Whether you find it awkward or call it queer, the sight of Omar Ali driving his battery-run auto-rickshaw in Kachua upazila of Chandpur district will force you to give it a second glance.
What will draw your attention is his dapper dress sense: he is always suited and booted while driving his auto-rickshaw. He even wears accessories like hat, wristwatch and snazzy sunglasses to complete his look.
There is no wonder that locals call him a ‘smart’ auto-rickshaw driver. And ‘smart’ people prefer his rickshaw, they said.
Apart from being conspicuously fashionable, Omar tries to speak Bangla with perfect pronunciation. Passengers and even others are impressed by his wit and behaviour. That is why he gets extra cash as tip from most of his passengers.
Omar Ali, son of Md Abid Ali of Kadirkheel village under Paschim Shohodebpur union in the upazila, told UNB that he studied upto Class-VII. Poverty forced him to discontinue his studies.
Omar’s impoverished family life revolves around his aged parents, wife and a child.
Abdul Samad, chairman of Paschim Shohodebpur union parishad, said Omar deserves nothing but praise for his smart appearance and courteous manners.
For almost one year, Omar has been driving his autorickshaw in Kachua and surrounding areas. He has managed to attract people’s attention quite easily by going about his business with a sense.
“Many people fancy riding my rickshaw, take selfies with me and offer me snacks. I enjoy all this. Besides, many pay me extra being impressed by my behaviour,” Omar stated.
“This is how I earn Tk 500-600 every day. No passenger undermines me or misbehaves with me because I’m smartly dressed,” he added.
According to Omar, he owns eight pairs of trousers, eight shirts, three pairs of shoes, three ties and two jackets for use during winter. “I’ve bought all this with money earned by driving rickshaw,” he exclaimed.
Omar sounded quite level headed when he was asked why he dresses up to drive the auto-rickshaw. He explained that it is not prohibited for rickshaw drivers to wear suit and tie.
Omar prefers being smartly dressed for work so he can attract people’s attention just like shops spend on decoration to do the same.
According to this auto-rickshaw driver, there are two benefits from what he is doing -- he gets more passengers and at the same time they pay him extra for the fare.
“That’s why my mind and body stay well. Inshallah, as long as I live, I’ll try to wear fine clothes while driving the auto-rickshaw,” Omar said.
Reacting to the style adopted by Omar, other rickshaw drivers like Wahid, Majib and Shukkur said they are proud of Omar.
They described him as a good, smart and modern rickshaw driver of the digital age.