Nov 7, 2014

We choose to live in Dhaka because we love this city. I share this post because I refuse to live in despair. I refuse to believe that watching 4 men kicking a young woman is something we have to get used to. I refuse to believe that all who stood there and watched represent who we are as people.

As seen on Facebook from a young woman who was part of the incident. Attacked in broad daylight on Dhaka University premises by four young students. Students. Dhaka University. Can we make sense of this as a one-off incident?

Will we again turn a blind eye to the latent maladies of our endless lawlessness, our political disease, our corruption and lack of morals?

As I've seen it, we like lying to ourselves over and over again, and choose to exercise short-term memory and make deals with the justice system.

Press coverage on this so far:

Posted on Friday, November 07, 2014


Oct 10, 2014

One Aarong ad recently accrued a bit of hate from those who cared to dispense it. Actually a 'bit of hate' is a downplaying it on my part since the company was forced to apologise for their ad though their intentions were not to hint at 'flood' which was causing suffering at another point in Bangladesh, but to signify monsoon and 'Bishorjon' of the Puja celebrations which were coming up.

For those unaware of it, it was a bunch of the usual models displaying Aarong products but in a setting which is quite unlike the usual or expected in fashion photography, as seen here:

Image of Aarong's controversial ad featuring models in a room with knee-high water

My first reaction to the image was not a positive one, since I clearly remembered an earlier billboard that hung on the way to my work which troubled me equally. It showed a female Aarong model with a woman bangle seller putting on bangles on the model's arm, as shown below:

Not knowing initially that 'bishorjon' was the inspiration for the first, I thought I saw a pattern in their ads in juxtaposing other aspects of our reality which were not first second or third picks to put on commercials - floods or social inequality. It was an odd thing I suppose, as we've not seen this before.

Our inequality's nature is such that we do all things differently, we speak differently, attend different cinemas, eat differently and so on. This inequality gives our middle and upper classes access to servants and chauffeurs where we also have distinct communication and interaction boundaries. Every household could be described as a mini-kingdom with rulers and subjects much like the second image sort of depicts.

If anyone were to create such ads, who else than BRAC who has a multitude of efforts towards bettering conditions of our economically disadvantaged. These juxtapositions may be uncomfortable, but its better to have that lead to further thought than anything else. Removing these pictures won't rid us of our dilemmas.


Posted on Friday, October 10, 2014


Jun 29, 2014

'Road safety' I feel has become an issue to take up on education. Most of us are driven around by drivers who are either not told to refrain from it, or are encouraged to drive with risks, going at high speeds and dangerously overtaking others oftentimes quite indecently. Kids and grown ups alike enjoy that (grown ups - sometimes, or some of the grown ups) thrill and for kids it must be akin the Need for Speed games they play at home. The cost of an accident are the last things on our minds, and its usual to face situations where the offender will blame you for the accident to get out of it.

I think the TV channels and sponsors could create public service announcements around this issue to raise awareness. If we can't control our drivers, be it for how they are parking or the way they are driving, we are constantly creating risk and nuisance, both of which should be things avoided in a 'civil society'.

The bus drivers are harder to get to, who probably get away with the most serious offenses. Apart from ensuring great penalties on the owners of bus services for these offenses - from damaging public property (road dividers, pavements, etc.), to minor assaults (bumping into other cars, buses and people), to killing; we should take steps to have them view some sort of mandatory educational material as part of their license test. Those should clearly outline the damage they can cause when someone dies or loses a limb due to their callous driving.

I have found a few public announcement videos that have been created in New Zealand to caution drivers. The first uses animation to show the effect of selfish driving and how being social can help you have a better day. The second and third are graver, and shows how split second decisions can lead to an unwanted situation.

Drive Social


Flying Objects

No More Road Accidents

Posted on Sunday, June 29, 2014


Jun 28, 2014

In 2010 an accident in New Zealand's Pike River Mine claimed 29  lives. I didn't know much about the tragic event but through twists and turns had the privilege to see an internal screening of a documentary produced around that incident. Dave Dobbyn is a Kiwi musician who has been around since the 70s, and he has been commissioned to write a song on that event. As part of the process Dave visits the site and the families, hears their stories and its all captured nicely on film, to be shown later this year on TV possibly. The film ends in a live performance of the song. Dave wrote beautifully and the composition also lends to its emotional qualities, accompanied by a huge choir as well. Its a well made film.

Throughout the screening however I constantly kept thinking about the kinds of events I and we saw in
the year 2013 at the end of which I came to New Zealand. Its probably no use singling out 2013, as we usually experience death as a serial event, our roads claiming more lives usually than anything else I suppose. The school kids returning from a football match, the 6 boys beaten to death, and as a finale to my last year at home, the demise of the garments workers of Rana Plaza. We wouldn't have the budget to commission that many songs, or documentaries, our problems lie elsewhere.

Hope you enjoy the song above, its one Dave Dobbyn sang to the families once while he was still figuring out the song about the 29 men. Watch out for the documentary, its titled "Dreams Lie Deeper".


Posted on Saturday, June 28, 2014