night telling everyone things are old normal. At least dog barking wise.
But there is another species which now prowl Dhaka nights. These are the barking and howling fancy cars of the rich people who come down from Gulshan 2 to play at night on the empty roads.
They won't let many go to sleep and will wake up who had drifted into a slumber. People who go to bed at midnight doesn't come from the upper class so it's not tolerated really. But admit it, roaring through the empty streets of Dhaka in a noisy car bought by papa's money which keeps everyone awake is a rare pleasure that only the rich can afford. For the less rich the night is for listening to dogs and cars of the rich.