Page 1

Los Crudos vs Hefazat 6

Cardiovascular Diseases in Bangladesh 18


vol 1 Issu e 19

Mark Sutton 27


CONTENTS 2 This Week in Pictures 4 Bottled Up 5 Whose Line Is It Anyway

The golden milestone

10 Post-Riposte

A Weekly Pro ducti o n o f

11 Top 10


Vo lume 1, Issu e 1 9 Au gu st 30, 2 0 13

Indie bands

12 Big Mouth Strikes Again

Editor Zafar Sobhan Magazine Editor Faruq Hasan

Juvenile law

Who is your daddy now?

13 Photo Story 6 pick of the week Los Crudos vs Hefazat

St Martin’s Island

17 Everyday Economist

Weekend Tribune Team Sumaiya Shams Faisal Mahmud Sheikh Mohammed Irfan Yusuf Banna Fuad M Hossain Joseph Allchin Adil Sakhawat Shah Nahian Phil Humphreys

Love your country, love your money

20 6° of Connotations

Animal farm

21 Stranger in a Strange Land

Manners and etiquettes

22 Tough Love 23 WT | Leisure

Art Direction/Photography Syed Latif Hossain

24 Day in the Life of

Cartoon Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy

25 The Way Dhaka Was

Contributors M Sophia Newman Naheed Kamal Souvik Aswad Nilufer Ahmed Bassema Karaki Dina Sobhan Sabidin Ibrahim Ibtisam Ahmed Nasia Chowdhury Design Mohammad Mahbub Alam Production Masum Billah Advertising Shahidan Khurshed Circulation Wahid Murad Web: Cover Photography A basket seller by Syed Zakir Hossain Send us your feedback at

An Imam

High Court

26 Culture Vulture 18 FEATURE Cardiovascular Diseases in Bangladesh

27 Obituary Mark Sutton

28 Last Word


Salute the flag and your bank balance an we profit on patriotism? Our everyday economist thinks so. Most people categorise patriotism in the realm of the irrational, something that we feel, and not really act upon. There are others though, who believe national pride and national economic growth can go along hand in hand. In our column this week, we explain how loving your country can actually correlate with profits, growth and prosperity. Read and tell us what you think.

Readers are leaders

BPL Match Fixing



DouBLe hoMiciDe in Dhaka 18

itna haor 24


vo L 1 issu e 1 8

Elsewhere, Bassema Karaki laments our despicable manners, Shah Nahian stalks an Imam for a day, Dina Sobhan offers her counsel on love, life and everything in between, while Nilufer Ahmed takes an afternoon off to visit the Dhaka Zoo where the natives are restless. Should be another entertaining weekend. n

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Indian policemen escort the juvenile accused in the December 2012 gang-rape of a student, from a police vehicle outside the juvenile court in New Delhi on August 19 AFP/Manan Vatsyayana

The crowd cheers as Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe addresses during Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 12 REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Lebanese citizens light candles during a vigil against the alleged chemical weapons attack on the suburbs of Damascus, in front the United Nations headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 21  AP/Hussein Malla

Syrian refugees wait for food aid at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, on August 21 AP/Hadi Mizban

Lebanese army soldiers stand near damaged buildings caused by the two explosions outside two mosques in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, August 23. Twin explosions outside two mosques killed at least 27 people and wounded hundreds in apparently coordinated attacks in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Friday, a senior health official and witnesses said  REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir




District administration demolishing illegal establishments in city’s Wari area on August 22 Nashirul Islam/Dhaka Tribune

Members of CID collecting human limbs found at Matuail dumping station on August 23 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Tidal surge at Kuakata leaves the coastal bank ravaged

Dhaka Tribune

DB Police arrested suspected terrorists from different areas of the city on August 25  Nashirul Islam/Dhaka Tribune

US Ambassador speaking at a SAARC Regional Judicial Conference on August 26 Nashirul Islam/Dhaka Tribune

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letters to the editor

Apologies Dear Readers, Due to a serious lapse on the part of one of our journalists, we inadvertantly printed an article (Beshto!) in last week's issue that had already appeared in a separate publication earlier this year. We sincerely apologise to all our readers for this serious error. Rest assured, we are already taking action against the concerned journalist. We hope that you continue reading the Weekend Tribune with full confidence in our integrity. n Editor Weekend Tribune

Let it go While the piece on match fixing during the BPL earlier this year was well-written and well-endowed with information, I think too much has already been said on this matter. Let’s

move on to something else, shall we? Sheiva Mendes Dhaka

Take a look around Are you guys in love with our politicians, or something? Why are you so fixated on them? I think you have published cartoons on their quotes in all your issues so far. They are not the only interesting bunch in this country, you know. And what is that green, distorted thing that

keeps mumbling questions? It’s UGLY! Seriously people, get it together; I still believe you can do much better. Ashik Khandakar Baradhara DOHS, Dhaka

Amazing photos! I, for one, love the photo stories that you print every week. They’re different, they have meanings and they are so good to look at! I especially like the story on Eid around the world – so

beautiful! Keep it up guys! Sabiha Jahan Dhanmondi, Dhaka

Boyati’s demise Reading this week’s obituary was rather disheartening. I remember listening to Boyati’s songs and watching him on TV as I grew up. Though I knew who he was I was unaware of the fact that he had such an important contributor in developing our country’s folk music.

Thank you for allowing me to learn about him and his achievements! Sabah Khondoker Baridhara, Dhaka

Itna Haor I was never aware of a place called “Itna Haor.” The piece was informative however simultaneously I feel that there could have been more details. Moreover the pictures could have been better in my opinion because all I saw

was water bodies and also they look somewhat the same. Tanzima Noorie Banani, Dhaka

Send us your feedback at:




The golden milestone

Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune

“It was impossible to cross the native varieties of jute by conventional method, but now we can develop a new variety that will yield more and will also be disease-free.” Dr Samiul Haque, programme manager for applied research division

“The government was trying to expand the usage of jute in the country and had already formulated the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010. If the act was implemented properly, the country would require additional 1.5 million bales of jute.” Dr Md Kamal Uddin, director general, Bangladesh Jute Research Institute

“Use of jute products by the common people has significantly decreased during the last few years. If the innovation could be used properly, it could help boost the local jute market, which ultimately helps to improve the market situation and can support the government by earning revenue, if imported.” Faizul Islam Mia, jute product seller at Mohammadpur Krishi Market

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M Sophia Newman is an American writer living in Dhaka. She blogs at www.

Modernity’s discontents

Photos: Courtesy

Pilsen, Chicago

M Sophia Newman writes on how Latino hardcore punk rock is – and isn’t – like Islamic fundamentalism


alf the crowd in the music hall couldn’t understand the Spanish words, but it didn’t matter. Everyone could hear the anger in the song and every single person – every light, brown and pinkish-white sweaty face – yelled along. Nothing is like Latino hardcore punk rock, and nobody ever did it like Los Crudos did. The first hartal called by Hefazate-Islam this year wasn’t so much a crowd as a sea of people. They began to gather just after the first prayers of the day and by six in the morning men in white prayer caps filled the streets. This protest drew two million men and boys from all over Bangladesh. Nothing about the large size of the crowd diffused the intensity of the message. Most of the protesters were non-violent, but the day would be filled with massive noise in favour of starkly arch-conservative goals. Their explicit demands didn’t mention it, but the day felt like a response to the war crimes tribunal that indicted and convicted several of


Bangladesh’s religious hardliners. The crowd surging through every entrance to the city had clearly come to make a strong statement in favour of their spiritual perspective. Los Crudos weren’t the only band who ever made Latino hardcore punk rock. They were, however, the first and quite likely the best. The music itself was rough – so rough, in fact, that the Bangali ear might not hear it as music at all. The songs were heavy and fast, with aggressive, belted vocals: a standard hardcore sound. The band never really intended to push sonic boundaries, though. Rather, their brilliance rested on their social innovations, they were the first to perform in Chicago’s Latino neighbourhoods and to sing in their own language. Martin Sorrondeguy started Los Crudos in 1991 in Chicago’s workingclass southwest side, in the largest settlement of Latinos north of the US-Mexican border. At the time, the area had no local rock shows. To him, creating a cultural outlet amid the

bland concrete expanse was the entire point of having a band. As he explained in an interview with Vocalo, a Chicago radio programme: “I really felt that kids in this neighbourhood were being cheated.” In 1991, the short changing for working-class Latinos was about far more than opportunities to see live music. Many were disenfranchised by their immigrant status, which deprived them of legal means of education and employment. As both cause and effect, Latinos and immigrants were regarded as nearly synonymous with criminals in popular American consciousness. Sorrondeguy organised the band to resist this injustice too and told Vocalo: “It was the first time we got together with kids who were los reciens llegados [recently arrived immigrants].” He also said: “Let’s play music together. I’m not going to treat you like you’re a wetback, or you’re a border brother or whatever …” It was the first time that bands were formed where half the band didn’t have immigration papers and the other half did.

It wallops you, this song. The kick drum springs to life behind the swiftly jangling guitar and the snare begins to sprint alongside them both. The bass adds a steady thumping groove and the singer howls. Over the bridge, the guitar becomes a wall of feedback and the singer delivers poetic lyrics in a raw, urgent scream

7 Los Crudos’ fight was, in the end, about modern people gaining an equal stake in the modern world. Hefazat, on the other hand, appears to fearfully reject the modern era altogether

Latinos had minimal recognised economical and cultural power and even little political representation. Aware that being Latino often involved a sense of being inferior and invisible, Sorrondeguy also intended to deliver a message he felt young people needed to hear: “We’re not ashamed of being Latinos. I’m not ashamed of our history, of where we live, of all this. It’s like, hold your head up, kid! It’s like, don’t be ashamed.” The war crimes tribunal is the impetus for many recent hartals. This is not news, nor is the Islamist protesters’ allegation that trials have been unfair, nor the Shahbagh counter-argument that the Jamaat leaders sentenced to long-term imprisonment are getting off too light, nor the widespread fury that has sometimes ended in violent deaths. It is not news that the nation has given incomplete attention to some details of jurisprudence, or that the unrest has more often taken shape around the identities of protesters. It is not news, in other words, that there is one big divide – Islamists on one side, secularists on the other – with strong emotions all around. The Hefazat movement unveils a broader disagreement; they set aside the battle over war crimes to push for an entire way of life. The group’s list of 13 demands – delivered to the government at their April 5 rally in Dhaka – combines sweeping rejections of modernity. “Ban all

foreign culture, scrap women policy and education policy,” with demands for religion to permeate all realms of life. “Make Islamic education mandatory, reinstate ‘absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah’ in the Constitution.” The demands represent an entrenchment of the rift in Bangladeshi society. The sense of conflict is acute. Fully nine of Hefazat’s 13 demands involve just one goal, to defend their interpretation of Islam from attack. These demands range from removal of blocks to their way of life – “lift restrictions on mosques” – to punishing the people who disagree with them – “declare Ahmadiyyas non-Muslim,” “punish the ‘atheist’ leaders of Shahbagh.” Taken together, the demands are so absolute that they violate principles of the Constitution. Indeed, even a casual viewing of the rally on April 5 gave the impression that the crowd was worried over its existential identity. “Save Islam, Save Islam,” one placard read. “STOP GENOCIDE,” someone wrote in English on the sidewalk – presumably indicating genocide of the Muslims themselves. The Islamists’ concern was – and is – a worry about their own elimination.


ewarded for their accessibility, Los Crudos quickly became a focal point for the Chicago punk rock scene. Eventually, the band toured the Western hemisphere from

neighbouring Mexico to Sorrondeguy’s native Uruguay. It was a hemisphere rippling with bleak frustration. In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) altered trade rules between Canada, the US and Mexico, often to the detriment of the poorer classes. Deindustrialisation depressed the American working class; changes in corn prices impoverished many people in rural Mexico. Trade between the three nations soared, but so did public anger. Seeds of resistance began to sprout in the most radical corners of the continent, among the Zapatistas, for instance, the southern Mexican Indians who took up arms when the free trade policy threatened to force revisions of laws protecting their traditional lands. To people across the continent, this resistance was attractive on principle: they disliked being unrepresented in the decisions altering their lives. In Chicago, Los Crudos found the Zapatista movement attractive too. The Zapatista movement presented itself through a mix of poetic philosophy, anti-capitalist manifestos, big-hearted slogans “For everyone everything, for us nothing” and noisy rock music. But more importantly, it was similar to their struggles in the US: Mexican immigrants pushed off their land by poverty often landed in American cities. Their US-raised children were caught between two worlds – acutely aware of the recently lost homeland

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Rigid rejection of all dissent is a move for people who feel cornered, not confident. Although Hefazat does not describe its fear outright, the desperation for such strong protection might imply a deeply felt fragility



but familiar only with the new country that unfairly presumed them to be delinquents. Much like the Zapatistas, Los Crudos rejected the economic exploitation that afflicted their community, demanded a return to self-determination and struggled with the identity crisis the intrusive changes had provoked. The renowned religious scholar Karen Armstrong took on the topic of Islamic fundamentalism in her “The Battle for God” (2000) and again in 2007’s “Islam: A Short History.” She says that it, too, is about the colonisers resisting colonisation. She calls fundamentalism “an embattled faith [that] sees itself fighting for survival in a hostile world.” There is nothing about Islam that is especially prone to fanaticism, she asserts. Rather, the current era has bred fundamentalist thought worldwide as a response to a combination of swift economic changes, particularly those that aim to extract money from the developing world at the expense of local people, and cultural changes, particularly those that promote, or are promoted by, such economic development. Held to confusing and intrusive cultural standards and asked to

change far more swiftly than the Western world ever did, many people in the developing world regard modernisation as more destructive than helpful. Fundamentalist’s hardedged purity offers a way to address modernity’s destructive inequalities and shame-inducing degradations. The philosophy offers an answer to uncertainty by insisting it is feasible to return to some moment in the past. It soothes disgust and anger by claiming to simplify a painfully complex world, resists exploitation, assures followers of their own rightness and rejects the criticisms of faith and culture implicit within modernity’s difficult transitions. Hefazat’s protest of two million implies many Bangladeshis find fundamentalism compelling. There is massive, high-speed economic development here. Climate change is degrading farmland and making weather chaotic, undermining traditional lifestyles while making hunger unavoidable for the poor. The country is urbanising rapidly; Dhaka slums swell with new residents every day. The few stable jobs for the urban poor are in factories, where hiring practices favour women – disenfranchising impoverished men,

but not providing decent labour conditions or living wages to the women. In these conditions, a hardline religious stance might feel like a solid foundation in the great chaos of modernisation. In some ways, Los Crudos and Hefazat are the same. Both groups are openly angry counterculture movements of modernity’s discontents. Both react to economic exploitation and unwanted transformations. Both aim to make cohesive groups of people saddled with self-perceived degraded identities. Both wanted to appeal to common people, not the elite, through emotional means, not purely intellectual ones. But in many important ways, they are very different. The local Latino hardcore movement in Chicago was about melding together vastly different ideas – burgeoning political ideologies, Latino traditions and hardcore punk music – to create something entirely new. It suggested pride in one’s origins, but not a return to the past. It also suggested that reinforcing one’s identity hinged on a collective airing of grievances and that violence could be eliminated by permitting this honest, emotive, empathetic togetherness. “To be

9 Like all punk rock, the music delighted in loud rudeness for its own sake. But above all, the screams were about the colonised resisting colonisation: The violence is a reaction that demonstrates the horrors of society. We are not the cause of misery, we are its products. And to fight and to win we must be effective

effective” meant to find antidotes to painful isolation in free expression – combined with resistance to abuses from the powerful. Fundamentalist thought, on the other hand, expresses pride in one’s origins through a rigid conformity with those origins. The mission is not to pass through uncertainty by creating something never before seen, but rather to resist annihilation by clinging to a more prosperous, uncomplicated past. It doesn’t begin with an airing of emotional woes, but rather with the demands (the elimination of enemies, for example) that seek to ensure woes need never be examined directly. It seeks to reinforce elite power by asking the common people to enshrine men as superior to women, for instance, and to eliminate the rights of religious minorities. Los Crudos differs from Hefajat

in one more way: the band is part of the past. They broke up in 1998. The world they sang about disappeared soon after. The NAFTA still stands, and Mexico has not yet escaped poverty. But a plan for the Free Trade Area of the Americas – a free trade agreement designed by Washington to cover the entire Western hemisphere – died in 2006 after vigorous opposition from activists and South American presidents. Over time, the public voted in Lula in Brazil, Kirchner in Argentina, Morales in Bolivia, Chavez in Venezuela and Mujica in Uruguay – all left-wing head of states who promised greater equality. Meanwhile, the Zapatistas go on, having won a partial victory in Mexican Congress in 2001. Latinos are also no longer so far outside the cultural or political mainstream in America. Stars like Shakira (a Colombian singer famous,

in part, for her frequent NGO work) sing in Spanish on worldwide hits. Latin Americans have steadily gained political clout as an American voting bloc. Although repressive policies aren’t gone, Latinos have succeeded in pushing through the DREAM Act, a law to help young immigrants gain citizenship. The bleakness in Los Crudos’ music is less vital now. Their cutting-edge struggles soon became mainstream political issues. Latino identity became a concern for many more Americans than ever heard the music of Los Crudos. The questions the band posed have been answered and the answers affirmed their self-determination, power and pride. The world remains imperfect, but it is no longer quite so bleak. The future of Bangladesh is unknown, of course. Perhaps

modernity will run aground here in ways we cannot yet predict. Perhaps it will be bleaker than the last two decades have been in Latin America. But from a hemisphere and 20 years away, a band from Chicago suggests an alternative to the grim fear of Bangladesh’s Islamic fundamentalists: the wallop of hardcore punk rock, with the solace of angry, open-hearted, free-thinking screams. n

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Juvenile Law

Is a change necessary? It is high time


Faisal Mahmud

efining juvenile delinquency has always been an arguable issue among criminologists. Some say it covers all public wrongs committed by children or adolescents between the age of 12 and 20; some say it is a variety of anti-social behaviour of a child and is defined somewhat differently by different societies. Although there are some conflicts as to how old a person has to be in order to be considered an adult, according to the amended Children Act 1974, a child is a person under the age of 18. This act is the major law concerning children in Bangladesh, but it deals both with children in need of protection/care as well as children in conflict with the law. Laws such as the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act contain provisions regarding children who committed crime, but no separate juvenile law exists. At present, there are three specialised juvenile courts in the country, with the idea of a fourth one in the pipeline. However, most of the children are dealt with through the regular criminal courts, where they are often tried jointly with adults and have no legal representation. Under this context, a systematic, separate and strict juvenile justice system may reduce the severity of juvenile delinquencies in Bangladesh. n

The laws are fine Joseph Allchin


angladesh is signatory to the UN convention on the rights of the child (1989). If courts were to treat Oishee Rahman as an adult because of the gravitas of her alleged crimes, then it would be in breach of this major international treaty. Bangladesh should be proud to have ratified this treaty and should be looking to make its impact more felt, not less. We should ask ourselves whether greater weight of punishment will help our youth and by extension the future of our society, or whether we want to stick to our core determinations and the virtues of human rights as an ideal that we work towards. To undermine them sets a bad precedence towards our ability to meet the far larger challenge of assuring basic human rights to all Bangladeshi children. A retrospective law change is not justice served, it is justice broken. n

Cartoons: Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune


TOP 10


Indie Bands

Avant-garde rock

In case you’re looking for a change of taste in your music, Shah Nahian is here to give you names of the best and most popular indie musicians in recent times. The list was compiled based on a poll run on social media




Angus and Julia stone is an Australian brother and sister duo. They are responsible for making very soothing and mellow music, which is easy to get into and suitable for almost every mood.

The sound of Grizzly Bear includes psychedelic as well as folk elements. The combination of the dominating vocal harmonies along with the fusion of electronic and traditional instruments makes the music very catchy and easy to get into.

Though the band uses pretty standard instruments, what makes them so memorable is creating some of the most unusual sounds in recent music history. Checking out music by Sigur Ros is essential for music enthusiasts.

Angus and Julia Stone


Florence + The Machine

Florence + The Machine’s sound is a combination of various genres. They tend to be so unique that from the first song from the album to the very last is a new experience.


Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys is a band that barely needs any introduction. With the feel of the old school rock n’ roll bands incorporated with modern indie rock, their music is catchy and memorable in all the right ways.

Grizzly Bear


Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse being one of the biggest names in the indie music scene, their sound tends to be extremely diverse and a must check, especially for the indie fans.


The Shins

When it comes to folk indie, no one does it like The Shins. With beautiful poetry for lyrics and the melodious hooks, it’s very easy to get into their music and difficult not to go back to their albums time and time again.

Sigur Ros


Jeff Buckley

Technically, Jeff Buckley is not proper indie to many fans of the genre, but it’s still evident how his music and style influences the younger indie artistes of today. Though Jeff Buckley was taken away from this world much too early, he is left immortal by his one and only album, “Grace.”


The National

It takes a little while to properly get into The National’s music, as their lyrics tend to sound a little eccentric to most listeners. However, once you properly get acquainted with the band, you will find their music is worthy of listening on repeat for days.

1 Bon Iver

The band was founded by singer/songwriter Justin Vernon. Other members of the band include Michael Noyce, Sean Carey, and Matthew McCaughan. The band has a very mellow soothing tone to their music. The lyrics are often depressing, but overall their music is something just about anyone can get into. There is no going wrong when it comes to Bon Iver. n

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Big Mouth strikes again

Naheed Kamal

Who is your daddy now? Naheed Kamal is an irreverent and irreligious feminist. An old soul of indeterminate age, with one too many opinions and a very loud voice (for a little person), she laughs a lot, mostly at herself. She lives in Dhaka, against her best judgement. Mostly, Ms Kamal rants, a lot!

Blame has been placed on the birth control pill and synthetic female hormones in the water feminising men, and something to do with plastics, changing male sexual organs in fish, and humans, for emasculating men!

Why men aren’t really men anymore and how feminists are to blame


omeone I know once said if somebody was unable to express their feelings, the least they could do is shut up about it. But a little ridicule never hurt anyone, did it? You could have knocked me off my park bench when I discovered how my dislike for Disney triggered so many responses. Well, what can a woman do but feel smug, finally those parents are taking note … but no, it was the adolescents incensed by my adult criticism, much like the One Direction fans (Directioners?) taking to Twitter to threaten Rolling Stones for portraying their beloved boys as slags. So apologies children, because that was meant for your parents and not intended to upset you. Of course, YOU care, which is why you put pencil to paper or fingers on keyboard and sent off that rather confusing missive. Now, to more age-appropriate (read: adult) topics. The Everyday Sexism project is an amazing website started by British feminist writer Laura Bates last year. It documents “everyday examples of sexism as reported by contributors around the world.” Bates says: “It aims to take a step towards gender equality, by proving wrong those who tell women that they can’t complain because we are equal.” She found it increasingly difficult to talk about sexism, equality and women’s rights in modern society, where perceptions about gender equality are far-fetched and the modern, liberal world is uncomfortable about any suggestions of sexism. Any woman or man who says they are unhappy about the way in which women are portrayed and perceived is labelled with terms intended as insults, i.e Feminist! But everyday sexism is alive and kicking. In 2011, a study conducted by Pennsylvania State University and Germany’s Philipps University found how deeply ingrained sexism is in us. It was not news to women, but certainly an eye opener. Sexism persists, in subtle ways, and in what seems to be complimentary but what the researchers call “benevolent sexism.”


It is such behaviour that is harmful and has an insidious effect on women, especially in the workplace. As the study’s co-author Julia Becker says: “The downside of benevolent sexism is, women are perceived as weak and incompetent and not suitable for powerful positions.” It is the insanely contradictory Liz Jones who actually explains it best: “The simple truth is, men who open doors are very selective in their helpfulness. They are only helpful in public when it will make them look good and smear them with wholesomeness.” It is disguised as chivalry but implies women to be weak. The researchers found sexism is very prevalent, but men don’t notice or recognise it, many often condoning such comments and actions as harmless. When women were made aware, however, they saw how it was negative. But the future is brighter. In March, the Huff Post published a story about students in Andover, the UK sparking a nationwide public debate about sexism. It made me so happy that I even danced a little victory dance to Kate Bush in my room. While it is hard to imagine sexism exists even in the midst of upscale schools such as Phillips Academy Andover, 16-year-old Junius Onome Williams, running for school president, realised it does. His query confronted realities of gender imbalances in leadership and why girls don’t think of themselves as leaders but boys do. Truth is, sexism exists all around us and we don’t often recognise or call it what it is. Worse, we pass it on to our children, often feeding them sexist stories in books (here we go again).


nother study stated a woman had more chances of becoming a member of a Fortune 500 board, US congress or senate, than of being the main character in a children’s book. Does it matter that children’s books are sexist? To me it means a crisis. The messages found in these books, even new stories, are ever so subtle, that when a children’s storybook writer

read the findings of the research only then she realised she’d been sticking to gender roles, placing mothers in kitchens and fathers in offices, and this was 2011.


he more men identify themselves as feminists, the greater the chances are of women of achieving equality. Without their participation, women will be left out in the cold, because men still wield control and power. In fact, feminism benefits men and women, while patriarchy causes untold harm to the male psyche through unspoken messages, and subtle messages, as we know, can affect us for years to come. Children are easily influenced as they absorb all kinds of messages from their surroundings, which shape them as adults. In the mainstream media, some men are crying wolf. They say the greatest crisis facing humankind today is the threat to masculinity, due to changing gender roles and feminism. Men are not men, are they being feminised, or are they just opting for extended boyhoods? Depending on who is talking, boys are failing to become men because of evil feminism’s emasculating impact, or because evil women (mothers) coddle them too much. Either way, it is women’s fault. This “masculinity debate” is, in fact, redundant. I am not being facetious because I am sympathetic to the plights of modern males. Falling testosterone levels, alpha versus beta male, metro sexuality and gender roles turning on its head are posing such a challenge for generic males everywhere in the privileged classes, it is a little sickening to watch. In “Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity,” author Gary Cross points the finger at video games. He says male players do not put away their (childish) toys because they do not grow up; instead, modern masculine maturity is focused on winning more powerful adrenaline rushes with each gain. Adult men obsessed with video

Tables are turned and women are accused of misandry whenever we speak of how violent and insensitive men are becoming, incapable of forming real relationships, and becoming more dependent on “virtual” connections than real ones games are in a state of arrested development, because they can’t see the difference between a toy and an adult pleasure, says Cross. The boyman is unable to see the difference between a “toy” and an “adult pleasure.” Women complain about modern men behaving like overgrown boys, and Cross just confirms this point. Will the male species emerge in a new form and shape, or fade away? I can almost see how traditional masculinity will die out, as big muscles and small emotional capabilities become incompatible with modern women’s needs. Natural selection (not survival of the fittest; get your facts right) could either weed out the “redundant” members of a species over a few generations and give us a mature, altruistic, less selfish breed of men, or wipe them out completely. Would that necessarily be a bad thing? n



Under the deep


Sharif Sarwar

The only coral island in Bangladesh, St Martin’s Island, at Bay of Bengal, became all the more famous after it opened up to tourism in 2004. It has become even more popular as five shipping liners run trips to the island daily. However, the beauty of the underwater and marine life still remains unseen and unexplored. Here is a feast of images from one of the most active underwater photographers in the country, Enjoy!

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A plant seen 15 to 35 feet under water in rainy season. They disappear with sea currents in other seasons

Sergeant Fish



Stripes of sand and soil under 3-4 feet of water

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Sharif Sarwar started his photographic career back in 1995 as a freelancer. There are many genres to Sharif Sarwar’s work, spanning from news photography to the underwater realm. His works have been published in both local and international publications, and he has won many awards, both home and abroad. Through his images, Sharif helps to spread the message of marine conservation. Sharif can be reached at:


Everyday Economist


Love your country, love your Money

P for patriotism, P for profits Souvik Aswad explains the benefits of thinking global, acting local


eshi ponno kine hon dhonno.” – all of us have heard this line at some point in our lives. What does it actually mean? Why and how would buying locally produced goods and services improve our lives? Are local products any better than foreign ones? And whose interest does it really serve when we go local? Let the everyday economist explain. Beyond all the political slogans, marketing taglines and intellectual jargon, buying locally produced goods not only makes economic sense, but is actually good for you and your household in the long run. Let’s break the problem of buying local products down into different stages.

Despite Indian Ambassador cars not turning out to be good in the beginning, India now produces NANOs and world class SUVs

Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune

It is true that all the money local manufacturers make will not be reinvested, but it is also true that the opportunity to invest is higher if we all buy locally. It’s a win-win for all of us What happens when you buy something? One: you satisfy your demand. Two: the producer of the item you bought receives some amount of money in return. Now, what does the producer do with this money? They can either use this money for meeting their own demands, or invest their profits to manufacture some other kind of products or services for all of us to buy. Let’s say the producer already has enough money to pay for their basic needs. The money they receive from us buyers will then be used to invest in producing something else. The more goods and services that are produced, the more we end up buying from the producers around us, the more money we pay in exchange and finally, the more money is invested. This is a cycle of economic progression, something that gets started when you simply make a local purchase at a shop near you. Not only do you invest in yourself, you invest in people who are your friends and neighbours. Another effect of this boom in local investment is the jobs created in the country. Employment increases because more people are needed to create and distribute the newly manufactured items. So, people enjoy greater opportunities to work. That Tk5

Souvik Aswad is an inquisitive observer who likes to fuse economic theories with human behaviour and watches the outcome with enthusiasm. Anyone who thinks he is writing nonsense is welcome to shout at

you spent on buying a pen somewhere in Dhaka was actually responsible for creating a job somewhere in Khulna, where the pen might have been made and transported from. What purchasing locally translates to is that your transaction leads to a chain reaction. If we buy products that are made in our own country, we are actually giving money to one of our fellow Bangladeshis. That money can be used for reinvesting in something else we need. Take Pragati, the lone automobile assembler in the country, as an example. Pragati assembles Mitsubishi Pajeros in Bangladesh. The money created through selling these homeassembled Pajeros can now enable Pragati to start producing motorcycles. This motorcycle business will then create more jobs and generate more investment. The cycle becomes bigger and bigger. But what if we bought foreign Pajeros? We would then be increasing the wealth of a foreign company, with

less chance of the money we spent being invested back in Bangladesh. Sure, that particular foreign company would hire locals, use local goods and services, and maybe reinvest some part of their profits back in this country in form of taxes and other investments. But the amount of money that would eventually get circulated within the local economy would be significantly less.


nvesting in local industries and products does not necessarily pay off immediately; sometimes it takes decades. Remember all those white toy-like Ambassador cars from India? They were the result of a few decades of long concentration in producing local automobiles. What has India gained other than the obvious knowhow of producing cars? The money needed to build motorcycles, trucks and buses. If you are sceptical about that, just count the number of India-made TATA buses and trucks you see in a minute

on a Bangladeshi highway. Need I mention the motorcycles we see in our country? Almost all of them are made in India. South Korea is another good example of how a country successfully leveraged patriotism to cash in on an economic windfall. The steel industry in South Korea was heavily protected in the late 20th century. Seoul quickly realised that investing in steel, which is the primary raw material for almost all industrial output, would be pivotal to national growth both in the short and long run. And so South Korea protected the industry from foreign competition. South Korea is now among the most developed countries in Asia. So, the next time you hear the famous slogan, give it some thought. You might have been missing something all along. n

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Cardiovascular Diseases in Bangladesh

Keep it pumping

Is heart disease an impending national crisis? Sheikh Mohammed Irfan finds out


Sheikh Mohammed Irfan is a pragmatist, bringing spotlight to the persistent problems in Bangladesh


Bangladeshis are constantly exposed to toxic chemicals, like arsenic, contaminating our food chain and water. WHO earlier described our situation as the worst mass poisoning in the history of the human population

t is now becoming increasingly common for Bangladeshi men in their early 40s and 50s to have a sudden stroke or heart attack, ultimately leading to a high mortality rate. But are such fatalities preventable? Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi cardiovascular scientist, has been conducting research on the issue in Cambridge University in England. Rajiv, who realised the importance of medical research on cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in Bangladesh after working with slum-dwellers, sheds light on the gravity of CVD currently by the average Bangladeshi. “When I came to Cambridge to receive formal training in research, it soon became clear to me that, in addition to our traditional health problems of infectious diseases like malaria, typhoid and diarrhoea, we now face a much greater health issue


in Bangladesh with the rising CVD. I noted an ICDDR,B report that showed non-infectious diseases (such as CVD) have increased by about 3,500% over the past three decades in Bangladesh, compared to the original WHO prediction of a 100% rise, highlighting the need of a major shift of focus for our future scientific work,” Rajiv explained. 3,500% increase of diseases like CVD in just 30 years? What could possibly cause such a sharp and rapid spike? Why has CVD become so common in Bangladesh? Rajiv has the answer: “In the last 30 years, the ‘classical’ risk factors (such as smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes) associated with the development of CVD have become dangerously high. Additionally, there may be other reasons unique to us that exponentially increase CVD incidence, such as dietary contaminants (arsenic

or cadmium in ground water and foods), climate change and rapid urbanisation, widespread malnutrition and potential hereditary factors – all of which require further research in relation to CVD.” In other words, not only does our behaviour affect our life expectancy, but so do factors not known before or thought relevant. Who would have guessed there was a positive correlation between population density and the incidence of heart disease? Or that climate change could lead to illness? But most importantly, who knew that our food chain may

be contaminated with toxins such as arsenic, starting from the water sources used in agriculture? Every time we munch on a plate full of delicious local rice, sip on some home-grown lentils, or bite into a juicy lychee or crunchy cucumber, we might be, unknowingly, causing harm to our hearts and blood vessels. This suspected “mass poisoning of the Bangladeshi population” (as was described by the WHO) is a shocking yet generally unrecognised fact, one that calls for immediate attention. The results of these increasing risk factors are evident throughout the

It is possible that the toxic exposures have important synergistic effects with each other and with other known risk factors (such as bad lipids and genetic factors) to increase our CVD risk

19 Most Bangladeshis are unaware of health risks due to CVD. For example, 65% of the BRAVE study patients reported that they were not aware of heart attack risk factors

Did you know? Coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability in Bangladesh


n The burden of CHD is increasing at a greater rate in South Asia than in any other region globally

Of all South Asian countries, Bangladesh has the highest rates of CVD and yet is one of the most neglected for vascular research

n The incidence of both CHD and stroke is higher among immigrant Bangladeshis living in England and Wales than every other immigrant group (including those from other South Asian origins) and much higher than in indigenous Western populations


country, but what documentation or research do we have to prove it? As Rajiv mentioned, while the scale of the problem is significant, there is a huge research gap in Bangladesh to tackle this rapidly increasing challenge. “I noted that during 1993 and 2003, while about 5,500 research papers on CVD were published in the US, a further 1,500 in the UK, and about 300 from our neighbouring India, there were only three peer-reviewed research papers from Bangladesh on the topic – an insignificant number compared to the massive heart disease burden here. That’s when I felt it was my responsibility to devote my scientific career towards identifying possible reasons of this increasing disease in Bangladesh,” he said. And so Rajiv began a large pioneering research study called the BRAVE (Bangladesh Risk of Acute Vascular Events) study. Working with colleagues at Cambridge back in 2010, he designed and established this extensive research study to advance our understanding of these diseases in our population, and to find out the likely public health remedies to prevent them. “I used a part of my own PhD fellowship money to start the pilot

phase of this collaborative study in Dhaka, which is now financially supported by Cambridge University. In Bangladesh, I am collaborating with leading scientists in the ICDDR,B and the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD),” Rajiv elaborated. In the past three years, about 3,000 heart attack cases and a similar number of healthy “controls” have been enrolled in the BRAVE study to analyse the risk factors mentioned earlier. This study should help us reliably understand the harmful roles of long-term exposure to arsenic (and other toxic metals) through food and water, tobacco consumption (including chewing tobacco as paan/ betel leaf and jarda), sub-optimal nutrition and genetic factors of CVD among Bangladeshis. It should also provide important clues on how to design preventive strategies locally. “Our project should be completed in the next two years, after which we will move to the second phase of intervention studies,” Rajiv said. Such efforts and research provide hope to Bangladeshis around the world, who are constantly at a higher risk than others to develop CVD. Rajiv encourages medical aspirants in



Bangladeshi to receive a Gates Cambridge scholarship in 2009 to complete a PhD in cardiovascular public health at Cambridge. He was a lead author in several important papers in the British Medical Journal, Circulation Journal of American Heart Association, the Neurology and the European Heart Journal. This year, he has won the prestigious Bill Gates Senior Award for outstanding contributions in global public health. Contact: r.chowdhury@

Dr Rajiv Chowdhury works as a senior cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Department of Public Health in Cambridge University and is engaged in research on the causes of emerging heart diseases among native and immigrant Bangladeshis. Originally hailing from Chittagong, Rajiv graduated in medicine from the University of Dhaka before completing his MPhil in epidemiology at Cambridge University as a Commonwealth scholar in 2007. He was also the first

Bangladesh to involve themselves in scientific research, shedding light on previously unknown facts and helping us discover new treatment and cures for emerging diseases. “Aspiring professionals should appreciate that medicine is not all about clinical practice. As doctors, it would be a good idea to go beyond the traditional treatment-only approach and devote some of our professional time towards clinical research to help complement our valuable day-to-day practice experience in advancing knowledge on local disease occurrence,” Rajiv suggested.

Hopefully, medical aspirants will take his advise seriously, and undertake more research initiatives that will help improve the medical practices in Bangladesh and help prevent lives of millions. The pioneering BRAVE study, in this respect,sets up a wonderful example of a Bangladeshiled initiative that aims to combine local and international expertise in tackling the excess cardiovascular risk Bangladeshis face. n

In a country of limited resources and limited specialty care (as well as poor health education of general people), we should allocate our health resources towards primary prevention, and train people to be more responsible about their own health by promoting healthy lifestyle and behavioural choices

Objectives of BRAVE study Assess the role of potential CVD risk factors (highly prevalent in Bangladeshis) that are yet to be characterised in detail

Estimate the impact of modifiable conventional vascular risk factors

Evaluate the important local lifestyle, socioeconomic and nutritional exposures on CVD risk, such as foods, cooking practices; and different income/ education groups

Collect reliable information on knowledge, perception and practice to better understand public health awareness of vascular disease in Bangladesh

Collect detailed information on the economic burden of CVD events in Bangladesh to better understand the health economic impact of vascular disease


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20 Nilufer Ahmed is a columnist and a profound thinker. She has travelled widely and gained unique exposure to varied cultures, societies and intellectual lives, trying to absorbing the best of the east and west

Animals, just like humans, can be a fastidious bunch. Pleasing them can actually be an arduous task

6o of connotations

Nilufer Ahmed

Animal farm

A day spent eavesdropping at the Dhaka zoo


m not the “zoo going” type however it doesn’t mean I am not an animal lover. Being slapped by a monkey while eating a banana in school and thrown on my back and scratched by a huge orang otan in Agra fort, I really prefer to stay away from zoos. On the other hand Safari Parks are a different story altogether. I love the wildlife and the freedom animals enjoy running around in the vast wilderness According to an English daily I read during Ramadan, our national zoo was being readied for the influx of Eid visitors. Hence I decided to pay a visit to see what the eid preparations were as well as kill time during the long fasting hours. The animals too seemed to be fasting during Ramadan specially the camels. The zebras and giraffes were in their enclosures sitting and staring listlessly at us humans. The cheetah, the fastest animal in the world, had no place to run and gazed on with dull eyes, akin to a prisoner sentenced to life in jail. They all seemed quite used to visitors, and looked at us tolerantly, albeit a little impatiently, to move on and finish off with whatever purpose we had for the visit. A little boy holding on to his father’s hand suddenly noticed a camel and shouted: “Hey dad look at that brown donkey, it’s so big.” To which, the father replies correcting his son: “That’s not a donkey, son. That’s a llama.” “No stupid, I am not a llama, I happen to be camel.” I was so surprised to hear the camel speak that my jaw dropped. Suddenly the camel spat on the man and I had to move away rather quickly to avoid getting hit. The man wiped his face with his handkerchief, too shocked to speak. Annoyed and upset, the man shouts out: “Don’t the zoo keepers teach these animals some manners? They are spitting at the visitors. I have to lodge a written complaint.” I suppressed a giggle and looked at the camel, who was looking at the zebra sitting across. The zebra asked: “Why in the world did you spit at that man?” The camel responded in angst: “That stupid man called me a llama. He doesn’t know the difference between a donkey, a horse, a camel and a llama. How dare he call me a llama? Camels are far more superior to llamas.” The hyena in the enclosure next to the zebras laughed. He asked: “How come?”. “Listen you silly Hyena! Camels have a hump where they can store a week’s food and water supply. When the zoo manager comes with our meals, little does he know I store some of the food, specially the chickpeas, in my hump.


You never know, when the next meal will be served. I hear there will be an improved diet including vitamins and supplements during Eid so that the visitors find us well fed and full of energy. Ha ha what shall we do with all that energy? There is no place to walk or run, even though this place they call the zoo stretches for miles. We are all in enclosures. Anyway , as I was saying we camels have to run for days without food in the desert, so we use the food and water from our store. Llamas don’t have humps. They are inferior creatures. Huh!” He spat once more, this time at the hyena . I pretended to look at some monkey cages while listening to this amazing conversation between the animals. The giraffe daintily stuck his long neck up and said: “You are spitting right and left . Stop it! Don’t you know the visitors will get annoyed?” “Huh! If you go out on the streets of Dhaka, you will see these visitors spitting everywhere they go. Especially during this holy month. People should take off their shoes before they enter their homes. Hah! Spitting is their favourite pastime.” “Hey hunchback, just shut up will you. Who cares how superior you are? We are all animals after all. So don’t act high and mighty just because you come from the Middle East.” I was totally dumbfounded but lingered on and didn’t care about the fact that I was eavesdropping . This one’s going be the scoop of the day, I thought to myself. “What? How dare you call me hunchback? Don’t you know that mine is a “hump” and not a hunchback. Don’t you know the hunchback of Notre Dame? The one who fell in love with the beautiful Esmeralda? These days folks don’t even read literature. All they do is watch television, or are glued to their iPads or iPhones. No books or even magazines around anymore. “Ok idiots shut up! Here comes more visitors. Just behave yourselves. The humans will think we are uncivilised.” One of the zebras got up and swung his tail. All you do is argue everytime you are hungry. The hyena started laughing “ha ha ha he he he, the humans? Just walk out of the zoo’s gate, and you will see another zoo where they all fight and kill each other. Man, calling us uncivilised is the understatement of the year I would say. Hey, that stupid ass just spat on me. Who does he think he is?” “Actually he thinks he is a celebrity. After the donkey in Shrek 2 spat at the audience he thinks he has to do it too, ha ha,” the camel commented in his superior manner. Well, I hurried towards the tigers

and lions’ enclosure, sure enough there the Royal Bengal Tiger sat next to his mate, looking as majestic as the name suggests. I felt awed but avoided eye contact. After all a tiger is a tiger. He was shaking his head slightly from time to time, opening his huge jaw and snapping it shut again. I wondered when his last meal was or if he was waiting for iftar? “Did you hear about the family planning programme the authorities are discussing?” He turned to his regal mate. “What family planning? You mean for us animals?” “Unfortunately yes. The zoo authorities are going to stop us endangered species from breeding more Royal Bengal cubs by giving us pills and injecting us with hormones so that we don’t breed. They will do that with the lions too (sigh). Wish we could communicate with them so we could tell them to let us go back to the Sundarbans and live peacefully like our ancestors, without fearing for our lives, from the threats of hunters and pirates. Not to mention the woodcutters who sell the trees for huge sums of money. What a pity, this is the biggest mangrove forest in the world and now? No trees left for us to roam about in.” “Why do they want to stop us from breeding? We are already an endangered species. There are just a handful of us Royal Bengals left.’’ “The lion king told me that the Dhaka zoo doesn’t have enough place for more animals and they plan to start family planning for the tigers and the lions. The zoo authorities in collaboration with the concerned ministry discussed this in a meeting and will implement the plan over the next couple of months.” “No way! We are already an endangered species. We are not animals,” she growled. “We are the heritage of Bengal. We are Royals.” I pondered over the future of our endangered species and our national pride,The Royal Bengal Tiger. n

It’s not enough that animals one day may speak. Us humans need to listen to them too

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND Manners and Etiquettes


Bassema Karaki is a LebaneseAmerican married to a Bangladeshi. She shares how strange, crazy, and humorous life in Bangladesh can appear to an outsider looking in

Excuse you?

Bassema Karaki discusses the impeccably ill manners of most Bangladeshis


efore coming to Bangladesh, I had been expecting to see underdevelopment, illiteracy and poverty. What I hadn’t expected, however, was the incredibly ill-mannered behaviour of most Bangladeshis. From spitting relentlessly to peeing in public, I was and still am appalled by the sheer vulgarity that surrounds me. The best way to illustrate Bangladeshi etiquette would be to describe a trip to the local bazar. My first visit to an open market in Gulshan was unforgettable. The minute I stepped into the market, I was overwhelmed by the stench of sewage, fish guts and garbage. The ground was covered in blobs of mucus, blood and feathers of slaughtered chickens and trash from market stalls. Nobody bothered to clean up their mess, but everyone added to the pollution by littering and spitting frequently. There were shop assistants constantly yelling, running around and shoving everyone in the process without so much as a simple “excuse me.” In addition, the shoppers themselves seemed to get a kick out of shoving each other and violating all sense of personal space. I had men and women step on my shoes, bump into my behind, shoulder my chest and even sneeze on me. Meanwhile, the shop owners would sit in their stalls,

stare at passers-by, pick their noses, sneeze, smoke and cough over their own merchandise. People here have taken lack of hygiene to a whole new level. One would think that even if this vulgar behaviour were prominent in shabby markets, people’s manners would improve in posh places like “finedining” restaurants. Unfortunately, it turned out to be otherwise. Recently, I was invited to dinner at a fancy Chinese restaurant on a special occasion. Sitting next to me were two well-dressed and friendly women, but their painted faces had no affect on their unrefined manners. While dinner was being served, the two of them complained loudly about how dirty the restaurant was and what terrible service it had. One of them then snatched someone else’s glass, threw the water it contained all over the table, and then poured herself a drink in it. The other shoved her soup bowl into someone else’s plate and yelled at the waiter to serve her food. They both had piles of dirty napkins around their plates, some of which dropped to the floor. I was completely embarrassed by their behaviour, but they didn’t seem to notice and proceeded chattering loudly with their mouths full. I knew that if the restaurant was dirty, it was thanks to people like them.

Even those trained in customer service continually shock me with their everlasting insolence. From shop assistants mocking clients to waiters purposely ignoring customers, these employees’ impudent behaviour would have them fired in no time had they been outside Bangladesh. In fact, I have noticed (and several people have already mentioned) that the only way to get things done around here is by being rude yourself. While I refuse to stoop to their level, I sometimes get the urge to slap some good manners into them.


hether it’s driving in one lane or standing in line, it is as though Bangladeshis have an innate habit of placing their priorities above all others’, which is why nobody has the patience to wait. Every time I am at the supermarket, cinema, hospital, bank or mall, there are people breaking rules and cutting in line. At the airport, people go as far as to pay off the porters to get to the front of the line. Pedestrians are practically run over rather than given the right of way, and drivers would rather honk their horns deaf than wait for cars to pass. A couple of days ago, my husband argued with a CNG auto rickshaw driver about how he almost ran over a woman and asked how he would have

felt had he been in her place. The driver left my husband and I speechless when he presumptuously replied that he “gambled” with his and other people’s lives. On a more positive note, Bangladeshis foster the “love thy neighbour” notion better than anyone I know. However, their lack of etiquette sometimes makes their intimacy insufferable. I have a neighbour who randomly opens the front door of my house and walks in uninvited. She then proceeds straight into each of the bedrooms to see what every member of the house is doing. Privacy? No such thing. After my failed attempts at convincing her to use the doorbell, I now simply try to make sure the front door is always locked. While I have become accustomed to some of the craziness of Bangladesh, other parts of it leave me growing grey hairs. I can accept the staring and prying, but I will never get used to unacceptable habits, like littering or honking, and will continue to scold people who practise such habits around me. n

The luckiest you’ll get with good manners in a crowded area is having someone yell “Side please!” in your ear and then shove past you without a glance

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22 Dina Sobhan is a freelance writer and cautions readers not to take her “advice” here too seriously! Fuad M Hossain is sub-editor at Dhaka Tribune. He is also exceptionally geeky and loves to play video games


I have an acquaintance, and she is completely oblivious to the things she says and the effect she has on people with her words. The other day she says to one of my friends: “You will never get married, because being ‘forsha’ (fair) doesn’t have the same merits as it used to.” Though my friend just laughed it off, it infuriated me, not to mention this has happened on several occasions. I have managed to keep it bottled up for a while now but not anymore. I was thinking about giving her a piece of my mind, but don’t want to come off as rude. How do I do this?

DINA SOBHAN and Fuad M Hossain While you may not want to be rude, sometimes fire must be met with fire, or just a good old fashioned smack down! The next time she tries to deliver one of her scathing bitchicisms poorly disguised as observation or social commentary, etc. retaliate with an equally cutting retort, pinpointing her physical and mental shortcomings. She needs to understand that her insecurities about being ugly/fat/ pimply/unpopular should not be projected onto others so she can

feel better about herself for that moment. And do yourself a favor and stop hanging out with someone who manages to infuriate you so readily. Acquaintance or not, the people you surround yourself with say a lot about you. n

Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune


I was offered a bribe at work. And I took it! It wasn’t a whole lot of money, but it was enough for my family and I to take a long overdue vacation. Frankly, I don’t feel guilty at all. I am paid miserably at work and I feel that I was ‘owed’ this money for all the years of sacrifice and non-appreciation I had to go through. My family never even bothered to ask where I got all this money from. Surely you agree that I did the right thing, right?


You sure have a lot of work ethic and professionalism deep down in your soul. It also amazes me to see how you contradict yourself when you say: “It wasn’t a whole lot of money, but it was enough for my family and I to take a long overdue vacation.” I mean talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Frankly, you should be fired on the spot for what you did. Moreover, I am rather astounded by your decision making capabilities. You are paid miserably and the decision which any sane minded individual would take is to find a new job. Your family never questioned you because they trust you and momentarily you

may feel you are right, but remember this guilt is a terrible thing. You have knowingly, for the sake of money, betrayed your family’s trust and gave making money on the side an entirely new paradigm. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for taking the bribe, and then seeking my validation. n




Across 1 5 6 8 10 11

Confuse us with his fish (5) Tea and a short talk (3) None survive cocktail ingredient (5) Sleep without a reason, strangely (5) Initially, a round-keeled boat (3) A version of ye old mountain song (5)



1 2 3 4 7 8 9

Wintry figure now in mans wobbly grasp (7) Sporting equipment for endless slide (3) Hard water found in magic ewer (3) Ale atom converted to porridge ingredient (7) After five, an industrious vehicle (3) The blue half of whisky (3) Weird, like 1, 3, 5 or 7 (3)

Solution and clues for last week’s crossword

Across 1 6 7 8

Podium place for a tanner? (6) Bloke surrounds Eliot - courageous (5) Bad guy not in Roman house (5) In truth, a pound in bank (6)

Down 2 3 4 5

Royal gear, a gear change about 51 (7) After tax, dance and sport (7) Palace for Holland in France (6) Chopped livers for pirate (6)

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24 Shah Nahian is a writer at Dhaka tribune with a passion for music and art. When he’s not being forced to work, he spends his time daydreaming and hanging out with friends

An average day for Belal 3am Starts the day; prepares for and conducts morning prayers, recites Qur’an for a while and then goes for a walk 7am Has breakfast and reads the newspaper 9am Recites Qur’an for a while, attends to other jobs, such as hosting milads, tutoring children how to read Qur’an, etc 12pm Starts preparing for prayers 1:30pm Prayers, lunch, rest 4pm Attends other jobs, if there are any 4:30pm Prepares for and conducts prayers 5pm Goes for an evening walk, comes back, prepares and conducts prayers 7pm Goes out for tea 8pm Prepares for and conducts prayers, has dinner and turns in for the night

Day in the Life of

An Imam

At the righteous end Shah Nahian spends a day with Belal Hossain


mam Hafez Belal Hossain, who works at an old mosque on road no 12, sector no 3 of Uttara, is a very humble man with a charming personality. He is very pleasant to talk to and had a smile on his face while answering all questions. For years, he has been looking after the mosque and leading prayers five times a day for the last 32 years. Belal likes to lead a simple and healthy life. Being the imam in the mosque, he is obligated to lead all five prayers on a daily basis. For that, he must start off his day as early as 3am to make preparations for the people coming in for prayers. However, during his free time, he likes reciting the Qur’an, reading the news and going out for walks. His life is mostly dedicated to the mosque, though from time to time he likes doing other jobs, like tutoring young children on how to read and recite the Qur’an and hosting various milads. hen asked whether he had any complaints about his work, he


Photos: Tihan Shah


Inside the mosque

replied in a calm manner: “No, I am a man of God. I know I am truly blessed, as all my work is to lead people into the light. I am truly grateful for that. If I was in any other line of work, I might not have been able to pray on time, and I would never want that. When I first started working at the mosque, all it had was walls of a tin. Now we have concrete walls and a roof. If Allah wills it, someday I will work to build the mosque up to six floors.” Once the conversation got comfortable, the question of supernatural experiences came up. There have been rumours about paranormal activities around the mosque, but when asked whether he had ever encountered something unearthly, he seemed surprised, as he had not been asked this question before. “This mosque is very old. In fact, this is Uttara’s first mosque,” he said. “When I reopened it and started my life here, I always felt a presence of spirits that often visited the place. Every now and then, I used to find snakes rolled up along with my prayer mat. They never attacked me, so I always left them alone. Around that time, a boy named Ibrahim used to spend a lot of time with me. His parents worked as caretakers in a house on this road, so the eight-yearold Ibrahim came over quite often. One day I left him sleeping in the prayer room and went out for lunch. After I got back, I found his parents looking for him. He was nowhere to be found. Later that day, two strangers brought him back from the Mirpur zoo. When we asked him how he got there, he told

us a spirit visited him after I left him in the prayer room. The spirit asked him to come with her. He refused but she wouldn’t listen. She kept on pulling him towards her. He fought her with all his might but when he eventually failed, he woke up in the zoo. For the next couple of months, the spirit often came to Ibrahim. I prayed for the boy and helped him pray. Eventually the spirit stopped bothering him. Also, as the mosque grew, we all stopped having these unusual encounters. No one has had any encounters for years now. “However, even to this day I feel the same presence I used to feel all those years ago. The only difference is they don’t trouble us anymore and we stay clear of their paths.” It was finally time to leave. As I said goodbye to Belal and headed towards the end of road 12, the Azan was taking place for the evening prayers. At that moment, all the scary stories Belal had just recounted fled my mind. All I got reminded of was a simple and honest man calling people to pray. n



HIGH COURT British Governor’s house (Old High Court),1904

Bangladesh Old Photo Archive

I used to live in Curzon Hall while studying at Dhaka University and the High Court building was opposite to my dorm room. Every morning, I would wake up and look at this inspirational structure. It was breathtaking. I am proud that successive governments have kept this ornate building pretty much intact and improved upon it over the years. It is truly a landmark. Md Jamil Reza (51), architect, New Eskaton resident


Chanchal Kamal

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Culture Vulture Sabidin Ibrahim is a keen rider and a voracious reader


Readers are leaders Sabidin Ibrahim writes about the reading club at the country’s premier public university Founding members of DURC 1. Arif Khan, a lawyer, social thinker and a writer on Constitution 2. Ala Uddin, a Bangla lecturer at Uttara University 3. Mousrur Shakil; a poet and senior reporter at Channel i

The DURC aspires to raise awareness of constitutional studies across the academic world, and it enlisted Arif Khan to lead its first workshop titled “Constitution Memorisation in Four Hours” in February. Over 70 students attended RC Majumder Auditorium and there are plans to visit schools and colleges to familiarise more students with the constitution

4. Sabidin Ibrahim, an English student and a poet in English and Bangla 5. Alauddin Mohammad, an emerging economist and social thinker 6. Abdur Razzak, one of the first national professors in Bangladesh


f the state can be looked upon as a human body, then people of different professions such as lawyers, doctors, teachers and journalists would comprise the organs, while the intellectuals would circulate through and around them like blood. In such an analysis, the role of the intellectuals is of paramount importance. They keep all the organs active while performing their own duties. At Dhaka University, one group of students is aspiring to work with the “blood” of the future – to help shape those young people who will lead the intellectual movements that will feed the rest of the state. Their collective was founded to help reverse what it saw as the “declining knowledge culture” of the country’s oldest university, which has long been revered as the “Oxford of the East.” What began as an informal library reading group in 2005 soon mushroomed in membership and in October 2011, the Dhaka University Reading Club (DURC) was born. It now aspires to develop the reading habits of students across Bangladesh.



“We have a common goal of being organised so that the club can be the outcome of our youthful fantasy, romanticism, dreams and passion,” Abdullah Arif, a member at DURC, says. The club holds a two-hour session on Fridays at the Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU) building on campus, when mentors and junior scholars of different academic departments are invited to speak on a given issue for 40 minutes. After each speech, the floor is thrown open for all members to question, add or argue – just like the Oxford Union. Additionally, informal brainstorming sessions called the “Knowledge Culture” start at 4pm daily and usually run for two hours, with members dropping in and out. “There are no bindings there,” Abdullah Yusuf, another member, says. “Rather an intimate emotional bond keeps us together in pursuit of knowledge.” Nevertheless, it can be a demanding pursuit. DURC members are expected to read at least 10 pages every day beside newspapers, while the more

committed will vie with each other (and for prizes) to spend the most time in the Dhaka University Central Library and Public Library at Shahbagh. Some arrive at 8am in the morning and stay and study until the last bell at 9pm. For the DURC, the act of reading is taken seriously; it is not just a hobby.


eading can be a lifestyle if the search for knowledge drives one to be in touch with each other to share and establish a libraryoriented culture,” Arif says. Members are motivated to read at least 10,000 pages on a particular field and develop a holistic command over Bangali and international history, as well as philosophy, literature, sociology, economics and political science. This year, the DURC has been branching out, visiting historical places in and around Dhaka with “Knowledge Walkers” – people who know the local history and context, such as the historian and a writer, Shamsuddhuha Chowdhury – while the club held its first reading camp in the last week of May.

The club motivates its members by giving prizes on their performances, but it is clearly proud to be a selffunded institution and states a hard line on financial transparency and accountability. “It is totally prohibited to acquire loans, funds or donation from any NGO, organisation or any person other besides our regular members,” Yusuf explains, “and there is no bank account to keep any funds.” There is, naturally enough, a Facebook account and to date, over 2,250 people have liked what the DURC is all about. If you also want to make coming to the library a part of our culture, try joining them at http:// n



Mark Sutton

The name is Sutton, Mark Sutton

Ibtisam Ahmed is a student of history and politics. He lives in a fantasy and writes about reality

Ibtisam Ahmed writes about the fallen skydiver


hen the London 2012 Olympics came and went, there were two types of people the world kept talking about. One was of the athletic inclination thatbrought glory to their countries, especially the golden generation of British sport. The other consisted of two individuals who shot to fame

playing other people – the stuntmen who impersonated James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II parachuting out of a helicopter during the Opening Ceremony. Sadly, one of them, Mark Sutton, died on August 14 in a wingsuit accident. Sutton is said to have shown an early interest in skydiving, although

he is also said to have led a quiet life. This might sound paradoxical given the dangerous profession he pursued but that is exactly how he is remembered by those who worked with him. Danny Boyle, the Oscarwinning director who orchestrated the opening ceremony, paid tribute to Sutton as a “thoughtful and gentle man” whose death would be a terrible loss to his profession. Sutton has also been described as complex and kind by many of his peers. Although he is now a symbol of the courage and dedication of the British layman, Sutton has always preferred to shy away from the spotlight. True, no one really believed that it was Daniel Craig’s Bond jumping into the Olympic Stadium last summer, but Sutton did not do any interviews or try to boost his profile or his salary despite having had the opportunity to become an international superstar. If anything, he always tried to use his own talents to boost the profiles of others. Longtime collaborator Gary Connery, who doubled for the Queen during the Olympics jump, became the first person to complete a jump without a parachute and only

wearing a wingsuit. But it was only because Sutton agreed to film the attempt that it came to anyone’s attention at all. Sutton was also passionate about raising interest in skydiving in general. His Youtube account is full of videos of his attempts, including several wingsuit stunts. Since his passing, his subscribers have nearly doubled, which is both gratifying given his attempts at making others aware of his profession, and tragic given the timing of this increased interest. At the end of the day, Mark Sutton will go down as a consummate professional. There are many others like him whose deaths are a crushing blow to their colleagues and, indeed, to their very vocation. But even the least famous of these individuals get weepy tributes outlining their childhoods and their hard work. For Mark Sutton, it was all about taking flight, whether it was in front of millions of viewers, or with a single friend, as was the case with his fatal jump. In the end, his career and passion were all that mattered. n

At a glance 1971 Born in Surrey 2012 Becomes famous for portraying James Bond in a parachute jump during the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony; later films his collaborator’s recordsetting freefall jump 2013 Passes away in wingsuit jump accident in France

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, AU G U ST 3 0, 20 1 3



Nasia Chowdhury is an aspiring writer who spent most of her teenage years juggling a basketball and a Thesaurus

Think before you speak Are all English medium kids drug addicts?


his mantra has been hovering in the air for quite a while, but it has become the national anthem since the Oishee incident. Every other person is talking about how spoilt the students from English medium schools are, how they all are into drugs, lead a very Westernised life and, last but not the least, how very disrespectful they are to their elders. Now, I find it very disrespectful when people deem English medium students as creepy drug addicts, because I come from an English medium school and I certainly am not a drug addict, or eligible for any of the aforementioned allegations. People point their fingers at English medium students and try to blame all their mistakes on the medium of schooling. However, students from Bangla medium schools also take drugs and make the same mistakes. When I point this out, people bent on blaming English medium education respond limply with “English medium schools have a greater number of sinners than Bangla medium schools.” Is that really possible, considering the fact the number of English medium students in the country is much smaller compared to that of Bangla medium students? Have any of you stopped to think that maybe it is not their schooling but their parenting that is at fault? Let’s travel back in time to take a better look at English medium schools in the yester years and today.

“Never judge a book by its cover” is an old adage. However, this is something that we inherently end up doing one way or the other Bangla medium schools were the most preferred even two decades back. Very few families sent their children to English medium schools and slowly in the late 80’s the English medium schools started to emerge and now they are mushrooming all over the capital. The bridge between the two mediums became greater as they communicated mostly in two different languages but that does not mean one


is better than the other. As time passed the amount of corruption in the country hiked along with it. People suddenly had fatter wallets with more money than they could account for. For these people, sending their children to English medium schools became a matter of “status,” as these schools are more expensive and enabled their children to speak in fluent English. Let me remind you that being fluent in English does not necessarily mean they can speak with proper grammar and impressive vocabulary. Unfortunately, most parents fail to realise this as they themselves do not speak the language. Since these nouveau riche families have a lot of money to spare, they allow a hefty pocket money to their kids without realising what the money is spent on. Therefore, children like Oishee are not at fault for their mistakes and crimes, nor is their English medium schooling for that matter, but their parents are for alienating their children at a time when they need guidance and mentoring more than anything else.


hildren these days grow up in isolation in their nuclear families. “Every man for himself” is the new motto. While parents are busy in their own worlds, their children grow up on their own taking only skeletons of the family values once held so precious. Parents these days are either too busy chasing money for their bank accounts or finding new avenues to spend it. Most parents these days don’t have the time to sit down with their children, talk to them or even teach them their alphabets. Toddlers are sent off to pre-school and when older they are sent for tuitions. Children do not have big green grassy fields to play on anymore, hence they stay indoors, and with the lack of activities they end up making horrible mistakes such as taking drugs. On the other hand, not every teenager gets derailed, staying cooped up indoors or experiment with drugs in the absence of parent figures. Moving away from this so-called discrimination, it goes without saying

that it is essential for every child to have a balanced lifestyle. There should be an adequate amount of safe playtime besides studies in collaboration with a family support system that instils key principles and ethics from a tender age. Based on the above, explain to me how are the schools to be blamed?

Let us focus more on better parenting and instilling even better morals and values, instead of pointing fingers at the medium of schooling Children spend roughly eight hours in school each day but they begin their school lives with some inherent teachings from parents. Their learning begins at home with their parents from the first day they till they step into the real world, which is no less than Dante’s icy hell. Parents not only teach their children how to eat, talk and walk, but also how they perceive the world around them. Therefore, it is primarily the parents’ responsibility first and then the schools’ to teach children right from wrong and to give them morals and values. So when Oishee or any other child commit a heinous crime or take drugs, do not blame the schools but the parents for failing at doing their part. It is easy to blame others instead of delving into the root of the problem, and in this case it is corruption and the social stratification of our society, rather than a niche group of English medium students. n

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