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

December 31, 2006

Happy New Year 2007

Wishing everyone Merry Christmas, Graceful Eid-ul-Adha and a Happy New Year 2007.

Berlin did not have a white Christmas. But it snowed the following day of my arrival. Just for one day!

We had some guests and guided them to the historic Dresden 200 km away from Berlin. Some parts of the highway were very foggy and I could not see more than 10 meters ahead even with fog lamps deployed. It was a very chilly day with temperature hovering around zero degree. The kids and the elderly were struggling with red and running noses and we had to call it a day soon.

Berlin streets are now well lit with a lot of Christmas decorations and they are still on hopefully till tomorrow. It was really wonderful driving through Berlin's popular spots. The trees on the Kurfurstendamm road are all lit up with tiny lights, reminded me of the Wedding decorations back in Bangladesh. But in this case the lights are all over, where your eyes can reach, and in beautiful designs, like rein deers, bears or Santa. The main Christmas fairs in Europa Center and GendermenMarkt at the twin French Churches were dazzling but with not much crowd, probably because of the weather.

We had our second Eid in Berlin yesterday. The pleasure is more when you get the chance to celebrate it with a lot of people. However the most remarkable thing is that "Bakri Eid" was celebrated without eating any Bakri (goat) or cow meat. I really don't like sacrificing animals and I have indicated in one of my writings that I would rather like be away from seeing blood. So it was good in a sense. Some Bangladeshis here were trying to arrange the sacrifice in a slaughter house 85 kms away from Berlin and could not get the meat on the Eid day.

I will be heading shortly for the center point of the new years celebration, at the Brandenburger Gate and the temperature is an encouraging 8 degrees Celsius. Hope rain will not spoil the fireworks show.

Youtube video of the day

Bangladesh vs. Germany: Street Soccer Vol. 2

December 27, 2006

Going Back

While a large part of Asia is experiencing disruption in internet, I am writing from 35000 feet (10668 meters) in the air somewhere above the Caspian See. Going back to Berlin in after meeting so many people. In this visit I have met many bloggers, from my country and from many parts of the world. I had nice time with my family too.

While coming back I had a few hours break in Kolkata. Aparna came to airport to pick me up and we spent some wonderful time in the Peter Cat restaurant in Park Street, Kolkata. We had the famous Cello Kebab, an Iranian dish, which was very good.

Today there was intense fog in Delhi, but luckily my flight was on time. Lufthansa is continuing to impress me.

Signing off now as my laptop battery is depleting. There is no power socket available. That is one other issue the aviation industry needs to keep in mind in the future.

December 23, 2006

Today's Links

* Yunus in Stockholm: the Secret of Grameen Bank.

* What Clash of Civilizations? Why religious identity isn't destiny.

* What’s the Best RSS Reader for Rich Media?

* Global: Now spelt Blogal.

December 22, 2006

2006 in review: Bangladesh cricket

Year 2006 was a very successful year for Bangladesh Cricket as they won 18 one-day internationals, eight in a row, out of 28 games. They were just two wins behind from world champions Australia in this year's one-day success table. Bangladesh has already surpassed Zimbabwe in the ICC one day cricket rankings. It is their highest performance to-date.

Bangladesh's opening batsman Shahriar Nafees has become the fifth in the world to score 1,000 runs in 2006 and keeps the 19th position in the ICC rankings. The paceman Mashrafee Bin Mortaza (ranking 40) became the highest ODI wicket-taker in 2006 with 49 wickets. Mohammad Rafiq is the most successful bowler of Bangladesh with ranking 28.

Bangladesh is clearly on the right track with its coach Dav Whatmore preparing for the next world cup in 2007. The fans are already suggesting the possible combination of the team for the world cup.

Scotland cricketer Paul Hoffman comments on Bangladesh's chance on the coming world cup:

"On the low, skiddy wickets, they’re difficult to play. Caribbean pitches will be similar, so it would not surprise me if they cause a few upsets at the World Cup next year."

Nobody can deny the South Asia's cricket obsession. According to BBC 90% of tickets for matches involving India and Bangladesh had been sold out much ahead of the championship in March. It seems those people will have a blast.

December 21, 2006

The world in a nutshell

Are bloggers shrinking the planet? Quinn Norton of Wired News cites the example of the Global Voices Online:

Today, the Global Voices website has grown to a million visitors a month, and is rated on blog search and analysis company Technorati as the 207th most popular blog by inbound links, in a field of around 55 million. Geographically distributed editors spend their days rounding up the most important posts from their parts of the world and presenting them through the site, so visitors can easily zoom in on what's happening in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba or the Congo.

Last weekend's conference had the feel of a miniature United Nations, with laptop-toting attendees from nearly every continent gathered on the tiers of a New Delhi convention center, each sitting at their own small desk, many wearing native dress.

A miniature UN, yeah I would like to call GV that too. If you were in the summit, you could just feel it.

(via ThaRum Bun)

December 20, 2006

In Dhaka

After a pretty disastrous experience in traveling with Indian domestic airways (delays, blinded by lack of info screens, considers laptop case as a separate cabin luggage) and watching crowded, corrupt and dirty airports (Delhi and Kolkata)I was pretty happy to see the Zia International Airport in Dhaka. Its new expanded portion was literary shining. The management was satisfactory considering many arrivals at the same time. The Air Sahara apologized for the delay and had two persons booked in the seat besides me. Surprisingly Biman crews were friendly and professional and the aged fokker-28 (with a cabin shelf not willing to stay close) was not actually their fault. Moreover, could you believe it! The flight was on time.

The first glimpses of the night time Dhaka streets were occupied by GrameenPhone advertisements all over propagating its new (Telenor) logo and the irreplaceable traffic jam. It seems the traffic system in Dhaka is going to explode soon. I had to walk a lot in Motijheel area today because the transports were simply not moving. The Biman office has 15 counters and it took more than 1.5 hour to clear 126 persons ahead of me in the queue. Alico had similar counters with lot more people and I gave up at one point. Bangladesh is surely a populous country. I am glad that eventually they make it work and people have a lot of patience. Perhaps my 10 month's experience in the West has made me impatient.

Today's evening was marked by another meet of people I know via internet/blogs. Zafa of Drishtipat invited a whole lot of people in the sassy Saltz restaurant in Gulshan 2. I was delighted to meet a lot of wonderful people like Nazim Farhan Chowdhury, Kamal Quadir, Andrew Morris, Ahmede Hussain, Shafi and Lopa Tasneem to name a few. And the gorgeous Zafa and her open-hearted husband were the perfect hosts. The sea-food snacks were out-of-ordinary. I didn't ask but I think we had caviars too.

The discussion did not go beyond getting to know each other and explaining some people about blogs. Three hours are not enough! We heard that Drishtipat Bangladesh chapter will be opened soon.

I am using dialup internet now. It seems I am getting about 56k now. This is about 20 times less than what I get in Berlin. But I am glad because only last year I could not get more than 36k via modem.

Babar and Babri Masjid

Muslim Emperor Babar was not interested in merely building a Masjid in place of the ruins of the birthplace of the Hindu Gods Ram and Lakhsman. "He was interested in respecting a place of any worship" - says Dilip D'Souza.

He asks "if this explanation of a 500 year-old event is any less believable than the explanation that says a barbaric Babar tore down a temple? Is it more believable?"

It is for all of you to decide.

December 18, 2006

Remembering genocide and celebrating victory day

Some days are very special for a nation. 16th December is one such day for Bangladesh. Drishtipat Blog remembers the independence of Bangladesh 35 years ago. Time magazine December 20, 1971 named it "the bloody birth of Bangladesh".

For those who do not know why it is called so, Mash of Or How I Learned to stop worrying blog shares the history of Bangladesh Liberation war and the Pakistani Armies atrocities:

"In 1971, Bangladesh, then called East Pakistan, was part of a geographical monstrosity created by the British in 1947. Pakistan, as created by the British, consisted of West Pakistan and East Pakistan, separated by the vast expanse of the Indian land mass in the middle. East and West Pakistan spoke different languages and were culturally distinct. East Pakistan accounted for the majority of Pakistan’s population, yet it was economically exploited and politically marginalized by West Pakistan. Bengalis, the people of East Pakistan, were also persecuted for speaking their native language and for being either Muslims who had converted from Hinduism or for being Hindus. Pakistan, translated as "The Land of the Pure", was intolerant of Bengalis because they were not ‘pure" Muslims."


On March 25, 1971, the Pakistani Army launched Operation Searchlight to "eliminate" the Awami League and its supporters in East Pakistan. The goal was to "crush" the will of the Bengalis.

Then Bangladesh suffered a genocide by Pakistani army which killed approx 3 million people, raped 40000 women, burned hundreds of villages, brutally murdered intellectuals. It was one of the worst genocides in the history of the world.

"Kill three million of them," said Pakistan President Yahya Khan , "and the rest will eat out of our hands."

The US government however supported Pakistan and on April 6, 1971 Archer Blood, a US diplomat based in Dhaka sent a telegram known as the "Blood Telegram". It was signed by 29 American government officials and strongly dissented from the American government policy toward Pakistan.

For his dissent from Richard Nixon’s and Henry Kissinger’s policy, Archer Blood was recalled to Washington. To millions of Bengalis Archer Blood remains a hero.

Millions of Bangladeshis took refuge in neighboring India. Quite contrary to the government policy some peace loving people of US created the forum "Americans for Bangladesh" and arranged a poetry recital program on 20th November 1971 in Saint George Church, New York. Among the poets who performed were Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovski, Ed Sanders etc. Ginsberg wrote and recited the famous poem "September on Jessore Road" which depicted the plights of the refugees.

1st of August 1971 in Madison Square Garden, New York. Some 40,000 people attended the "Concert for Bangladesh" arranged by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar to increase awareness for the Bangladesh's cause and to raise funds to help the refugees.

Bangladeshi freedom fighters resisted the Pakistani Army and India gave shelter to the refugees and helped the freedom fighters.

On December 16, 1971 the Pakistani army in Bangladesh formally surrendered. The world had witnessed a bloody birth of Bangladesh.

Drishtipat also remembers:

Our victory celebrations after 16th December were being overshadowed by grim discoveries of one after another killing field. Most destabilizing discovery was that of Rayer Bazaar. All of our national top doctors, professors, linguists, scientists were among the eviscerated dead bodies found here.

The Liberation war Museum keeps the archive of these periods accessible online.

Bangladesh celebrates this day with festivity. Back to Bangladesh posts some instances of how Bangladeshi flag is proudly portrayed by the people.

Ershad Ahmed has more pictures of the celebrations of the day in Bangladesh.

Angelmorn wants the Bangladeshis to be inspired by the martyres of the liberation war.

Farhan of Conversations with an optimist remembering the amazing contribution of normal citizens turning freedom fighters in the liberation war urges the Bangladeshi bloggers to raise their voices against all odds.

Truly the Bangladesh liberation war is a source of inspiration to many Bangladeshis.

December 16, 2006

100 dollar laptop

Today I first held in my hand the first manufactured prototype of the 100 dollar laptop promoted by the "One Laptop Per Child Project". It has ears like a robot which are actually wi-fi antennas. It looks more like a toy than a real PC and its very thin and light.

At the Global Voices Summit 2006

The Global Voices Online summit 2006 is being held in the Habitat Center in Delhi.

You can listen to the live webcast here or participate in the live chat. The internet connection is wavering but the conference is proceeding on with a lot of promise.

Ethan and Rebecca started with the background of Global Voices and the mission of the summit. Two years ago a small gathering of bloggers from around the world took place in a Harvard Law School classroom. From it emerged the Global Voices Manifesto.

Now the outreach session is taking place. Photos are coming up(if I can get the bandwith to upload).

December 14, 2006

On the way to Delhi

I'm attending the Global Voices Summit in Delhi! I am at a altitude of 10668 meter in an Airbus 330-300 of Lufthansa flying at 925km/h ground speed towards Delhi. The in flight monitor says the outside temperature is -50 degree and the plane is somewhere over Tehran. I am going to attend the Global Voice Summit 2006. Looking forward to meet many talented and award winning bloggers.

Its a nice thing to be able to use internet during a long flight. Only if you are in the economy class, your standard sized notebook monitor will not have the space to stand vertically. But you can manage this small problem. Too bad they will be discontinuing the service by the end of the year.

Hope to bring you details of the summit pretty soon.

December 13, 2006

Today's Links

* Pressure piles on Norway to cut GrameenPhone stake.

* Microcredit or Macrowelfare: The myth of Grameen.

* Blogging towards democracy: From China to Iran, web diarists are challenging censors.

* Antisemitism at German Schools: Insults against Jews on the rise.

* English tough? Try Globish.

* Made in Bangladesh, for better or worse.

Fighting terrorism with microcredit

2006 Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus says guns are not the way to fight terrorism. In his view terrorism will prevail until the world addresses its root causes, like poverty and human rights. If poverty is alleviated peace will prevail in humans.

Egyptian writer Dr. Alaa Al Aswany says that the recent fanaticism in Islam is not due to a clash of civilization but poverty.

Fanaticism in Egypt starts in poor areas, because the poor are desperate. The current regime here is dealing with them in an inhuman way, arresting and torturing them. Religion is being used as a cover for social unrest, a way to empower these people who are not empowered.

Here are some of the links of Dr. Yunus's interviews:

* PBS News hour: Video, Script.

* The Daily Show: Video

* The People Speak: Video

* The Charlie Rose Show: Video.

And there is even a music video tribute to Yunus. The CD is for sale to raise fund for eye hospitals in Bangladesh. Cool!

December 12, 2006

Blogging feat

Mezba of a bengali in TO has won the Brass Crescent Award -best post for this article - "Better Than A Thousand Months". Congrats to him.

Failed States Index 2006

The fund for peace published the failed states index for 2006. Bangladesh ranks 19th, Pakistan 9th and India 93rd. Bangladesh improved 2 points from last year's index.

December 11, 2006

Today's Links

* In defense of religion!

* GrameenPhone: a solution to rural connectivity

* Finding Your Inner BLOG - The blog help desk

* Who killed Litvinenko?

* Workers in Bangladesh being "exploited" by UK firms - charity study

Apocalypse now?

Bangladesh politics has been taken down to the gutters once again. Another four good advisers bites the dust not getting the environment to be impartial and work for a change. Asif Saleh writes in the Daily Star how the good guys in Bangladesh politics are being beaten (literally) by the bad guys.

Poet Humayun Azad said in a poem "And Everything Will Be in the Custody of the Damned". That is exactly what is happening in Bangladesh.

If the general people of Bangladesh do not take side with the good guys irrespective of the parties or belief they represent, soon we will face apocalypse, the rotting of Bangladesh. And we don't want that to happen. Don't we?

Social Problem

Malaysia is having social problems with good looking Bangladeshi male students.

The country's home affairs minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said that the Bangladeshi men looked like Indian movie stars and had been known to hassle women - both single and married (BBC).

I don't think he is telling 100% truth as I have heard that Malaysian women crave for good looks and they would like to be hassled.

(Via Yawar)

December 10, 2006

Army in Bangladesh

picture courtesy of the Daily StarI am watching pictures of tanks rolling in Dhaka. The President and Chief Adviser (CA) Iajuddin Ahmed has decided to deploy the army under civilian administration to keep the law and order in the country. But the unilateral decision has sparked rage among his advisers.

He explained in a televised speech a couple of hours ago that he wants to take a tough stand against the political protests. The citizens will probably not react much as the protests were disrupting normal lives and hampering the economy. However some fear that this is a move to create a ground to hold elections if the opposition wants to boycott the election.

The opposition Sheikh Hasina said in her reaction that she expects that the army will do things right and not let certain quarter use them for their own mission. She warned the army not to become controversial. The use of army in policing of civilians is not the right tool. The human rights abuse of RAB, the elite police of Bangladesh containing of armed forces personals is a burning issue.

Social Business: The next economic phenomenon?

Dr. Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank have received the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize valued at 10m Swedish kronor ($1.35m, £730,000) at a ceremony in the Norwegian capital Oslo today. The event was televised live in many Bangladeshi TV channels. Yunus has indeed become a pride for Bangladesh.

There was an interesting thing in his speech. He mentioned a new term "social business" and according to him:

"In future, Grameen will bring a new concept of business, which is social business. Today’s concept of business is to make profit, but this is a narrow interpretation of business. Human beings are not only for making money, they are also for changing lives of other people. Doing good to the people is as enjoyable as making profit.

Social business will be a new kind of business introduced in the market place with the objective of making a difference in the world. Investors in the social business could get back their investment, but will not take any dividend from the company. Profit would be ploughed back into the company to expand its outreach and improve the quality of its product or service. A social business will be a non-loss, non-dividend company.

Once social business is recognized in law, many existing companies will come forward to create social businesses in addition to their foundation activities. Many activists from the non-profit sector will also find this an attractive option. Unlike the non-profit sector where one needs to collect donations to keep activities going, a social business will be self-sustaining and create surplus for expansion since it is a non-loss enterprise."

Connie Bruck wrote in the New Yorker that Yunus's idea of microcredit as self sustaining social entrepreneurship has attracted many high tech entrepreneurs who would like to utilize their donations for a long lasting initiative.

I think soon we will find this term 'social business' everywhere because it provides an win-win situation for the entrepreneurs and the aid recipients and the underlying mission is to create a positive change in the society.

December 09, 2006

Costly Mistake

"How could you miss the flight?" asked the British Airways counter employee. I was asking that to myself for quite sometime as I could only arrive after five minute of the check in desk closing. It was a terrible miscalculation as it took more than 2.5 hours to reach Heathrow from the North-Eastern corner of London. I should have abandoned my journey in London tube midway and called a taxi instead as I could see it coming. Or I could have done the online check-in before I leave for the Airport. Above all I should have aimed to be there at least one and a half hours earlier with another half an hour in hand for uncertainty of public transport. I could only blame myself for being so slow.

I requested her to help me get to the plane which was due for departure after 20 minutes. She said nothing can be done at this point and sent me towards the ticket sales desk. They said I can take the next flight if I pay four times of the value of my return ticket. Tensed events followed after that. I went back to the city to get some advice and booked another reasonable flight online. Then came back to Heathrow to take the National Express bus to Stansted Airport. Had to wait whole night for the early morning flight to Berlin.

Some mistakes are so costly.

December 08, 2006

In London

I am in London for a short visit.

Had some wonderful time meeting lot of people including bloggers. The evening with Drishtipat London chapter in Kolapata restaurant was a memorable one. I cherished the presence of Asif Bhai, Faisal Bhai, Ahsan, Zubaer, Sohani, Farhad Bhai etc. A long adda with one of the best Bangla blogger was the highlight of my today's proceedings.

I have walked through Brick Lane and had my dinner in a Brick Lane Restaurant.

Pictures coming up soon.

December 03, 2006

From the Bangladesi Blogs

Politics: Blogs are said to be the mirror of a society. The recent political uncertainty in Bangladesh is troubling the citizens and taking much space in the blogosphere.

The nation is divided in two streams of political ideologies and one cannot stand another. Naeem Mohaiemen discusses Bangladesh politics and warns about a third force cashing on the rivalry of the major political parties.

ShahidulNews comments on the recent incident of intervention of the chief justice of the supreme court to prevent a judicial ruling going against a political party. This shows politicization of judiciary which is a bad sign for the country.

The much uttered words of politics are being humored and dissected by the bloggers. Crosses and acrosses mocks the sense of 'neutrality' in politics. ElectricBlues slams the violent politics of 'demand'. 'Fake voters' is another much debated issue and Journal of a Disturbed Mind proposes two solutions to tackle it.

The Nobel Laurate Dr. Muhammad Yunus's solution to the crisis is brewing much debate at Drishtipat blog.

According to Change Bangladesh the voters are facing a dilemma who will they vote for in the coming election. Some are not sure whether the election will take place.

Andrew Morris of Morris the pen caught up with one freedom fighter of Bangladesh, who is disgusted by the way the country's politics is going and commented "this is not the Bangladesh I fought for".

Meanwhile the election campaign has started and Shahidul Alam of ShahidulNews has posted some photos of the election campaign in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Talk posts a rare picture of Bangladesh Police helping a blind woman. The police has earned a bad name as they are used for political repression by the ruling parties.

Take Back Bangladesh is an effort initiated by some of the bloggers. One of the main organizers Nazim Farhan Chowdhury of Conversations with an optimist says in an interview how Bangladesh can be saved from the crisis. Its first initiative attracted almost 13000 people.

Photography: Ershad Ahmed posts in his photoblog some dazzling glimpses of Dhaka by night.

Diaspora: After residing 30 years abroad Ulysses of Back to Bangladesh is trying to become a Bangladeshi again.

Food: Shafiur of imperfect | world | 2006 feats Bhapa peetha, a dumpling cake delicacy of Bangladesh available during the winter.

IT: Bangladeshi developer Hasin Hyder of The Storyteller blog has written a book titled 'Wordpress complete', which is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to set up, customize, and market blog using WordPress. Read an interview with him regarding the book.

Russell writes in his cyber journal about a gathering of IRC chatters in Dhaka. IRC chatting has long been a craze among the net savvy young generation of Bangladesh.

Health: Jyotirmoy Banik of Share The Magic depicts a few unwanted incidents in the health sector in Bangladesh pointing a decline in the number of doctors practicing ethics and integrity.

(Cross-posted in the Global Voices Online)

December 02, 2006

Its a start!

Take Back Bangladesh was launched yesterday thanks to the organization power of Nazim Farhan Chowdhury and others. He reports:

"By some estimates about 13,000 people turned up (we had expected 500 or so) as did many of the last Caretaker Government Advisers, celebs and “civil” society leaders.

Even if our message got through to a small portion of the crowd I think we’ve made a start. It is now up to us to take this spark and light a fire.

More pictures at Take Back Bangladesh.

But I am appalled with almost no press coverage of the event.

December 01, 2006

Google video of the day

History of Bangladesh Liberation War 1947-1971

(Via Salam Dhaka)

Ekushey TV is broadcasting again

After a long struggle Bangladesh's first private television station, ETV (Ekushey TV) is reopening their broadcasting from today. In an advertisement in today's Bengali daily Prothom Alo they have notified this. There is a press briefing scheduled today, which will disclose further information. Those who are Bangladesh can watch ETV in these frequencies:

Satellite PAS - 10 , C- Band , Fequency 3716.5 MHz , Polarization H , FEC 2/3 , Symbol rate 4.600 MS/S

Too bad I am not getting the beam here.

(Via Darklord)