Tale of two cities: Gotham and Dhaka

Nayeem Hossain

Nayeem Hossain

Insanity shines...

I really feel kind of weird calling up my family back home, especially my parents. When I phone them I know they also feel the same weirdness. My mother told me a couple of days ago: “What else can I talk about son. I’m tired of complaining about the same things over and over again. Why don’t you tell me how you are doing over there?” I have no answer to this question. Seriously, I don’t. What do I tell her? That I do have one solution, close your eyes and do what I did, leave the country and become a great patriot blogger!!

Then I ask myself, how is Dhaka now? Let’s start with the population. Some say it’s over 10 million. 10 million!!! That means by population size we should be the 80th largest country in the world. Hmmm let’s see what we can do with that. Well, we can all board on a ship and literally march into any of the countries like Singapore, UAE, Qatar and Oman. Think about it!! How many bullets do you think they have? They have to have enough hands to pull the trigger. With the size of our population we can walk into Vatican and turn it into a Madrassa!! Easily!!

I don’t understand how we can have shortage of power. Just give everyone a battery that they can carry on their back and let them walk on the streets. Just from the pushing and shoving, hustling and bustling we’ll make enough static electricity to run at least a light and a fan for most parts of the town. Unless you have to give some of the power to ‘enlighten’ the palaces of the Maharajas and Pother Rajas, that should take care of the electricity problem. 

Then Eid came and I got depressed, and forgot about Dhaka, until mother earth shook us to remind what we are doing to her. Right after the two earthquakes, I started asking the same questions again and found a fascinating answer. You know what; Dhaka is the mirror image of Gotham city!!

Dhaka is not much different than Gotham these days. We didn’t need breakout fugitives from Arkham Asylum. We have our own home grown breed that’s spreading like clockwork. Did anyone think moms would turn into baby killers for ‘blind love’, but it’s happening! How many of you thought you could see celebrities uncensored all over internet and yet spread the footage and talk about it as if you just saw the highlights of Mohammadan beat Manchester United, but it happened before and now it’s spreading at lightning speed!! The way Dhaka is going, with all the Chinese restaurants that turned into coaching centers and the coaching centers that turned into diagnostic center, that day is not far when half of them will HAVE to be turned into mental hospitals or depression clinics. All the traders of certificates will change the billboards from “MBA in 1 year” to “Masters in Psychology in 1 year”.

The only difference between the two cities is that our Batman and Joker change costumes every five years. At least that’s been the trend for the last two decades. Sometimes like “Gotham’s finest”, our men in uniform try to take the situation in their own hands but soon silently they let the “red phone” rescue them from all problems. In Gotham, there’s only one Red Phone — in the commissioner’s office. I believe in Dhaka there are several “Red Phones”, like the invincible phone at the invincible “Bhaban”. In Gotham city, Gotham Times decides when to demonize Batman and when to make him a hero. I think a couple of our leading dailies fit that description pretty well!!

Our Bruce Waynes don’t wear a black cape to change the city. They either wear a black coat or a black suit, even if it’s 100 degree outside. Our villains also have many names. Instead of Joker, Penguin and Riddler we have our very own Tokai Mizan, Kala Jahangir, Pichchi Hannan and Jamai Mizan. I really have to give these people credit for their creativity. 

Yet, unlike Gotham I am more worried about the others from Dhaka Asylum. The ones who are becoming Jokers and Riddlers by being confined to the city cell 24/7. I am worried about who’s there to hear them out, listen to what’s going in their minds and how it’s getting twisted every second from the compression of this “Junk Jungle”. What is the solution of this problem? In a society where a psychologist’s office is “Pagol er doctor”, is there any way to make sure they get professional help if needed? Besides coffee shops and shopping centers, where are they going to let their minds free? Television is a noise box, seriously, I don’t see anything but people talking in it, and most of it is noise. How do they let sanity prevail over the frustration of uncertainty? 

Cutting people into pieces, killing children for affairs, eve-teasing and sexting are things I don’t want to incorporate in the same sentence with the city I grew up. On the other side of the spectrum there are so many who are becoming religious extremists. I don’t remember my friends who used to pray five times being so aggressive. It’s not the theological devotion I’m worried about, it’s the aggression. You can’t have an argument or discussion with them before they explode. Why so much anger, what’s the source and what’s the solution? These are all signs of a changing time. I can guarantee you that time is not of advancement. It’s of a time when unlike Gotham, Dhaka is slowly losing her sanity. The nerve gas of over population, lack of recreation, lack of policy in youth development and an ailing school system is making sure the town will become a “Mad Factory” of Joker.

We are all worried about the destruction that’s upon us if an earthquake shakes us. Who’s going to shake us awake and smell this coffee? 🙂