A typically lively Dhaka street
It is just like any Dhaka street; hardly 100 meters long and about four meters wide. It starts from Green Road in Farm Gate and winds its way to end on the Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, where rickshaws are strictly off-limits. The character of this street is so typical of Dhaka living that one can spend hours exploring its diversity.
Popularly known as West Testuribazar, it is also called Shaheed Nahel Street. But the fascinating part of the street is that it has everything one needs to survive within the locality without venturing elsewhere.
From a tiny kitchen market to a scrap shop, a homeopath chamber to a wood artisan, together with lathe workshops, photocopy and computer services, grocers, laundry shops just to name a few. An artist’s workshop lies on the bend of the street, where a young man carefully drafts all sorts of signboards and banners. Unlike makeshift roadside tea stalls, the area has two tea stalls situated in proper brick and mortar shops, equipped with ceiling fans, where people from all walks of life converge for a break. The street even has a shop that sells second hand toilets, basins and sinks. It is on this road Eazuddin Kaikobad, the young brave soul who sacrificed his life, trying to rescue the victims of Rana Plaza from beneath the rubbles, had spent his childhood.
Interestingly, over the last few years most of the 50 homeowners realized they could greatly boost their income from rents. A new breed of tenants- groups of single female students- are knocking on their doors in search of shared accommodations for rent every day.
Hundreds of young female students from different districts, who come to Dhaka for further studies, now occupy most of the houses on the street. In fact, the area is one of the largest hubs for female hostels in Dhaka.
A shopkeeper on the street for over 25 years, Mohammad Alam, says businesses have grown according to the needs of these young female students who live here. “If you look around you will find several tailors, cosmetics, laundry shops and grocers and other businesses according to the demands of the students,” Alam says smiling.
The only Bkash shop for money transfers is very busy mainly receiving money for the students from their parents every month.
There are two main reasons why West Testuribazar is so popular to the migrant female students, says Mohammad Yusuf, a restaurant worker. Female students mainly feel secure here because it is a zero crime locality. And secondly, it is very handy for these young women to choose from dozens of coaching centers operating from Farm Gate area, just round the corner.
The tradition of zero crime comes from a bizarre source. Locals say years ago, Sweden Aslam, the infamous convicted godfather lived in the area and he made sure he lived in total peace.
“Two gates were built on both the exit points of the street and the home owners and business houses till today share the expenses for security guards day and night,” says Alam.
Probably the interesting story comes from the building of the local mosque. An anonymous donor has donated Tk. 12 crore alone to build the three-storey mosque, construction of which continues.
Motorised vehicles hardly enter the narrow street. so the 100-meter walk unveils to the visitor arrays of activities everywhere.
Story and Photos by Morshed Ali Khan
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