Banani's Road 11 wasn't always the hustling and bustling social hotspot that it is today. As a part of the Banani from the bygone days, the iconic "Road 11" was initially intended to serve as a residential area. However, despite being billed as such, the street didn't exactly garner the kind of popularity it was supposed to, at first.
A limited number of houses dotted the 1.3 km long street, which ended at the lake separating Gulshan from Banani. Road 11, sometime in the 90s, was a pretty ideal location for a nice afternoon walk or perhaps an evening stroll. There was a strong sense of community spirit there, just about everyone on the street knew everyone. Members from each building would gather every now and then to either celebrate a special occasion, or to just pass the time with some good old-fashioned gossip. A pretty tight-knit community, it was.
The year 2008 brought a rather unexpected change to Road 11. A bridge was being constructed across the Gulshan Lake, finally easing transport between the two areas. This set in motion a chain of events which saw Banani's Road 11 take on a new form quite drastically, going from a seemingly quiet residential street to a heavily sought-after commercial location. Some people began moving out, relocating to a less-busy environment suitable for a home. The others began to rent out their spaces in their residential buildings to accommodate small businesses.
In the words of Fauzia Sultana Mahbub, a long-time resident of the street, Road 11 had gradually lost its community spirit over time. "It started with the construction of the bridge," Mahbub says, "Road 11 very soon became devoid of that wholesomeness. There was a time when my friends and I would play around the neighbourhood and befriend members of the adjoining WAPDA colony. Now I don't even know much about the neighbours next door."
Gradually, larger businesses moved in with their offices. Within a decade, Banani Road 11 had fully transformed into a commercial hub. There was now a pharmacy every two minutes along the street, and countless eateries and fashion stores, you name it.
According to Samiha Khan, who frequents Road 11, Banani's most iconic street has evolved into a more diverse location, boasting a wide range of lifestyle stores catering to people from various different backgrounds, instead of just Banani locals. She says, "I like how much variety the shops have there. There are deshi stores, and there are ones offering more Americanised clothing options; 500 eateries with different cuisines, and whatnot. There are people of all ages having a good time at Road 11 these days."
Banani's Road 11 in present day doesn't look anything like how I remember it from my childhood. It doesn't look anything like how my mother remembers it either. During her time, a shop of any kind was hard to come across on Road 11. And now her own daughter is spoilt for choice amongst Aarong, Puma, Noir, Tarka, Burger King, and Pizza Hut. God knows what my nieces and nephews will come to witness on Banani's Road 11. One thing remains certain, though: the street continues to be as iconic as ever.
Rasha Jameel is your neighbourhood feminist-apu-who-writes-big-essays. Remind her to also finish writing her bioinformatics research paper at email@example.com