Like most major cities around the world, Dhaka can be described as a "concrete jungle". The "view" enjoyed by the residents is other buildings standing around theirs. Of course, that view sometimes comes with some shirtless "uncles" pressed up against their windows, trying to get some fresh air. Can't say I blame those uncles, to be honest.
Fresh air is difficult to come by while living in this densely populated city, especially when some of the apartments do not even have balconies, or when those existing balconies are taken up by hanging laundry for drying.
As the heights of the buildings in Dhaka continue to grow, the people living close to the ground start finding themselves pressed up against the grills of the balconies or windows, straining their necks to somehow catch a glimpse of the sky.
This is exactly the position I found myself in at around 2:00 am last week. I am a nature lover and loves looking at plants, sky, flying birds and water bodies; especially to calm myself down.
My parents also loved all these things, which is why I have been fortunate enough to live in places where I had a balcony and a view of nature. I would sit in the balcony especially at night especially when I was upset or unable to sleep and just enjoying the quiet - the rustling trees and the twinkling stars.
This is also why, when I visit friends or relatives' houses who live in high-rise buildings, I spend more time in their balconies than inside the apartment, enjoying the wind on my face and the view of the city. My favourite view was from my father's office on the 19th floor of a building, which afforded a panoramic view of Dhaka city. My favourite time to visit his work (which wasn't very often, of course) was at dusk, as the setting sun cast a wonderful glow over the buildings and water bodies.
I believe my fascination with a "good view" comes from my parents. My father loves nature like me and wants "nature-y" views from his window or balcony and it does not seem to matter much to him what the inside of the house looks like.
On the other hand, my mother's primary focus is in making her house into a work of art. This is something she is amazing at, as visitors in our house often remark on how "artistic" everything is.
Wherever she travels, she will rather buy an item of decoration for the house than something for herself. Fortunately or unfortunately, whichever way you want to look at it, I got both these traits, and they are becoming more noticeable as I grow older as is apparent by the "straining of neck" episode mentioned above and my fascination of buying "pretty things" to decorate our room with.
Lately, a lot of people have been feeling caged and suffocated. I think this is because they have been cooped up inside the four walls of their homes for the past several months. The "concrete jungle" didn't bother us as much as now, as we had daily jobs or schools, which made us leave the house and see the roads and other areas.
I find myself silently thanking one of our neighbours who has money plants in their balcony, which is visible from my room. Unfortunately for me, they are the only people, besides us, who have plants in their balconies for others to look at and enjoy.
I think this is one of the reasons why people flock to the resorts, wherever they may find them. It is a fun way of getting some fresh air and connecting with nature, in addition to taking a break from daily routine and just relaxing.
I, personally, am waiting for the day it is safe to visit such places again. Frustrations are also running high. On one side, people are frustrated that they are still being asked to wear masks and "be safe".
On the other side, people are frustrated with the other side, the people who choose not to "be safe", who make fun of people wearing masks or those who want to be safe and act like the "Covid-19 era" is over.
Recently, I bought some fairy lights to decorate our room with. It was a birthday present for my husband, but somehow it is looking more like a present for myself. Now, when I feel the four walls closing in on me or feel upset, I turn off all the other lights in the room and look at those twinkling lights.
I find it very comforting for some reason. The soft glow from the golden lights in the darkened room perhaps seems like stars twinkling in the night sky and connects me with my love of nature.
The glow also falls on the artificial flowers I placed next to the lights, which make the flowers seem almost magical like those in some of Disney cartoons. My husband also seems to find it comforting, which thankfully means that the term "birthday present" still applies.
One of my favourite sayings is "Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light".
I believe that in this age when there are so few things or occurrences that manage to steal us away from all the negatives in the world, something as little as those twinkling lights manage to do just that – take us away from harsh reality to the magical lands in the cartoons of our childhood, where darkness is always defeated by the light, and where everything is alright in the end.