Dec 21, 2009

"বাক্সে বাক্সে বন্দী বাক্স"
- অর্ণব-এর গান

I don't know what that song is actually referring to, but I remember we played it a lot when we actually put our years and years of life from Chittagong into boxes to move to Dhaka in July 2007.

Anyway, I am reminded of this song again, as I sit here and think of "Thinking out of the box". Where I am headed could be paralleled with HSBC's marketing campaigns where they claim to be "The World's Local Bank". Their ad campaigns showed two items or themes and they would both be the same thing, but in different contexts - the international, and the local.

Instead of prolonging further this introduction, let me get to the point: We need our own solutions to our problems! Think outside the box! Don't go for the obvious! Think about the local situation, the local mindset, the local environment, and costs before taking a decision. I am going to follow up these advisory statements with some ideas, which may very well be just the foolish rants of a lunatic who failed to read the "Don't Step on the Grass" sign.

Traffic Lights.
We spent a lot of effort, time, and money on putting up traffic lights all over town, and that was years and years ago, and we upgraded them in between also with some fancy stuff from Italy as I remember reading some years back. As it is now, there are traffic policemen on every road's end to contain the traffic. The red - light and orange go on and on and it doesn't really affect anything, since people are impatient and could care less for the law, and it actually takes a traffic policeman coming in front of the moving cars to stop them. 4 men at every crossroad (not uncommon these days to see traffic controllers at ends of alleyways inside residential and commercial areas either).

My big idea here is, instead of going with the rest of the world and the electronic traffic lights, why couldn't we have just put up those barriers that stop the cars in front of train lines?

Wonder how much costs we could have saved by putting these up, when there is already issues of sustainable power supply for this ever-expanding city of ours.

City Rail.
Having said that Dhaka is 'ever-expanding', if detailed you would notice its growing taller also as well as sideways. Sideway growth is to an extent good, but the fact remains that the number of businesses and apartments are growing tremendously inside the existing city limits and the roads are filling up with new cars every day. The situation is helped to some extent with lots of bus services around, but I would comment that they are almost 'inhuman' with their small seating spaces, and their mistreatment of passengers. Their sole goal to maximize profits, and they don't care how they do it, resulting in dangerously packed buses (sometimes very visibly leaning to one side), and dangerous driving to get places faster. So, them being there still takes up the road spaces and we are running low on road space. Hence the current declaration of projects to build expressways and overhead light rail trains to curb our congestion. Again, we are possibly looking at a few years' commitment, costs and not to mention, expanding travel ways don't necessarily take care of the growing city's increasing demand on utilities: power, gas and water.

We do however have rail tracks already running through the city, from Komlapur where the train station is to Uttora, and it runs through various key areas of the city - Moghbazar, Mohakhali, etc, ultimately stopping at somewhere in Uttora before finally heading out of the city. We could easily deploy some carriers and arrange the timings of the intercity carriers to accomodate them. Next, all we'd need are planned train stops, some kind of ticketing booth and waiting areas. I am no civil engineer or city planner, but seems to be, this could be worth looking into.

Bigger projects are however more lucrative, I suppose, for local leaders and international financial institutions, and we will always have that dilemma. Its pretty outside the box where ideas are just flowing and growing, but inside the box, the walls are high and slippery.
Get Pro Active Mrs. Government.

Posted on Monday, December 21, 2009


Nov 9, 2009


গোলাকার এক পাথরে চেপে বসে আছি সবাই
ঘুরছি ঘুরছি দিন যায় দিন .. ঘুরছি সবাই
হাসি কান্না সুখ দুঃখ ভালবাসা ঘৃণায়


মানুষে অমানুষে মিশে মিলে সবাই
করি ভেদাভেদ অর্থ, রং, ধর্ম, রাজনীতি মিলায়
টানো দাগ আজ হয়ে যাক মিটমাট টানো দাগ


গ্রহ নক্ষত্র ভাসছে ভাসছি সবাই
লিখে চলি অদ্ভূত গান জেনেও যে গাবেনা সবাই
আমি তুমি তোমরা ... .... আমরা সবাই


Commentary by Carl Sagan
[as read on Wikipedia]

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

[gratitude: Khaotic Mind]

Posted on Monday, November 09, 2009

1 comment

Oct 18, 2009

DISCLAIMER: This won't make any sense if you'd never taken a walk down a Dhaka city area. :D

Sure, its not a catchy title like "Halo" or "Wolfenstein" .. but its every bit as thrilling and challenging as those games.

Your Mission: Walk to the bank on Kemal Ataturk Ave. to pay off Credit bills, or else you get charged with a Late Fine! oh crap! Start from Bonani Road 4. Sure, tis a small walk, but just as deadly as Operation Desert Storm.

Your Obstacles:
Potholes: It has rained last night, and unlike the visible gathering of rain on roadsides due to bad drainage, these potholes are cheeky, take your head off the road for a sec, and you could get your leather footwear all dirty, and maybe smelly too!

Rickshaws: Incoming and sneaking up behind you... they're like playful little puppies running down the streets, left, right, and barking, but make no mistake, they are not sweethearts. Get out of their way with a ninja's agility to preserve your life force.

Smell: Oh, whats that smell!? Block your nose with your hands within a second of detecting that perverse smell of a mixed bag of rotten things. If you don't do this within a second, because of your attention getting focused on other simultaneous obstacles, you lose your life-force every second that passes!

Manholes: Round deathtraps and sometimes they are also disguised as squares! Make sure you don't get your feet in or worse while watching a rickshaw or the occasional pretty girl crossing the street! Focus! Come on!!!!

Pedestrians: May as well call them Zombies, for they won't budge from their routes. So jump left and right to avoid them and make your way to your destination.

This is your challenge and you have to accept it. Why not put on an imaginary virtual reality headgear and visualize your life force and controls you have to use to get your bills paid or go get some lunch! ...if you're not driving that is, or taking a rickshaw (better be on the offensive eh?)

Just another perk of an overpopulated city.


PS. This idea is borrowed from the scene in "The Beach" where Leonardo di Caprio is going through some similar visions while going nuts alone in the jungle.

Posted on Sunday, October 18, 2009


Oct 13, 2009

What an interesting world we live in! Or die in!

Posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No comments

Oct 8, 2009

I thought Paris, I Love You was a brilliant film, and it came at a time when I was finding it hard to find the attention span to watch most movies. The concept of having film makers work on short films around a subject itself was brilliant, and the result was really excellent stories told without any unnecessary elongation.

Now, I just found out that a New York, I Love You is going to be released also! Looking forward to that!

Posted on Thursday, October 08, 2009


Sep 24, 2009

Finally, my band Rhee has gotten somewhere, and that is at the 13/14 place on a CD that was released on the 19th of September, 2009. This was a marvelous effort from Jewel of Miles/X Factor fame, who is a brilliant guitarist and producer. In a rush, he accepted 120 demos, and then chose 32 out of them primarily, and recording was arranged for them, and based on the quality of the song and recording, 28 bands got published in two albums: Rock 202, and Rock 303. These are a followup to his first arrangement Rock 101. But already, the consensus is that Rock 202/303 is the best rock compilation to have ever been released so far.

A lot of people were asking however, whether the songs are available online, or if I could pass them a copy of the song. One asked specifically, are you getting anything out of it? If yes, I'll buy the CD, otherwise I'll download it. The truth is, the band doesn't have any formal agreements about with the producers of this album. Donno if any of the bands do! All we get out of this is publicity (*?), and the recognition. It does feel good to be picked, and seeing all the bands around, you know exactly how you need to improve, step up your game, get serious.

I think theres a bad cycle involved when it comes to Rock and other subgenres which are loud, and edgy. There are artists like Momtaz, Asif, Habib, Balam, who enjoy a larger audience, and thus have a lot of sales and make the executive producers, labels happy. My theory is that their demographic also has the least amount of downloaders/freeloaders. And they also enjoy additional demand from tv, and movies etc. For Rock music, already with a marginal audience, has the most amount of people who download, listen to mp3 and thus share more. Also, there is the mixed feeling about whether the money spent on the CD is actually reaching the artist(s).

* The rock bands and other artist of such genres also have their works released to no efforts at publicity on the part of their labels! its mostly a lose - lose situation for the artist, with only the satisfaction of having released something to be gained. What do the labels gain from this? They must gain something out of it, my theory is that its not enough (according to their profit accountants) to pass on to the artists for them. My theory is that the fans of these bands need to 'create' a favorable market for their favorite artists by buying their albums and making sure, others around them are buying them. That's my theory. Whats yours?

Posted on Thursday, September 24, 2009

No comments

Aug 16, 2009

Wah! AL whenever it comes to power, does some branding gimmicks. It tries to name everything after the leader's father and her other relatives' names! Well, there was really no reason to have thought this time would be different, even though with the way the elections came about, I was almost convinced they had realized there were more urgent matters at hand.

The one I thought was sad was -
The Bangladesh - China Friendship Conference Center, which was changed to "Bangabondhu Memorial Hall" ... undermining the goodwill shown by a fellow country, the result of which was this beautiful convention center (really one of a kind in terms of space and design in dhaka, or maybe just a few grades above the Osmani Milonayoton Hall, tho the latter's auditorium has better acoustics).

Aug 15 was declared as a national day of mourning, which is fine, and then the month as the national month of mourning! And so in lieu of that started the now power blessed AL's programs... which apparently included covering up the gate to the Banani graveyard with posters of Sk. Mujibur Rahman, and to put up banners everywhere with the words "Kado Bangali Kado".

The show of respect from any sane person I thought should have differed from this. The graveyard has graves of many people, and to cover up its gate with the pictures of one person no matter how great he might be, is really sycophancy to the extreme - in my opinion, breaking the sanctity of a graveyard.

I found the statement "Kado Bangali Kado" quite interesting also. Our grief regarding the country's welfare, and political situation is heavy, to the point that people laugh about it, suggesting no real solution exists, and the laughter to an extent has elements of mad despair. To a level, I even found the statement insulting... how dare they?

All night long from the night of the 14th, someone started playing Sk. Mujib's powerful speech that really shook the nation's consciousness before our liberation war. They put out mics and broadcasted it all night! The love and respect that people feel for the man, and the power and strong nationalism that was in that speech, I think they both get diminished with this kind of display. People are trying to sleep and someone is blasting that all throughout the night. If they arranged a hearing of the speech instead, at the Ramna park from morning, so that people could gather in one place and listen to that speech, it would have been more appropriate, and maybe would have rekindled someone's sense of nationalism*. I would say that would have been a more sensible way of paying respect to the man, and his words.

Alas, its difficult to judge how much of this is actual paying of respect, and how much of it is just a vulgar display of power. Some women will say that they dress for each other, comparing styles of clothes or make up or whatever ... observing the power play between BNP and AL kinda gives you some understanding of that... Khaleda Zia really started having big bashful birthday parties (even 5 year olds would be jealous) ever since Aug 15 was declared a day of mourning! (More related to this here) And I laugh everytime I pass by Crescent Lake (Chondrima Uddan) thinking how the AL govt. moved the bridge from that venue when a bridge in some village broke to replace it! Every member of both parties... take a bow! Really!

* Nationalism, the way I see it around me mostly, is just about saying some things, and singing some songs, and other forms of ritualistic showings, without any commitment to actions that help the country or society.

Posted on Sunday, August 16, 2009

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Jun 28, 2009

Back when i was in school, we first started getting CNN. Cable tv was not there at the time and we used to get free broadcast of CNN for some portion of the morning in the same stream where our national tv would start broadcast at around 5 pm everyday.

Now, with cable tv everywhere, CNN can be seen in a new light. I have to say first of all, that I am not sure, whether programming is different in other parts of Asia or what, but I start comparing CNN now, mainly because I have Al Jazeera to compare with! BBC could be compared in the same light, they were once a good source of news, still not too bad.

Now, the channel of choice when it comes to news is Al Jazeera, and while watching I always get this in my head "Hmmmm, I wonder what CNN is showing!". This is how I found out 2 mornings ago, that Michael Jackson had died. Sad news, but also, the ONLY news almost for the whole day on CNN on that day! I guess I also don't compare BBC that much in these scenarios, coz of the way my tv is programmed... Al Jaz and CNN are next to each other, a click away.

CNN feels the need to be able to entertain with their shows, more than really covering what is happening in the world. They bring what is happening in the USA to the world, and nothing to take back I guess.

Al Jazeera has news of every country's elections, and sometimes has people with conflicting views on a single program that really help to show the two sides of the coin. Their music shows, go all over the world, and bring you really interesting views of all kinds of music scenes from around the globe, their philosophies and struggles and does not only focus on the best selling music category. Their show about movies is the same and has really great interviews.

CNN's news has lost all appeal to me, and the time I watch CNN is to catch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who is really funny, and his show is brought to CNN courtesy of Comedy Central!

For Some Other Viewpoints:
Is It Al-Jazeera Or CNN International?
CNN to Al Jazeera: Why Report Civilian Deaths?
CNN's Anderson Cooper: What’s up with Al-Jazeera’s phone?

Jon Stewart:

(Thanks to Rajiv bhai for the lead on this. Apparently, the show Crossfire shut down after Jon Stewart's appearance and critique!)

Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009

1 comment

Apr 9, 2009

impugn \im-PYOON\, transitive verb:
To attack by words or arguments; to call in question; to make insinuations against; to oppose or challenge as false; to gainsay.

Perfect for the way parliament is shaping back to its old days of mud slinging. All hail the golden goose of democracy, blind leading the blind.

Posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009

No comments

Jan 20, 2009

Went yesterday to buy a phone. I'd say it like that and not "went to buy a Nokia E63", thats how I am. Anyway, when i reached Shopper's World where Nokia has their sales center, I saw a big line of people standing outside! Today is the launch of the Nokia 5800, and they have all come for it! I asked one of the Nokia staff if I could go into the shop, and as they said, I'd have to stand in line! So, I did what my logic told me was right, Come back in the evening.

The shop was quite quiet in the evening, with the Nokia staff hanging around, young kids wearing cool Nokia uniforms, not many customers in sight. So I grabbed one of them and asked if I could see a Nokia E63, the young kid replied that they didn't have any, and that he could show me a brochure. Then he told me they are only selling Nokia 5800s today! What?! That didn't make sense and was a little infuriating for me, after all, its my second trip to that same shop in one day!

This is a post where I am ranting, and the major cause of that is not because of what I described above, but because of the following. I had approached the sales staff in Bangla, coz, thats the language that is spoken in Bangladesh! That's where we were, and the kid was replying me in English every time! I could have talked in English to him fine, but I just kept talking in Bangla to see how long exactly he'd keep it up, and he went all the way. His english wasn't all that great to suggest thats his first language, or his very best second option, but he did it. Maybe he'd be fired otherwise? I don't know, but I think its because they were instructed to do so. I imagine they had a big meeting beforehand, where they brought out statistics and discussed their target market for the Nokia 5800, the group of young people, who are cool, dress in the latest (or a decade old in USA or Europe) fashion, and talk in english, cuase they are smaart (!@#!@%!%)... or whatever! haha... shit, i matched most of that description didn't I, except I was talking in Bangla, and I found it quite insulting that a sales force could be trained to ignore Bangla like that! Sheesh!

Posted on Tuesday, January 20, 2009