While I was desperately looking towards the road expecting to see the double decker appearing, many private cars stopped nearby as the chauffeur very politely and with a smile extended his neck towards the window asking if I needed a lift towards Mohakhali. I was all ready to thwart off any possible mugging attempt under their new avatar and I was even more unprepared to see somebody smiling at me to offer a service. Although I nodded my head in the negative, I saw many fellow city dwellers and bus-awaitees getting into the private cars after a quick negotiation with the chauffeur. I gained confidence and since my Volvo bus never arrived till then, I decided to jump into the next private car cum cab that would come my way. After a while, came one Toyota Allion with a smiling and interested looking driver shaheb. For 10 tk. each he packed the car with many uradhura people like me and dropped us at Kakoli.I didn't forget to warn him that any possible attempt of 'thek deya' (mugging) will be vehemently foiled, so he better not think about it, he gave a red grin while chewing his betel leaf and cracked jokes on himself. We enjoyed a quick journey in the air conditioned Japanese car, while listening to Radio Foorti 88.0 FM. I felt free from the dust and noise of the 'otherwise chaotic' Dhaka streets. While in the car cum cab, the city looked better, and I felt pity for the not-so-fortunate people....thought what I can do for them, all while sitting in the comfy comfy Allion backseat. While getting off, we paid the 'fare' to the driver shaheb and he said 'thank you' with a smile, I didn't bother to reply...as I am not used to getting such service while using public transport in Dhaka.
Next story, my brother's friend got a drop at his university in Banani only to find out after going upstairs that the class had been cancelled. When he came downstairs to look for his car, he couldn't find it. The driver was also not following 'kaachey thakun' principle, implying that he was not carrying any mobile phone and he also disappeared. My brother's friend was puzzled and had no option but to wait in the premises for the next hour. The driver finally appeared with an embarassed face and upon interrogation, revealed that he was doing some part time ferrying of passengers from Banani to Gulshan-2 and Gulshan-1, as he thought his 'bhaiya' was attending the hour long class. He also admitted that he had been doing it for the last two months, which according to him 'helps him pass his time, does good to city dwellers in Dhaka and also gives him some additional income...je ja khushi hoye dey arki'.
So I guess by now you can pretty well imagine that a unique partnership between public and private sector is emerging to tackle the poor transport service in Dhaka city. Although I scored very high in statistics while being in Notre Dame College, I am no statistician, I can't remember well figures and numbers, and there is that quote that says "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics". So I leave the numbers for our think-tanks, gurus and liars, as a simple consumer and commuter, I believe that since the public transport system in this city has gone completely bollocks, such emergence of private sector taxi service is very natural. Think-tanks will keep on arguing about the ideal area of a city, proportion of required roads, number of cars, blah blah blah, but all these number crunching seminars and symposiums have done little to make the traffic move even an inch these days. People keep writing letters in national dailies giving ideas about tackling the traffic problem, but who is there to listen and who is there to implement? Many suggest to move Kamlapur Railway Station out of Dhaka, others suggest to make use of what we naturally possess...our water bodies and to introduce efficient water routes and water vessels to connect different corners of Dhaka, some even suggest to start planning for alternate capital city for Bangladesh somewhere near Gazipur with a 10 year plan to start designing a city from the scratch...somewhat like Putrajaya in Malaysia...but who cares and why bother huh? As long as I can move, go to my office, shoshur-bari, bachchar school, Nandon, Agora, Westin and Radisson, I am happy, bakita jader korar ora korbe...I am going for holiday in Dubai next week, then to London and then to the States, I can be least bothered of this blog post shit.
Nevertheless...I must mention that I am also amused to see many middle class families having as many as 3 cars in the same family, one for abbu, one for boro bhaiya and one for myself....if they can afford it, why won't they buy it, are there any rules to stop them? So they are also making good use of their cars, if its not serving the family, serve the nation profitably. Look at the misery of female commuters, help them and give them a hitch in your AC car, not a bad intention huh? So as heavy-brain-duty gurus keep on suggesting in seminars that private sector should join hands with public sectors to implement important development initiatives, the very chauffeurs of those gurus and ministers might be implementing what their shahebs must be preaching inside the auditorium. As an ordinary young commuter, who does not own a car yet and who cannot fit into buses and human haulers, such emergence of private car cum cabs is a welcome change. Although I am stuck in traffic jams anyways, be it in a private car or be it in a yellow/black cab, but atleast there is AC, music and a chauffeur who shows respect and smile...does not give me a feeling as if I am being hostage in this nearly unlivable city. Baki to shob dhorei nisi je kaj korbe na, so lets be happy as I ride jani na kon boro lok er dami gari from Bishwa Road to Kakoli.