Image by Rezwan

Overcrowded passenger ferry capsized in the Padma River in Munshiganj, Bangladesh

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

Remnants of Kiandra gold mine at New Chum Hill, #nsw #australia

April 28, 2004


* Nationality is respectable only when it is on the defence, when it is waging wars of liberation it is sacred; when those of domination it is accursed.

* Religion, like poetry, is not a mere idea, it is expression. The self-expression of God is in the endless variety of creation; and our attitude toward the Infinite Being must also in its expression have a variety of individuality ceaseless and unending. Those sects which jealously build their boundaries with too rigid creeds excluding all spontaneous movement of the living spirit may hoard their theology but they kill religion.

- Rabindranath Tagore 1861-1941, Indian Poet, Philosopher

April 27, 2004


* Shihab has some new posts after a long time. He shares the striking truth of his life:

I've always wondered how doctors can tell cancer patients exactly how long they have to live. But as it turns out, my own personal miracle worker (i.e. my doctor) has found out this wonderful piece of news for me. Turns out I have 12-24 months left. What an absolutely wonderful way to start a weekend, with the feeling that the sword that has been hanging above my head for about a year has now descended about a foot further towards me.

He realizes:

what is really important in life is not love, lust, envy, jealousy, greed or any other piddling emotion - what is really important in life is the ties and bonds and relationships you weave with people and how you keep (or don't keep) said bonds alive. Life truly is too precious and way too short to wrap it around some emotion or the other. What matters is friendship.

Read how he plans his short life and keeps his courage. I wish we could learn to approach life like him.

* Alhamedi, a Saudi, who has recently got famous from his "the religious policeman" blog writes a satirical biography of him. Being educated in UK & USA, he excel in the English language and critics the religious police in Saudi Arabia who are creating a rule of terror among the general Saudi citizens.

Some examples of his satirical writings:

In the UK I learnt to speak correctly, to be polite, and never to smile when making a joke. In the USA I learnt to misspell ;-), to question and challenge, and that people only get the respect they deserve.

I am a Muslim. I am also deeply religious...whatever we call Him, we all worship the same God, and he requires us to love one another. I am not going to kill you because you read from a different book.

April 26, 2004

Mass arrests to tackle the opposition movement

It is now confirmed that nearly 15,000 people have reportedly been detained since April 18 by the police to intimidate the opposition activists. Their aim is to arrest mainly the main opposition Awami League workers to foil its oust government movement and the April 30 deadline for the government to resign. But the detainees in fact are mostly young peasants, day laborers bound for the capital via Bus or train, NGO workers etc. The police are using the Special Powers Act (SPA) of 1974 (section 54) for the arrests, which allows authorities to detain any person without a warrant or a magistrate's permission; mere suspicion is a satisfactory cause. Detention under the SPA should last no longer than one month, but is commonly extended indefinitely, and grossly misused.

Police sources said nearly 15,000 people were picked from areas under 22 police stations in the capital alone since the drive began on the night of April 18. Of them, 7785 were arrested till yesterday and the rest were released. Sources said all district administrations were instructed to ensure that the detainees do not get bail before expiry of the AL's April 30 deadline to unseat the government. (reports The Daily Star)

"The arrests were made upon intelligence reports that some people might try to sneak into the capital to carry out subversive activities," says a Police spokesman. The Jails are in appalling condition failing to mange the growing number of detainees. Usually over 10,000 prisoners are kept in the central jail, but for the last few days the number went up to 13,000.

Reports also came that the police is taking bribes to release the detainees who mostly do not have any specific charges. There are middlemen who are negotiating with the detainees that if they get released, they will have to be paid Tk. 2000-5000 which will cover all the bribes and expenses. For the poor people it is a lot. Actually this is why the Police are picking up only the poor ones. Otherwise they would be challenged or sued for apprehending them without a cause.

Now it seems that the govt. is getting away with this crime by indiscriminately arresting many people. What they are not realizing that these have created a panic among many voters (mostly who are peasants), who will certainly take a note of it and give their verdict in time.
Controversy over Muslim call to prayer in Hamtramck

The Hamtramck city in Michigan state is rocking with a controversy as the City Council is expected to give final approval tomorrow to an amendment to the city's noise ordinance to permit the Bangladeshi al-Islah mosque in Hamtramck to sound the adhan, or traditional call to prayer, via loudspeakers five times each day (reports The Detroit news). Hamtramck is likely to become one of the few cities in the United States where the Islamic call to prayer is broadcast onto public streets.

The cybersurvey at the Detroit News site shows a 94% unfavorable response to that decision. And more interesting are the comments on this report.

The Muslim calls to prayer were necessary in the days before clocks and watches were ubiquitous, or even invented. Nowadays, worshippers of all faiths can rely on all manner of electonic reminders.

Don't the muslims have any clocks or watches?

What about the rights of those who speak Arabic but are not Muslims? This call to prayer is more than a simple melody to someone who understands the language?

While Muslim Personal Law is not recognized in the West, the Personal Law of non-Muslim minorities has always been recognized in the Muslim world. Second, while throughout Europe and America, Muslims are not permitted to make the call to prayer (adhan) on loud speakers, church bells ring freely in the Muslim world. Third, the wide spread anti-Islamic prejudice in the Western media is both a cause and a consequence of the underlying intolerance.

And I liked this most:

Silence the church bells and silence the call to prayer.

I feel that "while in Rome, do as the Romans do". There is no need to establish a little China or a little Bangladesh all over the world. However, I do not want anybody to ignore their culture & traditions. But as long as they do it in their own promises then they must have full right to do it. But their customs should not be public and disturb others.

And If one still can't do without the calls to prayers, they can always go back to their country and have their favorable atmosphere. Nobody would mind.

April 25, 2004


* A HISTORY OF CONFLICT - Timeline of the conflict between Israel & the Palestinians (BBC News)

* Collection of photos of the Military Coffins (casualties from Iraq - at Dover Air Force Base)

* Four Moments when 9/11 might have been stopped -Commission reports reveal how close US intelligence was to thwarting the Al Qaeda plot

(link via Rebecca Blood)

April 24, 2004

Current political crisis in Bangladesh and its future

Bangladesh is known in the media of all the western countries as a country of catastrophe, hunger and poverty, of overpopulation and of constant aid from abroad. But in the 33 years of its independence, Bangladesh has proved that it can tackle its own problems to an increasing extent, only the politicians have proved otherwise. By their imprudent actions, they make the people of this country ludicrous and laughing-stock to others. The present government has miserably failed to properly govern the country. Massive corruption and total lawlessness have caused concern among the people in the country.

The human rights situation in Bangladesh cannot be considered satisfactory. Police have arrested about 7,000 people in the capital, specially in places like railway & bus stations in the last four days in a move to tackle the oust coalition government movement by the main opposition. The arrests were made using special power act and without warrants and the detainees are mostly day laborers or people from village who does not have the power or money to resist the police claiming that they cannot just simply detain an innocent person. This is a ploy of govt. to intimidate opposition activists from coming to Dhaka for the protests scheduled. Any opposition activity is resisted with strong police activity and virtually sealing off the area of protest.

These are all proving that the govt. is deparate to save its position. The rule has turned to be an autocratic instead of a democratic one. The govt. media do not highlight the opposition activities and only run state propaganda.

Bangladesh's achievements so far:

1) Self-sufficiency in food for its population of 130 million (over 90%)
2) Reduction in the growth of population to 1.7 percent (3% in the '70s)
3) Self-employment and poverty reduction through microcredit (pioneer - Grameen Bank) - which in now being replicated by more than 50 countries in the world.
4) NGOs like BRAC, Proshika and GSS are doing very well in rural development, basic education, health care etc.
5) The introduction of compulsory school attendance in 1991 and free education for girls up to twelve grade in 2001 and a large-scale general education programme, are contributing towards rise in literacy rate.
6) The GDP growth has steadily arrived at 5.5 percent in fiscal 2003-2004 while there is a forecast for further increase by one percent in the next fiscal year.
7) After the discovery of extensive natural resource base, specially gas, foreign investors are showing increasing interest for investment in Bangladesh.
8) Bangladesh government finances about 45 percent of its annual development budget from its own resources.

I think all the political parties and their leaders should bear that in mind and ensure that whatever happens we should not achieve anything less than above in the future. Otherwise the people will never forgive them. They should always remember, in a democratic setup there will always be a a time for the voters to choose, if not now, at the time of next election i.e. 2005. So there will be no escape if somebody performs badly at peoples expenses. The people will rise and when they rise, they will wash away all the wastes among the politicians.

(Source: The Daily Star)

April 20, 2004

Home Sweet Home

I have come back home safely. I do not cherish travelling alone; so the flight to Dhaka was really boring. And the whole family was eagerly waiting for me. Home is like a heaven. It does not matter whether my bed is not as soft as the 3 star hotels, or it does not have air condition; it is the place where I can sleep comfortably and without worry.

I have loads of work pending along with the regular jobs at work. So I will have a hectic time this week. Hope to look for some breathing space by blogging.

April 17, 2004

One day in Bangkok

Day 6 : April 17, 2004

Arrived at Bangkok at 5:30 AM. Couldn�t get a sleep in the flight. The night flights are really awesome. I do not consider the timing of a 1:40 flight when the fly time is only 3 hours. Actually these are all scheduled for the Airline�s comfort, not the passenger�s. The Thai flight comes to Colombo at 00:00 hours and goes back at 1:40. This leverages the Airplanes usage of time. If the crew and the plane opts to wait for the night then the time costs would surely hit the Airlines bottom line. All at passengers expense.

Me & Pawan both were tired when we landed. We parted soon as he went to the transit area. He has to wait for another 4 hours for his flight to Kathmandu. I got stuck in a snail like queue. Three flights have landed at a time, but there was only a couple of immigration officers were putting the stamps. Everybody was getting irritated and I had to wait almost 40 minutes for my turn. I then went outside after completing the usual procedures. The customs officer was surprised at the number of gift packs of tea. Actually I bought 1 kilo of tea in ten packets @ 100 gms for gift. This I found hard to make him understand. He got the look in his eyes that I am trafficking marijuana or what.

I got a map from the Airport and went straight to a hotel. I found it unusual that the hotel guy kept my passport with him. When I protested, he told that this is the way it is done in Thailand. Well I had no idea. After having showers and a bit of rest I took the map, my backpack and went to explore Bangkok. I first pointed out the key locations and the shopping malls around them. As my other intention is to do a bit of shopping, this plan really worked out.

After having a late breakfast (tuna sandwich + Coke) in a nearby hotel, I had a stroll towards Phloen Chit shopping mall. After scanning through those shops and getting my backpack a little heavier I went outside for a taxi towards the Victory Monument. After taking pictures of the monument, my next stop was the nearby Center one shopping complex.

One thing I got to tell about Bangkok, that if you�re against shopping you won�t be able to resist you. Eight Alkaline batteries for only 45 Baht ($1.2) cheaper than most countries in the world. I avoided the sales of soaps, shampoos & alikes� as I have got a limitation of 20kg to carry baggage home. Bangkok is really a shoppers paradise. You can find almost anything, from Armanis to street duplicate brand watch I purchased for $5. I walked a lot the whole day, went into internet kiosk and covered shopping malls like Central one Plaza, Bangkok Bazaar, Big C etc. Bangkok is a bustling city. People are lovely if you could avoid the Tuk Tuk & Taxi drivers. I then used the metro to come back the hotel. After telling the location of the metro station on my request, a local boy wished me good luck. It came to me as a surprise making me recognize the humbleness of the Thai people. Really a learning thing. My lunch was in Mcdonalds, and am going to dinner now somewhere else. I will be going home tomorrow morning, but one day in Bangkok was really a wonderful experience.
The long way to Colombo

Day 5: April 16, 2004

The time has come to say goodbye to Nuwara Eliya. We started our journey down under towards Colombo. On the way we drove around the artificial Lake at Nuwara Eliya and the Golf Course, which is the finest 18 hole course in Asia. We had a view of the Sri Lanka�s highest mountain range (Pidurutalagala). 33 kms from Nuwara Eliya we stopped by St. Clairs & Devon water falls.

There were photo sessions. We bought a lot of finest quality (high grown) tea from a tea boutique at Devon Falls. At noon we approached Kitulgala to see the hanging bridge used in the filming of �The bridge at river Kwai�. We took a walk along the bridge (max 3 persons allowed as it sways a lot) and had pictures.

Nearby that place is the plantation restaurant, where we had lunch. Actually its on the banks of the river with a view of the bridge. The food was very spicy (Sri Lankan speciality).

We were on the road again towards Colombo and reached at around 3:30. There were site seeings and shopping stops for us as per program. On the way we saw a hindu and a Buddhist temple, The Bandarnaike memorial international conference hall, the new parliament house, the lake view. The cheapest and largest mall �The house of fashions� was closed. We were ushered into the costlier and chic malls like Arena, Odel and �the majestic city�. Everybody had something to buy. But we had to rush into the bus, as there were short stipulated times for the stops. Evening came quickly for us. At 7:30 we had dinner at Raja Bojuna, an Indian restaurant. The food was very spicy. We resorted to desserts to fill our stomach.

At 8:30 we went towards the Airport. We had some unfinished business and our farewells. But we were surprised to see that the Indian team had to check in through a different gate than me & Pawan. I finally got the chance to call home. There was much time before the flight, but there were lengthy proceedings which killed most of the time. At 1:35 AM we are on the air towards Bangkok.
Nuwara Eliya

Day 4: April 15, 2004

7:15 PM - Another busy day starts. Prepared ourselves for the breakfast scheduled at 8 PM. I could not call home. I sent a SMS message home with one of my colleague�s cell phone. He is also refraining from calling from the cell, which would incur almost similar charges (International roaming). Telephone charge here is enormous. Minimum payment is SLR 750 ($8). Our training session went from 8:30 for the whole day. The last session was a group discussion and we finished the session at 6:45 with vote of thanks to our bosses who organized this useful training cum orientation session in this beautiful offsite location. Photo session followed and everybody was joyous to complete the successful training-cum-conference.

7:00 PM - We gathered at the hotel lawn for an informal get together and had some soft drinks. Momentous were exchanged. Then we went for dinner at the nearby Indian hotel. I ate one chicken tonduri & Nun. The chicken leg was enormous, almost like a leg of turkey. It must have been a rooster. Then we headed for a walk in the hilly road. But the road was busy as usual. The notable thing is that the number of costly cars plying along the streets. There are Mercedes, BMW, Audi, High range SUVs etc. driven by the Sri Lankans. No wonder they have a high per capita GDP ($850) among the South Asian Countries. So we came back to the hotel and went to the supper club. The club had a pub, restaurant & live music. We sat in the wide lobby and listened to the music. The local singers played our requested songs of eagles, Elton John etc. It was a very nice ambience, soothing. We gossiped for a while and when the music stopped, went to our room. I then practiced sometimes on the software we were trained.

Tomorrow at 9 we are going to Colombo.

Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Day 3: April 14, 2004

We had to wake up early to prepare ourselves for the journey at 7:00. Another journey through the hilly roads begins. The guide was enthusiastic to tell about all the landmarks we passed. He talked about the numerous Buddha�s statues in various postures (standing, meditating, reclining) that we have come across along the way. There was Ravana�s cave where Sita was abducted. We caught a glimpse of the Adam�s peak. We enjoyed the wonderful views of the mountain range. There were numerous water falls. Our guide was equal to his task by letting us know the geographic meaning of falls and hills to make sure that we do not question the authenticity of any of Sri Lankan natural wonders.

In the middle of the journey we stopped at a tea garden. Ceylon Tea is one of Sri Lankan prides. The British set up the estates almost 200 years ago. Now there are almost half of the estates (350) than the British Raj. One staff took us inside the garden and narrated the tea manufacturing process. There plant was close because of the holidays. We then had tea in the shop and bought some. Then we were back on the road again.

I could feel the height in the eardrums and the drop of temperature when we approached Nuwara Eliya. It is Sri Lanka�s premier hill resort situated at almost 7000 feet above the sea level. It is also a producer of the world�s best tea. You can see tree plantations all over the place with small agricultural strips of land and a few houses. It was picturesque. I was so amazed by all these. I thanked god for the opportunities I got to visit this place. I wish my wife could be here.

We entered the hotel & went straight to the conference hall. It was business all the way except for the lunch & tea breaks. In the lunch break we completed the checking in the hotel. There were disturbingly a large number of hotel rooms in each floor. Something like 70-80. The individual rooms are spacious and well equipped with heaters and so. But there was no TV. The lunch was not so good as Kandy; especially for the vegetarians (7 of us) who had limited choices to eat.

At around 8:45 PM we call it a day and went to our room to change. We went to a nearby Indian Restaurant. Here our vegetarian colleagues ate up to their hearts content. Then some of us had a walk towards the center of the town. It was a busy street (At 10 o clock in the night!) as there were decoration lights and parties everywhere. There was a fair going on which included concerts with a laser light display reflecting in the narrow clouds hanging over the town. It was another delight for us. There were sounds of motor cycle acrobatics, but we did not dare penetrating the buzzing crowd.

I tried the hotel for internet, but they did not have any facilities. I tried to call home considering high charges of the hotel, but could not connect. I was desperate, as I knew I would be busy with the training & meetings the whole day tomorrow. But luck was not in my side. There were plenty of people watching the only TV on the floor (Which was showing a a Sri Lankan channel) in the lobby. So we preferred going to the room and go to bed early.
On the way to Kandy

Day 2: April 13, 2004

7:00 We woke up early to prepare ourselves for the journey.

8:30The Indian team had an early flight and came directly to the hotel. We took our breakfast. The buffet breakfast is as exquisite as ever. We have introduced ourselves and checked out. My Sri Lankan counterpart has also joined us. We are a team of 10 people.

9:00 Started our journey in the air-conditioned minibus of the tour company with a guide. The guide was narrating Sri Lankan demographics and telling about our routes and landmarks. Meanwhile we took the time to get to know each other well. Being a part of same company we communicated with each other via email, but have never met.

10:00 All the shops are closed. It was hard to find water bottles for the team. Luckily I had one with me. The roads are well paved and the roadside looks like any other south Asian country with lots of greeneries. The difference here is that the houses have tiles (usually red) in the roofs and remarkably clean & neat surroundings. As our guide told, after every 30 kms, the surroundings have a different outset, because there is a different complexion of ethnic peoples.

11:00 We have reached the Pinnawala Elephant sanctuary. They call it orphanage because it rehabilitates almost 60 orphan & sick Elephants (50 are baby elephants) found in the wild. The guide was babbling all about Elephants, but I guess lack of oxygen has made me dizzy in the bus. When called, I was happy to go out and have a walk towards the Elephants bathing place. The elephants looked happy when we took their pictures. After a short while we were back in the bus towards Kandy.

12:00 Now we are going up. We are entering the mountain range driving on the spiral roads towards Kandy. You can see mountains all around you. The scenic beauty engrossed our attentions. Everybody was quiet. The Indian team could not sleep in the night. So they were exhausted and napping at ease. The roadside view is becoming more beautiful as we are approaching towards Kandy. It is a world heritage site. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive.

1:00 We took a right turn from the Kandy city roads and went uphill at almost 2000 feet above see level towards our hotel, which claims to be �a palace on the hills�. The beautiful and grand hotel resort is literally hanging from a hill with a panoramic scenic view of the mountain range and a part of the city. We were welcomed with a drink, herbal tee with strong smell. Outside the lobby you can see the wonderful view of its swimming pool and the mountain range. Pawan and me are also sharing the room here. It looks quiet adequate with all the facilities and a verandah with leaning chairs to engross into the wonderful mountain views.

1:30 We were called for the grand buffet lunch. We all sat in a table but the atmosphere is a bit formal as we have bosses around. One of us has got his stomach upset. We finished quickly and went for a nap.

4:30 We assembled in the lobby to go to the Kandy town. The ride to the town was good because of almost non-existent traffic. The houses and shops on the hill roads minus people were picture perfect. We went for a boat ride in the Kandy Lake. The artificial lake was built by the last Sinhala King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1806.The temple of the tooth relic was busy decorating because of the new year prayer programs. There was not even a street-side restaurant open to have the evening tea. We had to let go of our thoughts of shopping in the arts & crafts center and seeing the gem museum. We had to came back to the hotel to have the evening tea.

6:30 We sat about half an hour in the lobby beside the restaurant gossiping and having tea. There were bosses around and they were merry enough to discuss lighter topics, like interesting characters at office. At 7:47 there were crackers exploding everywhere. It is the Sri Lankan tradition to welcome the new year. We could see the firecrackers blinking in the city sky down below. They looked like blinking stars. We went back to the room.

8:30 We had our dinner. Today there is an Italian night with live music. The foods were exquisite. I had much including deserts. I am eating a lot since I have come to Sri Lanka. I can�t help it, the food these hotels are good!

Went to the business center of the hotel to email home. But the only dialup modem is out of order. They charge heavily for the ISD calls, so I thought I would rather have a chance tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning we are living at 7.00 sharp to Nuwara Eliya, another hilly region around 70 kms from here. We should wake up early and prepare ourselves, as we will be starting the conference upon arriving at that place. So I am going to bed now.

April 12, 2004


Day 1:

The morning was simply lovely; the cottages looked like a picture. We found out that there is a swimming pool near our cottage. This hotel has 10 three star resorts in Sri Lanka & Maldives. They are very much professional with their service. You gotta be amazed with everything.

We had a grand buffet breakfast costing $4 (SLR 360 each). The European standard food was excellent. The Indian and other teams are coming in the next early morning for the conference, so we had a day off with nothing to do. It was heartbreaking to hear that 12th and 13th are holidays for the Sri Lankan new-year. Office and shops are closed. We walked almost 3 kms to Airport to change dollars for some local currency. The lady at the Sri Lankan tourism promotion booth at the airport suggested that we go to Negomba, a beach area 12 km from the Airport. But arriving there we found out that it was a bad choice. The beach was occupied the beachside resorts and there were thick sands and scorching sunlight, extremely hot and humid conditions making everybody unable to walk even in the sand. There is nothing appealing in the beach. People were going to the water, but I don't believe they were enjoying in this heat. There were a few local boat rides, but the scorching heat had already taken the toll of Pawan's energies and he was no feeling good. We went to an Internet Cafe to mail home, where floppies are not allowed. 15 minutes went in no time costing 5 SL Rupees per minute.

We were seeking lunch options from the flurry of restaurants in that place. The problem is that Pawan is a vegetarian, and these restaurants do not have veg menus. Finally we went to a Chinese restaurant to have vegetable fried rice, which was awful including the fish item I took. Waste of SLR 520. We headed then straight back to the hotel for some rest. At least the room has air-conditioning.

Had a quiet afternoon in the room. It rained in the evening. I sat in the balcony for sometime. It was a great feeling. No work no tension, just enjoying the rain. We had dinner at the hotel. Did I tell you before that the food is hereexcellentt. They charge SLR 600 ($6) for buffet per person. But there were atleast 25 items including dessert. Pawan could find his veg meals (although he missed most of the good tastes). I ate to my hearts content. There were to guys playing music with guitar & congo. Theambiancee wasexcellentt. Most of the visitors here areEuropeann & Japanese. We were the onlyAsianss here.

Then we watched TV at the lounge. Me and Pawan watched eagerly the cricket match between England & West Indies. Lara has broken the record for highest runs in the test cricket. We were witness to that exciting moment.

I could get the only computer at the business center of the hotel free at 11.00 PM. Tomorrow morning we will be heading towards Kandy when the rest of our team comes. Hope to bring you the details too.

Now I am going to sleep. Good night.

11 April, 2004

9:10 Bangkok Time: Waiting at gate 33 to get aboard the flight no. 307 to Sri Lanka. Had my dinner at KFC. I am full now. Wifi Internet cards are sold here. I only need a wifi-LAN card to get access to that. The prepaid card usage charges are 250 Baht for 1 hour. Pretty steep. Wifi is still costly in this part of the world. I am now proceeding to my flight.

9:30 I started towards the queue. Fortunately I found out that the person next to me is Pawan, my Nepalese counterpart. We are both heading for the same conference and he is my roommate in Sri Lanka. He is a nice chap and we managed to sit together in the flight.

We chatted al along the way. He is an introvert type of guy and is critic of the current Nepalese political situation. Many days in a month are wasted because of strike calls by the Maoists, who want the end of monarchy in Nepal. We both came to a conclusion that the political leaders in all the countries of this region, except Bhutan are simply taking their country to ruins.

12 April, 2004

00:00 we landed safely in Colombo. Thai is punctual like ever. Colombo Airport is no match if compared to Bangkok Airport. There was a pickup arrangement for us by the hotel and we reached late at night. There are cottage rooms for us with Air-condition and TV and 3 star facilities. The TV had only one channel working which was an Italian channel.

We freshened up and chatted for sometimes before going to sleep. We enjoyed the place with lots of greenery surroundings except for two moments: 1) A six inches long scorpion like insect crawled past our beds in the night. And 2) A bee went crazy in the toilet while I was in.

April 11, 2004


I am writing from Bangkok Airport. I started the journey with a hiccup. My cousin drove me to Airport. On the way the car charge indicator was flashing. So we stopped at a repair shop to fix the dynamo belt. We have lost 40 minutes but arrived at the Dhaka Airport before 1:30 hours before departure. The Thai flight was really smooth as silk. The type of service they boast of. It was punctual and the 2 hours journey ended in no time.

My Flight.

My neighbor in the flight was a gang of Sri Lankan under 14 Football players who were returning to their home country after competing in a tournament in Bangladesh. The boys looked pretty much tired when the flight started. But they got cheered up after their lunch. They were cajoling in Sinhalese with boyish behaviors. They were lively companions. I had a talk with one of them. They have enjoyed their stay in Bangladesh but are disappointed with their losses in 3 turnouts.

The Sri Lankan under 14 football team

I searched the whole Bangkok Airport for prepaid mobile SIM. Its not available inside the Airport. I bought an international calling card instead to call home.

Now I have to wait a couple of hours more for the flight to Sri Lanka. I have nothing to do except window-shopping. The internet is quite expensive here for me, Baht 75 ($2) for 15 minutes. Outside its only 1 Baht per minute. So staying online won�t be a good choice.

Signing off.

April 10, 2004

Off to Sri Lanka

I am traveling to Sri Lanka to attend a conference. The itinerary promises pleasure alongwith business. There will be plenty of site seeing including a trip to an Elephant sanctuary. I wish I could take my wife with me. I will miss her.

Blogging will be intermittent or even non existent next week depending on the availability of internet facilities. But I am planning to be back with travelogues and pictures. So keep your fingers crossed.

April 08, 2004

Blogging in Bangla!

B¢j h¡Pm¡ Lb¡ h¢m

Meet Debashish & Sukanya, who have really done a revolutionary work by starting blogging in bangla. In their Bangla blog, they have showed the step by step help on "how to start a bangla blog".

The main tweaking you have to do:
1) In your browser's encoding set the View-> Encoding to UTF-8.
2) Change the meta settings in your template
3) Install any of the Unicode compliant fonts (Likhan, Ani, Akaash & Sagar)
4) After you have installed the fonts, go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Fonts in Internet Explorer. Choose any of the Bangla fonts.
5) Get latest version of usp10.dll file (uniscribe processor) and copy it to windows system.
6) You have to instal an editor which converts Bangla fonts to unicode and you have to paste it in your blog post.
7) You should have Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher on your machine.

Happy blogging in Bangla. And don't forget to add it to the Bangla Blog directory.

Well I am doing some experiment on the above and my effort looks like this, which does not look promising. I am facing problem in transforming bangla text from editor to unicode 8 which is not at all convenient. I hope I can get the hang of it soon.

I have to thank Debashish & Sukanya for their great effort and achieving this breakthrough. Keep it up mates.

April 06, 2004

April 2004 - turbulent time in Bangladesh

TIME magazine publishes an article on the current state of disgrace of Bangladesh. Although the report is a bit too critic, it rightly says:

Bangladesh's drift toward mayhem threatens to undo several decades of solid progress made by one of the world's poorest countries. Foreign direct investment in Bangladesh fell from $280 million in 2000 to $45 million in 2002..

The law and order situation has turned really bad. Many businessmen have already been targeted for kidnappings & murders by extortionists. The worse was the murder and mutilation of bodies of a businessman & his son in Dhaka. The bodies were dismembered in 149 pieces. However, Dhaka police commissioner Huda insists "there is no crisis."

The main reason of the lawlessness is that there is a nexus of corruption, politics and violence. The politicians are sponsoring gangs of armed youths in order to intimidate their opponents. These hooligans were bailed out of their imprisonment for their past crimes are used to work as extortionists, sometimes to collect cash for their political patrons, sometimes simply to make money for themselves. The mostly corrupt police department do not take the pain to work independently in fear of loosing their job and are quite happy to do as the ruling party leaders tell.

Another reason for this mayhem is that the political acrimony. The rivalry between the ruling party BNP & the opposition Awami League is so personal in nature that the nation is caught awkwardly in between. The opposition is demanding early elections and taking the streets to pressurize govt. to step down within 30th of April (which is unconstitutional and a farce). It seems the opposition leaders are losing their heads not capitalizing on the shortcomings of the present govt. but running an agenda which won't be endorsed by the common people let alone the international community. The ruling party is challenging the opposition threat and are applying pressure to opposition party activists by arrests and police actions. It is going to be a turbulent month in Bangladesh with many hartals (strikes) and violence.

In this PEPSI or COKE situation think that the general people know that:

If they [the BNP and the AL] fail to control lawlessness, then Islamists can present themselves as the only real alternative. Another likelihood is that the situation would transgress to a military rule.

Is there a hint of hope? TIME reports:

Sari seller Siraj, like many other Bangladeshis, says he is adamantly opposed to the fundamentalists because he finds their brand of Islam too extreme. "I am a Muslim, but they are my enemies," he says. As he sees it, the government and the opposition must wake up to the impending crisis before it is exploited by Islamic radicals or by the military: "Corruption and violence have to end. Both political parties have to understand this, or there is no future for our children."

April 05, 2004

Kal Baishakhi

After almost three months of dry weather, yesterday Dhaka was hit by the first Kal Baishakhi (Summer Storm) of this season. I was out in the street, driving, when suddenly gusty wind and rain blocked all view. I could here the hails dropping in heavily leaving everyone in a panic situation. However I could find a shelter soon enough to drop the heartbeats which were racing like a horse. The rain that followed the storm was very pleasant to watch & feel. But the hailstorm shook the city. It was not that strong but enough to snap the power & telephone lines, toppled a few antennas & tree branches and the rain waters flooded the streets soon enough for a brief period.

But all this had made the weather very pleasant after a couple of hot & humid days. This reminds me of the quote:

Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.

April 04, 2004

The university 'market' in UK

Yes it is a market as it attracts about 175,000 overseas, fee-paying students in Britain. They are worth about GBP 1bn in fee income to universities and contribute about GBP 8bn to the UK economy.

I was wondering how many of the overseas students go back to do something for their own country.

According to this report, import of full cream powdered milk declined by 20 percent over the last 14 years in Bangladesh, mainly due to the success of breast-feeding campaign in the country. Bangladesh has a shortage of production of fresh milk in the country. The import of powdered milk has dropped by $15 million dollars from 1989 due to success of the campaign lead by the Bangladesh Breast-feeding Foundation (BBF). The organization says that the achievement is more than the amount of money, if the population in the two years -- 110 million in 1989 and 130 million in 2003 -- is taken into consideration.

Researchers found breast milk to be the best diet for infants and children up to two years, when the base of physical and mental development including intelligence of the children takes place. But the campaign is hampered by aggressive marketing of foreign powdered milk and baby food companies, which try to persuade the mothers, even pediatrician, to give their product items to the children as a replacement of breast-milk.