Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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Slam-bang cricket Dhaka’s respite in static traffic

Dhaka: The Emirates airline flight EK 582 from Dubai to Dhaka had a number of journalists from South Africa on board. Overhearing my conversation with one of them, the flight attendant enquired if I was travelling to watch the World Twenty20.

“We had the South African and Australian teams flying with us in my previous trip to Dhaka. They were all so friendly, and I am told that they are all great players,” the Polish attendant said.

“Although my country doesn’t play cricket, for the last few days, I have been with many cricketers on this flight and most pilots and my colleagues are huge cricket fans. UAE captain Khurram Khan works for us [as flight purser] and he is everyone’s hero. We see his picture every day in the newspapers,” she said proudly.

Dhaka airport was awash with World Twenty20 banners when I arrived. Huge billboards on the streets welcomed everyone to the city for the World Cup, so much so that one could easily call it the land of billboards since most of the cutouts were way bigger than anything seen in other countries.

It did not take much time to realise the significance of these super-sized boards. Given the heavy traffic on the streets, where vehicles literally come to a standstill for hours, the best mode of marketing anything is through these giant boards since stuck commuters can do little but stare at them.

Our flight from Dubai to Dhaka took only four hours, but it took two-and-a-half hours by taxi to reach the hotel from the airport. All lamp posts, road dividers and pedestrian bridges were decked with the Twenty20 logo.

My taxi driver showed no signs of frustration at being stuck in the traffic. “Traffic is heavy most days but, due to the World Cup, a lot of tourists have come in and that has added to the congestion,” was his matter-of-fact remark.

On the way, he pointed out to the hotels where top teams were put up for the tournament. “Never before have so many teams come to play in Bangladesh. Including the men and women, there are 32 teams,” he said in Hindi.

When I expressed surprise over his ability to speak Hindi, he said: “I don’t miss any Bollywood movie, so although I haven’t learnt the language, I can speak it quite well.”

Throughout our journey, the taxi driver was busy passing on information about buildings at different locations on his mobile. “I am also a real estate broker; I use the time I spend on traffic to make some money,” he said.

The Australian team bus along with their police escort was seen struggling behind us. Despite the loud siren requesting cars to give way, they didn’t seem like getting their way.

Many cricketers have been tweeting expressing their discomfort over the traffic.

West Indies star batsman Chris Gayle’s took to Twitter saying that he feels it would be better to walk to the hotel rather than being stuck in traffic.