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:
http://www.banglamail24.com/news/2014/11/05/id/86916/

Posted on Friday, November 07, 2014

4 comments

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.

Related:

Posted on Friday, October 10, 2014

3 comments

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


Mistakes


Flying Objects


Related:
No More Road Accidents
www.wedemandsaferoadbd.org

Posted on Sunday, June 29, 2014

2 comments

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".

Related:

Posted on Saturday, June 28, 2014

1 comment

Mar 18, 2014

Interesting point from the Aam Admi camp, the newest kid on the block in Indian politics. Their choice of the 'jharu' (a floor sweeping instrument that is brandished like a tennis swing to clean floors) for their party symbol! Their approach and vigilance is something our politicians (those few with any leftover good intentions) should note deeply.

Think Before you Vote! they urged on their twitter feed:


Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2014

No comments

Mar 13, 2014

jin·go

ˈjiNGgō/

dated  • derogatory
noun: jingo; plural noun: jingoes
a vociferous supporter of policy favouring war, esp. in the name of patriotism.
Alternate use: "By jingo!"An exclamation of surprise.


Posted on Thursday, March 13, 2014

No comments

Feb 28, 2014

This is the first song I heard of this band, and I keep coming back to it, for its drumming and strumming that mesmerizes me. The other fascinating thing about this song is its lyrics, which talks of music, and its industry. I won't go into trying to dissect it all, but would like you to have a listen:

Hear the sound of music
Drifting in the aisles
Elevator Prozac
Stretching on for miles

The music of the future
Will not entertain
It's only meant to repress
And neutralise your brain
Soul gets squeezed out
Edges get blunt
Demographic
Gives what you want

Now the sound of music
Comes in silver pills
Engineered to suit you
Building cheaper thrills

The music of rebellion
Makes you wanna rage
But it's made by millionaires
Who are nearly twice your age

And the chorus goes:
One of the wonders of the world is going down 
It's going down I know 
It's one of the blunders of the world that no one cares 
No one cares enough


Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014

No comments

Feb 25, 2014

Within the circles of my network, a debate on Facebook with a southward bound series of comments is ensuing regarding the quality of the ICC Trophy 2014's official theme song and video.

The spark: Why is the song so formulaic, so typically bollywood-ish, and so on; why couldn't we have created something more original?

Fire and smoke follow this surely,  inciting  arguments such as:
  • What is art? 
  • Being high-brow,  
  • Reaches and pangs of commercialism, and demands of our corporate sponsors, 
  • Where is creativity? Are we creative? 
  • How many Bangladeshis does it take to change a lightbulb? 
  • etc.
After finally having seen the video, I can see where its coming from. The 'pop' elites are visible, and the conscious effort to make a connection with the rest of the country, which are mostly villages and small towns and swayed more by bollywood than hollywood or dhaliwood (which is recently trying hard to emulate bolly); or any movie with sexually provocative posters.

I am beginning to see the point of view of the makers, whose arguments are similar to the makers of hit films like "Baba keno Chakor" (Why is Dad a Servant? Not a film with a  serious political narrative as you might think), or "Jiddi Mama"(Stubborn Uncle)* - to reach the masses. If we consider "Chorompotro", which was live on radio keeping up the spirits of the fighters during '71's war of independence, the language was not the pure form of Bangla, but a more 'rural' version of it if you will. That definitely made it more accessible to the masses. Is that to say, today's newspapers don't reach the masses if they're not using a similar tone?

* I love how specific we are with our movie titles!

Movie makers have used the common man scapegoat for years to justify their films which made 0 efforts to alleviate the art of storytelling, but stubbornly held their grounds of being artists, and producing art. Its quite an age old dilemma for societies such as ourselves and India where there is so much class divide, where each class' reality is unfathomable to the other. A similar trend is noticeable in the music industry, which is also partly competing with Bollywood (item number and all), and partly keeping time for the sentimental garbage that feeds the new middle class, who wants to listen to something 'romantic' and wear something 'gorgeous'.

Art has always needed its patrons, and there lies the tragic core of this issue, as corporations hungry to reach the masses take that place and with no forethought or afterthought than profit. Meanwhile, go watch that video. Dhak dhol (traditional drums) was always part of our rhetoric and culture, but we just had to learn how to glamorise it from our neighbours a little with a mix of Yo and us.

As there are 30 year old rockstars who can write anthems for 16 year olds, surely there can be those who pay at least 30,000 Taka just in rent who write music for those who earn 3,000 Taka a month. Cricket, like war, is the only event that can bring those two to the same level.



Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No comments

Feb 10, 2014

malapropism 

   [mal′ə präp′iz′əm]  .  noun

  1. Using the wrong word for something, especially one that sounds similar.

    An example of malapropism was Archie Bunker from the American television sitcom All in the Family saying "Patience is a virgin," when he meant to say "Patience is a virtue."
I had often seen this at work and reading articles online, and often while I am typing myself. Most common ones at work are:
   STUFF, instead of STAFF, and
   CARRIER instead of CAREER
and the one from this morning's reading:
   PROSPECTIVE instead of PERSPECTIVE

Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014

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