If the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) took into account the colourful characters, the beautiful symmetry of traffic jams and the boat rides that the slightest drizzle makes possible, then where would Dhaka end up on the list of the most livable cities? Probably still very low.
But what made Dhaka get the ranking of the fourth least livable city? A western lense and still-to-be paid reparations of course, but there is a bit more to look into.
New Zealand's Auckland topped the list, unseating Vienna which had claimed bragging rights for the past two years. What does Auckland then do better than Dhaka? Well, everything, if the data is to be believed.
In terms of stability – which takes into account the prevalence of petty and violent crimes and threats of terror, military conflict and civil unrest/conflict – Auckland scored 95 out of 100. Dhaka, on the other hand, scored 55, which was better than Karachi, Tripoli, Caracas and Algiers, some cities that ended up above Bangladesh's capital.
This may come as a shock for many as the country's law enforcers resolutely crack down on nefarious university students selling dangerous drugs such as brownies and LSD. They also may not always have the money to get out the tricky situations, which is how financial criminals hardly see prison. But, the fact is there are many crimes in the city, there are terror threats and of course, more civil unrest as people never stop trying to protest against state-level corruption.
Auckland, on the other hand, doesn't face those things. They also probably have more sheep than people, while we don't even have enough sheeple.
Health is wealth, just not for you
The next thing we look at is healthcare, something we would rather not discuss in detail since now you can be jailed for reporting against the inefficiency of our health leaders. In the healthcare category, Dhaka scored 16.2, lower than war-ravaged Tripoli by the way. Surprisingly, Dhaka's score matched that of Damascus, Syria and let's not pretend we don't know what it must be like there, with a never-ending war and all that.
The healthcare score was deduced taking into consideration availability and quality of private healthcare, availability and quality of public healthcare, availability of over-the-counter drugs and general healthcare indicators.
Auckland scored an impressive 95.8. If it is any consolation, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics says Bangladeshis have a life expectancy of around 72, while in Auckland it is around 84. Not that big a difference, right?
For the culture
The Culture and Environment category, which has a weight of 25% when EIU makes the list, takes into account metrics such as humidity, temperature, level of corruption, social or religious restrictions, level of censorship, cultural availability, food and drink, among other things.
In this category, Auckland scored 97.9. Dhaka, on the other hand, scored a miserly 30.8, lower than all ten of the least livable countries in the world. This comes as a shock for many who believed our numerous chotpoti stands, jhal muri sellers and legendary Bangla-Chinese restaurants would give us a higher rating. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Perhaps the level of corruption was deemed too high. Maybe there are more social or religious restrictions and finally it could be that some people think that censorship is high in Bangladesh, given all the vague laws upholding it.
Also, Dhaka is really hot. Our air-coolers barely work anymore. So, that could be a contributing factor, but we aren't really responsible for climate change; just victims of the greed of a more developed world.
Schools in session?
School is not in session. In the education category, which takes a look at private and public education, Dhaka scored 33.3, higher only than the least livable cities of Port Moresby, Lagos and Damascus. It was higher than Cameroon's Douala, which, by the way, is higher than Dhaka in the list.
How this could be, you wonder, given the wealth of schools we have housed in every independent house in every neighbourhood. We also have two entire different mediums of education; three if you put religious schools in the mix. Our children also routinely get GPA 5 and we have more graduates than we know what to do with.
Our universities are also stellar, to the point that they don't even make the rankings of world universities. A class of our own, indeed.
Auckland, apparently the best city in the world without chotpoti, scores a perfect 100, what with all their global standard schools and all.
So, how we survive in Dhaka? By living. The light at the end of the tunnel is that now there is only the way up, unless we fall three rungs below. That's also a possibility. If we are to be among the least livable cities, let's not be fourth. Go for the win.