Are you a true Dhakaite?
After living all these years in Dhaka can you truly call yourself a Dhakaite? Cue identity crisis. If you are new to this crazy town and are lacking a sense of belonging then listen up. There are a few things that make a quintessential Dhakaite. Let’s call it a right to passage if you will. You cannot call yourself a true citizen of this city if you haven’t done the following things, and if you have, grab a Mr Twister and a pen and check them out of your list. So, you are not a pure Dhakaite if you haven’t…
Crashed a fancy party
Are you bored and hungry and craving some good food but can’t necessarily afford it? Well, the solution is simple. I will not discriminate. Here, the type of program (Wedding, reception, circumcision celebration or be it name keeping festivity) does not matter. The venue does. The bigger and fancier the venue, the more people are likely to be invited increasing your chances of blending into the crowd. But remember, dress accordingly and take a lot of selfies!
Enjoyed the street food and suffered the consequences
With food carts sprouting in every corner, we tend to forget about the actual essence of street food that every Dhakaite needs to devour before calling themselves a part of this city. Forget the fancy bun covered slice of meat and greet the vehemently shaken Jhalmuri and Fuchka sprinkled with green chillies (Naga morich for the brave souls) and lathered with tamarind sauce. Try some ghastly pink coloured cotton candy and mix it with popcorn, papar and road side Bhel puri. Have some fried mushroom, potato and shrimp head fritters afterwards. Throw in some ice cold Gola before you wash it all down with some sweet coconut water. Remember, you need to consume all the street food in one day. What happens to your stomach the next day, I will leave it up to your imagination. Such are the conditions to fit in. Happy eating!
Used at least 3 modes of transportation to go from point A to point B
Just ask anyone who doesn’t own a private vehicle, they know what I’m talking about. Sometimes one mode of transportation just won’t do, so you just have to resort to the variety of modes that Dhaka has to offer. Let me share a small anecdote. My destination was Farmgate and my initial location was Bailey Road, close enough right? Wrong. I take a rickshaw in order to avoid the traffic of the main streets and cruise though the narrow alleys, completely disregarding that the school had just released its monkeys. So, I’m stuck in point A(i) when I see a friend on his bike. A faster motorized vehicle, I think,so I hop on. Now I am at point A(ii) in front of what used to be Ruposhi Bangla, waiting for a VVIP to cross. As the bike tiptoes to Paribagh, I lose my patience and jump into a bus. At last after 1.45 hours I reach what was a 30minute rickshaw ride. Yes, this is an original Dhakaite experience.
Experienced international holidays and festivals
Being the hub of commerce and culture and the heart of the country, Dhaka by default is the host of international frenzy. Dhakaiites are open minded and always ready to embrace international festivals and its diversity. Dhaka serves global experience in a platter and demands every citizen to relish it. We celebrate Halloween, Valentine’s Day and as of recently even Black Friday! Dhaka recently has been hosting numerous festivals-- literary, art and music--s such as the Literature Festival, the Art Summit and the Blues and Bengal Classic Music festival where national and international artists perform and dazzle the Dhaka life with their momentary glamour and passion. Those are moments of enlightenment which they share with the rest of the city dwellers. Attending these events does not come from a lack of entertainment, but because they are so spectacular that if you don’t you will miss something truly special. And you know us Dhaikaites and our need to be special.
Taken change from a beggar
We all know the feeling of being rich when we are freshly paid but still miserly enough to take the bus to work. The need for spare change during that crucial time of bargain with the bus helper turns pointless when he smirks because you don’t have a smaller note of money. At that moment your eye falls on the beggar that just arrived. That is the moment when your sense of morality and economic need combine to form one great idea. Beggars ALWAYS have change, and they are more than willing to help you out when given a small incentive. Not all heroes appear wearing shining armour riding a stallion you know.
This could happen anywhere and anytime, but the chances increase during certain periods of time. Most of the common places are a mosque where you are most likely to have your wallet along with your new pair of sandals stolen. A cultural celebration with a large crowd such as the Dhaka University campus during Pahela Baishakh or Pahela Falgun is a great place to get pickpocketed.
Involuntarily participated in a rickshaw race
Dhaka is all about the rickshaw rides. With the the garish colors, quintessential Rickshaw art and their wise quotes, the rickshaw ride is essential not only for daily commute but also acts as a significant dating experience. The experience occasionally includes small talk with the rickshaw driver, his poetry recitation or even singing aside from the standard exchange of curses with his contemporaries. If he is in a really good mood and the night is young and the roads are empty, get ready for the ride of your life. Trust me, you might as well mind your own business and take in the out of the body experience (your soul might want to get out of your body once or twice, but that’s alright). The rush, speed and breeze is exhilarating and the feeling is really unique for a crowded city like Dhaka. So hold on tight and let go of all your inhibitions. If you are still alive, you are three steps away to becoming a true Dhaikaite.
Swung from a bus
With public transportation so scarce, hanging from the doors of a running bus which by the way is barely hanging on to its hinges is a luxury. Dhaka is flooding with people, and you would think in such a circumstance we would have more if not better means of public transportation. Common scenarios include the protruding buttocks from the bus windows, people clinging like magnets with the back ladder, teenagers pulling the ‘Titanic pose’ on the roof and most importantly, barely gripping onto any piece of the door handle. There is only one bus etiquette that you need to know: if a bus has a handle, we hang.
Spent Tk 250-350 on a single small mug of coffee
When in Dhaka it is hard to miss the coffee shops sprouting like mushrooms in a rainforest. Like the waft of biscuity air of Nabisco road, the aroma of freshly roasted coffee blended with imported milk pulls you forward with the imaginary hand of fragrance. The interior teleports you to a small coffee shop in Aspin with the dim lights, soothing music and the cookie dough whiff. Once you order a Hazelnut Cappuccino and chocolate chip cookie, and hear the accumulated price--your trance shatters into the number of pieces of your tears. Mind you these places are delectable to the tongue yet hefty on the pocket. But it’s one of those must-do things here.
Slow clap and high five yourself
Now that you are one of us, I feel sorry for you. You have entered the world of wasted time in traffic jams and adulterated food disguised as a delicacy. But amidst all this deception and corruption, there are days of peace and clarity (especially during Eids, when the roads are vacant) Dhaka is truly beautiful and I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else (Secretly packing bags for a vacation to Cox’s Bazar!).