Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dhaka Busses

I have started using Dhaka's busses. Thirty years ago, I was a regular, riding from Mohammedpur to various parts of the city every day. In the intervening years, just about everything about these busses have changed.

Take, for example, the newer buy-your-ticket-before-you-get-on busses (also known as Counter Bus, because they have "counters", ie, sidewalk ticket-sellers with a table and umbrella, at all the stops.) So the "bus conductors" who pushed and shoved their way back and forth to sell tickets have disappeared. Too, passengers actually queue up to wait for these busses, although in time-honored Bangla fashion they break the queue and push and shove each other into the bus when it actually shows up.

Another change: the old "Ladies Seats" are gone, and women seat anywhere and everywhere in the bus. During a ride on the "Winner" bus from Science Laboratory to Notun Bazar yesterday, 40% of those seated were women. And they are quite outspoken. A younger woman - getting on the bus - encountered a male student type on the stairs blocking her way. A sharp "side den-na!" ensured he moved the six inches required to avoid body contact.

In a crowded bus, after the seats are gone, people tend to congregate around the six or seven fans that dangle from the ceiling. In my bus yesterday, the blades of the fan were designed ingeniously so that without physically moving the fan sent out air in an oscillating pattern.

Some habits die hard. When I finally sat on the rearmost bench, the guy to my left - on the window seat - had a large bundle of bedding. I could tell we were approaching his bus-stop because he started getting his stuff together. But he made no move to get up and walk towards the door. As soon as the bus stopped, he opened the window, threw his bundles on the sidewalk, and then jumped out the window, barely missing a shocked pedestrian. (Then everyone walked away nonchalantly as if it was the most natural thing in the world.)

My fare was Tk 14 (about 20 cents.) The same distance costs Tk 80-90 on a CNG, 100-110 on a small blue taxi, over TK 120 on an airconditioned yellow taxi and perhaps Tk 10 on a lower grade bus (murir tin.) And of course the CNGs and taxis are rarely available when you need them.

Here are some pictures of graffiti inside the bus.

1 comment:

Mikey said...

It's taken me quite a while to get to know how to use the busses, but I enjoy taking them when I'm not in a rush! Really hard when it's hot though.