A Hashtag Pokes Fun at the Shared Quirks Among Bangladeshis

Image of a rally celebrating Pahela Baishakh, one of the largest folk festivals of Bangladesh. Image from Flickr by Aapon. CC BY-NC 2.0

As a country, Bangladesh is still very young. But as a nation, Bengalis have more than a thousand-year-old heritage. Bengalis are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group from the former Bengal region in South Asia, which is presently divided between Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. The region was part of several ancient pan-Indian empires and later was invaded and ruled by the Mughals and the British.

In Bangladesh, 98% citizens belong to the Bengali ethnic group. There is a great diversity in the faces and customs of Bangladeshi Bengalis due to this history, but they, of course, have many shared characteristics.

With biting humor, one Bangladeshi technology expert is using Twitter to point some of them out using the hashtag #আমিবাংলাদেশী (#IAmBangladeshi).

Omi Azad is an information technology specialist who works for economic and business development consultancy firm GDP Global. He maintains a blog titled Reality Bites, where he writes about different issues.

For months he has been tweeting about behaviors he's noticed among his fellow Bengalis. For example, human-powered rickshaws rule the road in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. The drivers apparently have reputation for tacking on surcharges:

If it is a sunny, hot day, if it rains, on public holidays, or if it's at night, they will find some excuse to ask for an extra fare. #IAmBangladeshi rickshaw driver!

In Bangladesh, many people use pirated software even though they can afford the licensed software. Azad wittily comments:

I can earn more than enough with my computer, but I will not use a penny to buy licensed software till my death. #IAmBangladeshi

There are almost 30 million internet users in Bangladesh, and almost two-thirds of them use Facebook. It's common to see posts written in the Bangla language using the Roman alphabet instead of dedicated Bangla fonts. In the not-so-distant past people died for the right to use Bangla language in Bangladesh, which led Azad to write:

Bangla is our pride. But I will always write Bangla in Roman fonts. #IAmBangladeshi

As pedestrians, Bangladeshis don't always obey the rules, Azad comments:

We will always jaywalk under the foot overbridge. #IAmBangladeshi

Not only that, Bangladeshis do not move from the street even after the car honks, he claims:

You can move an elephant/hippo/rhino with the horns of your car, but not me. #IAmBangladeshi

Omi Azad makes even more wry observations:

I will not withdraw money from the nearest ATM, because it's from a different bank and it charges 15 Bangladeshi taka extra for my card. Instead, I will pay rickshaw fare that's more than that amount to go to one from my bank. #IAmBangladeshi

We pay garbage collectors each month. But we toss litter from our window to the street below. #IAmBangladeshi

We don't know how to write the correct address of our home. But we have secured a GPA 5 in our exams.

Your office can start in the morning at the usual time, but I don't start my day before 10 AM. #IAmBangladeshi Uber driver.

And despite all of this, Bangladeshis remain proud and complacent. Azad twists a popular idiom to express that:

Those who brag about themselves become great. It doesn't matter what people think. #IAmBangladeshi

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