a year ago

Caught in a crucible of stress in a mega city

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The denizens of Dhaka have to step out of their homes, more or less every day to make a living or for some other purposes as most of the urbanites belong to the working class. Living in a mega city like Dhaka, unlike other cities, does not seem to be one of mirth and comfort, rather the whole existence in this city is wrapped up in stressful vibes.

Right from the moment someone steps out of their flats in the very morning to the moment he/she makes his/her way back home at the end of the day - the day-long experience is actually filled with stress and agony. This stress is both mental and financial. No wonder why Bangladesh has been ranked seventh among the world's angriest, saddest and most stressed nations in a global survey made public last year. 

At the very beginning of the day, you are stressed by the very thought that you have to be in the office on time, which for many, seems quite a herculean task as you never know when will you actually be able to reach your office thanks to the mad traffic of this mega city. No matter whether you are riding a CNG, rickshaw or local bus, the experience (stuck in long tailbacks) is same.

And when you are stuck, it not only spoils your mood, but also affects the health of the economy.

First, getting stuck in traffic is not good for our mental health as it robs us of our sanity. Stuck in the tailbacks, it breaks your concentration and ruins your eagerness to attend office after long hours of congestion.

Second, such maddening congestion hurts the economy as well. According to research findings by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), around 6-10 per cent of the country's GDP is lost indirectly owing to traffic congestion of this mega city. To break it down into understandable figures, the loss incurred due to traffic is around Tk 560 billion annually, as estimated by Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

After suffering this much, when you finally make it to the office, you should have felt some kind of relief. But the problem is just like our modern life, our modern-day offices are also infested with modern-day problems. When you are attending your office, you are always feeling like walking on eggshells as an impetuous step may land you in hot waters.

Workplace dynamics are relatively complex nowadays owing to different issues like polarisation, workplace politics etc. You may have a condescending boss who spares no opportunity to demean you in front of others by flaunting his achievements and talking in a braggadocios tone to prove his point. If you are a bit unlucky, then you may have a boss who maintains a coterie just to continue his dominion over everyone unchallenged. Meanwhile, your teammates' sycophantic attempt to ingratiate themselves with the boss will make your job all the more difficult.

If you can make yourself a part of this turf, then professional life is going to be a bit more bearable and stress-free for you. If not, then you are in trouble as you will instantly find your boss pointing his fingers at everything you do and discrediting all your efforts on the pretext of punctilious attention to details.

Along with these, you may have to face other problems like 'gaslighting' and 'imposter syndrome' caused by your fellow colleagues. Some of your colleagues may deliberately try to push you over the edge and limit you and your ability within a bubble called gaslighting. When you are a victim of this, you will start questioning and doubting your ability. This is some kind of psychological manipulation, often maneuvered by the people like family members and colleagues around you. 

This may result in another problem in your workplace for you - imposter syndrome. Even if you work your way up by dint of hard work, you will feel a sense of guilt, which is largely attributed to the raised eyebrows of your colleagues, about your success. Owing to persistent mudslinging behind your back about your acuity and acumen, you may start believing that you are undeserving of what you are accomplishing in your career. Such feeling will only help you empty your feelings bucket, nothing else.

After enduring all these in your workplace, you finally have the opportunity to call it a day. You clock off and head to the marketplace or kitchen markets to buy daily commodities, vegetables and other essentials necessary to put food on the table.

Now, here comes the real blow-- as you mill around from one shop to another, it seems like your head is splitting into pieces and the recurring bouts of stress is taking over you since you cannot quite figure it out how you will purchase all the things you need with the little money you have in your pocket. Unlike all those people who have laundered thousand of crores and ready to loosen their purse strings to buy things they need at any price, you find yourself trapped in a quagmire and struggle to adjust with the sky-rocketing prices of essentials.

According to the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), 2022 was a turbulent year for consumers as prices of 56 products soared last year, putting extra pressure on the wallets of cross-sections of people. To our utter dismay, the prices of tomatoes, carrots, beans, dry chilies and garments were jacked up by 60.8-77.27 per cent throughout the year whereas in case of ginger, green papaya, banana and green chilies, the rate was 38.64-47.47 per cent. Now imagine, what kind of stress people belonging to different rungs of the social ladder feel when they go to the kitchen markets?

Well, if you survive all these shocks and then make your way back home at the end of a long and tiring day, you may find a ray of hope at the end of a dark tunnel. That too depends on what kind of conjugal relationship and family you are living with. If you are a straight arrow and have a considerate family, then three cheers for you as you finally have someone to share your woes with and assuage your stress level.

If not, then you are caught in an unbreakable crucible of stress and agony in a mega city. Poor souls! It's so inherently true, whether you admit it or not, that leading life with a tenacious approach, almost stoic, to toil and stress is the only way to survive in this capital, since a stress-free life in this mega city is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  

Md MorshedulAlam Mohabat is a communications professional.

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