Pulling people, and the crowds - rickshaws adorn match venue (World Cup Diary)

February 17th, 2011 - 2:18 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sirshendu Panth
Dhaka, Feb 17 (IANS) The humble mode of transport, the rickshaw, is clearly a crowd puller in more ways than one with the road leading to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, the venue for the opening World Cup game between India and Bangladesh Feb 19, decorated with colourful models. Resplendent in green, blue, orange, red, yellow, silver and violet, the rickshaw models have been placed on a raised platform on the roadside. And they are a huge attraction, with the young and old clicking photographs of the rickshaws.

“In years to come, these photos will remind us of the World Cup, and how well we organised it,” said a youngster.

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Cricketers as heroes

While spending crores on refurbishing the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, which also houses the headquarters of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, the authorities have not forgotten to honour the players who have helped give the nation a prominent place in the cricketing world.

Colourful portraits of celebrated cricketers like skipper Shakib-al-Hassan, aggressive opener Tamim Iqbal and pace spearhead Mashrafe Mortaza adorn the walls of the compound.

Each portrait is accompanied by a catchline that summarises the player’s contribution to the team and the game.

Shaqib has been described as “the world’s No.1 all rounder”; Iqbal has been eulogised for his “indomitable spirit”; “You have shown our fast bowlers the way,” says the catchline for Mortaza, who has to sit out the World Cup with a right knee injury.

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Kamal both happy and sad

Kamal Sardar is a fruit seller who operates from a cycle van close to the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium. His business has increased over the past few days as thousands mill around to see the refurbished facility. But Kamal is not entirely happy.

He is horrified that the authorities have cleared the shanties and removed beggars and hawkers from the pavements of Dhaka.

“I escaped because I have this van. But I feel for these people, who are also poor like me. Now you people will go home and write there are no beggars, hawkers or shanties in Dhaka. Have you ever tried to understand how much they are suffering?”

When told they are being given daily allowance as compensation, he shook his head in disapproval. “How long will the government pay this compensation? May be for one or two days. Just wait and see.”

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World Cup ensures four-day holiday in Dhaka

People of Dhaka are now in a holiday mood, with the World Cup ensuring a four-day leave at a stretch from Wednesday to Saturday.

While Wednesday was a holiday across Bangladesh in view of the Muslim festival Milad-un- Nabi, authorities have declared a holiday in the capital city Thursday to clear the roads of congestion in view of the World Cup opening ceremony at the Bangabandhu National stadium in the evening. Friday and Saturday are normal weekend holidays.

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