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

March 29, 2005


An 8.7 earthquake with epicenter near Sumatra, Indonesia triggered a fresh Tsunami scare yesterday night along the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Wikipedia has details. The quake was almost as strong as the Dec 26, 2004 quake which had triggered Tsunamis across the coastal regions creating mass devastation (273,000 confirmed dead). But thanks God that there was no Tsunami generated yesterday.

Massive evacuations began in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India & Thailand after Tsunami alert. Two persons have died in Sri Lanka during evacuation. In Indonesia two thousand people are feared dead after the quake.

Scientists are wondering why the quake did not cause a killer Tsunami. Australian newspapers report that waves upto 50cm has hit the coasts of Western Australia.

Two aftershocks were reported and many adjacent countries encountered minor quakes. A local newspaper reports that there was an earthquake in the magnitude of 5.1 near Chittagong, coastal city of Bangladesh at the Bay of Bengal last night. No casualties reported.

Indonesia, Malaysia & Sri Lanka have already withdrawn Tsunami alert.

For up-to-date information on this:

* The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog

* Wikipedia-2005 Sumatran Earthquake

March 28, 2005


Bhutan is on the way to become a constitutional monarchy. It has drafted a simple but comprehensive constitution which says:

* There shall be separation of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary
* There will be political parties, election and a national assembly
* The Parliament can abdicate the King with two-third majority
* There will be freedom of press and information
* The political parties shall not allow party interests to prevail over the national interest
* There will be an independent anti-corruption commission
* Ensure good quality of life for Bhutanese citizens which is committed to peace and amity in the world

And I like this most:

* The state shall strive to promote those circumstances that will enable the successful pursuit of Gross National Happiness.

Lets hope when the above constitution is passed in a national referendum by the end of this year, Bhutan will be the model for a true democratic monarchy.

I have always liked Bhutan and its nice people. No wonder why they will remain a happy lot; because their contstitution will guarantee it.

Via Boing Boing.

March 27, 2005


Excerpts from Lord Macaulay's address to the British parliament on 2 February, 1835

"I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation."

* Hakkani Ulema first proclaimer of independence by a "fatwa".

* Saudi religious police have destroyed a clandestine makeshift Hindu temple in an old district of Riyadh and deported three worshippers found there. Report via Varnam.

* Waiting for the Resurrection of Christ and the rise of the sun on a working day.

* To finish fencing, BSF may get 'licence to kill'. Via Dak Bangla Intelligence Scan.

* Women marries clay pot. via Sepia Mutiny

* Camilla to be the King. Via Tigerhawk.

March 22, 2005


The anti-Awami League and pro-islamist political parties of Bangladesh seems to be vocal at India bashing whenever they find a chance. The unilateral decisions taken by India without considering its neighbor and the subsequent miscommunications cannot be a better basis for the same feat. I have given my 2 cents about it here. The general intention of the malicious remarks are to implicate Awami League with India, so that the people take it for granted that Awami League is no good as a party, who will sell Bangladesh to India, whenever they will be in power.

Another such lame effort was taken up recently by the state news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha. According to one of its report, AL leader Sheikh Hasina's son Sajib Wajed Joy recently had a meeting with Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, Defence minister of India in New Delhi. Joy, who lives in the US protested that he has not been in India in last 10 years and the Indian government also denied the same. After Awami League had threatened to sue the agency, it had taken note of it and investigating. Like all the pending investigations this will also die down without resolving anything.

My question is when the political parties of Bangladesh will show maturity and stop talking these stupid gibberishes using state propaganda machines? These are not at all puting up a good image for Bangladesh. Even there are some sophistication in the slum quarrels.

March 21, 2005


* No American visa if you blog - via Patrix

* The devils (aka bigot people's revolutionary) have carried out their latest attack on a school Theatre in Doha killing innocent civilians.

Natasha reports from the scene with lots of pictures. - via Chan'ad Bahraini

* Welcome Waheed, the first known Afghanistani Blogger. - via Buzzmachine

America may have misled its allies into thinking that North Korea was actively helping build a new nuclear weapons state (Libya) instead of simply supplying an existing one (Pakistan). - via Sepia Mutiny

Nitin says: America’s attempts to cover up Pakistan’s transgressions ironically make it appear complicit in the very crime that it is trying to punish.

March 20, 2005


In the mostly patriarchic societies across the world, women still do not get equal treatment. Arafat has posted a Kuwaiti bumper sticker which propagates not to allow women to vote in 2007 election. This is not new as the general assumption is that women are being treated equally in the Muslim parts of the world, specially in the Arab world.

But in 19th century America, women, children and slaves had the same legal status with no voting power and children were the sole property of their fathers. Activists like Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton made a social awareness and brought the change.

Sabrina points out the inequalities in the US itself which still exist today:

* Wages difference: A woman makes $0.75 where a man makes $1.00 with apparently same quality job.
* Top positions: There is a glass ceiling against the women as a candidate for top positions.
* Risks of pregnancy: Employers are more reluctant to hire female employees because of the risks involved with women employees.
* Appearances: A fat ugly woman or a black women will have difficulties getting a job.

So the inequal treatment is not pertinent to only Muslim societies. More activists are required to bring about changes repitatively.

Dr. Amina Wadud, professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, made another history by being the first woman to lead a public, mixed-gender Jummah (Muslim Friday prayer) and deliver the khutbah (sermon). Although this has created mixed emotions in the patriarchic muslim society, the Muslim Wake Up blog says "Research from the Qur'an and the customs of Prophet Muhammad demonstrate that there is no prohibition precluding women from leading mixed-gender prayer". Dr. Wadud, an emancipated women finds all the answers in Qur'an:

"I challenged patriarchy as only one, and not necessarily the best, means of reading and understanding the Quran. It was very simple after that to actually go to the Quran and interrogate its verses. Because you see the possibilities of liberation, the ideas of women's equality, laid down, sometimes in explicit terms, in the text. But you also see places where these can be decontextualized, distorted, or disrupted, in order to be able to sustain that patriarchal interpretation."

The power of one makes the difference.

Elise Bauer gives an insight into the current scenario of weblogs tools used by the bloggers around the world.

via Jeff Ooi

In other news Pradyuman Maheshwari of Mediaah Weblog has decided to close his site after the Times of India served him with a seven-page legal threat for libel. More in Screenshots.

If you are a fan of Bangla band songs, you must know Mac aka Maqsood. He was the erstwhile vocalist of Feedback and president of Band music association (BAMBA) who created history in this country by arranging the first open air concert in Dhaka in 1990 celebrating the people's revolution against the then dictator Ershad. His songs are still hit classics among Bangladeshis. He is now going solo and mostly busy with his business.

Now he has created another history by starting a new blog of his own "Mac's Blog". He also has a collection of articles written by him hosted in "The Bangladesh poet of impropriety".

Go visit him and encourage him. We need more and more Bangladeshis to blog.

March 16, 2005


There have been much controversy about the legitimacy of the rapid action battalion's (RAB) activities. Some say that they are eliminating (literally) the criminals and doing a better job as the police could not control them. Some say that killing without a trial is illegal as anybody is not guilty until proven in the eye of the law.

Now what is the law according to the government? A long battle of the court and the government about separating the judiciary from government administration is still running on. In a recent speech, the communication minister said that the directives the High Court gave to Parliament and government on the separation of judiciary from the executive was unconstitutional. He said none can give any directives to national Parliament. That means the lawmakers of the parliament can be above law. Are they in other countries of the world? And they have the privilege also to make amendments to the law and constitution according to their agenda as they have majority.

The media is much at the firing range these days. Journalists of two national dailies were sued for court contempt after they have published a report that one Additional Judge's law graduation certificate was counterfeit. In an argument the lawyer of the accused said "If the court awards punishment to journalists, where will they get shelter?"

In fact they have no where to hide. Every now and then they are being threatened, intimidated for exposing the truth. There are also some yellow journalism trying to deviate from the truth, prompting accusations against them.

In a recent incident Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) members assaulted the chief photojournalist of the daily Jugantor (a pro govt. Bengali daily) for taking snaps while they were beating up three youths on the street. Even after showing his identity, he was beaten up severely and intimidated: "Don't you know we are RAB? How dare you take snaps without taking our permission?"

The gist of all is they want people to fear the government, fear the RAB. They want us to forget what we have learnt in the religious studies "Fear no one but God." Freedom of speech should exist only when it is pro government. Law should be nothing but a slave of the government.

Saudi Prince Waleed Bin Talal, the world's fifth richest person who have a personal fortune of $23 billion, came to Dhaka for a five hours visit by his personal jet. As his intention was to invest in Bangladesh, the government did all it could to greet him. In this brief period visits to the president, a couple of ministers, other dignitaries and a banquet were arranged. He insisted on bringing along his eight entourages (including his physician) in every places ignoring state protocol; after all he is a prince. He was advised to invest in blue chip companies to boost the share market but instead he asked what Bangladesh have in hospitality sector. Hearing that Bangladesh have only two world class five star hotels in Dhaka (where the government owns share), he said that he would like to buy them. The government said no thats all we have and recently we have invested further in the Sheraton. Then he said "why don't you give the Sonargaon? I will make it even better than that one." He didn't want to invest to build a new one instead.

From Dhaka, he went to Delhi, India for a similar mission. I am glad he did not ask for the Taj Mahal.

I wonder, why couldn't we just say to the prince "Thank you for the interest, but we will only welcome new investments in the country". When the government is apprehensive about foreign interference in the domestic affairs, this fellow should not be shown that much importance as his interests do not benefit Bangladesh. But after all he is a wealthy prince!

March 14, 2005


* "To be a wonderful person you don't need any religion" - Sadiq at Inspirations and creative thoughts.

* "You want a rabbit? Take a rabbit. You want a deer? Take a rabbit." -an old Iraqi saying by Riverbend while commenting on the shooting at the Italian journalist incident.

* "I think it's so cool that the Bangladeshis are so big on their own local bands." -by Gwyneth in her post about a GIG in Dhaka.

* "U.N. Personnel Landmine Treaty would not have happened if it weren't for Internet and email." - from Joi Ito's post 'UN landmine commercial won't air in the US'.

* "Who reads blogs anyway? And how many" - Patrix asks the question and tries to answer it.

March 12, 2005


Rantburg has a series of posts titled "Tales from the crossfire gadget" which has interesting interpretations of the events.

> Cricket and Cinema <

You have read or heard of the above passions. But I have felt it in my brief stay in Mumbai. Parimal, the caretaker has all the information:- which celebrities live in the vicinity. And he tells about an interesting phenomenon of their fans. People flock to see the celebrities outside their houses from 3-5 at the afternoon prompting them to come out of their palaces (sic.) at least once to wave towards them. The bus stands are filled with the posters of Jassi and creating suspense in her unfolding to a new appearance (a popular soap opera happenings). Radio Mirchi (popular FM) has funny rhymes in the posters. Media plays a big role in Indian lifestyle.

During the recent India-Pakistan Test match, I have seen that even the street destitudes have shabby radios at their ears and when asked they feel proud to update the score. Many offices have silent TV screens running the match live. No wonder breaks are frequent which helps keeping the score up-to-date.

I hope the fundamentalists around the world should develop some passions other than blowing up themselves to establish their causes. Life is how you live it. And an idle brain is root of all evil.

Bangladesh Army says that it has destroyed its stockpile of nearly 200,000 landmines, becoming the first country in heavily mined South Asia to get rid of the weapons under a UN treaty (more here).

I think the other South Asian countries should follow Bangladesh.

Sometimes you can feel that the internet is a blessing for you. Take for instance the fact that I am at Mumbai airport since 00:00 hours and my flight is at 5:45 hours. I got here early because I thought it would be safer not to travel after midnight. But I was also looking forward to spending the time in the net. Before discovering this cyber cafe (literally), I was sitting in the waiting lounge surrounded by people of all sorts and I was having a tough time concentrating on "The Da Vinci Code". My neighbor on the right was watching Hindi movie songs in his laptop and on the left were some women from South Africa who were always making their presence prominent. Moving out of that place was the only solution but the booth of my flight will not be open before 3:00 hours. So I started roaming around the airport and found my way here. There are hundreds of mails to check first. Nothing can stop me now. Muhahahaaaaa.

I think when the indexes cross above average, anything becomes complicated to interpret. Because, then there are different versions and perspectives of one event. Mumbai contains one of the Asia's biggest slums. And being the host of Bollywood and other icons of India, it shelters some of the richest people of India. The house rents are high. There are expensive and branded shopping malls; good infrastructures like a good shuttle train network (the lifeline of Mumbai); many overpasses, the marine drives and increasing trendy population, who follow a lifestyle ahead by few years from other Indian cities.

S. from Sri Lanka was telling about the poverty she saw in the road which is almost non-existent in her country. I think she should have also seen the page-three nightclubs (the ones where celebrities go) to put things into perspective. Mumbai is an expensive city and here people have money as the economy is vibrant. What is remarkable is that people do not show off their wealth and brag much unlike other states of India (Delhi et. all).

Our training and workshop has ended successfully. Some of my Mumbai colleagues were generous enough to take us for some tours (shopping and/or sight seeing) whenever we got some time. On the 10th we went to the shopping malls in Phoenix mill at lower Parel. In 1997, Kishore Biyani, an entrepreneur first opened one shopping mall in Kolkata. Now he has set an empire of more than $1 billion dollar in numerous Indian cities with his shopping malls chains like Big Bazaar, Pantaloon, Food court etc. Biyani, whose idol is Sam Walton of Wall Mart, has set his motto "Pile goods high and sell at the cheapest rate". Although he has competitors like the popular "Shoppers stop", people know where to find the best at the cheapest.

P of Nepal had become a father for the first time. He was not sure how express his feelings and only broke the news while we were shopping at phoenix. We took him to a trendy restaurant called "Out of the blue" to celebrate the birth of his son. The dinner was good and specially the ambience had surprises like Japanese style sitting arrangements in open air.

We went to Nariman point and the Gateway of India yesterday afternoon. We walked a lot but the heat of the sun was not pleasant enough to stay sometime to enjoy the views. Then it was our duty to let P. find something for the newborn as he left soon after.

We had a get together last night. As the ladies bowed out, it had become a informal studs party. We enjoyed and we could get to know each other in details.

Today is my last day at Mumbai. I am on my own as all of my colleague has left today morning. I have bought a map of Mumbai and will explore some of the places. Stay tuned.

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Mumbai City from the apartment I am staying in

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Sunset at Khar beach

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Nightlife in Mumbai roads along the ocean. They become alive after 10 PM.

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View from the Gateway to India

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The Gateway to India

March 09, 2005


The previous night went well. When I arrived at the guesthouse my colleagues had already arrived. I haven't met the Sri Lankan counterpart last time in Colombo as she joined after that. N from Delhi called to say that his flight is delayed and he will be coming late at night. I had a long chat with P to get update on the Nepal situation. He said that the situation is apparently normal but the cell phone operation are still barred. His wife, who is an Indian will be having a baby this month, so he will be joining her in Hydrabad after the training. We had to put ourself into sleep almost unwillingly because our pick up was scheduled early in the morning. There were lot to chat about!

The training is taking place in a seminar room in "The Club", a posh all purpose club with good fitness facilities. We met a lot of people whom we knew only as email contacts. There is nothing much to tell about the compact training program except for the food. We had a full course buffet lunch at a poolside club restaurant and the food combination was very good. Specially the desserts were fantastic. They had also Pani puri and chuts, which S would have really loved if she was around.

We had come back to the beach to a coffee parlour and the ambience was very nice. The cold coffee with icecream were superb. We felt like we had to come in jeans and T shirts to fit to the mood here. So full of youth and vibrant. The sunset was wonderful and the cool breezes really freshened us up.

Then we split up and P & I grabbed N to go for shopping. In Bandra we had some good time burgaining & purchasing some stuffs for home. As my companions were non-veg we went back to the same restaurant I had dinner last night, which served both varieties.

The night life of Mumbai is quite live. Shops are open still at 11:PM. Guess I have to start towards the guesthouse. Another busy day awaits.

Ps: Preity Zinta has bought the apartment above our guest house spending Indian Rupees 2.5 crore. Here the people are all crazy about film stars. My caretaker was telling about her visits and the fact that she will be living here in about a month. P was convinced that we have heard so much about it that we will dream about her tonight. Sweet dreams!

March 08, 2005


Yes, I have safely arrived in Mumbai. No, not to became a Bollywood movie star; only for a training for 3 days. The flight took half an hour more than usual. The only incident at Kolkata domestic airport was that I was a bit carried away with purchasing books and watching the India Pakistan Test live. There were strict security measures like hand checking of all luggages and after all that I sat for sometimes near the three gates at the ground floor. I had no idea that there were more gates at the first floor (I could not make out from the indistinctive announcement). Its a busy airport and ten before two (the scheduled time) I got a little worried and asked why my flight was not on the board. I was frantically directed towards the first floor and the staffs greeted me like I am their long lost brother. They ushered me to the aircraft closing the gate behind and that was close. The Jet Airways flight was in a Boeing 737 and the service was world class. It seems that private enterprises know what means service and value addition for their customers. In Bangladesh more private Airliners should start to make Biman face the cometition and improve their service.

There were some turbulance in the flight due to bad weather. I had accute ear pain during the pre-landing decend as I was not aware of these facts. Otherwise the flight was OK as I had spent most of the time reading "The Da Vici Code" that I bought from Kolkata Airport. The book review would be posted later. But I can tell you that each chapter finishes with a suspence which will keep you tuned in the story all the time.

I had no trouble in reaching the company guest house near the beach. I had a tough time communicating with the caretaker with my frail Hindi because he does not understand English. After a while I found out that he is from Kolkata and speaks Bengali too! Then we both laughed about our miscommunications took place earlier. I went out to have a look at the place and call home. It was getting dark so the ocean view was not remarkable. But I was impressed with the surroundings. Lots of people were having an evening walk and I am told this is the residential area of many of the Bollywood film industry people. I had to believe it because I saw Shakti Kapoor in a roadside Cafe with no fans pestering. There are all kinds of shops around here including a renowned hair stylist's parlour, a tattoo shop and lots of restaurants with mouth watering cuisines. I think I'll have dinner here and head to the guest house. I hope that the day will end with a happy memory.

Arrived safely at the NSCBI Airport. Ten minutes late is nothing comparing to Biman's reputation of long delays. The F-28 flight (40 minutes FH) was OK because it was handeled well by the crews. It did not occur to me that it was the smallest plane I have ever flown with. I had some sandwitches and a drink at the plane.

A little incident happened here. I had to check in at Kolkata airport because the transit flight is a domestic one. I did not have in mind that my VISA category was tourist, which was done by the travel agent. In the immigration paper I stated my purpose of visit as official. So these people was questioning me where I am going & harrasing me stating that I have obtained the wrong visa. They have threatened me to pushback and obviously they were asking for some bribe. I chose not to waste more time and I had to settle that matter with $20 dollar underhand. Way to start a journey!

Internet! Kolkata Airport has a cybercafe. 1 hour usage costs 30 rupees (roughly 80 cents); its cheap. I knew at once that my transit time would not be wasted. This is one necessity not available in ZIA at Dhaka. Now I have to head towards the domestic terminal.

March 8, 2005 9: 00 AM

Here I am sitting in the passenger lounge of ZIA International airport in Dhaka waiting for the a plane, which leaves after one and a half hour. It is really boring to wait for such a long time, when there is no internet and only one small duty-free shop to browse. The direct flight to Bombay takes only 2:40 hours flight time from Dhaka. Unfortunately it is available only twice a week. So I had to resort to this day-long endeavour involving two airlines and a 3:30 hours transit in Kolkata. Above all I am jitterish about the first flight in our national carrier. Biman's F-28 does not have a high reputation and being a small aircraft it is rather noisy and bumpy. ZIA has improved a lot since my tour to Sri Lanka last year. Human polution (sic.) mangement has improved better considering the tradition of whole family coming to Airport to see-off one individual. The check in was swift because there are more immigration counters set up. The whole process of security checking, luggage booking, boarding card issuing and immigration were done within 10 minutes. That's really great. I have seen activities of the cleaners to keep the waiting lounge clean however their cleaning methods were somewhat sloppy. Now I think I should concentrate on the training materials as I had little time to go through them. The next 3 days are packed with lots of work and no hint of any play in sight :(.

Please stay tuned for more tour blogging.

March 01, 2005


Aaaa..vruuu..Oow..Aaa...(Hello everyone). As a 5 month old I still can't talk in your language but don't think that I do not understand what people around me says. If the communications directed towards me seems favorable to me I always respond with a smile on my face. You can even make me giggle if you play with me a bit. Being a toddler is not always great. You would have understood the problem when you will spend the most of your time in a horizontal position. Getting tired of it I have discovered the backvision (moving the head towards the back rotating 180 degree and bending the body) to be informed about what's happening around me and the belly acrobat (heaving the belly up ) to indicate that I do not wish to lie in bed anymore. I really enjoy moving around the house vertically grabbing a collar of grandpa or clutching the neck of Ma. Don't worry, I have learnt to move in a circle and pretty soon I will be able to go to a distance on my own. Then I will not be dependent on others to move around.

You gotta admit that getting 7 vaccination shots in 3.5 months is really too much to ask for a person of my age. But my family members take good care of me. I have so far survived the winter season (Phew..you call that winter?) without catching cold. Now-a-days my diet has a bit of variation. Alongwith milk, I am served with my daily dose of water poached egg, fresh apple/banana crushed and fresh orange juice. But everybody knows that I will take those in a quantity which suits my mood. I am developing a taste of good and bad and I can immediately reject tasteless thing (Ma also approves what I can't eat must be tasteless).

I really like rhymes and songs. I listen to them attentively and respond well. The only time I get frustrated and fret is when I need sleep but can't go to sleep on my own.

Ma & Baba are always keen to take me out with them. But they have to leave me sometimes assuming that I do not adjust well in crowded situation. Take for an instance they took me to Tommy Miah's restaurant in Dhaka. Baba said that this guy is known as "curry king" and he even has pleased the queen of England with his cuisine. I was looking forward to tasting or atleast looking at his items. But as it was my sleeping time, being disturbed by all the curious guests and the restaurant employees , I got annoyed and cried my heart out almost the whole time. Well it wasn't my fault that Ma couldn't have enough time to eat bacuse those people just couldn't help squeezing my cheek, holding my hand etc. giving me lots of discomfort. To calm the ambience of the restaurant, Baba took me outside in the garden where some little deer were roaming around (without any shackles!). Naturally I got busy with them and forgot to cry. Seeing that I had became timid, Baba took me back to the restaurant. When we were entering, the over-enthusiastic restaurant manager came to me giggling and I just cried out loud in protest. Assuming that I did not want to enter the restaurant, I was kept outside all the time at my entourage's inconvenience and I had to solace myself only in hearing from others how good the food was.

But during my tour at the crowded book fair and couple of times at shopping malls I remained calm. Ma & Baba could notice it only recently that I am not afraid of crowds, but I do not fret when I am not being disturbed by others. If all the people could understood it easily!

fable: Hey passers by! Leave the toddlers alone.