Saturday, July 12, 2008


When you look out at the Bangladesh traffic, you see more than just a tumult of cars and a confusion of people, you see a booming, bustling market. Candy floss in Mohammadpur, Lemons and Towels at the Sonargaon signal, Popcorn pretty much everywhere - I wager that you can get most household goods just by taking a tour of Dhaka's streets. Someone, sometime had the bright idea that it may be possible to earn more money if the mass of unoccupied and bored commuters could be exploited. This endeavor can't be said to be an unmitigated success as most people consider them them to be as good as beggars (After all, Orwell said that the sale of such products were 'legalized crimes' as they are just making a nuisance of themselves) and normal beggars - with less competition - get an opportunity to make more money.

I, as a person who normally falls asleep as soon as I enter a car, usually pay little attention to which child raps on my window, whether she cradles a baby or a bag of lemons. Tonight though, with the air-conditioning on full blast, I saw a boy finger the words K L F A on the fogged-up window next to me. I could see he was sweating and it seemed that his hot index finger would release steam on contact. Was it a code? You see these types of things all the time in movies, you know, when the 'random' civilian marks a car so that it can be identified as a target. Stranger things have happened in this country, but somehow I doubted it. Was he trying to damage the car window by leaving indelible marks with his dirty fingers, as my chauffeur presumed? Not likely. It didn't seem like much of an advertisement of the popcorn he held limply in his hand either. To me it felt defiant, that though he may not be in a silver Mitsubishi or have a comfortable bed like the one awaiting me at home, he too could write English and we were not better than him.


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