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

September 28, 2004


* A baby is God's opinion that life should go on.

- Carl Sandburg - 1878-1967, American Poet

* Babies are necessary to grown-ups. A new baby is like the beginning of all things --wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. In a world that is cutting down its trees to build highways, losing its earth to concrete... babies are almost the only remaining link with nature, with the natural world of living things from which we spring.

- Eda J. Le Shan -1922-, American Educator, Author

September 26, 2004


Welcome RIANNA, weight 8 lbs, born on September 24, 2004 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Last Friday I have become father of a cute little baby girl. We went through 8 hours of the proceedings packed with much tension and relief. The doctors had to resort to C. Section to get her out. The baby is fine but the mother is recuperating from the trauma of C. Section. I have spent a couple of sleepless nights in the hospital managing the baby, and I have told this is just the beginning of numerous such nights. But when I look at her face I just forget everything. I still cannot believe that I am the co-procreator of such a wonder. My prayers were answered by God. I thanked God in prayers and remembered the verses of Quran "Then which of the favors of your Lord will ye deny?" (Surah Al Rahman).

I have to run now to the baby and the mother who will be staying at the hospital for a few days more. Thanks for all your prayers. I really appreciate it and please take share of my joys too and you are all invited for sweets (our tradition for breaking out a good news).

September 23, 2004


I am using firefox 0.9 version for a couple of months and one thing I can tell you that this browser is very good and more customizable than Internet Explorer. The features include download manager, popup killer, tabbed browsing and easy transition from IE (all your favorite book marks and other settings remain intact). Just downloaded the latest 1.0 version from Mozilla, which have added features like RSS integration. Are you ready for a joyous ride on Firefox?

September 22, 2004


There have been some disturbing and gruesome news in Bangladesh media in the last couple of days about some Madrassa teachers cutting of ears of students, killing & raping students etc. In all the cases the students are victim of the sodomite or mentally disturbed teachers whose deed in anyway cannot be called Islamic. These incidents caught media attention quickly as Madrassas have a bad reputation being a breeding ground for extremists. And the Islamic parties surprisingly kept mum about their atrocities, which give an impression to people that they are shielding them. However these incidents should be viewed on the whole perspective rather than some small information.

Madrassa refers to an Islamic school for Muslims, just as parochial schools for Catholics or yeshivas for Jews. All of these institutions are responsible for general education, but also have the purpose of teaching children about religion, in the case of Madrasas, Islam. At least four million poor children (many of them are orphans) are studying in more than 50,000 of these religious schools across Bangladesh. The Madrassas offer a 16-year course divided into three levels. The primary level known as Forkania Madrassa teaches the Koran, Arabic, Bengali and Mathematics. Students, who pass exams here, graduate to the Hafizia Madrassa. The Kowmi Madrassa is the final level that issues degrees claimed as equivalents of a Masters level. Such degrees are provided by over 3,000 such Madrassas.

There have been much debate on the unstructured and obsolete curriculum of Madrassas with superstitious concepts and antiquated social values; which produces students, who cannot even read or write properly in their own mother tongue Bengali let alone English. Science, Geography, Physics and other modern subjects are conspicuous by their absence, with most students encouraged only to memorize the Koran. The degrees issued by such schools are practically useless outside the seminary circuit. The job industries have a reservation about these certificates for obvious reasons and the students cannot get admission in modern educational institutions even if given the chance as they are easily beaten in competition from students of other traditional institutions. So it becomes a vicious cycle where graduates only option is to return to the Madrassas, as teachers or else become clerics in mosques, which only offers a poor compensation package. The highest-degree holders set up their own ventures and only a handful can get important government posts. It creates a sense of insecurity among those students and they usually loathe the students of the traditional education system. That’s where politics come in.

Almost all these Madrassas' funding derives from donations and religious grants. Besides, principals of these Madrassas privately arrange grants from Middle Eastern countries. And many extremist elements are exploiting the students and institutions poverty for their own interest. A large number of Kowmi Madrassas are controlled by the Islami Oikyo Jote (IOJ), a radical Islamic party that is a partner of the ruling coalition. They are keen to preach their version of Islamic zealot to the students. Besides, banned Islamic groups also target students of these Madrassas as their recruits.

Salahuddin Shoaib Chowdhury writes:

According to records of police intelligence in Bangladesh, members of "Al-Haramine" organization use the kindergarten Madrassa as camouflage. They regularly communicate with various underground-armed groups in the country and even recruit locals and send them to Palestine as guerilla fighters. Each recruit gets US$ 1500-2000 as an up front payment for their 'new job'. Later family members or legal representatives or spouses of these guerilla fighters will receive US$ 150-200 per month as salary. If any of them were killed during the war, their family would get US$ 5,000 as compensation.

For above reasons the Madrassa students are encouraged to involve in these organizations out of poverty even more than the religious zealots, which are fed up by the politically motivated teachers.

But it would be unwise to undermine Madrassas' contribution in the society. Many Madrassas have been virtually acting as orphanages for the poor. If there was a uniform syllabus, computer education and vocational training it would establish a centralized link between Madrassa and modern education, thus making these large numbers of students really educated and established in the society. The Mullahs are much criticized for their bigotries, which actually are based on their poor education. In fact if the Madrassas curriculum were modernized, the students would easily blend in the society with logical thinking and respect, which in turn would only benefit and strengthen Islam. And the poor students would be free from exploitation and resentment from various quarters.

At LGF this news was highlighted and there were many negative remarks against Madrassa & Islam. But I think it's a mistake to take a single incident and indict an entire culture or religion for it. "Because we have been conditioned to hate and think the worst about other cultures, or certain other cultures" – as one of the commenter said there. We are doing injustice to the Madrassa students by not condemning the atrocities against them and not bettering their conditions regarding education and establishment. The government has a great role to play for modernizing & updating Madrassa education.

Related readings:
* The madrassa & me
* Website of a Madrassa and orphanage

Two responses to my post:
* The problem with Madrassa - by Wamy
* Madrasa System of Bangladesh: A deeper view -by Rifat

And an excellant summation by Daniel Brett
* In defence of the Madrassas

Enough said on this topic.

September 19, 2004


Roger Waters, the co-founder and primary songwriter of the legendary rock band Pink Floyd, has written and recorded two important new songs, "To Kill The Child" and "Leaving Beirut". You can hear streaming versions of the songs on Waters website, www.roger-waters.com. The songs have the fervor of the classic Waters and powerful lyrics. I am particularly impressed with the strong lyrics, which were written as Waters' response to invasion of Iraq by the coalition force.

He asks:
Are these the people that we should bomb
Are we so sure they mean us harm
Is this our pleasure, punishment or crime

He warns:
Every time a smart bomb does its sums and gets it wrong
Someone else's child dies and equities in defense rise
America, America, please hear us when we call
You got hip-hop, be-bop, hustle and bustle
You got freedom of speech
You got great beaches, wilderness and malls
Don't let the might, the Christian right, fuck it all up
For you and the rest of the world

He accuses:
Our dads had helped them win the war
When we all knew what we were fighting for
But now an Englishman abroad is just a US stooge

Not in my name, Tony, you great war leader you
Terror is still terror, whosoever gets to frame the rules
History's not written by the vanquished or the damned
Now we are Genghis Khan, Lucretia Borghia, Son of Sam

He ponders:
How strange to choose to take a life
How strange to choose to kill a child
Hoover, Blaupunkt, Nissan Jeep
Nike, Addidas, Lacoste and cheaper brands
Cadillac, Amtrak, gasoline, diesel
Our standard of living, could this be a reason
That we would choose to kill the child

And he poses the ultimate question:
Is it anger or envy, profit or loss
That we would choose to kill the child?

September 18, 2004


The Sun finally shined yesterday in Bangladesh after 7 days incessant rainfall. The massive rainfall (a 50 years record) has waterlogged many parts of Bangladesh, wreaked havoc on agricultural crops creating millions of Taka damages, disrupted lives of millions and at least 28 people were killed in the flood that ensued.

As Sting says in one of his hit song:

Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are


* Nitin writes about Islam & Democracy in the context of Malaysia. It appears, Malaysia is still far from being a liberal democracy.

* Zeyad gives his views on the patterns of the recent violence in Iraq.

* Dave says Bush and Kerry should start talking sense and quit blathering to get his vote in the coming election.

* Laura has watched "The Passion" and ponders about all the bloodshed since 9-11 that "We are still killing Jesus, over and over."

* Niraj defends that Bangladesh is doing well in some areas but the country is still not ahead of India as this article claims.

* Zachary Latif thinks that the Islamic civilisation is worthy and proud enough for redemption of the recent behaviors of the muslim extremists. The troubles now are birth pangs as the Islamic peoples joins the rest of humanity in the modern age. Islam is moving from the medieval to the modern under the spotlight of the news camera.

September 15, 2004


* There is a country where political parties fight on who would sleep in the master bed room at a time when the whole house caught fire and is burning.

- Torkel L Patterson, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia

* If you can hear this, your television isnt underwater. Congratulations!

- Conan O'Brien, talking about Bangladesh at his NBC show "Late night with Conan O'Brien"


Grameen Bank, the award winning initiative by Dr. Md. Yunus has pulled another stunt by offering loan to the beggars to purchase mobile phones (without collateral) so that they can offer mobile phone service in the streets. This looks good in theory but I have apprehensions whether it will reach the objective of changing beggar's lives. Their previous effort "The phone ladies" - giving mobile loan to poor women in the village was misused by some quarters or middlemen.

Anyone interested to catch a quick "power nap" to increase your productivity on the way to your next assignment? This idea can come from only a Bangladeshi. And believe me this guy's logic is good and the product will sell.

September 14, 2004


It started raining from Friday night almost incessantly. It intensified since Sunday morning riding on a land depression and is yet to cease. For the first couple of days it was pleasant, but who knew that it could bring another disaster in Bangladesh. It has submerged most parts of Dhaka under knee to waist-deep water, stranded hundreds of vehicles and thousands of commuters on roads, cut power and telephone links and kept day-workers from earning a living since Monday. Many found it extremely difficult to come to work place or return to home because of lack of transport. It seems the cities cannot hold or let out this amount of water. I am hearing that the Govt. has declared a public holiday today, the 2nd day of water-clogged Bangladesh. The educational institutions were already declared closed yesterday night. The inland communications are at standstil, international flights are being delayed.

Many are saying its the faulty and clogged sewerage systems, some are saying its a warning from the god. Its 309 mm of rains in 24 hours if you want to get an idea of the situation we are facing. The rivers have swelled and it is also said that water is not driven down to the sea because of the rising sea level (another moon effect). My work phone lines are dead. Nearby Dhanmondi Lake is full to the brim of the road and a couple of large trees has been uprooted by the winds and moist root soil. Weathermen said the situation would improve this evening after the low dies out but the rain is still pouring. (More news about the rain)

It has been pretty depressing but I guess we have to do some positive thinking and listen to the rain.

September 13, 2004


Tanim of "Busy minds in a lazy shell" Blog has published an article in the Daily Financial express titled "Ways to put a piece of your mind... online". He mentioned there the link to my post "List of blogs by Bangladeshis and foreigners in Bangladesh". It feels great to be mentioned in a newsdaily and thanks to Tanim for that. Don't forget to read his nice article too.

September 12, 2004


* BURMA -Grace under pressure: A remarkable photojournal made with Flash about the lives and struggles of the peoples of Burma, or Myanmar, who are under a oppressive military dictatorship since 1988. (Via Niraj)

* Ghani Academy: Connects you to the path of knowledge (an initiative of some Bangladeshis).

* Bangladesh Hall of Fame: An website dedicated to famous Bangladeshis(still under construction). Should be a good resource when the site is completed.

* 9/11: Rising up from the ashes: A retrospective by Joe Katzman at Winds of Change.

* The Tangled Bank: A carnival of science blog coming soon. (via Prashant Mullick)

* Photography Links: From Marcus at 512MB.net.

September 11, 2004


If you ever wonder why Muslims are being stereotyped as terrorists all over the world then you should consider the facts that Muslim society is not vocal enough to uphold Islam's true image, which is being tarnished by some lowlife terrorists who have an agenda of their own. Here is one such voice which tries to discover the true facts:

Obviously not all Muslims are terrorists but, regrettably, the majority of the terrorists in the world are Muslims. The kidnappers of the students in Ossetia are Muslims. The kidnappers and killers of the Nepalese workers and cooks are also Muslims. Those who rape and murder in Darfour are Muslims, and their victims are Muslims as well. Those who blew up the residential complexes in Riyadh and Al-Khobar are Muslims. Those who kidnapped the two French journalists are Muslims. The two [women] who blew up the two planes [over Russia] a week ago are Muslims. Bin Laden is a Muslim and Al-Houthi [the head of a terrorist group in Yemen] is a Muslim. The majority of those who carried out suicide operations against buses, schools, houses, and buildings around the world in the last ten years are also Muslims.

What a terrible record. Does this not say something about us, about our society and our culture? ...
Islam has suffered an injustice at the hands of the new Muslims... We will only be able to clear our reputation once we have admitted the clear and shameful fact that most of the terrorist acts in the world today are carried out by Muslims. We have to realize that we cannot correct the condition of our youth who carry out these disgraceful operations until we have treated the minds of our sheikhs who have turned themselves into pulpit revolutionaries who send the children of others to fight while they send their own children to European schools.
- Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, former editor of the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Read about more such voices.

We should see clear and strong lessons from religious, academic, and journalistic leaders that murder is murder, whether the victim is a Muslim or not. If we do not, then they are only supporting murder. And we need to condemn those who refuse to condemn. And then only Islam will win because it is a religion of peace and love.

via buzzmachine


There is always a contest of owning the remote control between my wife and me whenever we sit together for watching a cricket game in TV. Because she does not want to watch cricket for a longer period and only lets me check the scores in between commercials of the programs. And I try to watch most of the cricket and let her watch her program in between frequent commercial breaks of the cricket broadcast. It has become a healthy contest and she is never against my inclination to cricket. The ICC Championship Trophy has started yesterday and we will be engrossed in total cricket for 16 days. My favorite is of course Bangladesh, although most likely they are not going to win any match here. Welcome United States of America to the elite world of Cricket. USA has played its first official one-day match yesterday against New Zealand.

For those of you, who does not know about cricket, here are the links- all about cricket & a brief history of cricket.

September 10, 2004


I have been pretty busy lately and did not find time to write about myself. Me & S. are waiting for our first baby, which is due end of this month. This is a whole new experience for us as a new phase of our lives is beckoning. She has been troubled with this pregnancy right from the start. She had to be on bed rest for more than a month in her first trimester. She had to deal with the troubles in going to work during hartal and the discomforts she faces in workplace (like lack of restroom etc.). But each day has been filled with new experiences for her. Every single ache, every feeling of movement of the baby is new to her and we had to deal with the pains and joys of the events. Each visit to doctor (weekly in the last phase), each scan, each test corresponds much worry and relief. This has changed our lives and will continue to do so. I am giving her all the time beyond my work hours to be with her, to give her comfort, to keep her from worries. Our families are also pretty excited about the whole affair. They are always keen about her comforts, her taste change, food habit and the concerns for nutrition.

We are reading numerous magazines, books, articles about pregnancy and babies. We love to watch programs like "The amazing baby videos". The past couple of months we were busy with buying all sorts of little things needed to greet the baby (like nappies, dresses, pillows etc.). She has even prepared a bag full of necessary things, which she will require at the hospital. I am arranging money for the hospital fees. I am praying to God that he would present a healthy, sound baby to us and without much trouble of the mother. And I need your prayers too for the child and the mother.

Some recommended books during pregnancy:

* To Have To Hold: A parent's Guide to Child Birth and Early Parenting
- by Joyce L. Kieffer, Training Resource Corporation, Harrisburg, PennSylvania
* Is There A Baby in your Future?: A calendar for before, during and after your pregnancy
- by Best Start Health Coalition in Peel, Canada
* Sananda -Annapurna: Special pregnancy edition

Bangladesh is caught in a vicious web of bloody violence caused by grenade and bomb explosions, numerous bomb threats and the inability of the security forces to stop these. All they could do is to kill some criminals in mysterious "encounters" brewing more doubts about their intentions and capabilities. We will do injustice just to blame them only, because they cannot act freely; as it is said that there are always instructions for them from the higher level of the government about whom to arrest and whom to leave alone and whom to kill in "encounter" so that they do not expose the powers behind them. The latest bomb threats include the prime minister & son, Dhaka University, a renowned school, and the World Bank chief in Bangladesh creating a panic. There are Interpol and other international security agencies investigating the 21/8 bombing incidents and they have made some progresses. But it is also said that some of their local partners are trying to influence the investigation in a view to distract from what really happened.

However the government is busy in blaming the main opposition and vice versa being responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation. See how silly the politicians are. In the midst of this crisis situation, making malice remarks to each other and only thinking about being into power. Actually mediocrity knows no level above its own. All we have some mediocre politicians and no great leader. Some forces are even generating some theories to indict India that they are behind in creating this anarchy in the country. I hope the politicians should stop beating around the bushes and not make the situation worse. We want the truth.

The present government is trying to suppress the agitations, rallies and harassing, intimidating the opposition activists forcefully and in a brutal way. Its not only a matter of trying to stem the tide of revolution and the question of whether the opposition is always just in their causes, but it is in a way hampering the basic human rights of the people, the right to protest and the right to express their ideas. The ruling parties forget that they are creating a legacy of oppression and autocracy. The oppositions are not addressing the crisis issues of the country, rather saying that if they are put back into the power they will change the situation. But will they be able to keep themselves away from the culture of intimidating and harassing their oppositions?

As I wrote in a previous post, we are being held by some opportunist robbers of the country, who have taken shelters under the mail political parties, because they need protection from justice. One party had ruled for five years (and robbers under their shelter robbed the country) and then another party had ruled for five years (ditto). This cycle may repeat also. We will always be left in the hand of non-thinkers and opportunists. But where are the common people's interests? You have to belong to a party, take a shelter. Otherwise you won't be heard. You won't get your rights. It is our interest or their interest. There is no common interest. There are no ethics, morality, virtue or more of these nice words. Those who still hang on to those morality or ethics are the loneliest persons in this society.

But I still believe in common people's power. I believe in our people of the village, who may seem to you as uneducated and impoverished. But those are the people who played a big role in our liberation war and we drove away the killers of Pakistan and liberated ourselves in 1971. When the people will rise, there will be no place of the opportunist robbers or terrors in our country. I am waiting for that moment again.

September 07, 2004


* The terrible thing about terrorism is that ultimately it destroys those who practice it. Slowly but surely, as they try to extinguish life in others, the light within them dies.

- Terry Waite 1939-, Consultant and Former Hostage, Born in Bollington, Cheshire

* Fighting terrorism is like being a goalkeeper. You can make a hundred brilliant saves but the only shot that people remember is the one that gets past you.

- Paul Wilkinson

September 05, 2004


The global movement against the World Bank is aimed at making the institution accountable to people as well as to their clients, the government that are recipients of their aid. But the present coalition government of Bangladesh has been surprisingly helping them doing the opposite. Farhad Mazhar writes in The New Age:

On 4 July this year, the cabinet decided that the sovereignty of the World Bank is over and above the sovereignty, constitution and the legal regime and procedures of Bangladesh. The four-party alliance government has decided to offer this precious gift to the World Bank: legal immunity, but only Allah knows in return for what.

Providing legal immunity implies that no aggrieved person or party, including the government itself, can take the institution to court, even in cases of explicit evidence of responsibility for corruption, destruction of national resources, environment and ecology and consequently the livelihood of people.

The World Bank impeded a legal process (one suit against them by one of its ex emplyees) of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh by claiming it enjoys legal immunity.

The World Bank and IMF policies have been breeding poverty and widening the gap between rich and poor and similarly causing a polarization among nations, which has in turn bred terrorism, violence and war. They are aware of these misdeeds and instead of having a positive reform they are trying to hide their wrongdoings in that immunity.

Our political oppositions are surprisingly silence about this issue because they are more concentrated on clinching back their power rather than doing good to the society. Mazhar concludes:

While as a citizen we must condemn the role of our own government, we should not fail to see how the World Bank has systematically demolished the capacity of a country to develop a strong and independent judiciary by manipulating our judiciary and the executive organs of the state.

Rightfully so and I echo with this editorial in the Daily Star:

Less foreign aid/loan and more foreign investment is the direction in which the country should be moving.

Related article:
WB immunity will infringe on sovereignty

I was shocked watching the pictures of the gruesome bloodbath in Beslan in the media. Its true that many of us have been accustomed, even inured with the news of the murder of innocent lives by the terrorists, whether it is in Dhaka or in Jerusalem. But this was beyond any imagination. Young kids traumatized by masked killers wearing bomb-belts, forced to drink their own urine, when they were kept hostage for over 3 days without any food or a single drop of water. A mother was forced take the toughest decision of her life, when she was asked to chose one of her children for a hostage release. None of the children, parents and teachers killed and wounded in Beslan deserved this barbarism. None of us deserve to watch and live with it. Does anybody have answers to the hostage families grieves?

But what can we do about this depraved military tactic - "taking hostage of innocents" - soft target as they say. The terrorists find it easy to impose terror on soft targets in a desperate situation, when they cannot penetrate the strong defense of law and order/occupied forces. If the hostage-takers in Beslan knew they were likely to die, they also knew they would die with the world's attention upon them. Had they died in a regular firefight with Russian forces, we would neither have known nor cared. But whatever the reason is killing innocents is morally wrong and we need to find out the root cause of the Russian soldiers becoming terrorists. An Article in the Guardian says:

Since plunging recklessly back into Chechnya in 1994, Putin, his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, and the once proud Red Army have caused such untold misery, such rank injustice, such fury and despair that, like the Americans in Iraq, they created a breeding ground and magnet for the religious extremists they struggle to extirpate. In effect, it was Russian generals and their turncoat allies who internationalized a war that should never have begun and which could have been peaceably resolved long ago. For this foolishness, Russia's conscript soldiers still pay a terrible price.

It has been reported that out of 27 terrorists, 10 were Arabs. How do the Arab fit here? Have they become mercenaries? Or is it that they are spreading the anarchy, the notion of jihad everywhere in the world? How to deal with these fucked up minds?

In asymmetrical warfare everyone is involved and anyone is a potential victim. To fight asymmetrical war with tanks makes as much sense as trying to shoot mosquitoes with a machine gun. The result is counter-productive.

So we should be tactical about using force against these demons. The media can play a role here, showing the nature of atrocities to the world to make these terrorists understand that this is wrong. It would lessen the number of sympathizers of these terrorists. And I plea to all the terrorists:

* leave the women and children away from your warfare*

Related posts:
Carnage in Beslan
* The path to school number one
* Russian bear ready to glass the mideast?

September 02, 2004


A photoblog is a type of weblog that is regularly updated with photos. Some photoblogs focus only on photography, while others have photos in addition to other content. All photoblogs, however, consider photos to be an important part of their chronological blogging structure. (for more faqs)

I have been quite impressed browsing some photologs. There is another world of blogs where much is told via photos shot by amateurs and professionals.

Some notable Bangladeshi girl photoblogs:

* Nazzina
* Rings
* Nazma

Go click on their name to have a look. Don't forget to browse through all their pages of wonderfully told delights. I promise you won't be bored.