House hunting in Dhaka is nothing short of a nightmare, and I say this not necessarily because of the disparity of numbers between those who have their own house and who do not.
There was nothing extraordinary about that day, except that a sudden impulse to walk had gripped me! A nyctophile, I have always cherished the pleasure of walking in the city after dark, but living in Dhaka now, this desire had to remain unfulfilled.
Whenever people talk about the greater Bengal, divided in two halves—West Bengal, consisting of 18 districts of India, and East Bengal, which is now Bangladesh—the linguistic commonality along with what many term as 'Bengaliness' creates a myth of cultural affinity and a networked relationship maintained across the national divide.
It is not for nothing that Dhaka is called a “jadur shohor”—a magical city. No, I don't say this to exoticise a city from the Global South out of any unconscious colonial hangover. I believe in the city's “special” abilities that are crucial in defining the urban pathology and behaviour it generates.
The city as we know it is as much a physical space as it is a state of mind. The mindscape—the space we bear in our mind—is constantly in dialogue with the physical city. The real city emerges out of this dialectic. Yet, and quite sadly so, our urban research remains heavily biased towards the physical city, relegating the immaterial associations of the city as secondary, if not outright unimportant.
The city is like a text. It always gives us clues in many forms into its inner world. Reading those signs may allow us to see a pattern leading to the city's psycho-social world. Why is this even important? Because this is the invisible landscape that conditions the visible one, determining the way we behave in the city. Let us consider Dhaka. How does living in Dhaka feel ? It is like being on perpetual tenterhooks.