“Nearly three thousand kilometers of railroad track crisscross the delta lowlands of Bangladesh, connecting Dhaka, the capital, with Chittagong to the southeast and Calcutta to the southwest. The system was built largely by the British and began operations in 1862, more than a hundred years before Bangladesh became an independent nation. Bangladeshi rolling stock now carries more than forty million passengers a year in three ticketed classes: air-conditioned, first, and second—and then there are the passengers who can’t pay. These riders, many of them daily commuters going to and from work, cling to handles, crouch in doorways, perch on the couplings between cars, and climb onto the roof. G. M. B. Akash, who lives in Dhaka, began riding the rails with his camera in 2006. He wanted to draw attention to the danger the stowaways expose themselves to; gruesome accidents are routine for free riders. ‘There is nothing to hold on to,’ Akash said. ‘It is very difficult to keep your feet.’ On a recent ride, Akash spoke to Majed Miya, a carpenter who has traveled on the roof for two decades. Miya said he enjoys riding on the roof: ‘no one really disturbs me there except the fear of death.’”

from G. M. B. Akash’s portfolio “Nothing to Hold On To”

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