Recently I have started commuting in the metro rail - the new overhead speedster, which is now immensely contributing to relief the paramount pressure of the crowd who reside in Dhaka.
In the past, I have travelled in the intercity Dhaka to Sylhet traditional Parabat express and the Chattogram to Dhaka Mahanagar-Godhuli Express and it has been more than a decade that finally I commuted in a different type of train, after all these years, in a metro- and even though intercity and elevated metro trains are for completely different purposes , I found the original, distinct feeling of urgency in the metro stations that reminded me of my long forgotten memories -the ambience of a rail station as upon waiting in the metro station for the first time the earlier month, I marvelled with a childish awe at the sight of a bustling station.
As I have started commuting regularly by this period, I recollected a poem that we read in our first year classes, Ezra pounds imagist poem " In a station of the Metro ",two lines that I began to visualise with my own experiences. "The apparition of these faces in the crowd: Petals on a wet, black bough." - This verb less poetry I fondly now connect to the pace of the unknown faces at the metro station, who hurriedly alight in the packed train and make little room from themselves and hence, their faces are blurred amidst the huddling standing commuters. Moreover, earlier while I waited for the train to arrive, I peeped through the metal barriers ( from a safe distance)to get a glimpse of the tiny dot like green train entering the station, and the novelty and excitement of witnessing such an experience in Dhaka surely felt like we, the Bangladeshi people are experiencing a technological leap.
Walt Whitman, the American Poet is perhaps pertinent here, as Whitman experienced Americas development in the communication sector and one of the progress marker of 1870s in the United States was the locomotive, a rail transport that he brought in his poetry. "Type of the modern-emblem of motion and power-", this is how Whitman inter-fused science with verses in his poem "To a locomotive in Winter".
Coming back to my very own Metro experiences, I hardly get a seat and I do not mind standing and while I stand, I see distant views of several familiar buildings, roads and the typical Dhaka landscape and before even I contemplate upon it, between fast intermissions, the train enters a new station and new ebb and flow of passengers continually recur. However, amidst this bliss of commuting in this rapid transit line, chaos and problems still exist. Sometimes the ticket vending machine stops operating or the train fails to maintain schedule and in both cases, people who have long waited in line or in platform get agitated and the bustle in the station gets intense. Nonetheless, this bittersweet experiences are now limited to Motijheel to Uttara commuters and still we have "miles to go" in order to implement the other MRT line systems throughout our capital. In the same vein, it is equally relieving that in such a congested city where air pollution level normally stays between unhealthy to very unhealthy, nothing is more arduous than to wasting valuable working hours in traffic jam that the Dhaka dwellers are bitterly used to and the metro rail commuters are finally enjoying some punctuality and discipline in their schedule. We dream for an optimistic change in this mega city and I end this with borrowing lines from Tennyson, "Forward, forward let us range, / Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change."
The writer is a student of University of Dhaka, Department of English (3rd Year)
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