Sunday, August 10, 2008

Stuck in a jam

A bus stopped in traffic shows the scars of driving in Dhaka
It took something like an hour to drive from one section of the city to another this afternoon because of the thick, chaotic traffic. It is normal, my Bangladeshi co-workers told me. Traffic is the built-in excuse for every time you are late to anything in Dhaka because everyone here has lived through a city drive. There are no lanes, no rules, no order. There are occasionally signals, but they do not seemed timed to relieve jams or aid flow. It seems even more out of whack to my eyes because they drive on the right side here, English fashion.

It is not enough to know traffic rules, my co-workers explain, you also have to know human psychology and it helps to mind read since you never know if those rickshaw drivers will veer into your path or that driver there will cut into your lane even though he's headed in the opposite direction.

Driving here is tricky, treacherous, and scary.

There is some thought that all of life in Bangladesh is like this. Maneuvering in traffic is no different than making it through politics or office bureaucracy. The difference, Zahid says, is that you can see it happening in the streets.

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