“Where Chaos prevails, rebels want rules”

Bangladesh

Epiphany: “Where Chaos prevails, rebels want rules”

I recently traveled to Bangladesh for the first time, an amazing and eye opening experience. I had tons of interesting conversations. One that stuck with me was with Ramna. Ramna studied business at the local university, had short hair, was bespectacled with blue rimmed glasses and her clothes were completely lacking glitter and colorful flower patterns in a country where women normally see plain clothes as missed opportunities.

On Epiphanies

An epiphany to me (a white woman from Europe…) might be common knowledge to many others. And the other way around. So, you know, let’s not beat each other up for that one…

Now, I know a rebel when I see one and was immediately intrigued. We talked about this and that, Ramna was very outspoken and had clear views on a lot of things which she put forward with the earnestness of a debate-team-captain. I loved it.

So I asked her a question on something happening in Germany right now, curious as to where her perspective might take me. In major cities in Germany, some people stopped hanging out in bars and started hanging out on street corners instead. The residents of the buildings surrounding those corners started complaining about the noise and the trash and are thinking about taking legal steps against this behavior. I asked Ramna what she thought of that.

Now, keep in mind that we are talking about Germany. In every city, there are also many very quiet neighborhoods to live in. People don’t meet that much in public spaces. In general, our streets have sidewalks without vendors and people abide by rules. So I was fully prepared to face this nice Bangladeshi girl laughing at Germans in general and at me in particular for even caring. Because this is what life in the streets of Old Dhaka looks like:

Where ever you turn there are at least two street vendors, two rickshaws, a car and ten pedestrians whose route you are currently blocking. And this is happening constantly everywhere. So, like I said, I was fully prepared to be laughed at by Ramna.

But that did not happen at all. Instead, she sympathized with the residents. As she pointed out, whenever she enters a street in Dhaka she feels like her head is going to explode. She envied the Germans for being able to take matters into their hands, to be able to call upon a law that most likely would be enforced (if they won, of course). To her, this story was not a tale of people being overly sensitive but a story about being able to protect your personal space. But a story of law protecting people against despotism.

And even though I do believe that German cities need more public spaces for people to meet and hang out, Ramna reminded me of something: Rules have not always been the rule. Living somewhere, where on single citizen can enforce them, is actually quite amazing. It means one person can stand up to much more powerful forces.

And that is rebellion at its best.