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A hashtag pokes fun at the shared quirks among Bangladeshis

By Pantha

Pantha is a writer at Global Voices.


As a country, Bangladesh is still very young. But as a nation, Bengalis have more than a thousand-year-old heritage. Bengalis are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group from the former Bengal region in South Asia, which is presently divided between Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. The region was part of several ancient pan-Indian empires and later was invaded and ruled by the Mughals and the British.

In Bangladesh, 98% citizens belong to the Bengali ethnic group. There is a great diversity in the faces and customs of Bangladeshi Bengalis due to this history, but they, of course, have many shared characteristics.

With biting humor, one Bangladeshi technology expert is using Twitter to point some of them out using the hashtag #আমিবাংলাদেশী (#IAmBangladeshi).

Omi Azad is an information technology specialist who works for economic and business development consultancy firm GDP Global. He maintains a blog titled Reality Bites, where he writes about different issues.

For months he has been tweeting about behaviors he’s noticed among his fellow Bengalis. For example, human-powered rickshaws rule the road in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. The drivers apparently have reputation for tacking on surcharges:

রোদ হলে, বৃষ্টি হলে, ছুটির দিনে, খুব সকালে, সন্ধ্যার পরে – মোটামুটি সব অযুহাতেই ভাড়া একটু বেশী! #আমিবাংলাদেশী রিক্সা ওয়ালা!! — Omi Azad (@omiazad) July 24, 2017

If it is a sunny, hot day, if it rains, on public holidays, or if it’s at night, they will find some excuse to ask for an extra fare. #IAmBangladeshi rickshaw driver!

In Bangladesh, many people use the pirated software even though they can afford the licensed software. Azad wittily comments:

আমি কম্পিউটার ব্যবহার করে যত টাকাই রোজগার করি-না-কেনো, মরে গেলেও সফটওয়ার টাকা দিয়ে কিনে ব্যবহার করবো না!! #আমিবাংলাদেশী — Omi Azad (@omiazad) July 23, 2017

I can earn more than enough with my computer, but I will not use a penny to buy licensed software till my death. #IAmBangladeshi

There are almost 30 million internet users in Bangladesh, and almost two-thirds of them use Facebook. It’s common to see posts written in the Bangla language using the Roman alphabet instead of dedicated Bangla fonts. In the not-so-distant past people died for the right to use Bangla language in Bangladesh, which led Azad to write:

বাংলা আমার গর্ব! কিন্তু আমি সবসময় ইংরেজী হরফে বাংলা লিখবো!! #আমিবাংলাদেশী — Omi Azad (@omiazad) July 19, 2017

Bangla is our pride. But I will always write Bangla in Roman fonts. #IAmBangladeshi
As pedestrians, Bangladeshis don’t always obey the rules, Azad comments:

আমরা সবসময়ই ফুটওভার ব্রিজের নিচ দিয়ে রাস্তা পার হবো… #আমিবাংলাদেশী — Omi Azad (@omiazad) July 17, 2017

We will always jaywalk under the foot overbridge. #IAmBangladeshi
Not only that, Bangladeshis do not move from the street even after the car honks, he claims:

চলার পথে হর্ণ দিয়ে আপনি হাতি/জলহস্তি/গন্ডার সরাতে পারবেন, আমাকে পারবেন না। #আমিবাংলাদেশী — Omi Azad (@omiazad) August 9, 2017

You can move an elephant/hippo/rhino with the horns of your car, but not me. #IAmBangladeshi

Omi Azad makes even more wry observations:

অন্য ব্যাংকের এটিএম থেকে ১৫ টাকা ফি দিয়ে টাকা তুলবোনা। কিন্তু তার বেশী রিক্সা ভাড়া দিয়ে আমার ব্যাংকের বুথে যাবো! #আমিবাংলাদেশী — Omi Azad (@omiazad) August 3, 2017

I will not withdraw money from the nearest ATM because it’s from a different bank and it charges 15 Bangladeshi taka extra for my card. Instead, I will pay rickshaw fare that’s more than that amount to go to one from my bank. #IAmBangladeshi

প্রতি মাসে ময়লার ভ্যানকে চাঁদা দিলেও ময়লা আমরা জানালা দিয়েই ফেলি। #আমিবাংলাদেশী — Omi Azad (@omiazad) July 29, 2017

We pay garbage collectors each month. But we toss litter from our window to the street below. #IAmBangladeshi

ঠিকভাবে আমার ঠিকানা কিভাবে লিখতে হয়, আমি এখনো জানিনা। আমাদের মধ্যে অনেকে GPA 5 #আমিবাংলাদেশী — Omi Azad (@omiazad) July 23, 2017

We don’t know how to write the correct address of our home. But we have secured a GPA 5 in our exams.

আপনার অফিস সকালে শুরু হতে পারে, আমি ১০টার আগে ডিউটিতে আসিনা। #আমিবাংলাদেশী @Uber ড্রাইভার — Omi Azad (@omiazad) August 24, 2017

Your office can start in the morning at the usual time, but I don’t start my day before 10 AM. #IAmBangladeshi Uber driver.

And despite all of this, Bangladeshis remain proud and complacent. Azad twists a popular idiom to express that:

আপনারে বড় বলে বড় সেই হয়, লোকে যারে বড় বলে সেই বড় নয়!! #আমিবাংলাদেশী — Omi Azad (@omiazad) July 31, 2017

Those who brag about themselves become great. It doesn’t matter what people think. #IAmBangladeshi


The article was originally published at Global Voices

Featured Image Source: Global Voices

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