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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Riding a CNG for better reasons: Part 1

I am convinced that my Chhoto Chachchu, may be unknowingly, was one of the leading pioneers in promoting and practicing the concepts of ‘Liton er flat’ in Bangladesh since late eighties. When I look back now some 22 years ago, I realise that the frequenting of the Dhaka hotties (omuk apu, tomuk aunty) and the warm welcome by Chachchu in his mysterious, dodgy private room in the house was nothing but the budding concept of ‘Liton er flat’, the fact and phenomenon later exposed in the hit Bangla film ‘Bachelor’. I am even surprised and happy to discover that even a fan page on Facebook exists for ‘Liton er flat’ where they ask ‘what kind of services you wish for in Lit’s flat?’ (lol). We can discuss however about the concept, emergence, need, use, risks etc. of this innovative, productive (!) ‘flat’ in a later post.

What makes me look back to this is also the fact that Chachchu used to ask (or rather command) me from the realm of his own 'Liton er flat' sometimes to get him a ‘baby’ with ‘curtains’. Now don’t be mistaken by this ‘baby’, this ‘baby’ was not any of Chachchu’s ‘babies’ i.e. hot/spicy Dhaka drop-deads. Before the arrival of environment friendly green colored CNG auto-rickshaws, we used to call the three-wheelers ‘baby taxis’ or simply ‘baby’. So Chachchu used to yell for a ‘baby’ when his ‘baby’ needed to be dropped off ‘Shayer jao taratari ekta baby nie asho…porda wala anba!!’.

So that was my first orientation to the innovative usage of baby taxis in Dhaka, that other than carrying passengers around, they can be ideal places for last minute intimacy on the move between lovers of Dhaka...Liton er CNG??, as long as there are curtains and covers ofcourse. Although I remained intrigued for long time wondering how come Chachchu’s ravishing hot-heeled guests are so ‘parda-nasheen’ that they preferred ‘parda’ in baby-taxis too. Eventually I realised that this ‘parda’ was meant for other purposes which Chachchu knew and practiced better. So he kept on doing what he enjoyed doing best and I grew up to test it on my own too. I realised however that those were risky ventures if the ‘baby-wala’ happened to be a moral police and/or the time and fate was just perfect for getting mugged too. So after knowing three-wheelers as the passenger carrier and ‘vehicle of love’, I also realised that these can be used to be mugged or to mug unsuspecting innocent passengers too. Time went by, baby-taxis got replaced with CNG auto-rickshaws and we replaced ‘baby’ darling with an acronym…‘CNG’. And as Dhaka city got busier, traffic jams increased and kept on proving how horrible the urban planning in the city is and how much time, productivity, mood we keep wasting stuck inside environment friendly CNG auto-rickshaws. Sometimes I used to doze off in such situations, sometimes throw glances left and right to spot any potential Dhaka Eves in the air conditioned car stuck side by side, sometimes used to curse my fate and the system that how severely its choking people’s productivity, mood, time, etc. However if every (black) cloud has silver lining, was wondering if there is anything worthwhile doing while travelling in CNGs in Dhaka? Anything we could think of in terms of urban advertising on the go? Anything revenue generating involving the CNG owners or the drivers? (to be continued)

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