LIFE lessons from the streets of Dhaka | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 09, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 09, 2020

LIFE lessons from the streets of Dhaka

Life in Dhaka can have a lot to offer. Warm street food on a cold winter night, vibrant rickshaw art in every corner, air pollution that will end us all in due time, and old, historical streets brimming with new life are just some of its offerings. However, an overlooked attribute of Dhaka would be the life lessons we can get from the streets of this buzzing city.

Consider rickshaws. If you’ve lived in Dhaka, it’s guaranteed that you’ve had a rickshaw ride at least a couple hundred times. It can be a joyful experience but one that opens your eyes to appreciate the hardworking pullers of our country. Alas, the joy can dissipate when the rejection of a rickshaw puller hits you like a hard slap. Additionally, if you’re having an unlucky day, you’ll get a sequence of rejections from various pullers, as if they’re going for a combo hit. This can serve as a good lesson: it’s natural to face rejection in life, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Much like how you seek rickshaw after rickshaw, hoping that someone will accept you, we must face adversity in the same way. Ultimately, we can hope to be rewarded with a motor rickshaw ride on a smooth, traffic free road when you’ve dodged sixteen phone calls from your mother and need to get home as soon as possible.

An unfortunate attribute of Dhaka would be the treatment of poverty-stricken people. It’s no secret that the city hosts a large number of people living in poverty, but the general public’s treatment of them can be quite harsh. While we can try our best and help people who are struggling, we can also view this as another lesson on kindness and empathy. Throughout our lives, we will meet a wide array of people from all walks of life. Thus it’s our moral duty to treat everyone with kindness and respect, unhindered by prejudice, and to teach future generations the same. Only then can we hope to achieve a truly civilised society, or at least something that’s close.

Lastly, Dhaka can also teach us the incredible ability to go about our business without being obstructed by the absurdity life hurls at us. In practise, we learn this by avoiding eye contact with men suspiciously squatting on the streets.


Fatima Jahan Ena likes to complain about capitalism and her forehead. Find her at

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