Illustration: Fahim Anzoom
OR a person living the urban Bangladeshi life, it's difficult to fathom the cramped city streets without cars, CNGs, and buses. Since these are the most used transports but can seldom get you anywhere in time, we at RS came up with alternate rides you can own to make commute easier. To make matters interesting, we've decided to digress from the mainstream transports towards those that are highly related to the Bangali ethos. These are the rides for all you eco-friendly hipsters and may someday be used as the transport of choice for particular scenarios, we hope. Thela-gari. We see thela-garis on the roads all the time, used to transport heavy objects between places. Though you might not be a heavy object, it wouldn't be a bad choice for commuting should you decide to buy one, and it can serve the entire family. Customize your ride with Pimp-My-Ride-esque spinning rims. Add a “Dhaka Metro” number plate to access the more affluent parts of the town without trouble from the authorities.
Ideal users: Service providers. You can carpool (or in this case Thelagaripool) with your coworkers. Make sure to recruit a non-lungi-clad chauffer with preferably tremendous upper body strength, so that your pressed shirts don't get wrinkled.
Beggar carts. These come in different shapes and sizes and you can easily make one with planks and small wheels stolen from your younger sibling's toy car. Make a comfortable seating arrangement in it with cushions and roll your way to your destination. Depending on the size of your cart, you might as well use it as a portable home should your parents disown you. With the addition of neon lights, you can challenge your friends to races along the Airport Road at evenings, but be careful not to capsize your vehicle. With any luck, you'll probably get contract offers for the next The Fast and the Furious movie.
Ideal users: Newlyweds. Imagine yourself being pushed on a beggar cart en route to your own wedding, while an entire troop of your extended family follows you on foot. And after the traditional festivities, you and your better half being pushed on the cart to your honeymoon destination. Grand, isn't it?
Kola-gaach rafts. These highly sustainable aquatic rides are made with logs of banana trees and are the perfect mode of commuting during monsoon, when most of the city streets are submerged by 3 feet of floodwater. It's the only ride that won't disappoint you when all other transport fails. We suggest installation of windshields and beach umbrellas to protect you from getting drenched. Hey, these rafts can even be used to transport bulls around the town.
Ideal users: Extreme sports enthusiasts. For years you've drunk your Mountain Dew and practiced air-rowing to prepare yourself for this moment. So grab this opportunity to get your adrenalines pumping. However, make sure you're not rolling in the deep manholes, or you'll end up in Black Water Bay (of Buriganga, not King's Landing).
Ice cream carts. Compact and mobile, ice cream carts come with a cooling chamber, and an umbrella to protect you from getting tanned. The summers in Bangladesh accentuate the importance of this underrated vehicle. Tired of pedaling already? Open the box and help yourself to a refreshing lime flavored lolly ice cream.
Ideal users : The forever alone kids. Let's face it, the ice cream carts are designed for bereft loners like you. On the bright side, you can try to woo prospective cohorts by offering them ice cream from your improvised Pandora's Box. RS takes no responsibility if you're the next Ice-Truck Killer in the making.
Chotpoti/Fuchka vans. Wrapped in plastic on three sides, these vans offer shelter as well as portability. Customize your ride-turned-home with subwoofers and add cell-phone chargers. Install a solar panel on the roof for free energy. A chauffer is a must to drive you around. Ride like a baws!
Ideal users: School students. Hastily complete your home tasks on your way to school in the comfort of your sweet ride. Be the envy of your mates. Oh, and don't forget to take your date to Gloria Jean's in your cart!
Life without our modern transport system would be much different than we know it. The mentioned vehicles have been in use in Bangladesh for eons by those working hard to make a living. Wouldn't it be nice if we try to put ourselves in their shoes, for a change, and show them a little appreciation?