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Rivers of the World 2014 6

Back to medieval times 18

FRIDAY JANUARY 17 2014 vol 1 Issu e 38

Muhammad Habibur Rahman 27


CONTENTS 2 Weekly Barometer 3 Bottled Up 4 Whose Line Is It Anyway?

I’m just a dreamer

5 Big Mouth Strikes Again

A Weekly Pro ducti o n o f

10 Post-Riposte


Vo lume 1, Issu e 3 8 JAN UARY 17, 2 0 14

6 Pick of the Week Rivers of the World 2014

Circulation Wahid Murad Email: Web: Cover Bits and pieces of RotW by Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy

Putul naach

17 6° of Connotations The human centipede

20 Travelogue

Grand Sultan Tea Resort and Golf

21 Stranger in a Strange Land

Hong Kong and the rubber ducky

22 Tough Love 23 WT | Leisure 24 Legal Eagle

Contributors Syed Samiul Basher Naheed Kamal Jennifer Ashraf Haley Joy Fowlkes Dina Sobhan Saif Kamal Chanchal Kamal Quamrul Abedin

Advertising Shahidan Khurshed

Cartoon Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy Rio Shuvo

Production Masum Billah

Rana Plaza revisited

13 Photo Story

Art Direction/Photography Syed Latif Hossain

Colour Specialist Shekhar Mondal Kazi Syras Al Mahmood


12 Crime File

Assistant Magazine Editor Sumaiya Shams Rohini Alamgir

Design Mohammad Mahbub Alam Alamgir Hossain

Foreign intervention

11 Top 10

Editor Zafar Sobhan

Weekend Tribune Team Faisal Mahmud Adil Sakhawat Shah Nahian Farhana Urmee Natalie Siddique

My black-eyed dog

25 The Way Dhaka Was

Dhaka College

26 Day in the Life of

An underground musician

27 Obituary 18 Feature Back to medieval times

Muhammad Habibur Rahman

28 Last Word


Going with the flow R

ivers have always fascinated our artists, writers and poets. From music and dance, plays and songs, to painting and poetry – our rivers dominate all aspects of the Bangali culture. This week, our Pick of the Week is all about rivers, too. Sail through the Rivers of the World 2013, a joint collaboration exhibition between Bangladesh and the UK, with Rohini Alamgir and then join Haley Joy Fowlkes in her adventures in a strange country. But come back to the realities of home with Adil Sakhawat as he investigates the trend of using medieval punishment methods in our villages. And finally, end with Saif Kamal’s question, the one that’s on everyone’s mind: is the country headed towards a civil war? With the oborodhs coming to a stop (for now), it’s time to let our hair down. Let’s relax and enjoy the weekend, shall we? n

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A girl sleeps as people go about their daily life in Minkammen, 25km south of Bor, on January 8. Some 80,000 displaced people from South Sudan’s volatile Bor region have fled to safety in sprawling, dusty camps in Awerial region across the Nile River. The unrest began on December 15 as a clash between army units loyal to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and those loyal to ex-vice president Riek Machar  AFP/Nichole Sobecki

President Abdul Hamid administers the oath of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on January 12, at the Ganabhaban  MA Zaman/PMO

Thai anti-government protesters wave national flags during a rally in Bangkok on January 7. Demonstrators, who are seeking to curb the political dominance of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s billionaire family, say they will “shut down” Bangkok from January 13  AFP/Nicolas Asfouri

Bikkhubdho Shilpi Shomaj organises a communalism protest rally and a painting session in front of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University, on January 10, demanding trial of post-poll communal violence all over the country  Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Israelis pay their last respects as they walk past the flag draped coffin of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon lying in state at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem January 12. Sharon, the trailblazing warrior-statesman who stunned Arab foes with his dramatic turnarounds, died on Saturday aged 85, after eight years in a coma caused by a stroke  REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Members of Bangladesh Minority Party take part in a human chain tying black rag around their mouth as a symbol of the muted state of minority people. The photo was taken in front of the National Press Club on January 13  Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune




letters to the editor


of the week

The same old, same old The January 10 issue of the WT is one of my favourites. I’d like to applaud Adil Sakhawat for his fantastic piece titled “The ‘invisible’ ones.” As an expat, I felt highly offended when I realised that there was a possible way for people like me to vote in, and yet no one has done anything to help refine the system because they’re too busy playing the blame game. And that’s not to mention the fact that hijras, sex workers and Biharis aren’t even considered to be “legitimate” people. I think it’s about time we stop pointing fingers, and start taking our country and its future seriously. Atiqur Rahim Dubai

A timely solution In Issue 36, Faisal Mahmud’s feature titled “Go green, cook clean” is fantastic, and very informative. Learning about an alternative for the conventional cookstoves, which is cost-effective, safe, and environment-friendly, and knowing that the government aims to distribute them throughout the country, enthralled me. The age-old cooking practice in Bangladesh is prone to cause severe health hazards, especially for women. Everyone should be made aware of that.

Informative It was really good to read about Rokomari. As one of the “bookworms,” I cannot help but add new books in my collection, and this online shopping outlet will certainly help. Thanks to WT for letting me know where I can get my books from, sitting in my room. Ahmed Khandkar Paltan, Dhaka

Ratan Basak Suruj, Tangail

Not so great I think your last week’s Top 10 didn’t work out. I did not see the point of mixing the fictional characters with the real ones. You should have had separate lists. Besides, Pol Pot in the seventh position, really? Ashraful Jubaer BUET staff quarter, Dhaka

Send us your feedback at:

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I’m just a dreamer I came to take oath because the people of my constituency elected me their representative. HM Ershad (to Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury)

I wonder what he will say next week. Mr Mango

Rio Shuvo/Dhaka Tribune

The party has turned to a contractual firm; it is not a political party now. The Jatiya Party earlier had a vision and mission, which no longer exists.

The government has compelled the party chief to take oath as an MP. Some beneficiaries of such decisions are dominating Ershad for their personal benefits, without thinking about the party activists and the nation. The activists expect Ershad to clear his stance on the decision as soon as possible.

Ahsan Habib Linkan Presidium member of Jatiya Party

Golam Habib Dulal Presidium member of Jatiya Party


Big Mouth strikes again


Naheed Kamal

My black-eyed dog Facing the struggle of mental illness


ecently, a friend said he went to a doctor because he was finding it difficult to deal with life’s stresses. The doctor, who specialised in psychotherapy, lectured my friend for his “unwillingness” to listen to him, prescribed him sedatives and other meds, and told him that once he took them, he would be “more susceptible” to what the doctor had to tell him about his problems. My friend took the meds, but they left him disoriented. It was impractical for him to continue, so he approached me. He said with a laugh: “I just wanted to talk, but the doctor wanted to do all the talking!” So we talked through the night – mostly him talking and me asking for occasional clarification. Mental health issues are on the rise across the globe as life becomes more stressful, resulting in more mental and physical disorders. In Bangladesh, people struggle to find help because we lack trained mental health professionals. Let’s get one thing straight: mental disorders have biological and neurological basis, they are not due to character flaws or mental weakness. There is also the misconception that they are triggered by isolated events, when we all know how stress can easily build up over time. The stigma associated with mental “illness” makes it harder to address. I have heard so many stories, and experienced instances myself, when professionals call clients/patients “emotionally unbalanced” and “crazy,” and insist on medications, when we know meds can be far from helpful. Lack of awareness, stigma and absence of affordable care means people with anxiety, depression and stress, struggle. Some self-medicate,

People with mental disorders would be able to better cope with their lives before reaching an extreme point of distress if there was access to the right kind of help – not meds, but someone who’d listen and not lecture

others turn to drugs and alcohol. Many will end up reaching the point of no return and give up, by taking their lives. The lack of understanding means people fail those in need just when they need help the most. It is a vicious cycle. I know a number of people who’ve been caught up since teenage years in a cycle of addiction and rehab, which fail to address issues and provides only temporary solutions. When you have always prided yourself on being strong, it is harder to accept suddenly finding yourself swinging between extreme highs and lows, being excited than depressed, especially when it manifests into a physical illness. At times, it’s hard to envision that things will ever improve, though I know they will, eventually. I deal with life on a day-to-day to basis, relying on friends instead of meds. I know I am shocking people by being so honest about this subject – we are not supposed to mention such topics in polite company. Well, I am not polite. Mental health issues make people uncomfortable, I understand that. People’s reactions have ranged from horror, to abruptly changing the topic, to moving away as if it is contagious, pretending something very important has come up, or even laughing. I recall talking to a friend who happens to be a trained therapist. She ended our conversation abruptly after saying, “You sound suicidal, you need help,” and hung up! Such reactions are to be expected, because people lack awareness, which is why I refuse to cater to their ignorance. If people lack empathy and the subject makes them uncomfortable, they need to deal with it. It is not uncommon to hear people say it is all in your head. Yes, it is, but that doesn’t make it any less real. For example, when stress causes stomach pains, it is not due to an infection or virus, but due to the process of thinking about the stressful event, which triggers chemical and biological reactions that cause pain. It doesn’t make the pain less real, nor does it mean the pain is imagined. It is natural for the body to have psychosomatic responses to certain situations. We have emotional reactions that can and do manifest physically when we are stressed. People have different emotional

In Bangladesh, the prevalence of anxiety disorders and personality disorders like PTSD OCD, mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia, addictive disorders such as alcoholism, etc, makes the degree of ignorance, even among professionals, appalling and physical reactions to stress and trauma. Usually it manifests as an emotional disorder, such as depression and anxiety, but can also result in serious illnesses.


esearch shows men are more susceptible to alcoholism and antisocial personality disorders, but they are more likely to seek help. Women tend to suffer from depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). These differences are partly due to biological factors, and partly due to social factors, including trauma and violence, low socio-economic and income inequalities, subordinate social status and the stress of multiple roles, such as work and child care responsibilities. Women are, however, less likely than men to seek help. Therapy – if we can find a therapist in Bangladesh – is expensive, but when a therapist lacks empathy, then it is an expensive waste of time. Here in Dhaka, it can be difficult to separate professional and personal lives, because we have one and a half degrees of separation, if we are lucky. Plus people love to talk about other people’s troubles gleefully, and professionals are less than professional. I know of one who often talks about his clients at social gatherings, and clients hear about it, because this is Dhaka! An ex in London is a psychotherapist with a practice at the East London NHS. He baulked at the thought of ever divulging any of his clients’ case details, but he broached the subject with me because I was from Bangladesh, having had difficulty understanding some of the topics that came up during his sessions with his British Bangladeshi clients. But he didn’t share any details and asked for

clarifications by mentioning the bare minimum. Counselling requires trust between the therapist and client that nothing will be divulged. The counsellor builds a rapport with a client through empathy. It is a big part of the process, and research shows if clients feel the counsellor is empathetic, they are more likely to benefit. However, the biggest barrier to addressing mental health issues is still stigma, because if you seek professional help, people assume you’re admitting to being “crazy.” We have an absence of affordable care and therapists in Bangladesh. I know of just one person who is not a psychotherapist, but has helped those who can afford her, and she’s beyond the reach of most. This makes for a dangerous situation, because people are less likely to seek help when they need it most. Only two out of every five people with a mood, anxiety or substance abuse disorder will ever seek any help. Given the enormous impact mental disorders have on society, the significant human and economic costs might make it worthwhile to address the issue. The first step would be to understand what contributes to mental disorders, making education vital. The second is to break down stigmas associated with mental disorders by having honest conversations about our experiences. Maybe if all of us talk honestly and openly, we will make it easier for others dealing with mental health challenges to ask for help, and receive it, before it’s too late. n

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!

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Rivers of the World 2014

Just around the riverbend Rohini Alamgir likes looking into the details of seemingly simple matters. She is constantly working on her autobiography because she thinks her life is worth reading about

Rohini Alamgir looks forward to the launching of the British Council’s exhibition of artwork by Bangladeshi and British youths

Bishop Douglas High School - art workshop on the theme ‘river culture’


Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy

f you could imagine the world at your fingertips, what would you visualise? The Thames Festival Trust, the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms project and the HSBC Global Education Programme’s vision was to find one common theme to bring together children from around the world. Their chosen topic was the river, and their idea was to “promote a greater understanding and appreciation of nature and rivers across the participating countries.” That’s how Rivers of the World (RotW) began. Ranging from the UK to Ireland, Argentina, Dubai, Korea, Indonesia and Bangladesh, RotW has travelled the globe on a flow of fantastic, creative artworks based on local rivers.


In the first year of its inception, six schools from Sylhet, Bangladesh and six schools from the UK focused their drawings on the Surma and Thames rivers, respectively. Artists Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy and Tamanna Tasmeem led two-day workshops on the Surma River for the Bangladeshi schools in preparation for the exhibition, while UK artists did the same for the schools there, albeit their focus was on the Thames. “It’s given us a glimpse into what we can do, how we can connect with other cultures and other people, and see the kinds of collaborations we can make,” said Charlie Ilett, 14, a Year 9 pupil from Southborough High School, who participated in the RotW 2012.

Photos: Tamanna Tasmeem

but with a slight twist. This time, they decided to increase the learning curve for the students involved and exchanged the topics, because, as Richard Crooks, the head of art at Southborough High School, stated, “We are trying to create awareness that life goes beyond the borders of Chessington and Surbiton … It is about understanding that in

diverse cultures and the people of each land, via presentations. Tanmoy described the experience, stating:

Southborough High School - workshop on comics on the theme ‘river pollution’

Richard Crooks

And the world saw the kind of collaborations they created and was amazed. Riding the tide of this success, the founders decided to carry on this bilateral project in 2013,

practice.” The students from four UK schools were tasked with drawing the Surma River and the students from six Bangladeshi schools focused on the Thames. Since their knowledge of these rivers were limited, one-day workshops were led both in the UK and in Bangladesh by Tanmoy and Tasmeem, where they taught the students about these rivers, the

“The children are learning something very new. They are getting a different idea about what art is. They are also getting a genuine understanding of different lifestyles. For a kid, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether the river is polluted, or what the history of the river is, or the politics that surround it. What they really care about is how another kid thinks and what his ideas are.”


Through their eyes River culture

Bishop Douglas School New year’s rally is a very popular practice in Bangladeshi culture. Everywhere in Bangladesh, including people besides the Surma River, a rally is arranged consisting of masks and mascots. Students from Bishop Douglas High School made an artwork representing the Bangla New Year rally. While making this artwork, they learned how to make masks with papercuts and paper-mashes. These masks represents local customs, life styles, fishes, riverside animals and also many fantasy creatures.

Descriptions and photos by

Tamanna Tasmeem

Sylhet Govt Pilot High School, Bangladesh

River pollution Southborough High School M C Academy, Sylhet, Bangladesh As like river overcomes boundaries and flows from one nation to another, Culture does the same. Living thousands of miles away from the UK, the students of M C Academy, Bangladesh still have a strong connection with British culture through the famous fictional characters and artists of British culture. The students of M C Academy made a Pop Art with the British characters that they are fond of. Such as James Bond, Mr Bean, etc. Through the process They learned to use saturated colours to create pop art which is genuinely very British in style and that they have never tried before. River pollution

Students of Southborough High School made a one page, 22-panel comic on river pollution. The comic has some simple, but powerful

message about river pollution, waste management and recycling. While making the artwork, all the student went through every professional steps that a comic book artist needs to go through - story writing, story boarding, pencilling and inking are only few of the mentionable steps.

In response to Southborough High School’s comics on river pollution, students of the Sylhet Govt Pilot High School also started a comic on history of Thames’ river pollution. But what started as a comic art, turned out to be more like a page from a graphic novel. Students carried out a very strong sketchy style all through their work. The story they chose from history is about Michael Faraday, one of the first people to realise the deplorable condition of the Thames and howexperiments were conducted to prove it.

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8 Resourceful river

River Life Dakshin Surma Nasiba Khatun Girls’ High School, Bangladesh Inspired by the English artist/ textile designer William Morris, the

Burlington Danes Academy

Hason Raja (Hason the King), was a Bangali poet, mystic philosopher and folksongs writer and composer whose name and the songs he wrote are part of the history and cultural resources of the Surma River, which was a big inspiration for his songs. In tribute to this legendary poet, the students of

Burlington Danes Academy made an artwork with his song lyrics. The students learned how to write Bangla letters, made stencils out of it and then spray-painted the whole artwork. The students enjoyed making it so much that the principal of Burlington Danes Academy gave permission and the students actually spray painted the whole artwork in their school wall!

Working river Chadwell Heath Academy Mohammad Mokan High School & College, Bangladesh Back in the 18th and 19th century, ships were the only means to transport resources from all over the world to the docks of Thames. Students from Mohammad Mokan High School & College studied and copied designs of old British ships and elements from old dock and shipyards such as anchors, wooden trolleys, barrels, etc. From that, they made a brilliant black and white chess board like artwork.


Wood Block printing is a very famous medium of art and boutique in Bangladesh. The students of Chadwell Heath Academy did wood block printing about the most eventful thing about the Surma, which is boat racing.

Israb Ali High School, Bangladesh The students of Israb Ali High School depicted the overall working environment beside Thames River through their artwork. Over flowing city over Thames was the main context of the artwork. Students browsed through the web and collected many pictures to use as reference to create their artwork.

River city Siraj Uddin Ahmed Academy, Bangladesh The students of Sirajuddin Ahmed Academy took their inspiration from British artists like Freedy Boo and many other vector artists to create a simplistic representation

students of Dakshin Surma Nasiba Khatun Girls’ High School created a textile design on the theme of river life. The designs contain flora and fauna - elements from nature.

of London city and it’s underground tube, which surrounds the Thames. Though the artwork combines lively figures, simple shapes and figurative designs that look like a digital vector graphic, it was actually hand made by the students with paper and scissor!


Robin Davies

The workshops featured a variety of artistic styles. Following thematic structures like “river culture,” “river pollution,” “resourceful river,” “working river,” etc. Tanmoy and Tasmeem chose to work with their students to create installations like Pohela Boishakh masks, comic strips about pollution, graffiti born of song lyrics about the rivers, and Bangladeshi pattern blocks to depict the interaction of people with the river. “Most of the students here in the UK didn’t have any idea about Bangladesh,” said Tanmoy, “but by the end of the day, they understand about pollution, and they understand about the Surma.”

Afroza Yasmin

Though political unrest and turmoil caused dates to shift around quite a bit, the event was finally locked in place for this year. British Council project manager, Afroza Yasmin, enthusiastically looks forward to this year’s exhibition

Students of Dakshin Surma Nasiba Khatun Girls High School

stating, and the promise of enriching the minds of not just students, but of people all over the world. “There will be another exchange visit for UK teachers to visit their partner schools in Bangladesh and, most importantly, the schools will start to work internationally on joint curriculum projects,” she said, explaining further that the RotW project has led to the International Schools Linking Project where educational resource packs are being developed for teachers worldwide, using these artworks and rivers as a foundation for engaging lesson activities for the classroom. “People from different places and different cultures have different experiences and views. And they’re not necessarily the same ones that we have. They’ve seen things that we probably don’t have any idea about. They are affected by the world in a different way than we are,” notes Preslav Kostov, 14, a Year 10 pupil at Southborough High School who is a participant in this year’s exhibition, proving that the core goal of this project has been massively successful. Students (and teachers) from across the globe have not only come together on one platform to

Mohammad Mokan High School & College - workshop on the theme ‘ resourceful river’

create something beautiful together, but they’ve learned much about one another and about each other’s countries and cultures. This is truly out-of-the-box learning, and who thought it could have been this much fun? Starting from January 16, the RotW exhibition is coming to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Inaugurated by the British Council and HSBC, the exhibition will be displayed indoors at the Dhaka Art Center and outdoors at the Rabindra Sarobar, both located in Dhanmondi. Running from 3pm till 8pm, the exhibition will feature the young artists from the six Bangladeshi schools and four UK schools, amid the works from the other participating countries. The guests of honour for the event include famous writer and activist Abdullah Abu Sayeed, cartoonist Ahsan Habib, Associate Editor of Prothom Alo Anisul Haque, British High Commissioner Robert W Gibson, CEO of HSBC Andrew Tilke, and Director of Partnerships and Programmes of the British Council Robin Davies. Whether you go for the art, or are more drawn by the music of Chirkut,

Swagata and Friends, Lalon, Minar Rahman, etc, one thing is for certain: this is an endeavour that promises to tantalise all your senses and enthrall like no other, and is a definitely worthy of a “must attend” tag on your planners. n

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Is it necessary to our democracy? In light of our current domestic situation, the WT team contests the need for advisers, or mediators from outside the country


Shah Nahian


ven though our country’s history tells the story of a tremendous struggle for freedom, unfortunately, recent events have made this freedom seem like a joke. Our current leaders have failed us. From waging an incessant war with one another that sparked an unprecedented loss of innocent lives, to accepting a rigged national election – it seems we are no longer a democratic nation. Despite proclamations of democracy from our leaders who no longer pretend to care about the interests of the people, Bangladesh looks more like a dictatorship than a democracy. In a country of people either too ignorant (by choice or circumstance), fearful, and/or unorganised to protect

ourselves from being robbed of our freedom and rights, our only hope lies with foreign intervention. We need influential international actors, like the UN and democratic nations, to put pressure on our government to end this emerging tyranny. Our politicians need to understand that they cannot do whatever they want and that their actions have consequences. We need a government that works for the betterment of the nation, instead of one that pursues personal agendas. If only foreign intervention can compel the restoration of freedom, then why fight it? We don’t just owe freedom to ourselves and future generations, but we owe it to our fathers and forefathers who sacrificed their lives to achieve it. n Cartoons: Rio Shuvo/Dhaka Tribune


Faisal Mahmud


aving witnessed Bangladesh’s different governments use and misuse the concept of a republic, which has enabled autocratic regimes to subsist in the guise of democracy, many might think that the time has come for our foreign friends to intervene. But a famous Syrian proverb comes to mind: “The ziwan (rye grass) of your own country is better than the wheat of the stranger.” In other words, people of an independent country should prefer the worst regime that their nation can produce, to the best that foreigners could ever offer. After existing under the rule of foreigners for over 200 years, we didn’t gain our independence by negotiating at a table. We earned it


through a bloody, hard-fought war. So our sovereignty should not simply be something that we put on a plate and serve to strangers. Yes, to run our country effectively, we might seek guidance from the world’s seasoned and powerful leaders because, after all, squabbling children need scolding to learn discipline and mature. However, there exists a thick line between foreign intervention and foreign pressure. As a citizen of a sovereign state, I completely oppose self-interested foreign interventions meant to shore a particular party up against the other. But I do support foreign pressure intended to protect human rights. n

TOP 10



It’s all in good humour

In times when we have little to smile about, Shah Nahian lists the comedic faces of the world who make us laugh the most. The list was generated from a social media poll. To take part in the next one, visit the WT page on Facebook at, or the Dhaka Tribune page at

Shah Nahian is a staff 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

1 Gabriel Iglesias

Fondly known as “Fluffy,” Gabriel Iglesias is a MexicanAmerican comedian best known for his stand-up shows “I’m Not Fat … I’m Fluffy” and “Hot & Fluffy”. Influenced by comedians like Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Paul Rodriguez and Robin Williams, Gabriel tells bizarre stories, enhanced by sound effects and impressions that leave you gasping for air.


George Carlin

Winner of five Grammy Awards and ranked second on Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time,” George Carlin was an American comedian, writer, social critic and actor, known for his black humour on societal taboo topics. Despite passing away in 2008 at the age of 71, Carlin remains a comedic legend.


Rowan Atkinson

Known as Mr Bean to most, Rowan Atkinson is an English actor, comedian and screenwriter. Though ridiculous on stage, Atkinson actually holds a degree in electrical engineering. As one of The Observer’s 50 funniest actors in British comedy and top 50 comedians ever, Atkinson deserves comedic praise.


Russell Peters

Winner of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s Gemini Award in 2008, Russell Peter’s race, stereotype and culture jokes need no introduction. Few have his ability to make an audience laugh so hard at their own race and culture.

Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune


Jim Carrey


Rob Schneider

Often described as one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood, Jim Carrey’s lesser-known talent in stand-up stacks up to the best. His lively, energetic and bombastic humour on stage exceeds the boundaries of normality, and is sure to leave you dying laughing. You’ve likely seen him in movies or on television, but have you seen his stand-up? Though an impressive actor, comedian, screenwriter and director, Robert Schneider’s comedy act proves just as worthy. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and check him out on stage.


Jerry Seinfeld

Ranked 12th on Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time,” Jerry Seinfeld’s act focuses on uncomfortable social obligations, relationships and stories from everyday life. The comedic features of the actor, writer and producer were even immortalised in his semi-fictional role of himself in the sitcom “Seinfeld.”


Bill Hicks

Bill Hick’s act, often considered controversial and dark, criticises consumerism, superficiality and the banality of media and popular culture that “keep people stupid and apathetic.” Despite dying at the young age of 34 from cancer, Hicks touched the world with his thought-provoking comedy.


Andy Kaufman

The only comedian described as intentionally unfunny, considered himself an entertainer rather than comedian. His career consisted of elaborate pranks and hoaxes, for which he gained a cult following and respect for his originality and performance style.


Jimmy Carr

Known especially for his edgy one-liners, expressionless deliveries and signature laugh, Jimmy Carr is a stand-up comedian with a talent for engaging his audience into his act. His act is light, fun and always an entertaining crowd pleasure. n

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Rana Plaza Revisited

From ashes to bones

Adil Sakhawat investigates the recent recovery of bones and skulls from the debris of the collapsed building in Savar Adil Sakhawat wanted to be in the army, but failing that, fights crime by reporting on it. Send him information at weekend@


t least 310 pieces of human bones and skulls have been recovered from the site of Rana Plaza in the past couple of weeks by local people, street children and the survivors. Those who were involved with the extraction, as well as local people, claimed these bones belonged to the victims of Rana Plaza whose bodies had not been recovered. They claimed they had unearthed human bones and skulls at least nine times from the site. However, officials from Savar police station said it was all staged in order to embarrass the government.

Police on site

“We have sent the skulls and bones that were found at the site of Rana Plaza to the DNA lab. On the day the bones were first extracted, we went to the site and found the skeleton of Obaidul Haque, a swing operator who worked at a garments factory on the third floor of the building. We found his ID card on him. We also found a scalp there.” Khandaker Shamsuzzaman, subInspector, Savar model police station “Street children found the remains and informed the police about it. We collected the evidence and will take necessary steps after talking with the higher authorities.” Kamruzzaman, assistant sub-inspector Savar model police station

“At least 40 pieces of human bones had been sent to the DNA lab. Some miscreants staged the drama in the name of recovering the remains of the victims. It is a carefully orchestrated drama in order to humiliate the government. “Those bones were not human bones, it was cow bones, or had been collected from outside.” Mostafa Kamal, officer in-charge, Savar model police station

Public on site

“I saw many bone parts lying neglected in three water reservoirs at the site. I think if the government takes action, many families will finally have the bodies of their near and dear ones.” Jamal Hossain, a local resident “I provided DNA samples in Dhaka, but so far, my brother’s body has not been found yet. So, I come here often, hoping one day my brother’s body will be found. He used to work on the third floor.” Shapla, one of the survivors “On our last drive on January 3, we recovered 28 pieces of human bones, including a skull, from the debris. We wanted to continue the drives, but police stopped us, saying the bones were cow bones and threatened us to

arrest. We just want to take a look at the three water reservoirs, and we are sure that we can recover a few bodies of the unlucky victims.” Emdadul Islam, president of Rana Plaza Garments Workers Union. He was an iron man in Phantom Garments, one of the factories housed by Rana Plaza, who was rescued 24 hours after the deadly collapse “The government should launch a fresh search to confirm whether there are any more human body parts in the ruins, as many are still missing.” Rafiqul Islam Sujan, president, Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation

Government authorities

“I received human body parts and have sent them to the DNA lab at Dhaka Medical Collage and Hospital. After getting the results, we will know whether these bones belong to the Rana Plaza victims or not. Then, we will decide about running a fresh search. I have already sent a report to the higher authority in this regard.” Kamrul Hasan Molla, Savar upazila nirbahi officer, now in charge of the collapse site

Recent recoveries December 13 Two human skeletons and a skull were found at the ruined site of Rana Plaza. One of them was identified as one Obaidul Haque December 22 Police recovered a human skull from the site December 26 Street children found 20-25 human bones and hand those over to the police December 27 Street children recovered 13 more human bones from the site of Rana Plaza and handed those over to the police December 28 100 pieces of human bones were recovered, including backbones, finger bones, arm-bones, ribs, leg bones, a jaw and a skull. The bones were handed over to the Savar police, who mentioned it in their report December 31 Locals and survivors again recovered 26-30 human bones; the OC of Savar police station claim those bones were “cow bones” January 4 The locals recovered at least 28 pieces of bones, a skull and a mobile phone set and handed them over to the police

Kollol Mostafa




Stringing along a fading act A photo story by



he “putul naach� is a traditional puppet show that has enthralled our subcontinent since the 14th century. Though other art forms like jatra and pala gaan also shared the entertainment stage, the putul naach was by far the most sought after. With urbanisation, however, the entertainment scenario has undergone massive changes. Gone are the puppets and the puppeteers have dwindled down to a few struggling troupes. A beautiful cultural tradition stands to be lost. A putul or puppet is made of bamboo, wood and, nowadays, of other materials like plastic and synthetic fabrics.

Then, strings attach the various parts of its body together for easy manipulation by the men behind the backdrop. The puppeteer is called nachiye. The puppetry troupe is formed typically by a lead singer, who plays the harmonium. Musicians on the clarinet, the dhol (drum) and the kansi (bell) act as an accompaniment and stories are narrated through the naach (dance) of the puppets who are characters in the stories. These images come from a show held in Shilpakala Academy which was performed by a troupe from Brahmanbaria in September 2013. n

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 20 1 4





W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 20 1 4



Syed Latif Hossain is the Art Director at Dhaka Tribune. He can be reached at latif.hossain@


6 Degrees of Connotations


Jennifer Ashraf

The human centipede Give me back my personal space, thank you very much

It seems to be that southern Europeans are just more intimate socially, whereas I like a lot of personal space – like, a mile from the nearest person is fine for me. Peter Steele, musician


m not a big fan of queues – especially in Bangladesh. There is no system, there is no strategy; the concept of specified arrangement is simply a myth. Plainly put, there is a half-hearted attempt to provide some structure, and even that is rarely seen. As a general rule, I do my best to avoid queues at all times. I bribe people if I have to (the well known “ghush” to the “dalal” facility), or find an alternative means to get what I need or want. Circumstances have been kind to me and allowed me to get away with it for as long as I can remember. But even circumstances can get a little mischievous sometimes. And that was exactly why, one Friday, I found myself stuck in a queue after a long hiatus of five years. It’s not that I am an impatient brat and wish to have everything ready at my fingertips – no, not at all. In fact, to be honest, the exact opposite is true. I like order; I am a big fan of structure. Do you want to know what else I am a big fan of? People. That’s right – people. Not just anyone, mind you; that wouldn’t do at all. I like people who believe and also have reverence for order and structure; I like people who are respectful of personal spaces and display common courtesy. And, it goes without saying, I absolutely love people who can refrain from climbing up on me when I am standing in the queue, awaiting my turn at the ticket counter.

It’s common to see most people hover around you without realising – or considering – the fact that their closeness may make you uncomfortable. Am I the only one, or does personal space seem to have become a luxury?

Which would explain exactly why, on that Friday, my not-so happy mood quickly started to escalate into a bit of a temper when the lady behind me in the queue started pushing up against me. I mean, is it too much to ask for if I just like keeping my personal space intact? So sue me. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and, against my better judgement, took a tentative step forward. She obviously (bless her ignorant soul) took this as a sign of my acquiescence and pushed forward again, actually making me stumble and bump into the person ahead of me in the queue, who then turned around and gave me an inquisitive look. “Hey, don’t blame me; I have respect for your personal space – trust me, I do. Unfortunately, the nincompoop behind me apparently doesn’t. Not only is she unconcerned with the breach of her own personal space, she obviously does not give a damn about yours or mine either,” was what I tried to convey as I stared back. Was I being a prima donna? I don’t think I was. I have been in plenty of queues abroad: in airports and in supermarkets, in pubs and in universities during registration, at visa embassies and at tourist attractions. I’ve had my share of waiting patiently, sometimes even for hours, without almost no complaints. And that, I believe, is largely because people in those queues were … let’s just say civilised. They had respect for their own personal space and for others, too. And, although I’m not as extreme in my demands as Peter Steele above (a mile may be too much to ask for!), I’ll gladly settle for six inches. I don’t fancy being part of a human centipede, for goodness’ sake! Even the mere mention of that movie freaks me out. Unfortunately, the lady behind me had different ideas. Perhaps she was planning to make her own version of The Human Centipede sometimes in the future. If that’s truly the plan, I wish her the best of luck, although I have to say, I wouldn’t star in it for a million dollars. Or two. Or ten. You get the picture. Movie comparisons aside, my wait in the queue was beginning to stretch and feel infinitely torturous. And this

To this date, I have not been able to figure out how exactly my asking for a bit of space offended the lady behind me. Whatever her reason may have been, her melodramatic reaction surely saved the day for her – at my expense

Jennifer Ashraf is a barrister and solicitor of England and Wales. She is currently Senior Partner at Legacy Legal Corporate. When she is not solving complicated legal problems, Jennifer is usually found travelling to exotic locations sampling the indigenous cuisine

was starting to get coupled with anger that was slowly bubbling up inside me. What is the meaning of this? Just because you are female, and I am female, does not automatically give you licence to rub up against me. For all I knew, she could have covert motives. I took a tiny step forward to attain some distance and she moved almost simultaneously with me, this time bumping into me hard enough to make me stumble. For me, that was the last straw. Against my better judgement, I turned back, looked her in the eye and calmly asked her to stop pushing me and to give me my space. What followed would make an Ananta Jalil film look tame. She took personal umbrage and, lips quivering in indignation, demanded to know what I meant. I repeated myself. She asked me the same thing, again. I repeated myself, again. Imagine being on a dance floor when the music suddenly starts repeating itself – not the entire song, just two lines. That was exactly what we were starting to sound like; even I couldn’t help thinking that it was a losing battle. So, I gave her an exasperated look and turned around. And that was when she turned into a high pitched squealing banshee. Needless to say, for the next few minutes, a massive crowd gathered around us. Some were trying to determine what the fuss was about, and some just wanted to enjoy the free show. And, somewhere amongst the crowd and the banshee-like squealing, I was converted and held to be the bad guy. I was held to actually be the one at fault for even bringing this up in the first place. I was accused of not following proper queue etiquette and squashing as closely as possible to the person ahead of me in line. Me, the bad guy. I rest my case.

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 20 1 4



Back to Medieval Times

Living under the rock

Adil Sakhawat writes about the centuries-old justice system that still exists in Bangladesh Adil Sakhawat wanted to be in the army, but failing that, fights crime by reporting on it. Send him information at weekend@


n this age and time, there are parts of Bangladesh where families are shunned from society as “punishment.” They accept it, because they don’t know any other way. A significant part of the country’s rural population is not aware of their rights, and somehow they cannot get access to our current, modern justice system. Hence they lean on to their local leaders, who dole out punishments as they see fit, which sometimes may border on torture – both physical and mental.

The background

To ensure justice for the villagers, the country’s law experts realised the significance of village court right after independence. As a result, the Village Court Ordinance was passed in 1976, aiming to give a legal platform


Photos: Adil Sakhawat

to the traditional arbitration system, locally known as salish or fatwa, and to ensure justice and prevent the violation of human rights or misuse of law. Later, after some amendments, the ordinance became law in 2006, known as Village Court Act. Unfortunately, many villagers are subjected to medieval treatment in salish by local leaders, sometimes even the elected public representatives like the union parisad (UP) chairman and members, all in the name justice. There is also the practice of giving out fatwas by the local religious leaders, which sometimes gets out of hand.

Turning back time

Despite the Supreme Court’s verdict that bans physical torture as punishment, beating, whipping, etc is still practised at large in the Badarganj

According to Ain o Salish Kendra, there were 21 incidents of village arbitration across the country last year (January-September) that were reported, where the punishment was physical torture – i.e. whipping, beating, etc. Five of the victims filed complaints against the arbitrators with the police. In 2012, the number was 48 and 16, respectively, and in 2011, it was 59 and 20, respectively uapzila in Rangpur. There have been several cases of village arbitration in the area where the punishments could only match those of the medieval times. In every village of Badarganj, arbitrators have allegedly violated human rights in the name of law. Bribery plays a big part in setting the punishments during the salish.

Apparently, the powerful people in the villages have the chairman and the members of UP in their pockets, and control the verdicts to suit their own interest, when necessary.


What the victims say

Monjul Haque (65), from Maltola village in Lohanipara union, was quite vocal about the “injustice of it all” when asked about it. “We are poor people and lead very normal life,” he said. “Sometimes, villagers fight with ech other. However, when we go to the chairman or the members, we hardly get justice. They give judgement according to their will. We are afraid to speak up about it, because we’ve seen what happened to those who talked against them.” Jomar Uddin (60), from Dolapara village of Ramnathpur union, had more to add: “If we seek help from the police, they suggest we go to the UP chairman or members. They don’t want to file our complaints. In the rare cases when they do file our complaints, they do not run investigations.” Intimidation is a huge factor in this scenario. “A village is a small place,

where it is easy for the powerful to find who favours them and who doesn’t. Justice is given based on preference,” a high school teacher from Kalupara union said, requesting anonymity. This reporter met at least 12 men and women who were sentenced with torture in salish by the UP chairman, members or other local leaders. They claimed they were subjected to the torture because they did not work for the leaders during the time of elections. In some cases, criminals are exempted from punishment, while victims suffer even more trauma in the name of judgement. Tuly (not real name), from Masandoba village of Ramnathpur union, was harassed by a man named Nuruzzaman. When she went to the village arbitrators, she was held responsible instead. “Nuruzzaman tried to rape me. But when I demanded for justice, they

called me libertine, ordering me to leave my husband’s house and go to my father’s,” she said.

From the other side

There are 10 UPs under Badarganj upazila. When asked, the chairmen of all the UPs denied the allegation of the violation of the Village Court Act. Wahed Sarker, chairman of Radhanagar union, was surprised when asked about the allegations of human rights violation in the name of arbitration. “My people are happy with my arbitration system. I receive complaints all the time, and I follow the Village Court Act to solve these disputes, I always try to work on these problems in the council office,” he said. However, a few of the leaders do support the cruelty of the arbitration system. They prefer fatwa to deal with the complaints placed by the villagers.

What the human rights watchdogs say

Anamul Haque, senior upazila manager, Legal Aid, Brac, said: “We always work with UP chairmen, members, imams and general village people to make them aware of the Village Court Act and village arbitration system, and also arrange workshops, seminars and training programmes to teach them about the existing law and their rights. “We have worked with people in Badarganj for a long time. What we have observed is that most arbitrators know about the act but tend to bend the law. They have a tendency to turn a simple matter political, knowing who support them and who don’t.” When asked how the situation can be improved, he said: “We think there should be more awareness programmes by NGOs in the rural areas of Bangladesh to make the people learn about their rights to get justice. One thing is very important: the morality of the chairman or the arbitrator in the villages, whom people obey and respect.” Md Nur Khan, director of Ain o Salish Kendra, said: “I think people at first should be more aware of village arbitration or fatwas. Secondly, there has to be strict application of law. And these two things should be run in parallel. Awareness should be ensured in grassroots level, and in this case, the people’s representative should have an active role in raising awareness. The villagers should also ensure that their leaders know about it all.”

According to the police

Zahidul Rahman Chowdhury, the officer in-charge of Badarganj police station, said: “The chairman and the members often try to solve the villagers’ disputes themselves. Villagers also feel free to go to the UP chairman or members, rather than coming to the police. If we receive any complaint against anyone, we always try to take action.” n W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 20 1 4



Grand Sultan Tea Resort and Golf

Living the Grand life Faisal Mahmud writes about the new resort in Sreemangal

Faisal Mahmud is a staff reporter at Weekend Tribune. He is good at memorising seemingly unnecessary information and finds that journalism actually appreciates, if not nurtures, that sort of futile flair


inding a nine-hole recreational golf course amid the greenery of tea garden isn’t something that you come across too often, anywhere in the world. The Grand Sultan Tea Resort and Golf in Sreemangal, Maulvibazar, offers that, and much more. The Grand Sultan, the first ever fivestar resort (with full local investment) in country, the is unique indeed. Covering an area of 13.6 acres, with the backdrop of invigorating landscape, the nine-storied skyscraper stands and blends well. A small artificial lake, with a wooden bridge over it and carefully nurtured garden along the banks, only enhances the beauty of the ambience. There’s also an exclusive library, a movie theatre, a tennis court, a basketball court, two badminton courts and a tea garden (of its own), all inside the resort premises.

The first view

The resort officially started in December. From the Christmas day to New Year’s Eve, the resort offered special packages and discounts. The grand opening was on Christmas

The facilities

1. The resort has 145 rooms with state-of-the-art facilities 2. Other than Roshni Mahal, which has a 1,200-people capacity, the resort also has a banquet hall named Naomi Manjil, with the capacity of 750 people 3. The resort has three five-star restaurants named Fowara Dine, Shahee Dine and Arannya Bilash.


night. Journalists from different media attended the event, invited by a PR firm named Cool Exposure. The first view of the resort was wonderful; It was instantly impressive. Visitors were greeted with refreshing welcome drinks. From the aweinspiring chandelier, to the detailed wooden decorative works – the decor was stylish and elegant. The resort was beautifully decorated for Christmas. There was a huge Christmas tree, with a Santa Clause offering candy and chocolate to children. The lobby was cosy, with comfortable sitting arrangement. It was festive all around.

A celebrity staff

The resort has very competent personnel, including Tony Khan, a celebrity chef and the former director of food and beverage at the Westin, Dhaka, who joined the staff as general manager. Tony earlier worked for King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, as corporate executive chef for Marriott and Continental Hotels, Radisson Blu Water Garden, Dhaka and Luxury Carnival Cruise Liner, USA.

There are also three cafes named Golf Paharika, Pool Deck and Cafe Mangal 4. The restaurants offer diverse set of cuisines, including Continental, Chinese, English, Indian and Bangali foods. The cafes offer all sorts of snacks and beverages, giving the lodgers the privilege to enjoy a lazy morning or evening

He studied nutrition and hospitality in Sydney, Melbourne and Miami. Tony is well-known for his eclectic style cuisine around the world. He was awarded Chef of the Year in Pacific, Papua New Guinea in 1991 and was named best chef in the world in 1998. Tony believes, with the beautiful scenic view of Sreemangal, the resort will attract a huge number of local and foreign tourists. He said: “Sreemangal, the tea capital of our country, is one of the most visited tourist destinations. The resort is located right in the heart of this region. The famous Lawachhara rain forest is half an hour away from the resort. Staying in this resort would be a wonderful experience for anybody.”

... And the journey begins

The opening ceremony at the

resort’s Roshni Mahal hall was stunning. There was also a grand buffet comprising continental, Indian and Bangali cuisines, with musical performance by popular band Souls. Khwaja Tipu Sultan, chairman of the resort, officially inaugurated the resort in that ceremony, saying the Grand Sultan strives to uplift the country’s tourism industry to a prestigious, international standard. “This particular region is full of natural beauty. Tourists from all over the world want to visit the place, but there has been no worldclass accommodation and facilities available here. The Grand Sultan has filled that vacant space,” he said. “I am hopeful this venture will bring about great changes in the socio-economy of Sreemangal, as well as Bangladesh,” he added. n

Stranger in a strange land


Hong Kong

Fleeting connections

Haley Joy Fowlkes writes about her experiences as an American in China


henever I felt restless on the mainland, I would take the ferry to Hong Kong. It’s a city that’s both comforting to an American because of its British influences, but also overwhelming. I come from a rural area, and Hong Kong, to me, signifies a daunting, crowded future. On one of my last visits to the city, I made a point to visit an art installation that my students had told me about. A Dutch artist had towed a gigantic, yellow rubber ducky across the globe, and it would sit in the Kowloon harbor for only a few weeks. As far as art goes, it was not very impressive or creative, but I knew that friends from home would love it. Afterall, it symbolized childhood and joy, perfect for a Facebook cover photo. When I arrived, it was nearly impossible to find an unobstructed angle. That weekend, everyone who had come to Hong Kong to see the duck had had to wait until Sunday for their perfect shot, because earlier that week, the duck sprung a leak and lay deflated with only the Hong Kong skyline as a backdrop. Ironically, I would’ve preferred the calamitous photo rather than the one I took. Invariably, a lot of people were making victory signs with their fingers and intentionally squinting. Some positioned their bodies precariously on the guardrails to create the illusion that they were sitting on the duck. It was then that it occurred to me how difficult it must be, to be a model and photographer in Asia. Everyone is taking photographs of the same exact thing, using similar poses, and the camera equipment available is stale in nearly the same week it came on the market. In China, I would get annoyed with my students and their photography habits. They always took out their phones the moment the class break began. The girls would admire themselves, snap a selfie, and share it with someone, a boy maybe, I imagined, in the class next door. Sometimes a student would approach me after class and ask to take a photograph with me. If others were still in the classroom, they would ask to be included and I would be stuck in the classroom for another half hour. The Chinese are not bashful about telling you what they think of your country. We Americans are considered proud and arrogant as individuals as well as a nation. For a culture so obsessed with modesty and humility,

the hobby of photography, a relatively narcissistic act rather than artistic undertaking, can be questionable. I take photographs rarely. I only pull out my camera to snap something I may want to share with my family after vacation or to record something rare for admiration on Facebook. I rarely ever look at them again. My mother used to tell me that if it were worth remembering, I would always remember it. My experience viewing the duck took mere seconds, while others there lingered. It was a touristy affair, and familiarity with the language was unnecessary. Watching the project of creating a memorable photograph

level. Knowing it was one of my last visits to Hong Kong, experiencing it alone allowed me personal time with the city. I took the Star Ferry one last time. Putting in my earbuds, I was ready to relax and enjoy. An older man, almost twice my age, sat right next to me on a nearly empty vessel. We both knew where we could find the best view. His camera was an extension of his face, monstrous and jerking back and forth as he zoomed in and out. I loosened the plastic sheeting that protected us from ocean spray, but made the view waxy. He only had a few feet of space to work with, but it allowed him a nearly perfect shot of muddy

Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune

took hours for some. They still had to go home, narrow down options, play with their selection on Photoshop, and upload. Were they really appreciating the art? Was this what the artist intended? The interesting experience of Hong Kong is that you could spend days, even weeks, traveling throughout the island and see almost nothing of it. The city is almost entirely comprised of obstructed views. All space is valuable. It is a shopper’s paradise. I felt as if I was trapped in a never-ending shopping mall, barbecuing under the fluorescence, unable to ever find an exit sign. Even the metro is packed full of stores, and you can walk miles underground before reaching your destination. The city is intentionally designed so that the least amount of foot traffic is traveling on the street

clouds gushing from behind Hong Kong Island, threaded by skyscrapers. He thanked me several times while I held open the curtain so he could get his shot. He took five, maybe ten at most and then sat down. He put away his camera, satisfied with what he’d gotten.


suspected that he was ready to practice his English. And sure enough, he asked where I was from, how long I’d been there, where was I going, etc. Unlike most people I encountered during my time in China, he grasped for equal footing. He strayed from the textbook. He told me about himself. He had one day off a week, that day, and he chose to spend it as he spent the week before and the week before that, walking through Hong Kong, taking photographs. No one ever saw

his photos. He lived alone. He spent his evenings teaching himself Spanish, and desperately wanted to travel to Spain. I’d majored in Spanish in college, and took that opportunity to practice with him. In the two years he’d been studying, it was the first time that he had spoken the language with an actual human being. Everything he had learned thus far had come from a book. He’d heard good things about Russian food, and was spending one evening a week learning Russian. He believed he’d have opportunities to travel to Russia on business before he’d ever make it to Spain. I was in awe of him. My students often told me of the importance of lifelong learning. They had mentioned it in essays regularly, and it had grown to become a joke amongst the other foreign teachers. We considered it a formulaic answer. We disembarked the Star Ferry, and he asked if he could accompany me. He could help me get where I wanted to go, but I had nowhere to be, so we wandered. I allowed him to lead me across the miles of underground, up and down escalators and through high-end and eventually low-end malls, even though I was familiar with my surroundings. I took in the day and tried to imagine spending my only day off doing this every week. It was my first time in Hong Kong without having a goal in mind; whether it was a place to eat, or a museum to visit. We just explored. We left one another on opposite ends of the subway platform. I was on my way back to the mainland, he was in pursuit of his next muse. I remember telling him several times how much I enjoyed speaking to him, trying to assure him of his expertise in Spanish while empowered by my own confidence in my education. We did not exchange personal information. He did not take my photograph. I doubt we will ever see one another again. These are the most precious moments of traveling. Interaction solidifies memories. He could have been a ghost. I could be remembering him with yellower teeth and different clothing than what a photograph might reflect. However, my mind’s eye sees him in 3D. I would not have made such a fleeting connection if it had not have been for him putting down his camera, noticing me, and having the confidence to say hello. Hong Kong would still feel unfamiliar. n

Haley Joy Fowlkes has been infected with wanderlust since birth, though she currently resides in Mississippi, USA. She enjoys new experiences and loves dahi phuchka, and can’t wait to visit Bangladesh again

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 20 1 4

22 Dina Sobhan is a freelance writer and cautions readers not to take her “advice” here too seriously! Got a problem? Write to Dina at weekend@


I’m a married woman in my mid-20s. I got married seven months ago, and my husband and I get along quite well. Recently I started working in an advertising company under an amazing boss. He’s brilliant, eloquent and the personification of Adonis. I’m completely enamoured by him, and I think he likes me too. If only I wasn’t married! My heart says he’s the one. Do you think I should leave my husband? It hasn’t even been a year, how bad could it be?

DINA SOBHAN Aww, shucks. You’ve got an itty-bitty crush! It would be positively adorable if you were a schoolgirl and not a married woman! I’m questioning your commitment a little because – let me get this straight – you’re willing to jump ship on your marriage of seven months because your boss is hot? Honey, just because the man is nice to you does not mean he would be willing to romance your post-divorced sloppy remains, especially if he’s as elegant

and Adonis-like as you claim. He must have every Tuntun, Dania and Floozy throwing herself at him, and is unlikely to be moved to jeopardise his career with a mere underling such as yourself. Moreover, if your heart (read: hormones) is so easily swayed and swoons at every man in creased trousers and a clean shirt, I fear for your short-suffering husband and ill-fated marriage. So, my advice to you is to put it back in your salwar kameez, tell your heart and all your

other parts that all men other than your husband are off-limits, and give your marriage a proper chance at succeeding before throwing yourself like a bean bag at the feet of the next half-decent man who crosses your path. n

Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune


I recently learned that one of my closest friends is gay. I never had an inkling of his ... “condition,” because I’ve seen him date plenty of girls, all of whom seemed perfectly happy with him. I only found out accidentally by overhearing a phone conversation between him and his boyfriend. I don’t think anyone else knows, and he has no clue that I’ve found out. I have no idea how to deal with this situation!


Oh my God! Call the police, call RAB, tell someone, DO SOMETHING, or it might spread and before you know it, you’ll all be gay! Homosexuality is not something that you pick up in a dirty bathroom, you troglodyte, it’s a lifestyle preference – one that doesn’t concern or affect you in any way that I can fathom. You probably never realised before because he, like most gay people, probably doesn’t carry a neon sign declaring his status and doesn’t feel comfortable letting some people know yet, lest they use words like “condition” to describe what is a choice

shared by millions of people around the world. And the reason girls were happy with him in the past is because he’s possibly a kind, funny and an all-around decent guy who just happens to prefer boys to girls and needed some time to figure it out for himself. When he’s ready to let you in on his decision, he will. Until then, read a couple of books, browse the internet, watch Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or whatever else you need to do to realise that your friend is still the same guy you’ve always known, not some guy with a “condition.” n




Across 1 4 6 7

Wonder if distance holds car back (7) What nudists wear dancing in thong (7) Pay limo to move around games venue (7) Courage to draw men’s clothing (7)

Down 1 2 3 5

Move first on impending rainy season (7) Glamorous hotel on New York central (5) Etch English dance party (7) Contribution of Putin when confused (5)

Solution and clues for last week’s crossword

Across 1 4 6 7

Change logo and transport in Venice (7) Six egg in messy rail pasta dish (7) A tropic salad of fruit (7) Headless mood, or one that rules (7)

Down 1 2 3 5

Actor Richard holds person appropriate (7) Level up rights first when hell freezes over (5) Raise list number 4, a flyer (7) Award mark after nothing (5)

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 20 1 4

24 Jennifer Ashraf is a barrister and solicitor of England and Wales. She is currently Senior Partner at Legacy Legal Corporate. When she is not solving complicated legal problems, Jennifer is usually found travelling to exotic locations sampling the indigenous cuisine Got a problem? Write to Jennifer at weekend@


I was hanging out with my friends the other day and someone started passing around bags of potato chips. Now, if you’ve seen these bags, they look pretty stuffed but when you open one, you realize that more than half is full of air. All the bags were marked with quality control tags, which means that they follow certain regulations on product quality and packaging quality, right? And to top it off, some of these “small” sized bags cost a decent amount (around Tk35, at least). I feel cheated. Isn’t there some kind of law that they’re breaking or bypassing? Or should we continue to pay hefty prices for tiny amounts of barely satisfying snacks?

Jennifer Ashraf Dear Reader, This is a tricky one – a question that is on each and every one of our minds, yet one that challenges a standard that most have come to accept. Since there are quite a few elements of your question, let’s deal with each of them in turn. The first point you make is that the bags “look pretty stuffed,” but that your hopeful expectation disappears as soon you open the bag and realize that undesired packaged air has given you a false promise of a satisfactory snack. One might argue that the consumers are victims of “misrepresentation.” “Misrepresentation” (in contract law) can be defined as “an assertion or manifestation by words or conduct, made by a party to a contract that induces another to enter into a contract, which can be interpreted as false or untrue.” Unfortunately, the concept of “misrepresentation” does not apply here. For a contract to have

legal validity, there needs to be an “offeror” (person making the offer) and an “offeree” (person accepting the offer). However, in the case of consumer purchases, the consumer becomes the “offeror,” which in this case, is whoever purchased the chips. The manufacturers of the chips have simply made what is legally known as an “invitation to treat,” i.e. if you like the product they have, you are welcome to make an offer. Therefore, an allegation of “misrepresentation” is hardly applicable here. You also suggest that because the bags were marked with quality control tags, they ought to follow certain product and packaging quality regulations. Yes, that is absolutely correct. So, do clarify: did any of the chips taste bad? Were any stale? Did you or your friends become ill after eating them? And lastly, given that each bag includes a stamp of the contents’ “net weight,” was it accurate? When you opened the bag, did you weigh the packaging with the chips? Was it below the stamped weight? If so, by how much?

Rio Shuvo/Dhaka Tribune


To cut a long story short, in spite of the missing details, I would say you have no case here. Yes, product quality and food quality regulations and laws exist, but the main focus is on health and well-being, not how much air is packed into potato chips’ bags. You mentioned you feel cheated. Then stop buying these chips! But I’ll admit, as a kid of the 80s, I remember a time when chips had much less packed air and never failed to satisfy on quantity. Sadly, those days are over. Perhaps switching brands might help the wallet and up the good ol’ satisfaction meter? Just a thought. n


I frequently take trips outside of Dhaka to break the monotony of life, the constant bustle of the city and to just peacefully enjoy the scenic beauty of our country. Over the last few years, however, industrialization seems to have caught up to even these outlying areas. Now, instead of lush greenery, I find my view blocked every so many miles by horrendously gigantic hoardings. While I understand the need to advertise and push our growing consumer-based economy, I wonder if losing our picturesque landscape is a viable price to pay? Isn’t there some way we could save our countryside from the indignity of being marred by billboards? Dear Reader, Yes, you have a point. A very good one in fact. Unfortunately, we live in times when good points are rarely enough to help protect our country’s interests or those of our future generations. No specific law exists prohibiting the construction of billboards over the countryside. Again, focus is given to health and safety rather than visual impact. Last week, we dealt with a similar issue of easements in relation to billboards. The billboard situation is worse within Dhaka itself. To actually put a billboard up within the City, permission is required from Dhaka City Corporation (DCC). There are currently about 2,500 billboards within Dhaka, of which only about 300 have the requisite permission. Rules stipulate that billboards should not be larger than 600 square feet, another regulation often blatantly disregarded. Dangerously positioned massive billboards are hazardous to pedestrians and travelers. Recently, a Bangladesh High Court ordered removal of such billboards. DCC’s initiative to evict illegal billboards, which was stalled during the political stalemate has now resumed, along with other considerations to implement new regulations. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best! n



Dhaka College Dhaka College, 1904

I did my master’s in Dhaka College in the late 90s. Studying there was somewhat different than studying in the other schools I’ve been to, especially when I learned its history and realised some of this subcontinent’s great leaders graduated from there. The college is full of academic as well as entertaining elements, which set it apart. It has been a wonderful experience, and I take pride in the fact that I am a part of Dhaka College Alumni.

Bangladesh Old Photo Archive

Zia Uddin Mahmud, FCMA Mirpur, Dhaka


Chanchal Kamal

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 20 1 4



Shah Nahian is a staff 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


Moving with the music Shah Nahian explores the differing days of a dedicated drummer


hah Md Imran (Tihan) is an ordinary 18-year-old who spends most of his time hanging out with friends, watching movies and preparing for his exit exams. However, when he adds a performance onto his

schedule, his daily routine completely changes. As the current drummer for three different underground bands, Tihan attributes his love and pursuit of music to his upbringing in a family of passionate musicians.

A Faraz


Currently a member of Heal, Minus 2 and Busride

Also currently temping for his friend’s band, Martian Love, as a drummer

Enjoys playing the guitar and bass, too, but bass guitar is his favourite

Learns drum lines from new songs he likes, teaches his three drum students and practises new techniques after his students leave to improve his drumming skills

Due to the political unrest, Tihan’s concert performance frequency has reduced from once a week to two or three shows every month


Currently studying for his A-Level exams independently, Tihan has the luxury of leading the life of a night owl and waking up late in the day. Starting his day as late as 12 or 1pm, Tihan takes his time to freshen up, eat lunch and prepare for classes, which keep him busy until 6pm. From then on, he hangs out with friends, jams on his drums, tutors his drum students, reviews what he learned in class, eats dinner and eventually ends his day by watching a movie or two until he falls asleep around 2 or 3am. However, as the drummer for not one, but three upcoming bands, Tihan’s daily routine drastically changes as soon as a show is announced. With about two or three shows every week, sometimes twice in one day, Tihan and his bands must jam, jam and then jam some more if they want to put out a good show. He explains: “Me and my

The shifting schedule of a local performer Regular Day • • • • •

12am-1pm Wake up Freshen up Breakfast/Lunch 2pm-3:30pm Get ready Go to class 6pm-8pm Leisure time Tutor drum students 9pm Return Home Study 10:30pm-12am Have dinner while watching a movie • 12am-2/3am Watch a second movie/Listen to music Sleep


Days before the show • • • • •

10am-11am Wake up Breakfast 11am Band members start showing up 1:30pm-3pm Band practice Lunch with the band Get ready for class 3:30pm-6pm Go to class 7pm-12am Practice set list Dinner Sleep

Day of the show • • •

10am Wake up Freshen up 11am-2:30 Band practice Get ready for the show Lunch Head to the venue 3pm-9pm Perform Hang out with friends and watch the concert • 9pm-12am Return home Dinner Sleep

bandmates, we all have obligations in our daily lives. Even when we’re not tied up doing something important, it is always tempting to be lazy. However, even with a strong chemistry amongst the members, it is essential that we all meet up and practise at least once before every show. Even after having my bits mastered and memorised, we need to see how well we play our parts with each other. If we don’t, even if no one messes up, we surely won’t be performing up to our full potential.” Preparation for a show usually starts three days before taking the stage. During these days, Tihan is out of bed by 10am. At 11am, the other members begin to show up for practice. “I have drums, amps and other accessories already set up in my room, so often it saves us from a trip to the jamming pad,” he says. Practice usually lasts for about four hours, and once they’re satisfied for the day, they usually follow the session with lunch. Then, Tihan usually resumes his regular routine by going to class at 3:30pm, because attending classes is a must! However, when classes are over, he heads home to practise the set list for the upcoming concert. On these days, he makes sure to go to bed early, as he can’t afford to be tired for the next day’s session. On the day of the show, Tihan and his band meet up at his house for one last practice and then head to the venue by 3pm. After performing, Tihan likes to hang back until the end of the show, so he can enjoy the other performances. “But after a long day of performing, I usually find myself spent before the concert is over. As soon as I make it home and have a quick dinner, I’m off to bed,” he adds. Then he reverts to his normal routine until the concert cycle starts again. n



Muhammad Habibur Rahman

Another light gone

Faisal Mahmud remembers the former chief justice and revered leader He enrolled in Dhaka University (DU) and went on to finish his honour’s (1949) and master’s (1951) in history, and later LLB. While studying at DU, Rahman played a key role in the 1952 Language Movement. On February 21, 1952, he led one of the groups that came out in procession, defying the section 144 imposed by the Pakistani government, for which he was arrested. Later in life, he attended Oxford University and did his honour’s and master’s in modern history in 1958 and 1962, respectively.

An illustrious carrier


uring his tenure as the chief adviser of the caretaker government (CG) in 1996, Muhammad Habibur Rahman faced several crises. But the biggest one was probably when the then Chief of the Army Lt Gen Abu Saleh Mohammad Nasim started a rebellion, denying Rahman as the interim chief of government. For a non-democratic organisation like the CG, it was a major problem indeed. But Justice Habibur Rahman handled the situation with such unprecedented ease that it is still referred to with reverence. Those who witnessed him performing his duties, whether as the chief adviser or as the chief justice, all agreed that he was a “work horse; but no one would have realised that he was like that.” That silent guardian and mentor to our “developing democracy,” breathed his last on January 11, at the age of 85.

Early life and education

Muhammad Habibur Rahman was born on December 3, 1928 at Dairampur village of then Murshidabad. He spent his early childhood in Dairampur before his family moved to the then East Bengal. He completed higher secondary from Calcutta Presidency College and has BA honour’s from Rajshahi College.

Rahman began his career as a temporary lecturer at the History Department of DU right after finishing his master’s there. It was short-lived, as he left it four days later to join the Language Movement. He also taught history at Sirajganj College, Jagannath College (now Jagannath University) and Rajshahi University. In the 60s, Rahman changed his track and joined Dhaka High Court Bar. During his legal career, he held the offices of assistant advocate general (1969), vice-president of High Court Bar Association (1972) and member of Bangladesh Bar Council (1972). During his judicial carrier, Rahman’s juristic competence was demonstrated in his opinions and interpretations in the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding many vital issues, like admiralty jurisdiction, amendment of the Constitution, citizenship, habeas corpus, administrative tribunals and court jurisdictions. He retired from service as chief justice in 1995. As the last retiring chief justice, in accordance with the constitutional provision for the CG, he took oath as the chief adviser to conduct the seventh parliamentary election in 1996, which is considered to be one of the most fair and free elections in the country’s history.

A visionary politician

After his retirement from the CG, Rahman had been actively monitoring the political situation of the country. Many political and civil leaders regarded him as a “guardian” to our politics. Rahman, with his thoughtful writing and commentary, and participation in many events, tried to teach our generation the true value of democracy. Rahman had always been an optimist. He recently told the media that the ongoing political turmoil would die out after some time, and

that one should not despair in this period of transition. However, a few days before his death, Rahman did express grave concern over the violence centring on the recently held election.

A passionate scholar

Rahman was an acclaimed writer and researcher. He wrote over 70 books on history, literature and politics. He had some original research on Bangali Muslim culture and about the long lost pride of Muslim scientists and scholars. He won the Bangla Academy award for literature in 1985 for his contribution in literature. He was also a fellow of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, fellow of the Bangla Academy, and an honorary bencher at Lincoln’s Inn. Muhammad Habibur Rahman made many contributions to his country while he lived. Bangladesh has certainly lost special human-being. n

Faisal Mahmud is a staff reporter at Weekend Tribune. He is good at memorising seemingly unnecessary information and finds that journalism actually appreciates, if not nurtures, that sort of futile flair

An eventful life 1951 Serves as the vice-president of Fazlul Huq Muslim Hall Students’ Council while studying at DU 1952 Has a very brief stint as a lecturer at DU; becomes actively involved in the Language Movement 1964 Joins the Dhaka High Court Bar 1976-1985 Served as a judge in the High Court Division 1985-95 Serves as a judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court 1990-91 Serves as the acting chief justice of the country 1995 Becomes the chief justice of the country 1996 Acts as the chief adviser of the caretaker government

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 20 1 4

28 Saif Kamal is a feature writer in Dhaka Tribune

LAST WORD Saif Kamal

Are we headed toward a civil war? The danger and destruction outside Dhaka city


y grandmother left us on the morning of December 18 – another day of blockade. My family, proud of their connection to their village roots, was adamant that she be buried in the family graveyard. She had wished the same: to be laid down next to her husband’s grave. After relatives in Chittagong paid their last respect to the deceased, we put the body in the vehicle labeled and equipped as “lasher gari” to transport it to our village. We were to leave the city by noon so that we could reach village on time, but were unable to find transport to the village. Obviously it was impractical to take a whole parade of family cars, since we would be traveling in the middle of a blockade. We were all nervous about the rampant attacks on the highway. Sitakunda scared us the most. We had read about the horrendous stories of violence in the paper and watched how ambulances had been set ablaze there on TV. Finally, we began our journey with four mini buses. As we got onto the highway, we noticed the busiest national highway was empty and calm; no traffic at all because of the opposition-imposed blockade. The road had logs piled up on the side to be used to create roadblocks when needed. I noticed how every vehicle had seemingly come under attack: they had either cracked or no windshields. The roads were deserted with only Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) men patrolling. Every half-kilometer, we saw a police vehicle. The BGB men seemed poised to shoot on sight. The Officer in charge of Mirersharai, a family friend, offered to provide us with police escorts, which we had to refuse since it could make us a good target for the picketers. As we drove further, we saw a truck that was forced off the road and set on fire. It had apparently been carrying sugar that had caramelised from the fire and spilled all over the road. We were worried, as we had heard about ambulances being set on fire, and vehicles with dead bodies being allowed to pass, but only without family members. Fortunately, we made it through Sitakunda, but the SUV my parents were in broke down. There was a Madrassa just 20 metres away, and the principal told us we could park inside until help was available. As we waited, I heard stories from the locals about how some picketers would pretend their car had broken down, only to wait until someone came forward to help and then set their car on fire. W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 1 7, 2014

Crossing Feni and turning towards Noakhali, I felt a sense of relief. But little did I know what was ahead. Feni, after all, is a strong hold for the ruling party, as Jainal Hazari is a veteran cadre there. However, it is also the birthplace of opposition leader Khaleda Zia - hence it is possibly a war zone. Picketers there are from both parties and once their rampage is over, they shift the blame on to the other party. These picketers are unemployed and swing sides under the secondary leadership who hire them. It’s as though a free market zone is in operation there. I soon learned from someone from Feni that Jamaat starts the processions with “Joy Bangla” to ease the police. When the police have their guards, down, they are attacked by Jamaat goons. Similarly, AL goons put on skull caps and attack the Hindu communities to make it look like a Jamaat act. We soon reached Sebarhat and saw that there were rows of trees across the road. As the motorcade headed by the “lasher gari” approached, picketers on both sides stood in silence, waiting for the instruction to attack. Our cars were forced to stop. The logs were in such a way that one could manage to maneuver through them easily, but the tenure of the struggle would give the picketers time to attack. A distant family member arrived on the spot and spoke to the “ring leader” of the picketers, and they moved the logs from our way. I got out of the car to have a word with them. I asked our visiting family member if he knew these people, but he did not because picketers were usually hired from another thana and are constantly shuffled. This makes it difficult to file a case against them in the same police station and helps them to buy time to flee.


s we passed through the marketplace, we saw desperate faces of people buying basic commodities and hurrying back home. Soon we reached Choumuhni. The interior of Noakhali is in tight control of BNP and Jamaat. As we approached one of the oldest market places, we saw picketers blocking the road with bamboos and knives in their hands – knives that were big enough to slaughter cows! There was a deadly silence on the busy road filled with hundreds of picketers. One of them shouted out, “Oi lasher gari!” Our van was the last in line, and an angry man opened the door of the car, looked me in the eye while pointing to the

sticker on the car that said ‘lasher gari’ and screamed, “Where is the dead body?” My gaze shifted from his blood shot eyes to the hand holding a large wooden plank. His tone was high and angry, as though we were deceiving him. Before I could reply a man walked towards us and said the body was in a car in the front. He slammed the door shut. I saw a burned piece of red cloth on the road that said “joruri” (emergency). Such red banners are put in front of vehicles that carry medicine, milk, food, etc. It did not surprise me, as I had recently seen how the unavailability of medicines was putting human life at stake in Chittagong. We reached our village, and after the last rituals we sat under the moonlight and heard that after we had crossed some of the areas, large numbers of vehicles were set on fire and many were vandalised. While we considered ourselves lucky, it made me wonder where all of this was heading. Someone said that this seemed like 1971 all over again. I was shocked. Why did he say this? He took me on a walk and we met a few people. Many small shop owners, hawkers, carpenters and even people who worked in restaurants in both Dhaka and Chittagong had come back. There is no work or business in the cities now and life there is too expensive. A day labourer said, “Back in the village, at least I don’t have to pay rent!” Later that night, a young group of boys gathered around the village tea stall. Barely sixteen, they were political activists or, as someone said, the “troublemaking unemployed ones” of the village. Many were BNP and Jamaat men, they claimed. None however, had any idea why they were on the streets. Is it Qader Molla or is it the caretaker government issue? They were just paid goons hired to do the dirty jobs of the top bosses. The next morning my father’s SUV came in with a cracked windshield from a bullet shot from the dark while it was crossing Sebahat. Over the next 2 days, many relatives from different villages came to see us. There were harrowing tales of struggle in the villages, since they live from day to day as hostages in the hands of the political parties and this huge mess that we are in. Is this a civil war? They ask. How will we ever undo this? I ask myself. n

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