Nov 22, 2012

As a loon, I am quite suspicious of the sane population, especially those wide-eyed optimists who insist the country is a beautiful place and that we're superior to so many countries around us.

Age is one factor that prevents these people from joining the legions of us loons. In fact, I can testify to the fact that I am much more the lunatic now than I was a few notches back. And I see a lot of the shades of positivity and compliance in a lot of the younger folks that I used to possess. Now and then I also meet the fascinating characters who have stayed those shades even at an age in proximity to my own! Well, Hallelujah!

I also, have lots of opinions about that, loony as they may be, that the wide-eyed optimism is harming us, - not doing us any good. As with the wide-eyed of any age, there seems to be a tendency to forget or forgive the authorities from any duty or accountability. If only having an increased number of cell phones on our hands, less child mortality and and sustained level of growth were enough to make our lives better, I imagine I would feel it. Maybe the wide eyed ones feel it, and I would only extend to them, my jealousy and admiration, but I don't perceive we're getting any better. I only see, in contrast to their views, a drop in every humane indicator (compassion, respect, courtesy, honesty and the like), and a drop in my sense of security* (yes even with all of our fine top-gun sunglassed policemen, RAB and armed police and their exposed weapons big and small, and their check posts**).

I would even go as far as saying that these wide-eyed-ness is a threat to our road to developing out of this mire of corruption and bureaucratic vertigo.

* Actual security and the sense of security, I think are different. I haven't died yet from a stabbing or got robbed of my car or belongings, which might mean I am secure, but I don't feel its very hard to die from a stabbing or get robbed, and I don't feel I can get justice if it should come to that - that's the 'sense of security'.

** Sometimes giving me the impression of this being Palestine or Iraq!

Posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012

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Oct 30, 2012

From watching this program to that during this eid holiday, a noticeable thing was the way people on TV are talking. Being able to describe someone as 'articulate' is tough these days, unless you have someone like Abdullah Abu Sayeed as a guest or presenter. There are not just problems with phrasing and vocabulary, but also with pronunciations. A regional dialect is hardly meant for a national TV channel anywhere in the world, but even from our news reporters, we hear such speech.

During a better part of the morning, we were mesmerized by the stories told by Saadi Mohammad on '71 - Ekattor TV's Facebook Page (a channel), on a live music show hosted by Alif Alauddin. The show was very entertaining where the songs were being presented on the self-narrated timeline of Saadi Mohammad's life (though prompted by the host), starting with his childhood, to first growing a liking to Tagore music after hearing Hemanta Mukherjee on the radio, to his time at Santiniketon as a student and so on. He also mentioned how pronunciation was an issue with some of his students. People may tell me off for criticizing someone for having a dialect on the news, but what happens when people are trying to sing a song? It makes for temporary comedy, but on a larger scheme of things, its sad. Saadi Mohammad himself mentioned at that point of the show, that its nice to hear someone articulating thoughts and emotions properly, especially for singers and people on television, but really, for everyone (even a prime minister, he proceeded to mention).

Having seen that, when later at night, we see an interview of Ananta Jalil by Munni Shaha, its frustrating.

Ananta Jalil, with all his money and stunts, thinks he has found the formula for good movies, and is out there to claim that he is a properly educated inidividual who has passed O' and A' Levels, and has a bachelors in business (BBA) from the UK (though its commonly known that they provide BComm and not BBA). These claims are meant to throw off everyone who says he has pronunciation poblems (he is often heard with a silent 'r' when it should appear after a 'p') in both Bangla and English.

On the other side of the ring was Munni Shaha, who is a senior reporter for ATN News, and conducts a lot of interviews. Ignoring her annoying nasal voice and frequent 'ehhh's when shes browsing her vocabulary mid-sentence, she (like a few others) has a habit of trying to put words into the mouths of her guests. All in all, it was a pretty bad show of where we are, and who gets to be on our 'media'.

Thats another thing, I see a lot of so-called celebrities, refer to themselves as 'people of the media'. I don't get that! Its like they are trying to elevate themselves to somewhere or something, their own little planet. It just sounds weird to me.

Lawmakers should talk and behave with dignity says Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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Oct 23, 2012

Its been a dismal year. And I say it again today as the news of Sunil Gangapadhyay (সুনীল গঙ্গোপাধ্যায়)'s death reaches us. I have a feeling of loss even though I have read just one of his books, and a few poems.

Translated in English with a still from the movie used as the cover. Buy
I am reminded of the first book that I read of his, a novella titled "Nillohiter Ayna" (নীললোহিতের আয়না), which had a great impression on me. I was still at school at the time, and our bangla teacher convinced that none of us (Chittagong, 'O' levels in the 90s, new school ~ 8 students in my class) was reading much, and to prove it, he said, bring me 4 of your favorite bangla books. I still can't recall what books I brought to class that day except the aforementioned. And I don't know what his plan was when he took those books, and never returned them!

Like often the case with me, I am left with just an impression from a film or a book, having forgotten everything else, but that. Its an abstract sensation that I couldn't express in words, but its one that will cause me to want to get it back. On many trips to bookstores I have asked for it, looked for it, in vain.

Another time, when I had this urge, was for the movie "Pratidwandi"(প্রতিদন্দ্বী), by Satyajit Ray (সত্যজিৎ রায়). This time, it was easier to get it back, and on this occasion it was the first time for my wife to watch it. We were both thoroughly moved with the film. The characters were well made, well directed, and the story of a young individual's struggle with ideologies, effectively told! At the end of that movie, we both noticed that this movie was also adapted from a book by the same name of Sunil. This inspired us to take on another Satyajit Ray/Sunil Gangapadhyay product - Aranyer Dinratri (অরন্যের দিনরাত্রি), which was equally impressive.

I struggle with finding time for books these days, but as people like Sunil pass away, I feel a sense of 'tragedy' in not being able to make time for their books. I have a sense of these times being less and less inspiring for the human race, and with lesser and lesser number of people to grasp these circumstances and to hold it to our faces in the form of literature, film and art.

Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Oct 10, 2012

Dhaliwood Song and Dance, possibly shot outside the country
A lunatic is by definition not attuned to the "real world". On the left, is a shot from a film that was made in our real world - Bangladesh, featuring the one, the only Shakib Khan, who was touted to be the sole actor for our mainstream cinema (Till of course, self proclaimed saviour of cinema, Ananta Jalil [producer, actor, lover, dancer, and stuntman] showed up), and an 'actress' who is wearing a wild ensemble from the Sundarbans in an effort to promote tourism. Though this picture has all the goodness that is cited by most mainstream film producers as necessary for a successful film - Shakib Khan for one, a slightly obese actress who can wear tight clothes and dance, and of course the 'foreign location' where the leading pair can shake their caboose, I don't get it! I leave it upto you lot to please explain, what we've come to accept as our own. I watched many a TV interview and film review programs where these cinema are talked about as the most natural kind of cinema we could have. Of course, I, don't get it!

Try, while I watch this video made from the flash cards my psychologist uses to calm me down.

Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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Oct 3, 2012

How our media can treat such a massive attack on the Buddhist populace as a piece of everyday news, is beyond me. I am ashamed to be part of this society, where these attacks on Buddhist temples and the innocent folks and their houses in Ramu, Ukhia and surrounding places leave its population so unaffected.

I was hoping to see our channels put up a black badge at least to show they felt bad about this violence towards a mass of people from what got shared on one person's Facebook! The government could twist your arms into putting a badge up for their declared 'month of sorrow' in August, but now, it seems you are confused about how you feel, or you don't feel at all! Apathy! How strange was it that the news of this event was also treated like it was nothing! How sad!


Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2012

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Sep 16, 2012

This is all you get! "Lau" and "Kodu" are two names for one vegetable in the Bangla language. And they're used in the "To-may-toes .... Tomuhtoes" sort of expression in the language.

Good Morning Bangladesh!

Posted on Sunday, September 16, 2012

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Aug 30, 2012

Cover by Somor Mojumdar
1998 was 15 years ago. 1998 was the year I started university. Before that, I remember long bouts of load-shedding during important exams, or short 3-4 hours of having electricity, and walking around the dark neighborhood at night when studying by the emergency lamps became a headache. Before that I remember walking about 30 minutes to a friend's house to play cricket in the afternoons, whereas I wouldn't walk that same distance to school since school was closed for security reasons. It was the time of the BAL's non-cooperation movement to get 'caretaker government' system in place (which they announced unconstitutional this year). Before that I remember a movement to oust Ershad from his presidency and enjoyed the satiric cartoons that were in Unmad and Cartoon.

As a teen in 1998, I was lightly aware of politics as it existed and it didn't really affect me. I wasn't a taxpayer or a voter. Now, is a different story.

In 1998, Humayun Azad (হুমায়ুন আজাদ) wrote a book titled Politicians (রাজনীতিবিদগণ), which as I read, I see that the bitterness I feel towards the idiosyncrasies I see in politics today, are nothing compared to what he penned down there. The book is satiric too, with fictitious names used to draw real characters and a landscape that reflects the continuing reality of politics in Bangladesh.

Here's what it reads like (going over a to-do list for politicians before an election):

নিম্নলিখিত জিনিসগুলি তাগো দ্যাখতে হইবো, নাইলে চলবো না:

(১) ক্যাডারভাইরা ঠিক আছে কি না, তাগো যন্ত্রপাতি ঠিক আছে কি না, তাগো আরো যন্ত্রপাতি লাগবো কি না, আরো নতুন ক্যাডারভাই লাগবো কি না; ক্যাডারভাইরা অন্য রাজবংশে চইল্যা যাইতে চাইছে কি না- এইটা খারাপ লক্ষণ, এমুন হইলে বোঝতে হইবো ওই রাজবংশই ক্ষেমতায় আসবো; খালি ঢাকা শহরের ক্যাডারভাইদের ঠিক রাখলে চলবোনা, দ্যাশ-এর প্রত্যেইক গ্রাম, প্রত্যেইক ইউনিয়ন, প্রত্যেইক থানার ক্যাডারভাইদের ঠিক রাকতে হইবো; ক্যাডারভাইরা দ্যাশের মূলশক্তি;
(২) ইনভার্সিটির হলগুলি দখলে আছে কি না; ইনভারসিটি দখলে থাকলে আল্লাহর রহমতে দ্যাশ দখল করনে অসুবিধা হইবো না; ইনভারসিটিই বাংলাদেশ, এইটা দখল রাখতে হইবো; এইজইন্যে দুই চাইরটা লাশ পরলেও ক্ষতি নাই;
(৩) নিজেগো রাজবংশ হইতে সুবিধাবাদী রাজপুরুষরা অন্য রাজবংশে চ'লে যাইতেছে কি না, চ'লে যাওনের পথ খোজ্তেছে কি না এইটা দ্যাকতে হইবো;
(৪) অন্য রাজবংশ হইতে ভালো ক্যান্ডিডেট ভাগাইয়া আনন যায় কি না, কারে কারে ভাগাইয়া  আনলে লাব হইবো; কয়টা জেনারেল ব্রিগেডিয়ার মেজর কর্নেল দলে যোগ দিতে চাইছে, কয়টা সেক্রেটারি দলে আসতে চাইছে, কয়টা ব্যাংক ডিফল্টার যোগ দিতে চাইছে, অন্য দলের কয়টা প্রাক্তন মন্ত্রী এমপি মেয়র দলে যোগ দিতে চাইছে, কয়টা নামকরা রাজাকার দলে যোগ দিতে চাইছে, কয়টা রজাকার ভাগাইয়া আনন যাইবো, রাজাকারগো অবস্থা আইজকাইল ভালো;
(৫) কন্ত্রিবিউটাররা ঠিক মতো চান্দা দিতেছে কি না; কে কে চান্দা দেওন বন্ধ করছে, আর কে কে নতুন চান্দা দিতেছে; নতুন কন্ত্রিবিউটার আসলে বোঝতে হইবো দল এইবার জিতবো; চান্দা বেশি কইরা তোলতে হইবো, বেশি চান্দা পাইলে বোঝতে হইবো দল জিতবো;
(৬) দ্যাকতে হইবো ব্যাংক ডিফল্টারগুলি ঠিক আছে কি না; তারা মোটা ট্যাকা দিতেছে কি না, আর কয় কোটি কইরা তাগো থিকা তোলন যাইব; তারা কোন বংশের দিক ঝোকতেছে সেইটা দ্যাকতে হইবো, তারা যেই দিকে ঝোকবো সেই দিকই ক্ষেমতায় আসবো; দ্যাকতে হইবো তাগো কারখানায় ক্যাডারভাই পাঠাইতে হইব কি না;
(৭) ক্যান্ডিডেটরা কে কয় কোটি ট্যাকা দিতে পারবো সেইটা দ্যাকতে হইবো, স্মাগলার পাইলে বোঝতে হইব ভাল মালপানি হাতে আছে, পাচদশ কোটি খসায়তে কস্ট হইব না, তাগো ক্যান্ডিডেট করনই ভালো হইব; আর দ্যাকতে হইব তারা নির্বাচনরে অবাধ নিরপেক্ষ রাইখা ভোটার ভাগাইতে পারবো কি না;
(৮) ডিছি, ওছি, এছ্পি, টএনওগুলিরে ঠিক রাকতে হইবো; অরা ঠিক থাকলে অবাধে ভোটের বাক্স বোঝাই হইবো, নিরপেক্ষতা রক্ষা পাইবো;
(৯) আরও বিবিধ রকম জিনিশ দ্যাকতে হইবো, সময় বুইঝ্যা কাম করতে হইবো|

There are more passages that I feel strongly to share or put out there, and maybe I will. Through his satire he just paints a picture that makes much more sense than what these 'leaders' would like us to believe.

Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2012

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Aug 26, 2012

Diplomacy. The recipe for diplomacy has secrecy, disguised statements, or sweet nothings. As politics have evolved throughout the world, we've seen how dear they hold their right to secrecy.

In highly educated societies who have a certain level of consciousness and enlightenment, the population has been ascertained certain levels of access or guarantee of openness with regard to public or international policies the state establishes.  At least thats how I perceive how things are, in contrast to living here in Bangladesh, where the politicians word, not matter how far away from reality, is seemingly final and 'true'.

The contrast to everything as it stood came in the form of the Wikileaks/Assange affair. Before that we were able to get government documents out of the USA every 5 or 10 years, a provision by which let us know that the Nixon/Kissinger regime was against granting independence from Pakistan. That seemed like quite a gesture from the biggest or loudest proponent of democracy. Wikileaks however has taken off the tablecloth off of it and now we can see who are rubbing legs or kicking under there.

We saw the website and the founder Julian Assange come under fire not long after major news vendors started peddling articles with information from the leaks. The sites were being taken down and Assange charged with rape! Assange is now eagerly waiting for a way out of his stay at the Ecuador embassy in UK, but being careful still. The man has every reason to be careful, with fear that he might disappear and no one would leak that story.

Seeing these events turn out on my TV screen, I am pressed to believe once more, that politicians are just all alike. I wish I was a psychology major, because I would like nothing better than to study the psyche of these guys in whose hands we put our tax money and all the resources of our lands.

Assange Is A True Democrat: Chomsky
Assange Extradition Fact Sheet
UK 'withdraws threat' to Ecuador embassy

Posted on Sunday, August 26, 2012

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Aug 13, 2012

Martin Lindstrom has used this to describe our tendencies in the world wide web's social spheres. Described as such:
  • Wow: We see something that offends us, we’re shocked and outraged, and then, all fired up.
  • Pow: We take to email, Twitter, Tumblr, and text to vent our horror and dismay to all and sundry, and then, almost as soon as it began…
  • Ciao: We’re on to something newer, more interesting, and perhaps even more controversial.
The article was discussing the 2012 Olympics logo and the kind of reaction it received upon its unveiling. I find it a very interesting way to describe it, and I don't think we can deny this phenomenon.

Overall, its also a way life in Bangladesh seem to roll day-to-day, web or no-web, stark naked on the streets and on our newspapers. Issue after issue of newsparpers, episode after episode of talk shows and interviews, we were wowed, we powed, and we ciao-ed.

Posted on Monday, August 13, 2012

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Aug 9, 2012

Ahmed Zidan and his posse are my heroes! We have many migrant workers in the middle east, where they have suffered while trying to earn a better living. Employers who knew their money was giving them a better life probably used that excuse to not grant them rights in other areas. Work, take the money and go, don't complain about anything.

What these guys did was create a website and highlight human rights violations against migrant workers in the middle-east. Bravo!

What really shows their commitment in this area is the release of their website in Bangla, the language that these workers can access information in. Awesome X 3000. I thank these guys for their efforts and enlightened focus!

The Website:
The Organization:

Posted on Thursday, August 09, 2012


Aug 7, 2012

I had lunch outside today, with a sneaking suspicion that the food was stale.

While we collectively run Dhaka to the dogs with our reckless styles of living, the developers - people who find/take/make* land and construct (as much as rise they can get) apartments - seem to be offering us a way out with their products. They'll say, for clean air, live in Bodhua City, or for your children's future, come to Apartment Dreams, etc.

*make land by filling up spaces where there were ponds, streams or channels of water.

Being the lunatic I am, I get infuriated by these. Now I have to buy clean air, clean pavements and buy into areas where people park properly (or so I assume).

As can be seen in the picture above, they are promising Safety and Security. I suppose we won't have to fear muggers, killers and the occasional bump and quarrel with other vehicles on the road while we live there!

Modhumoti Model Town - the name itself suggests that its a 'model' town! Model of Safety and Security. Meanwhile, I live in one model town already, and its not really clear what kind of a model they had in mind with the cars running on any side of the lane they wish and the bad roads.

The Modhumoti Model Town project is from Metro Makers, who BELA (Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association) sued recently. All developers are highly connected and you need a lot of luck to be able to sue them or have the police take any action against them. You also need to ensure you have protection from unknown assailants who are not tied to them. BELA is doing a courageous thing, and seems like the High Court has ruled against them!


Modhumoti town in Amin Bazar illegal: SC

Advocate Iqbal Kabir Litan, a lawyer of Bela, yesterday told The Daily Star that the SC upheld the HC verdict on the grounds that the project authorities had been filling up Aminbazar sub-flood-flow zone, violating the Environment Conservation Act, Town Improvement Act and Rajuk rules, and a number of people had invested a lot of money for purchasing plots of the project.
- Daily Star

Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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Aug 1, 2012

Many people call her many names, but me, I don't go for the 'PM', to me she's QM... she is my, our - Queen Mother. Lately, she had visited our other Queen Mother - The Queen of England, and BBC was blessed with a chance to be graced by her pointing finger and excellent democratic constitutional vocabulary ~

মহাজননেত্রী জাগ্নাখোয়াবে দেখেছেন কোটি কোটি মানুষ মুকুট আর সিংহাসন মাথায় করে আসছে তাঁর বাড়ির দিকে, তারা খুঁজছে তাদের প্রাণপ্রিয় রাজকন্যাকে, এবং তাঁর মাথায় পরিয়ে দিচ্ছে মুকুট, নাচতে নাচতে তাঁকে বসাচ্ছে সিংহাসনে. আমরা বুঝতে পারি আগামী বছরগুলোতে বারবার বিদেশভ্রমণে তিনি ও তাঁরাই যাবেন.

রাজনীতিবিদগন (১৯৯৮)
হুমায়ুন আজাদ

  Full Transcript of the Interview
(The beginning of the transcript says its missing some parts. Those parts contained questions from Stephen Sackur about human rights violations, the murder of a labor activist and the disappearance of a political activitst. The reply from QM on the disappearance issue was in the form of another question - let me as you, how many people disappeared from the UK last year? Stephen, quite shocked or bemused, replied you mean political disappearances? I would have to say none! - of course, these are not exact words, but really close. God Save the Queen)

Posted on Wednesday, August 01, 2012

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Jul 24, 2012

The government did a good job! Ask anyone in the government, they'll always claim they always do! Yes, they kept our (or my) heads (head) spinning like a top. I woke up every two days asking myself the question I placed as the title of this post.

When one day its 'Get lost World Bank! We don't need you!', the next would be 'We're still thinking about it, we'd like some dialog', and then followed up by 'We can do this, we don't need the world bank's money! Even little kids want to give up their lunch money... they called the Prime Minister and said so themselves!'. They had even set up policies for a special bank account where citizens can contribute for the bridge over river Padma (M is silent for all you non-bengali folks).

The citizens of course filled up with patriotic fervor, even after the rising oil prices, rising prices of goods and necessities, rising taxes and VATs. Though, some channels showed some people on the streets who were not filled up with fervor (almost the opposite).

The WB, to recap, had laid down a few conditions to releasing the money for building bridges approved. We fulfilled many of these, and were staunchly opposing a few others. The sensational of these was the point of removing Mr. Abul Hossain from the ministry while investigators made sure there were no premise for corruption in the execution of this very large project. The government really stood proud behind him and said 'No!'. At one time, they moved him from the Communications ministry to Information ministry to calm WB down, but refused to take him away completely. They loved him too much, even though as a Communications minister he made serious oversight.

There are a few parody newspapers out right now. I know of two - Dainik Motikontho, and Dainik Maghbazar. They had started putting absurd news titles and events surrounding actual events, which really reflected the lunacy of the overall situation. But in recent times, even when I read the real news, from the serious newspapers, I can't tell apart the real and the parodied.

But after months of news and parodies, reality checks and escapes, yesterday it was announced that he might be resigning. This, at the peak of our defiance of World Bank (and ADB).

MP Abul said yesterday:  "আমার শুভাকাঙ্ক্ষী এবং আমি যাঁদের শ্রদ্ধা করি তাঁরা বিভিন্ন সময় আমাকে বলেছেন, তদন্ত চলাকালে আমার মন্ত্রী পদে থাকা উচিত না। আমি সিদ্ধান্তটা নিয়েছি। কার্যকর ব্যবস্থাও নিয়ে ফেলেছি। আমি দায়িত্বে থাকব না।"
He also added: "আমি মন্ত্রী থাকব কি না, সবকিছুই আল্লাহর ইচ্ছে। আর দপ্তরবিহীন মন্ত্রী হওয়ার বিষয়ে আল্লাহ প্রধানমন্ত্রীকে ক্ষমতা দিয়েছেন। তিনিই এ বিষয়ে সিদ্ধান্ত নেবেন।"

These are from Prothom Alo.

Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2012

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Jul 19, 2012

Posted on Thursday, July 19, 2012

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Jul 12, 2012

Found a site where a lot of pictures, interviews and information can be found on Satyajit Ray. 

Visit :

Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2012

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Jul 10, 2012

So the fiasco goes on. Apparently today none from World Bank showed up at a Local Consultative Group meeting that takes place between the partners of the Padma Bridge project. Right about now, things are getting confusing. The high and highest government mouths have already spoken that the World Bank is out of the equation, unless they say 'Sorry', and so, why were we expecting them at the meeting? Oh well.

Well, now, the government's stance is that we'll pay for the bridge ourselves. One member has said if needed, we'll shop for groceries less, meaning we'll forfeit lunch maybe. Others are also coming up with ideas on how to get the chips out of the unsuspecting citizens. Some gov. office declared they will provide their day's salary for the bridge (you bribe taking fox, now licking the bottoms again!). On this note, I've found someone said something on Facebook that makes sense, he or she said, he or she doesn't want to pay a dime.

Heres why -

আমি পদ্মা সেতুতে টাকা দিবনা।

সুরঞ্জিত সেনগুপ্ত বললেন "মোবাইল ব্যাবহারকারিদের কাছ থেকে প্রতিদিন ২ টাকা তোলা হোক ", আজ মাননিয় স্পিকার বললেন ২৫ পয়সার কথা। নাসিম সাহেব বলেছিলেন "সরকারি সেবার উপর চার্জ বসানো হোক", সংসদ উপনেতা একবেলা বাজার করবেন না (তিনি কয় বেলা বাজার করেন?), গোলাম মাওলা রনি একধাপ এগিয়ে "প্রয়োজনে কিডনি বিক্...রি করবেন"। কেউ শেয়ার বাজার, কারো চোখ রেমিটেন্স এর দিকে - ইত্যাদি, ইত্যাদি, ইত্যাদি।

অথচ সরকার বা বিরোধী দলের কেউ বলেনা "শুল্কমুক্ত যে গাড়ি আমদানি তারা এতদিন করেছে তার শুল্ক এখন আদায় করা হোক, কিংবা এখন থেকে এই সুবিধা বাতিল করা হোক, এমপি-মন্ত্রীদের যে হাজার হাজার টাকা ফোনের বিল এখনও বকেয়া সেটা আদায় হোক", একজনও বলেনা শেয়ারবাজার থেকে যে বিশ হাজার কোটি টাকা লুট হল সেটা উদ্ধার করে পদ্মা সেতু হোক, বর্তমান-সাবেক মন্ত্রী আর তাদের এপিএসদের যে হাজার কোটি টাকার অবৈধ সম্পদ সেগুলো বাজেয়াপ্ত করে সেতু হোক, তাদের বেতন ভাতা, গাড়ি, বাড়ির সুবিধা কমিয়ে পদ্মা সেতু করা হোক, প্রতি অধিবেশনে প্রতি কার্জ দিবসে কোন রকম মুখ দেখানোর বিনিময়ে তারা যে ৫০০ টাকা পায় সেটা পদ্মা সেতুর ফান্ডে রাখা হোক, কেউ বলেনা যে সব সরকারেরই আমলে দুর্নীতির মাধ্যমে যে টাকা লুট হয়েছে সেটা উদ্ধার করা হোক, ঋণ খেলাপিদের ঋণ আদায় করে পদ্মা সেতু করা হোক।

শুধু জনগন দিবে? তারা সবাই মিলে মিশে খাবে আর আমরা খালি দিয়ে যাবো?

আমার যদি ১ টাকা দেয়ারও সামর্থ্য থাকে, আমি তাও দিবনা। (সংগ্রহীত)
I feel sad amidst all this, that my fellow citizens seem to be blind about the concept of 'conflict of interest'. Our PM and other Ms have mentioned that since the money wasn't transferred yet, how can there be corruption? However, a businessman like Abull Hossain in a position like Communications Ministry, gives rise to conflict of interest. A person like Shahajahan who has retained his supremacy in the bus owners' asssociation is a conflict of interest. Even if there wasn't an instance of corruption yet, these people are more likely to act for their own interests. Say what?

Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2012

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Jul 5, 2012

I picture my government dressed up like Ali G and crossing her hands in front of her in the hip-hop fashion and saying the above to World Bank who is standing across, ICE-T-ish in its stature and demeanor, with his hands crossed across his chest showing unflinching sternness.

This is historic though, at least I think it is! Has a poor country ever before lashed out at World Bank saying its corrupt? It would've been doubly historic and AWESOME if that same charge wasn't thrown at us first and had funds meant for us canceled based on those charges. So we wanted their money, they refused and now we're bad mouthing them in the parliament and the news. A-h-a. That has 'sore' written all over it. And 'Loser'. When we have such such low opinions of WB, why gun for their funds!? A-ha ... 'Cuz we need it! WB's pull out from the Padma bridge project also influenced the ADB (Asian Development Bank) to pull out too. Only our friends, the Japanese, are sticking around.

In most countries that are careful of the people's opinions, slight corruption charges and even a single instance of failure have inspired ministers and other government officials to resign to make way for fair investigations and to make way for better representation. This is something, Bangladeshis are deprived of. Amidst the first corruption alerts, we saw the minister being moved to a different ministry. Sahara Khatun, our state minister is another example, where a series of failures weren't good enough for her to step down. They can face reporters and deny with a straight face any failure.

Our PM has finally risen to the occassion last night on parliament, broadcast throughout the nation, and given her views. The World Bank is corrupt! So our governments' overall response is a "How dare you!" and a "Did you look at yourself?!". :) Merry!

PS, The PM also gave out a mobile phone number and an email address to receive corruption allegations against members of her family. She denied any of her family is corrupt first. / 01711-520000 and 01819-260371

Ludicrous? I think so!

পদ্মা সেতু প্রকল্প: প্রয়োজনে নিজেদের অর্থেই পদ্মা সেতু
PM on phone to receive family graft allegation
PM trashes WB graft allegations
Commentary: Public interest sacrificed to protect one man

Posted on Thursday, July 05, 2012

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Jun 27, 2012

Any fan of Rock music would notice that the majority of it comes from USA. Though the best of them, the most inspiring ones, seem to spring from the UK and then reach the world via USA. Either way, while listening to Aerosmith's Get a Grip this morning, I was musing at how the 90s saw some fine, polished production within the genre -
Aerosmith's Get A Grip (1993/Bruce Fairbairn)
Guns n' Roses Use Your Illusions I and II (1991/Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses)
Metallica's Black album (1991/Bob Rock)
Nirvana's Nevermind (1991/Butch Vig)
Bon Jovi's These Days (1995/Peter Collins, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora)
Scorpions' Pure Instinct (1996/Erwin Musper, Keith Olsen and Scorpions)
... and so on.

Each of these albums represent a slight change in the quality of production of these bands' music  from their previous releases. The bands' compositions were given that edge by working with some great producers who knew what to do with it, where to take it.

I learn today, that Bruce Fairbarn had died in 1999 (Read: Obituary Bruce Fairbarn), but had till that date produced a lot of very successful albums. He tried his hand first at being a musician but those  bands never reached heights he had hoped for. On the other hand, his successes as producer are noteworthy - Get A Grip, Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi), Elegantly Wasted (INXS) and lots more.

Here in Bangladesh, a lot of bands start out and they really have to rely on themselves to produce their albums. There aren't really any 'producers' at work for the most part. Exceptions? In recent times, Jewel, who is a well known guitar player of Legend, Warfaze, and now Miles and X-Factor (his own project) has acted as producer for Black's album 'Abar'. That did seem like a well produced, balanced album, though 'Uthshober Por' before that, and 'Black' which came after 'Abar', were also well produced. Jewel however also arranged a series of rock albums with new and old talents of the country - Rock 101 till 707, where he played curator - selecting bands from a pool of probably 50 or 60 bands each time. A better use of Jewel's producing abilities would've been to select less bands and work on the production a little with them.

Western genres (esp. rock, metal and the like) are not considered widely marketable music (though time and again, rock concerts have had raised lots of money for different causes). In a country that sways so much to imported Bollywood music, its commercial success is also influencing local artists to follow their trends. As a result, even older local music or styles are not really getting produced. However, when you love a style so much, you tend to create and try, and there are some formidable Bangla rock bands here - Cryptic Fate, aforementioned Black, Arbovirus, Breach, Nemesis, Kral and others. They have all been around for some time, and spent countless years trying to realize and learn what makes a great production. Since we started from a point where we lacked even the tools for great productions, we have seen some studios (e.g. Bengal Studio in Baridhara, Acoustic Artz in Dhanmondi) invest in good equipment. Though we don't have studios apt for live recording (all instruments played and recorded at once), the album 'Arnob and Friends' (not rock, but an ecclectic mix of pop, folk and others) was done that way with musicians in different rooms. Others realize that since they payoff isn't much, it doesn't matter if you record everything digitally in your bedroom using lightweight soundcards and other shortcuts. Then comes the lack of producers - a person with ideas, with a vast landscape of aural vision, who when he or she hears a demo, can hear the possibilities ringing inside for a great song. On the other hand, some musicians fail to understand the role of a producer and bear negative impressions or mistake it for the role of 'the man'.

Some Bruce Fairbairn statements:

"None of the songs on Pump would have flown if the guys in Aerosmith hadn't played them great initially. Once you have something good on tape, then you have a really solid basis to play around with, adding the production aspects, mixing in texture and colour to the tracks. All those songs can be stripped down - you can get rid of the horns, the piano, the accordion - and still have a good album with great songs. The production is just there to enhance what the band has done. It's like baking a great cake with a lot of icing. I like a lot of icing."

"If a band feel they can't make a good record unless they're high, I tell them to find somebody else to get high and make a record with"
Kirk Hammett vs. Bob Rock
Classic Albums Documentaries

Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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Jun 26, 2012

Buses and Tempos
I used to travel by buses or "tempos" - which are three wheeled vehicles with a carrier at the back where people sit along the walls. Some bus services are government owned and their buses are standard, but by no means enough. The use of the word standard was to differentiate them from the privately owned services - where you'll see buses that wouldn't pass the 'fitness' standards of anywhere but third world countries - their front or back or all lights are either missing, or hanging by a wire, the seats inside are cramped to maximise the number of seats for maximum profit. Tempos have similar inhuman arrangements. Both of these services can be seen packing people to the brim where you might be standing indecently close to another sorry human being just trying to make his way to work or wherever. Apparently the bus owners' association is so strong that they are above the law. One member of that association is a minister. Conflict of interest anyone?

Taxis and Autorickshaws
These were introduced I suppose 10 or 15 years ago (autorickshaws existed long before, but not the variety we see on the roads today which run on CNG or Compressed Natural Gas) - when they were all new and used to run without any noise. That was true for about 2 years. They are fixed with meters that the drivers are not too happy about.

Everyone in the past 5 years have also grown weary and angry about these drivers constant refusal to go anywhere and their high fares when they do agree. They say they have to pay higher than the affixed charge to the people they lease the taxi from. Apparently this is a problem our law & order people cannot fix.

When I was able to get my hands on a car - be it an 86 model reconditioned car that was used before me for 16 years, boy was I glad. Glad to be above the mental torture that was trying to get on a bus or trying to speak out against their reckless driving when no one else would support me, or the hour spent trying to negotiate a taxi to get to work or back home! I was super glad, lets just say. However, running an old car is mighty expensive. After three years of having it, its become my main expense, especially for the last three months. As I was nearing saving enough to buy a fresher car - a reconditioned one from Japan maybe, since they are reliable enough to run for a good number of years, we have come close to another budget - and what have you - more taxes to be placed on cars. The reason he stated was what caused this downpour! They are luxury goods!? Really! In a country where public transport is allowed to reach such demeaning lows, how could you say that! If I visit neighboring Kolkata or Thailand, I find their sense of humanity is still reflected in their public transport systems. Buses in Thailand were wide, with enough leg-space and lots of place for standing commuters to be comfortable. They also have tempos which are the same way.

Cherry on Top: Tax-Free Rides for Ministers
An editorial yesterday went over the state of a provision that allows ministers to import cars duty free. This was put in place as an incentive for ministers serving remote areas. However, there are cases where they had just imported cars and sold them for profit! A civic sense if such existed might have denounced and punished these people. What exists instead is a sense that they deserve this. This is one issue that the feuding parties of our so-called democracy agree on and take advantage of.  Apparently, this governments term saw the most use of this providence. So, citizens, stay on the grass and just watch in awe as our lords and ladies continue to carry on this theater of governance and service. The editorial is linked below. The total amount of tax evaded through this provision is said to stand at Taka 280,00,00,000 (with current exchange rates, a little over 34 million US Dollars).

ধনবান মন্ত্রী-সাংসদদের গাড়ি-ক্ষুধা (সোহরাব হাসান)
PERSONAL: Navigating through Dhaka (Sanday Chongo Kabange)

সহজিয়া কড়চা: তালিয়া বাজাও—জোরসে তালিয়া বাজাও (সৈয়দ আবুল মকসুদ)

Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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Jun 20, 2012

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

Posted on Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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Jun 19, 2012

This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again. 
 Oscar Wilde

Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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I posted my hopeful rants about a film "Runaway" some time ago, and later learned that the film was on the film festivals' circuits in USA and elsewhere. That meant, it will be some time before I can get a chance to see it.

However I pranced on another film by chance today, that comes out of India, but has the name of the city where I grew up in! "Chittagong". This looks very promising too, and seems to be also in the rounds of film festivals. I also learn that there is an Indian Film Festival in New York! Bravo India! Goes to show what you can do when you have properly educated individuals in the arts.

Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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Jun 17, 2012

This post contains an excerpt from the book Manob Sagor Teeray, by Shankar (মানব সাগর তীরে/শংকর) about france, the french and often about how different of similar they are to Bengalis, or the rest of the world. Insightful and funny accounts from 1990.

"এই একটা ব্যাপারে ইন্ডিয়ার লোকদের কিচ্ছু শেখার আছে. রাষ্ট্রপ্রধানদের নামে রাস্তা করা ফরাসি রুচিতে বাধে, যদিও অন্য রাষ্ট্রপ্রধানদের নামে রাস্তা করতে ফরাসিদের আপত্তি নেই - তাই রাস্তা আছে জর্জ ওয়াশিংটন, লিঙ্কন, ফ্রাঙ্কলিন, রুজভেল্ট, চার্চিল ও জেনারেল আইজেন্হাওয়ার-এর নামে. ....

শিল্পী, সাহিত্যিক, অভিনেতা ও দার্শনিকের নামে রাস্তা করতে প্যারিস অবশ্য সারাক্ষণ উঁচিয়ে আছে. ইবসেন থেকে বালজাক পর্যন্ত কেও বাদ যাননি. লর্ড বায়রনের নামে রাস্তা আছে অথচ উইলিয়াম শেক্সপিয়ারকে কোনো অজ্ঞাত কারণে ফরাসি এখনও যাতে তোলেনি. দার্শনিল কার্ল মার্ক্স-এর নামাঙ্কিত রাস্তা রয়েছে, কিন্তু লেনিন ও স্তালিন ঢুকেছে পিছনের রাস্তা দিয়ে, এঁদের নামে রাস্তা না ঠেকলেও স্তালিনগ্রাদ ও লেনিনগ্রাদ নামে রাস্তা আছে. ভারতবর্ষের একমাত্র প্রতিনিধি মহাত্মা গান্ধী. "
For non-Bangla readers, the writer above is talking about how in India, it is common practice to  name streets, buildings or bridges (the latter two not in the above excerpt, but elsewhere in the book) after head of states, where as for the French, it went against their taste. As for buildings and bridges, as mentioned in another part of the book, bear the names of the designers or the architects (makes sense, give credit, where credit is due). In the above excerpt, he notes how they have streets named after artists, writers, actors, and philosophers - Ibsen, Balzac, and Lord Byron for example.

The flip side in Bangladesh is not far from India naturally. Though, the writer here claims that the Indians only had Mahatma Gandhi, a Bangladeshi from an outsider's point of view could claim that they also had Nehru. Coming back, I have often mentioned often that we have a merry-go-round of 5 year power grips of the two major parties here in our democracy (demo-wha!?) - BNP and the BAL. Thus, every 5 years its common to have a lot of money spent to rename a lot of things - be they schools, or places like the "Moulana Bhasani Novo-Theatre"or a stadium. Like I said in my last post - Love They Leader, each party loves their figurehead, and would gladly accept a 15 year old spawn from them as their next leader (almost, you should see it isn't too far fetched).

Both parties also require from their members a pledge to respect and revere the establishing fathers of the parties, and to do so unconditionally. That is noticeable each time one of them is in power, in the form of a portrait of that establishing father in every govt. office. I was joking with a fellow the other day, that if we produced a frame that had their photos on each side, then we could just turn that around every 5 years! Maybe its already whats happening, I don't know!

Its a noticeable trait of a society, to see who they name the streets after - showing in turn, who they uphold. I applaud the French in this small acceptance of even foreigners' names on their streets in remembering what those foreigners upheld - a noble attempt in politics, literature, arts or another field. BAL's strong arm tactics however would have anyone believe that most of our notable upholders of the goodness of humanity came from Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family. The lunatic is most inraged about the treatment Moulana Bhasani's name has been getting.

Posted on Sunday, June 17, 2012


Jun 15, 2012

In Bangladeshi Democracy, each party is like a lil' fan club of its figurehead. 

They wish him/her well, respect him/her, love him/her, and want to shower them with gifts of flowers, odes and Nobel prizes. I am shocked no one in the meeting mentioned a Booker, Nobel for Literature, or a Pullitzer.

Posted on Friday, June 15, 2012

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Jun 12, 2012

In publishing and designing websites, there is a paragraph of Latin that designers use to demonstrate a space where text should go, and how much. That paragraph could be:

Lorem Ipsum dolor sit amet mi id ligula amet morbi tellus sollicitudin dolor pellentesque. Morbi accumsan lacinia velit metus morbi ipsum sit sollicitudin consectetur. Ullamcorper viverra sollicitudin sit mauris posuere auctor praesent id lorem. Tortor elit facilisis sit ligula tellus ac sollicitudin facilisis sollicitudin.

There are supportive sites on the Internet where you could generate this amount of text depending on the space on your website or page you want to fill.

While watching our parliament session last night (and of course watching them in general), I wonder if they get trained in their own little academies on how to fill the time given to them to answer questions, with meaningless Latin. Of course Latin is not meaningless to those who understand, and I am not sure who is meant to be the audience for these politicians when they start with their filler speeches!

Last night, a question was put for the home ministry, an apt question considering the recent display of the audacity and the ineffectiveness of the police force. The question was not so well stated, due to what I think is the attempt (of all in parliament) to be theatrical. Since the home minister was not present (?), the second-in-command was asked to answer. That is what inspired this post.

The filler speech could be broken down to two things, and they have 2 or 3 minutes usually to fill:
  1. - Draw attention to the failures of the past regime with lots of emotional appeals, hand gestures, pauses - things that will put many stage actors to shame. This works too, since our two major parties almost without fail have cyclically come to power and have found it enough time to take whatever it is they need to survive the years they are to be out of power
  2. - Speak highly of the dreams, goals and steps taken by the founding father of the party.
I was happy when the law & order question was asked, since, I and many citizens believe that the home minister should have stepped down or been fired for her inadequacies. Even on the evening this question was posed, there was a report in all the morning papers of a policeman beating a judge outside a courthouse somewhere.

While the fillers were being delivered, I felt like laughing out loud (LOL) like the lunatic I am, and I did to some extent. I could not believe the answer I was getting! Then he also pointed out that they increased their salaries and so and so forth.

We have managed to really turn our heads from what is the root of a problem and just throw money around as if the problem was that they didn't have enough toys or enough to eat. He mentioned they bought pick up trucks too. An editorial was also published which asked if we need to spend even more money on them to get them to do their jobs! A lot of people say they have a tough job. I don't disagree, but I think, so does a farmer, a rickshawala, a thela-gariwala (men who transport heavy goods on pull carts) and so many other people who live on less than them. Who will rise up and put us in perspective? Thanks for asking the question at least MP Fazlul Azim. Don't know what kind of a person you really are, but thanks for the question last night indeed.

Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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Jun 11, 2012

This post contains an excerpt from the book Manob Sagor Teeray, by Shankar (মানব সাগর তীরে/শংকর) about france, the french and often about how different of similar they are to Bengalis, or the rest of the world. Insightful and funny accounts from 1990.

... এক কাগজে পড়েছিলাম, ঢাউস-ঢাউস শহর তৈরিতে ইউরোপীয় ও আমেরিকান সাহেবদের অরুচি ধরে গিয়েছে. দুনিয়ার বিশিষ্ট শহরগুলির তালিকা এখন তৈরী হয় লোকসংখ্যা অনুযায়ী নয়, লোকের ট্যাকে কত পয়সা আছে তার হিসেবে. ট্যাকের পয়সা এবং রুজি-রোজগারের হিসেব উঠলে আমরা কলকাত্তাইয়ারা অবশ্য গোহারান হেরে যাব, দুনিয়ার দুশ বিত্তবান শহরের তালিকাতেও আমাদের নাম থাকবে না. আসলে আমরা কেবল সংখ্যায় বেড়ে চলেছি, সামর্থ্যে নয়, সমৃদ্ধিতিতে  নয়. স্রেফ লোকগণনার জোরে টাউন থেকে সিটি, সিটি থেকে মেট্রোপলিটন, মেট্রোপলিটন থেকে মেগাপলিস-এর তালিকায় নাম লিখিয়ে কোনো লাভ নেই. 

Though the above was written in 1990, what the writer mulls over comparing his own city of Kolkata and the cities of Europe and USA, seems to hold true still for us in Bangladesh after all these years. Kolkata I hear, has really cleaned itself up on the other hand. Dhaka holds such an allure for so many, whoever comes here doesn't want to leave. One factor is that there are no other cities that come close to it in terms of being active and alive. Chittagong, where I grew up is an important city, and while there, we used to think we'd never leave - it was a blessing in the form of 'less crowded', 'scenic', and thus 'peaceful'. However since being a teenager in the 90s to now, I have only seen the degradation of the roads and the train services that connect Dhaka and Chittagong. Not to mention that Chittagong is the major port of Bangladesh and hence it affects businesses a lot to have to allocate one day for goods to transport in between where it should have taken two to three hours.

The writer is also touching on the subject of the wealth of a city. Dhaka has managed to create a caste system over the years in the struggle to accumulate. Whoever has to be put down, will be put down in an effort to get land, housing, a living. The poorest are the ones to suffer the most (failing even to get justice often when asking for it), and crime is on the rise. The appropriation of utilities of the city - power, gas (for cooking, cars, generators) and water - are under immense pressure.

Yet, the city is growing. Dhaka's allure is so powerful, that it is being grown sideways and upwards so people don't have to feel they are leaving it. Yet, we are not working hard enough in improving communication with, and building other major cities where other industries and commerce might flourish. The government has already given in to their friends from India (Sahara Matribhumi) to build a "New Dhaka" without having gone to the local developers or their association called REHAB. Brav-Oh!

My sense of things when I had the chance to visit Europe, USA, or even closer countries like Malaysia and Thailand, was that they as a nation knew, or was guided to what would be 'peace of mind' for the majority of the country. There are grievances in Malaysia about certain racial issues, but they are still fortunate to have well connected cities where industries exist and people can consider moving from one city to another professionally without a sense of losing out. They all seem to have plans to not burden one particular city with everyone. Our plan seem to be using all the projects that can be set up to get money into pockets where it doesn't belong, in the name of common good. How else do you explain rising taxes and a provision for Whitening Black Money?

GINI Index of Bangladesh
Sahara vs. Developers in Bangladesh
Critique of Sahara Group
Tax lawyers oppose legalising black money

Posted on Monday, June 11, 2012

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Jun 10, 2012

This post is inspired by the book Manob Sagor Teer-ay, by Shankar (মানব সাগর তীরে/শংকর) about france, the french and often about how different of similar they are to Bengalis, or the rest of the world. Insightful and funny accounts from 1990.
If the Parisians invented sitting around in a cafe and doing nothing, maybe its not that apparent these days since it has caught on so much worldwide. As I am reading Shankar's account of Paris, I am beating myself up about my own trip there, which now in comparison seems much less interesting. Shankar's friend Pachuda is taking him around the city right now, first they bought bread from a shop where people love it so much, they queue up for it (I think its this one), and then they are about to go to a cafe, while all the way Pachuda is telling him the history of the love affair between coffee and the French. It struck me to look for something similar on YouTube, and this is what I found - However, one walk around any area in Dhaka, you're bound to find a tea stall, or a tea stand, and lots of people around it or in it. You may not find anyone reading a book there or sitting quietly, but, definitely you'll find the other thing that makes us tick - ADDA - or chatting.

Posted on Sunday, June 10, 2012

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Jun 4, 2012

What are we first? This question is often asked when trying to prioritize the identity of a person. You might hear someone say, I am an American first (though some Mexicans will take offense to that and that the correct term should be United States of American), then a Muslim, and then a father, and so on. Based on the religion you subscribe to, a philosophy, a profession, a nationality, you could prioritize them to reflect how you judge a circumstance, or how you act.

We saw these questions come up recently in the news. When newsmen got beaten down by the police, they took a more intense stance on their reports against them than before. There was a lack of that intensity when the receiver of that brutality were ordinary citizens. Before, we heard of reporters being persuaded to not publish a story by some mild push from higher ups in the government, and two TV channels had magically disappeared off air due to some pushing from some 'mysterious' quarters just before the opposition's meeting was about to be aired. This current intensity also didn't last long, went largely amiss just before the "Meet the Press" fiasco with Sahara Khatun.

REHAB (Real Estate & Housing Association of Bangladesh) is a bunch in a frenzy buying up land from those who own it, with deals that are hard to pass up. Their identity is clearly established. Though I am not fond of them in any way, I have to say I agreed once with something they've said. When Sahara Group came over and suddenly emerged here as the company of choice for the government in building small towns outside the city, REHAB had to come out and say "Hey! What about us?". I have often mused in the frantic fashion that I do, that "we need to get these developers to do projects outside Dhaka before they cover up the view of the sky with these tall buildings". Its a shame that they are being sidelined quickly by the rich and powerful of India. The govt. could've also initiated this with REHAB (the point the latter is making), but I guess they like what this Sahara had to offer (well, they like what both Saharas have to offer, despite or becuase of). My 'consumer' identity however, has no respect for most of these developers, since their profit margins still don't seem to allow safety provisions and weekends for their workers, and their products leave a lot to be desired frankly. There are also reports of unlawful or unjust land acquisitions.

As part of a democracy (ho ho ho), we also have to be 'voters'. Now this is important, cause for 5 years, or more, you have to live with that decision. We have a booming democracy, two parties who have democratically selected their party founder's family members for years, and will for years to come, at the helms of their parties. They use their freedom of expressions to lick their feet and bottoms and their freedom of speech to flower them with odes. 

Just today, news came that the parliament discussions had concluded that Abdullah Abu Syed, who is an educator and famous for his "Bishwo Sahityo Kendro" (which has been encouraging kids to read for years), has been undemocratic, unpatriotic, unconstitutional and should apologize. This due to his appearance at the TIB show the day before, and calling names to politicians ("unethical" or "corrupt"). I didn't vote for BAL (Queen Mother, I still love you! Please don't get me whipped), and now I must suffer them standing up in parliament and claiming that politicians voted in by people, should not be called names, its like calling names to those voters, to the countrymen! Damn! Ship me out already!

I don't know where this is going, so I'll try to conclude here. Whether you are a REHAB businessman, or a person who is a fan of either of the parties' founders, or a reporter, whatever your identity is, think both of humanity and justice when you put your voter caps on. A few ministers has had done very well, in their fields - food, agriculture, you can identify them clearly and vote for them. For the rest of us, we should give the 4th/5th and 6th man/symbol a chance (considering the 3rd man might be H M Ershad - we already ousted him out once! Don't tell me you forgot?!!!).

Open Letter to Prime Minister:

Posted on Monday, June 04, 2012

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May 30, 2012

From our "Real World":

মেয়ের শ্লীলতাহানি, মা-বাবাকে লাঠিপেটা - আদালত চত্বরে পুলিশি নিষ্ঠুরতা
(Girl sexually assaulted, Mother and Father clubbed - Police cruelty in the Court area)

দিনভর হেনস্তা শেষে আইন ও সালিশ কেন্দ্রের নির্বাহী পরিচালক সুলতানা কামালের হস্তক্ষেপে রাত পৌনে ১০টায় তিনজনকেই ছেড়ে দেয় পুলিশ।

The girl narrates: ‘পুলিশের একজন কর্মকর্তা আমার বাবার মোটরসাইকেল বন্ধ করে চাবি নিয়ে নেন। এ সময় আমি ও মা এর প্রতিবাদ করলে পুলিশ বলে, এই মোটরসাইকেলটি চোরাই। বাবার বিরুদ্ধে নাকি ডাকাতির মামলা আছে। একজন পুলিশ তখন বাবার শার্টের কলার ধরে টানতে থাকলে মোটরসাইকেল কাত হয়ে আমরা পড়ে যাই। এরপর পুলিশ বাবাকে মারতে মারতে মা-সহ আমাকে পুলিশ ক্লাবের ভেতরে নিয়ে যায়। সেখানে বাবাকে একটি কক্ষে নিয়ে যাওয়া হয়। আমাকে ও আমার মাকে পৃথক কক্ষে রাখা হয়। একপর্যায়ে দুজন পুলিশ সদস্য আমাকে জড়িয়ে ধরেন। এঁদের একজন জামান (পোশাকের নামফলক অনুযায়ী) আমার সঙ্গে চরম অশালীন আচরণ করেন। আমার গালে-গলায় চুমু দেন। মোটা ও কালোমতো এক পুলিশ সদস্য গলা থেকে চেইন খুলে নেন। আমি প্রতিবাদ করলে গালে চড় মারেন। এতে আমার কানের দুল চামড়া কেটে ভেতরে ঢুকে যায়। তখন আমি চিৎকার করে মাকে ডাকতে থাকি। চিৎকার শুনে মা-ও চিৎকার করতে থাকেন। একপর্যায়ে পুলিশেরই কয়েকজন কর্মকর্তা এসে আমাদের উদ্ধার করেন।’ 

The mother says: 'বাবু নামের বংশাল থানা-পুলিশের একজন তথ্যদাতার (ইনফরমার) সঙ্গে তাঁর স্বামীর পুরোনো বিরোধ ছিল। দীর্ঘদিন পর আদালত চত্বরে তাঁর স্বামীকে দেখে ওই বাবু পুলিশ লেলিয়ে দেয় তাঁদের বিরুদ্ধে।

And the Police: 'পুলিশের লালবাগ বিভাগের উপকমিশনার হারুন অর রশীদ মেয়েটির এই অভিযোগকে ‘সাজানো নাটক’ বলে দাবি করেন। তিনি বলেন, মেয়েটির বাবা বংশাল থানার একটি ডাকাতি মামলার সন্দেহভাজন আসামি'

The reporter narrates: 'ওসি সালাহউদ্দীন বলেন, ‘তোমার বাবার বিরুদ্ধে তো কোনো মামলা হয়নি।’ মেয়েটি বলেন, ‘না, আমি একা যাব না। সাংবাদিকদের নিয়ে যাব।’ এ সময় উপস্থিত সাংবাদিক ও আইনজীবীরাও মেয়েটির পক্ষ নিলে ওসি বলেন, ‘এই ধর সব কটাকে; গাড়িতে তোল, মার।’'

‘তোরা জেএমবি, দাঁড়া মজা দেখাচ্ছি’
("You guys are JMB*, I'll show you the price for meddling!")

দিনভর হেনস্তা, নির্যাতনের পর গতকাল মঙ্গলবার রাত সাড়ে নয়টায় আইনজীবীদের হস্তক্ষেপে কোতোয়ালি থানা থেকে ছাড়া পান রাশেদুল ইসলাম ও আটক আরেক আইনজীবী সাখাওয়াত হোসেন। ঢাকা জজ আদালতের জ্যেষ্ঠ আইনজীবী কাজী ফজলুল রশিদ তাঁর জিম্মায় এই দুজনকে ছাড়িয়ে নেন। এ সময় মহানগর দায়রা জজ আদালতের সহকারী সরকারি কৌঁসুলি (এপিপি) সাহাবউদ্দিন, বেলায়েত হোসেন ও মোস্তফা কামালসহ ১০ জন আইনজীবী উপস্থিত ছিলেন।

The Policeman says: 'গাড়িতে তোলার সময় সামান্য মারধর হতে পারে। কিন্তু থানায় আনার পর মারার প্রশ্নই ওঠে না। আর আপনাকে কে বলেছে এসব কথা? আর ওই ছেলে রাশেদুল পুলিশ ক্লাবের সামনে আমার সঙ্গে জঘন্য ব্যবহার করেছে। আমাকে তুই-তোকারি করেছে। আর সে তো আইনজীবী নয় বরং সে আইনের এক পার্টে ফেল করছে।'

The victim says: ‘যে পুলিশ আমাকে পেটাল, তাকে দিয়েই যদি তদন্ত কমিটি হয়, সেই তদন্তে কখনোই সত্য বেরিয়ে আসবে না।’(He uses 'jodi' [if], but as the report states, the assaulting police is part of the investigation team!)

জাতীয় বাজেট - পুলিশের বরাদ্দ কি বাড়ানো উচিত?
(National Budget - Should we increase funding for the Police)

This is from the Editorial. The police are in the news far too frequently near the end of May. Written by a law educator, he urges the government to consider more funds for more training for the policemen, to increase their 'humanity' and to change the perception that people have of them.

Important point: প্রশ্ন হচ্ছে, এসবের জন্য পুলিশ কতটা দায়ী, আর নীতিনির্ধারকেরা কতটা দায়ী? বাংলাদেশ প্রতিষ্ঠার পর এ পর্যন্ত যাঁরা রাষ্ট্রক্ষমতায় ছিলেন, তাঁরা কি কখনো পুলিশের সংস্কার চেয়েছেন বা পুলিশের সংস্কারে কোনো উদ্যোগ নিয়েছেন? বর্তমান সরকারের একটি উদ্যোগের কথা বলি। বছর খানেক বা তারও কিছু সময় আগে বর্তমান সরকার থানা পর্যায়ে ওসিদের স্থলে বিসিএস উত্তীর্ণ এএসপিদের স্থাপন করতে চেয়েছিল। থানা পর্যায়ে সেবার মান বাড়ানোর জন্যই সরকার এমন একটি উদ্যোগ নিতে চেয়েছিল। কিন্তু কোন অজানা কারণে বা কোন গোষ্ঠীর চাপের জন্য সরকার এটা করতে পারেনি, তা আমরা জানি না।

Some references to a TIB** study: মাসের শতকরা ৪০.৭ ভাগ সময় আইনশৃঙ্খলা পরিস্থিতি রক্ষার জন্য ব্যয় করে। এর মধ্যে হরতালসহ রাজনৈতিক দলগুলোর পাল্টাপাল্টি কর্মসূচিজাত নানা পরিস্থিতি মোকাবিলা রয়েছে। ভিআইপিদের নিরাপত্তা নিশ্চিত করার জন্য পুলিশকে ব্যয় করতে হয় মাসের শতকরা ৩২.৭ ভাগ সময়।

The Lunatic concludes:  The minister Tuku said it best - stay away from the police! Now men, women, if you won't listen to your ministers, I can't help you! So, stay home, and hope you don't get killed. Queen Mother, Muhit "Rubbish" Maal, and many other ministers already said that the digital Bangladesh will save us from Corruption, so stay home, order your groceries online, and you have plenty of poor people around to take out the trash and other menial things. Since the poorer bunch are probably not reading this, nothing here for them. But don't teach them to read and internet, so that they start staying home too! That would be stupid! ha ha.

* and ** - Requires Google Search.

Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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May 29, 2012

After a satisfactory bout of beating up protesting teachers, it was time to get their itchy hands on a few photojournalists. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the glorious story of Democracy as never seen before. Even the German president said so, and many showered certificates and other praises on our Queen Mother for it. You have a minute to win it, and if you don't you are poor, and then maybe prone to going to protests, or maybe photographing them as part of your job (day, or part-time).

So, now the journalists are going to protest, protesting the police. Where do you go from here pals? Did you think about that?! Now that criminals attack your house and chop you up and leave you bleeding, now who are you going to turn to!?

"দায়ী ব্যক্তিদের দৃষ্টান্তমূলক শাস্তি হো - সাংবাদিক পেটানো পুলিশ" says one news, meanwhile, fresh off the grill is this one: "Criminals attack journos" (be careful, the photo of bloody office floors can cause sick stomachs for some). Should've listened to Queen Mother when she said, "Don't be so prolific! I'll turn off the electricity!", but you never listen! You never listen!

Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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May 21, 2012

Posted on Monday, May 21, 2012

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There is an unrealistic amount of faith that is pitted on the digitization of services (through BAL's much drummed 'Digital Bangladesh' ventures) as a way of relief from corruption by our present government. The Finance Minister admitted recently that corruption has just spread to all nook and cranny of public services and also cited the digitization of services as THE way out. That may be the case in certain areas or aspects, but if anyone has been to public offices with hopes of receiving services, they'll remember those uninterested faces, those blank stares, those lifeless creatures behind the counters and desks who seem quite bothered to have seen you, who state their (unlawful) prices quite frankly, even with anti-corruption posters hanging around them. You cannot expect to digitize everything and there will ultimately be servicemen and women you will have to deal with. The government seem to be suggesting that until we get those software development cycles complete and services up and running - a decade possibly, we keep on going about it the same way. Digitization doesn't happen with the snap of Jewel Aich's fingers!

What I find really lacking is an easy way to report when a public office declines to provide someone a service, fails to provide a service, or asks for unlawful funding from the public (recently, there was an extra charge under "Miscellaneous" for re-issuing my wife's license even after all the due payments have been made). At the point these happen, you are standing at a public office, quite possibly having traveled through Dhaka's usual high traffic, sweating, uneasy, and also having to spend time away from your actual day job, and you may ponder what is the way to get what you came for. I assume the beings behind the counter know these all too well, and that is what gives them the courage and pleasure to put you in a tight spot, where you'd rather pay that extra charge than having to risk not getting the right papers. Imagine driving without a license, or going for that business trip without a passport, or not being able to pick up your Tax Certificate, or not getting to register your new born child!

These officers have too much leverage on the public that they use to their gain, and the way out is to take away that leverage. Digitization IS a possibility for that, but immediately actionable consequences to these officers' way of working is also a quickly implementable counter to it. If those anti-corruption posters had along with those high sounding advice, a hotline that handles complaints for that specific office, and you could launch a direct complaint against the handler, or the office. It could be a mobile court, or there could be an overseeing officer responsible for action against malpractices within that office. Even while writing this, I can see how it falls into a cycle, since somewhere within our systems, we need people we can rely on.


দুর্নীতি দেশের সব জায়গায়

Posted on Monday, May 21, 2012

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May 12, 2012

Here is Roger Waters singing "Brain Damage" in a studio for the Making of the Dark Side of the Moon documentary.

The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games
And daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path

The lunatic is in the hall

The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon

And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon

The lunatic is in my head

You raise the blade
You make the change
And you rearrange me 'till I'm sane
You lock the door
And throw away the key
And there`s someone in my head, but it's not me

And if the cloud bursts thunder in your ear

You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon

Roger Waters explains in that documentary that a "Do not step on the grass" sign inspired him to write this song. Society lays down the rules - some explicit, and some implicit which comprise an overall structure in which to operate. But often the rules make no sense to some. And to others, those who oppose them make no sense - they are criminals or lunatics. Interestingly, the bauls of Bangla also commonly sang describing themselves as "pagol" or "pagla" (lunatics, mad men). It does seem that they derived that title for themselves from what people around them were saying about them. They were on the grass.
জাত গেল জাত গেল বলে
একি আজব কারখানা
সত্য কাজে কেউ নয় রাজী
সবই দেখি তানা না না।।

Posted on Saturday, May 12, 2012

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