Most metropolitan cities from Cairo to Paris to Lahore are known for their roadside cafes and food streets where everything under the sun is discussed and debated by the young and the old alike. From national politics to business to career plan. A large number of these street food lovers are students.
In Dhaka, Bashundhara Residential Area is one such street food zone with a number of trendy cafes for the rising population of mostly students of two big private universities. The road is popularly called 300 feet.
These are a perfect place for outing all year round for the students who are otherwise cooped up in their rented rooms they have come to call their home. On weekdays, the rush is low in the morning because of regular classes and exams. Still, the attraction of the place pulls them in. It's only a TK 20 ride on rickshaw from their campuses, which are getting more and more crowded every semester because of fresh enrolments.
Plus the variety and quality of some of the food, especially the coffee, on the campus is below standards. Some say the coffee available on the campus is like hot water mixed with powder.
Besides, the cafes on 300 feet road provide a Dhaka University's TCS canteen-like experience for the students who long for some space. It's not that there is no space inside the residential area. Jamuna Future Park is an option but it's too far and too expensive a rickshaw ride for them. Also, prices are high at food courts at the very popular and one of the largest malls in Asia with a minimum of 15 percent VAT on all food items.
At 300 feet, where students get together every midnight, the VAT is 7-10 percent. In addition, students get some 10 percent discount in most shops. The crowd is particularly large on weekends. Briefly relieved of class pressure, the time is perfect for them to hang out and talk whatever they want to talk. Such nighttime outing for Sehri becomes an everyday matter during Ramadan.
Whatever the reasons, 300 feet is on the daily itinerary of most students living and studying in Bashundhara area. This stretch is the place for the “coffee house er shei adda” by Manna Dey for these homesick boys and girls.
(The writer is a student of Independent University.)
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