Friday, September 30, 2011

Rickshaws, Angry Birds, and Fried Chicken?!

16 Million people have got to find a way to get around right? Enter the rickshaw, the man vs. pedal driven cousin of the taxicab. Arrival in Dhaka, Bangladesh was a serious initiation in green transportation 101. Now under attack from the government for their part in the "jams" of the city, activists are fighting for the survival of the rickshaw as the only zero emission vehicle in this growing South Asian "megacity".

Driving from Dhaka on the 11 hour journey to Ranjpur on the northwest side of the country I couldn't help but notice the vivid designs on each rickshaw and my mind eventually wandered to contemplating a "Pimp my Rickshaw" competition. There are even motorized rickshaws. I've seen them in India before but the Bangladeshi's have taken it to another level. Jokes aside, I do think a coffee table on the subject is due.

Arriving in Ranjpur was amazing, every cash crop known to man grew there from bananas to tobacco to sugercane, maize, wheat, rice, and more. It's amazing what better supply chains could do for the economy of the country. Technology goes a long way when applied directly and even small changes have huge benefits for farmers.

Going from village to village I met lots of people, mostly farmers but also teenagers headed to college, newlyweds, and mothers whose abandoned coop had their rural homes looking like the latest episode of "flip that house". By far my favorite person I met was Majid, a 10 year old boy who had the with and personality of a rockstar! Majid spoke a bit of interest and promptly interviewed me on the whereabouts of my mother and father, he introduced me to his entire family with his mom asking why I was 27 and husbandless (I let her know we'd need another week to explain lol).

Majid and I's new friendship was developed via Angry Birds! No one had ever seen an IPad and I soon was sharing the game with everyone. It was cool watching them do video and take photos but Angry Birds opened everyone up. They taught themselves quickly and soon surpassed my game levels. This was def the crowning moment!

Leaving Ranjpur (and Majid) was a bit sad, so many moments shared under the banana trees but back to Dhaka I went. I have a friend in Atlanta from Bangladesh that once told me that Bangladeshi's were the blacks of South Asia. Thus far I hadn't quite figured out what she meant and then I saw this:

 That's what she meant!

And with that I sign off until next time....ciao!


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