Image crisis: What do we see

Nayeem Hossain

Nayeem Hossain

Great Expectations

Untold Agonies

I was going through an album of a friend. That friend recently went to Bangladesh and took pictures of Daily Life in Dhaka. When I started going through the album I started feeling a bit uncomfortable. The album had pictures of trash pilling up as if a bottle of champaign is pooping with all it’s aristocracy, a guy picking his nose-as if his birth right of a clean nose and the obstacles is in clash, traffic, pollution etc etc. At one point, my uneasiness became annoyance and I was getting in to my typical mode of writing a comment about it. Just when I was ready to crack the knuckles of my fingers and start writing I clicked ‘next,’ and my annoyance turned into joy. I saw a picture of a hero, a hero who reminded me that Bangladesh is all about these heroes. Unheard of, brushed off by society, yet their heroism is what makes Bangladesh. A boy, probably 10 years old, selling newspaper on the street. A boy, who is cheated by the system, with no future as we “bhodro loks” know, is the messenger of knowledge. He could’ve been anything-from a beggar to an intern thug, yet he chose to fight for his fate. Smoke, fume, dust, spit, swearing might have filled his ailing  lungs into charcoal but the determination of his tiny fist, his screaming presence in the chaos of this ‘Jungle of Junks’, still gives me hope. As long as heroes like him are on the streets, cowards like me can effort to be a little romantic on a blog page!

I don’t blame my friend for taking the pictures of trash or nose picking or anything like that. Bangladesh is a country of serious image crisis. If the conscience of Bangladesh “Prothom-Alo” one of these days, asked it’s readers what they think of Bangladesh, I’m sure more than half of us would say something negative about it. This mass national negativity has made us skeptics, pessimists, polarized, opinionated. As a nation, we do have some shortcomings. But that shortcoming is not in the economic or political failure, it’s far more basic and crucial than that, it’s our attitude. We have opinion about anything and everything (which is shown by me here!) and because of our image crisis most of those are from a sense of rejection. Think about it. When you go out on the street everyday- how many thoughts of hope and positivity comes in your mind? If I ask what’s the situation of the country, I always hear a list of “No”s. No water, no gas, no this, no that. I feel sorry that we have so many problems, well what about the solutions? Interestingly most of us are willing to talk about problems waiting for someone else to provide the solution. And when someone does come up with an idea, the first comments will be to show the shortcomings of it. Traffic is a huge problem of Dhaka City. Now today, if I propose of a mass public transport system let’s see what do you all think.

My proposal is, Government should ask small bus owners to form a corporation with all their buses. So if five owners have ten buses each on the same route they’ll merge them all together. So instead of competing to go to the bus stop to pickup people on a tiny narrow road at the same time, buses will follow one after the other every fifteen minutes. Won’t matter which bus goes first, because it’s a corporation- the buses will earn from the cash pool. The result, you just freed the streets from four extra bus. I’m sure that’ll take a bit of pressure off the streets!

After reading this what are the thoughts that’s coming in your mind? How many of you are rejecting this simple idea right away? Now you know where the real problem lies. We are so negative in our national image that the first idea that comes is “i know this won’t work”. For that, if a government comes and gives a solution it seldom gets the light of success. The bureaucrats know, as soon the government will change the project will change. People see it the same way so they don’t care if it would have worked or not. The sense of rejection allows the system to play ping pong with our fates.

If you ask “see how far Bangladesh has come!” The first analogy is “how far we could’ve been”. This negativity must go!

We are a resilient nation. One thing that always make me wonder is the faces I saw on TV and newspaper after a few days of a natural disaster. I can guarantee you, very few country could turn around the way our people do with a smile after every flood and cyclone. That comes from our natural ability of resentment and determination. We must use this as an asset. Our workers work in such harsh conditions all round the world, without any government support, without any support from the so-called intellectual class for better work environment-yet they are the backbone of our currency reserve. When some tell me, “Oh! we don’t have heroes to look upto”. My answer is look around you. There are heroes all over. When columns of teenage girls walk under the cover of darkness at dawn, remember they silently created a revolution in the country. That revolution has challenged the status of women of a vulnerable class. A man with a tool and couple of cell phones and banner of “Mobile to mobile 2TK.” has silently shown the world the power of small investment. Small!! they have shown how to make a living out of nothing!! So next time when you complain about the “weird” smell inside the plane coming from middle east or have a good laugh on a mis spelled signboard of a phone fax center and spread all over facebook, just remember- you are laughing at your heroes.

Take small steps to win the battle, George Washington said. We need to take a small step to change our mindset about our country too. May be then we can go forward. One step at a time 🙂