Page 1

Shahid Asad 6

Joint River Commission 18

FRIDAY JANUARY 24 2014 vol 1 Issu e 39

Suchitra Sen 27


1

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

One new notification: digital war!

5 Big Mouth Strikes Again

A Weekly Pro ducti o n o f

10 Post-Riposte

DhakaTribune

Vo lume 1, Issu e 3 9 JAN UARY 2 4, 2 0 14

Circulation Wahid Murad Email: weekend@dhakatribune.com Web: www.dhakatribune.com Cover Celebrating Shakrain by Riasat Rakin

Ariel Sharon’s legacy

20 Digital Bangladesh 6 Pick of the Week Shahid Asad

Mobile phone repair shops

21 Stranger in a Strange Land

Shivers in Moscow

22 Tough Love 23 WT | Leisure 24 Game On

Contributors Naheed Kamal Ibtisam Ahmed Promiti Prova Chowdhury Dina Sobhan Ehtesamul Haque Pragya Rahman Audity Falguni Chanchal Kamal Quamrul Abedin

Advertising Shahidan Khurshed

Shakrain

17 Realpolitik

Cartoon Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy Rio Shuvo

Production Masum Billah

A stuntman

13 Photo Story

Art Direction/Photography Syed Latif Hossain

Colour Specialist Kazi Syras Al Mahmood

Films of the year

12 Day in the Life of

Assistant Magazine Editor Sumaiya Shams Rohini Alamgir

Design Mohammad Mahbub Alam Alamgir Hossain

Members of the cabinet

11 Top 10

Editor Zafar Sobhan

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

All hail the ‘selfie’

English Premier League

25 The Way Dhaka Was

Shaidullah Hall, DU

26 Culture Vulture

Rivers of the World 2014

27 Obituary 18 Feature Joint River Commission

Suchitra Sen

28 Last Word

EDITOR’S NOTE

Heroes: Real and reel W

ord on the street is that Big Brother has taken an interest in the media and wants to keep a closer eye on what’s going on in order to avoid “terrorism.” Since we’re to be put under a spotlight, it just might be a good time to take Naheed Kamal’s advice this week in Big Mouth Strikes Again and start posting selfies of ourselves to make things just a little easier for the “man.” And speaking of being on camera, there’s no one more captured, yet less credited than a stuntman in Bangladeshi films, as you can learn from Farhana Urmee’s coverage of a regular day in the life of one such real life hero. Yet remember, there are reel heroes and real heroes, so before you put down this issue of Weekend Tribune, do take a moment to join Faisal Mahmud in paying homage to a real, unsung hero, Shahid Asad. Until next week, happy reading! n

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


WEEKLY BAROMETER

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The body of a woman is extracted from rubble in Aleppo as people search for survivors after airstrikes by Syrian government forces on January 18 AFP/Mohammed al-Khatieb

Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat state Chief Minister Narendra Modi addresses supporters during a party rally in Ranchi on December 29

President Abdul Hamid pays tribute to Shawkat Momen Shahjahan, the Awami League MP from Tangail 8 constituency, on January 20 at the south plaza of the Parliament Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

The BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia speaks at a rally held in the city’s Sohrawardi Park on January 5, “thanking the people for boycotting the polls” Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

AFP/STR

On January 19, Chinese visitors pay tribute at a memorial in Harbin, to honour Ahn Jung-Geun, who shot and killed Hirobumi Ito, Japan’s first prime minister and its top official in Japaneseoccupied Korea, in 1909

Workers busy with the construction of sanitary toilets for the devotees of Biswa Ijtema in Tongi on January 20 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

CHINA OUT/AFP

Demonstrators shout slogans during a march in support of an Indonesian maid, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who was allegedly tortured by her employer in Hong Kong on January 19 AFP/Philippe Lopez

Pakistani soldiers and policemen cordon off the site of a suicide bomb attack in Rawalpindi on January 20 AFP/Aamir Qureshi

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

Detective branch of police detain three suspected members of Tehrik-e-Taliban from the city’s Shilpakala Academy area on January 20 Mahmud Hossain Opu/ Dhaka Tribune

Fire fighters douse a fire at a factory in Hatkhola, Barisal on January 21 Banglar Chokh


BOTTLED UP

3

letters to the editor

LETTER

of the week Walking the Black Dog

Not everyone is aware that the term “black dog” refers to depression, and more than that, hardly anyone recognises that depression is a very real mental health issue that many can and do suffer from. Therapists and counsellors are great resources to have in any community because it’s great to be able to unburden yourself without fearing judgement or unwanted advice. Unfortunately for Bangladesh, we are very far from realising that going to a therapist doesn’t mean you’re “crazy.” People who suffer from depression or other mental health issues are in constant danger: suicide is often just a slight push away. I’m really glad that Naheed Kamal has thought to bring the conversation out in the open, and is getting the dialogue started. It’s time to put aside useless social stigmas and start helping each other and ourselves. Maisha Islam Baridhara, Dhaka

Wrong order

I hated the top 10 last week. Why was Jerry Seinfeld No seven? He is practically the king of the stand-up comedy. And how did Rob Schneider end up on the list? He’s not funny at all! Mahadi Abdur Rauf Dhanmondi, Dhaka

Pretty photos

I absolutely LOVED last week’s photo story about “putul naach”! The photos were stunning and took me back to my childhood when my grandfather took me to see a putul naach. I am definitely going to see if I can find a Dhaka troupe and drag my friends to a show! Mitali Banerjee Mirpur, Dhaka

Hail to the rivers

I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the Rivers of the World exhibition. I think it’s a brilliant concept, as well as a great collaboration between countries. I went to the exhibition after reading the article. It was lovely! Thanks to Rohini Alamgir for letting us know. Mostafa Sarowar Mirpur, Dhaka

Send us your feedback at: weekend@dhakatribune.com

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


4

WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?

One new notification:

digital wars! A commission will be formed to monitor the activities of private media houses ... it is our duty to protect the media from ill practice. We will continue our fight against terrorism. Hasanul Haq Inu, information minister

This digital war is making me ill. In case they’re too occupied, the ‘terrorism’ is actually out here, on the streets. Mr Mango

Rio Shuvo/Dhaka Tribune

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014


Big Mouth strikes again

5

Naheed Kamal

All hail the ‘selfie’ Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it

2

013 has been declared the year of the “selfie.” If you question what that is, I will have to ask: where have YOU been hiding? A selfie is a self-portrait photo which often involves a duck-face or kissy-face (Don’t ask me what they mean, please. I am not a dictionary!) which is usually taken with a camera phone and is associated with social networking. In other words, it is taking a picture of yourself that you then post online. Needless to say, it is associated with the younger set, if you know what I mean. That is not to say that older people, who ought to know better, are not taking selfies. No, I don’t know what all the brouhaha is all about. Yes, there must be much more to it than taking a photo of yourself looking daft. After all, the word and act was “trending” all through last year and, by the looks of it, will continue to do so this year. It even beat that woeful example of dancing which Miley Cyrus displayed at a certain music award ceremony, i.e. Twerking, a clip of which performance I had to go and find online after I saw the expressions of Will Smith and his children in a photograph. See how photos can influence what we do? I figured it had to be seen if they looked so gobsmacked! True, I did regret the experience, and yes, I was equally astounded. It did make me wonder if there was something we missed in Ms Cyrus’s performance: was it perhaps an attempt at satire? Was she taking a piss? Was it racist? Was she reacting to her father singing something called “Achy Breaky Heart”? Was she unwell

The Selfie Olympics has selfies of 18 to 34 year olds posing in extreme positions in their toilets – why toilets? Oh didn’t I mention? Part of the selfie revolution is the phenomenon of being able to photograph yourself in the bathroom mirror. Strike an absurd pose, kissy face and click!

and did she need professional help – maybe sedation, perhaps a lobotomy? What was with the tongue? Why were her limbs lashing out without rhyme or reason? I am sure she kicked some of those backup dancers. Please Miley, put that tongue away! Did I mention the lurid, cringe-worthy sex act on the rubber hand? I just did. Sorry. Right, where was I before I went off on a tangent? Selfies. There are truly many layers of meanings attached to anything and everything that we humans do. More so than is obvious to the eye at first glance. Why else would they be having a Selfie Olympics raging on Twitter? If you ask me, I find the extreme close-up selfies a bit scary and think they show too much nose. The ubiquitous selfie shows an arm, but the best ones in my opinion are full body shots of the reflection. I don’t know why people take selfies. Come to think of it, I don’t know why I took them when I did. I admit, I no longer indulge in taking as many selfies as I did when I got my spanking new Sony Ericsson with the funky camera phone. I am not an expert or psychologist, so I can’t tell you what psychological factors drive selfie takers. They belong to the demographic that is plugged in and on all the time, ready to pose in kissy face and upload images to every single social networking site ASAP! Various theories are doing their rounds. One says they are narcissistic, and want to get as many people’s attention as possible; the more “likes” on Facebook the better, they feel, and so they post more photos. Another theory is that it boosts their self-esteem. Some experts claim that young people suffer from low selfesteem so they upload selfies to get over it. Yet another theory is that they do it to show off. Makes sense. Kids love to show off just because they can. Another expert opinion claims selfies are a way for young people to flirt. The expert said: “Young people connected on social networks are driven to upload attractive and alluring selfies to get someone’s attention, because they’re too shy to do it in person. It is a new flirting method that developed with the rise of cellular phones.” I don’t buy it. I don’t buy the first two theories either because all the comments are not ego or self esteem boosting. Some are very

If you think the OED’s choice was daft, consider Merriam-Webster’s pick based on the word most searched last year, which was ‘science’ – go figure. Or how about the American Dialect Society’s word of the year - ‘because’- and not as we know it, a full clause, but because it has evolved and is used to introduce a noun or adjective as in ‘because awesome!’ unkind, and it does make me wonder if some experts are talking out of their behinds. I can understand boredom being one reason. I recall being bored when I indulged - I had nothing better to do. We can thank the front-facing cameras on mobile phones for the advent of the selfie, and lets not forget Apps (applications) that have made taking photos so much fun. Who cares about bulky DSLRs when we have Smartphones! Some social networking sites such as Instagram were made for selfies. As was Snapchat (in the news for all the wrong reasons recently) with messages self-destructing a few minutes after recipients opened them. Finally, we have good old Facebook to thank, because we posted selfies on the world’s biggest social networking site first. And if you think its all a silly fad, a novelty, let me inform you otherwise. If the Selfie Olympics is not proof enough, with one teenager dead because he tried to take a silly selfie, then the latest photo-sharing network Frontback is proof that selfies are here to stay. Launched last July, downloaded 350,000 times by December and growing. So confident is its Belgian creator, that he rejected a buyout offer from Twitter. I must admit Frontback is a clever concept: the final image has two photos, with the top half showing what the outward-facing camera sees – your cat, your mate, or room, and the bottom half shows the inward-facing camera’s subject which is, naturally, you! Kissy face! Let us be honest, social media is fun. It is about being social, albeit virtually, but, if uploading selfies is how youngsters these days socialise I am not complaining. It is safer than socialising in real life. 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!

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


6

PICK OF THE WEEK

Shahid Asad

A forgotten martyr

Faisal Mahmud reveres the memory of a student leader whose sacrifice gave birth to our homeland

Faisal Mahmud is good at memorising seemingly unnecessary information and finds that journalism actually appreciates, if not nurtures, that sort of futile flair

Shaheed Asad’s grave in Norshingdi

Tanvir Ahsan Siddique

T

he twentieth day of January is just another day for an ordinary Bangladeshi. “Is it a special day?” might be the response received from any person when asked about the significance of the day. No surprise there! We are a blissfully oblivious nation. Go ahead and ask a person who had been there back in 1969, and the stark contrast of the responses will definitely surprise you. Exactly 45 years ago, on that day, the murder of a student leader by the police turned a seemingly non-threatening student movement into a mass upsurge, which eventually turned into a war for independence and gave birth to a new country called Bangladesh. The name of that student leader was Amanullah Mohammad Asaduzzaman. January 20 was designated as Shaheed Asad Dibosh, yet today, very few people know about this, and even fewer people care.

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014


7 Who was Asad? Born in Shibpur, Asaduzzaman graduated from Shibpur High School in 1960 and subsequently studied at Jagannath University (then known as Jagannath College) and Murari Chand College untill 1963. He later enrolled in the University of Dhaka for a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in 1966 and a Masters of Arts in 1967. During that time, he organized the Krishak Samity in Shibpur, Monohardi, Raipura and Narsingdi areas under the direction of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, president of the National Awami Party and Krishak Samity. After studying at City Law College in Dhaka, Asaduzzaman sat for a second M.A. exam in 1968 in an effort to attain a better result. At the time of his death, he was in the final year of his M.A. at Dhaka University’s Department of History. He was the president of the Dhaka Hall unit of East Pakistan Students Union and General Secretary of the Dhaka branch of what was at the time the East Pakistan Students Union (EPSU, Menon group).

The growing tension

“The independence of our country might have been delayed if Asad hadn’t sacrificed his life,” said Asad’s brother, Professor Muniruz-Zaman, the former principle of Anondomohon College. The irony is that the country hasn’t given Asad’s martyrdom its due recognition. “The mass upsurge of 1969 has also become a neglected footnote in our country’s history. But the truth is, without it, the liberation war of ‘71 might not have taken place,” said Zaman. The students led the mass upsurge in East Pakistan against the autocratic regime of the iron ruler Ayub Khan, and as Zaman states, “Nobody could have thought that the autocratic throne of Ayub Khan could be shaken, but student leaders like Asad did.” The movement against Ayub Khan’s regime was a unique phenomenon in Pakistan’s political history, “You have to understand the context in which the mass upsurge finally took place.”

He mentioned that during the 60’s, Ayub Khan’s economic policies helped the industrial development of East Pakistan but the life of the common people didn’t improve. Poverty, ignorance and other similar problems remained unresolved. This led to the alienation of the students and the politically conscious strata of Bangali society. In the 60’s, the economic disparity between East and West Pakistan had increased. East Pakistani intellectuals started considering the idea that Pakistan consisted of two economies and two political bases. They formed an expansive, influential circle that dialogued on the two differing visions of independence. The 1965 war between India and Pakistan exposed East Pakistan’s military vulnerability. The Bangalis felt that being under represented in civil service and the central cabinets caused them to play only a small share in mainstream national politics.

Asad at DMC after being shot on January 20, 1969

Chanchal Kamal

Liberation War Museum

Shaheed Asad Parishad has long demanded the inclusion of Asad’s biography in the Textbook Board’s set curriculum, but that request has yet to be fulfilled W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


8

Poet Shamsur Rahman based his legendary poem ‘Asader Shirt’ on Asad’s martyrdom

Liberation War Museum

Ayub Gate in 1969

Asad Gate in 2014

In order to address disparities between East and West Pakistan, Awami League president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman announced a six-point demand in 1966, which was virtually the blueprint for core constitutional rights of Bangalis and demanded that East and West Pakistan form a federated state. Zaman said that December of 1968 and January of 1969 were marked with strikes and a new and popular movement led by student

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

Chanchal Kamal

organisations that combined calls for federalism with passionate assertions of Bangali nationalism. On January 4, 1969 the new Sarbadaliya Chhatra Sangram Parishad (All Parties Student Resistance Council, or SCSP) was formed. This Council came together under a common set of demands and an agreed collective leadership. They announced an 11-point charter for selfgovernance in East Pakistan.

Immediately after the 11-point charter had been launched on January 8, 1969, eight political parties, including Awami League and NAP (Muzaffar) formed an alliance known as the Democratic Action Committee (DAC). The DAC demanded the federal form of the government, election on the basis of universal adult franchise (the right of all adult citizens to vote without discrimination), immediate

withdrawal of the declaration of emergency and the release of all political detainees, including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “Meanwhile, the East Pakistani students under the umbrella of DAC were trying to give a hard push to shake off the iron regime of Ayub Khan. Their brave movement provided a great impetus to the common public who had long been living in discontent,” Zaman explained.


9 An unsung hero

On January 20, 1969, after a meeting held at Dhaka University Batala (under a Banyan tree) on January 17, the Central Student Action Committee called for a complete shutdown of all the educational institutions in East Pakistan. To deal with the situation, the government imposed Section 144 of the constitution, prohibiting the assembly of more than four persons. Asad was a final year MA student of history at Dhaka University then. He was the president of the Dhaka Hall unit of East Pakistan Students Union and General Secretary of the Dhaka branch of what was at the time the East Pakistan Students Union (EPSU, Menon group). He had long been actively involved with the student movement. “Asad always stood up for the underdogs. He used to say that the West Pakistan would never look after our interest. Time has come to stand against them and to form a federated state,” said Zaman. Zaman also said that Asad always talked about martyrdom, stating, “Death wasn’t something that he was afraid of. He was, from head to toe, a politically conscious person. He believed that true independence would not come without any bloodshed and he was ready to sacrifice his own blood as the cost of independence.” He said that Asad knew that he was targeted as a student leader and his life was at risk. “Even on the morning on January 20, Asad knew something was going to happen to him. He left the house after having said goodbye to his family,” reminisced Zaman. On January 20, students of different colleges gathered at the university campus and after a brief meeting, nearly ten thousand students brought out a procession at about 12pm, effectively violating Section 144. “Asad was leading a procession that reached near the then Post Graduate Medical College (near Chand Khan’s bridge) when the police charged them. After nearly an hour of scrimmage, Asad tried to lead the procession toward the centre of town beside the Dhaka Hall. In this situation, one police officer, Bahauddin, fired on Asad, killing him instantaneously,” Zaman recalled. The provincial government of Governor Monem Khan tried to cover up the death.The government sent a press note to all media stating: “Asad was a terrorist.” What happened afterwards was something that the government couldn’t and didn’t envision. It was something that even the ordinary people couldn’t have imagined. Thousands of students rushed

to Dhaka Medical College. A vast mourning procession was brought out. As the female student procession moved forward, the common people joined them. The spontaneous, two-mile long procession trailed through various roads, and finally rested at the Shaheed Minar. On Asad’s passing, the Central Action Committee announced three days of mourning throughout East Pakistan. The Committee also spearheaded hartals and protest processions spanning the next four days. On the last day (January 24) of hartals, the students and police clashed once more. The situation went out of control beyond even that of governor Monem Khan.

“Since then the name of Asad has been a symbol for struggle against repression,” said Zaman.

A symbol of freedom

Engineer FM Rashid-uz-Zaman, the project engineer of our national parliament building and another of Asad’s brothers, said that Asad was not only a student organizer, but was also an earnest social worker. “Whenever he came to the village (Ghatla, under Shibpur upazila, Narshingdi), he didn’t stay at home. He went to the houses of the poor farmers, talked with them, ate with them, and tried to make them aware of their rights,” said Rashid-uz-Zaman. He formed a powerful peasant organisation in Shibpur-Hatirdia-

People in procession with Asad’s Shirt

Zaman explained, “The repressive measures could not restrain the people and ultimately the regime of president Ayub Khan came to an end. The truth is, Asad’s death turned the mass-movement of 1969 into a mass-uprising.” In many places people, of their own accord, brought down the nameplates of Ayub Khan and replaced them with engravings of Asad’s name. Thus the Ayub Gate turned into the Asad Gate and Ayub Avenue got renamed Asad Avenue.

night school with the help of the members of the Students Union at Shibpur to educate the poor and the labourers of the area. Rashid-uz-Zaman said that Asad’s political activities were not limited only to organisation of students and peasants or programmes for mass-education. He was aware of the necessity of a party with developed political ideas. “He wrote about the formation of a study circle for carrying on the politics of the Sarbahara (havenots) class in his diary in 1968. He was one of the leading organisers of the Coordination Committee of the Communist Revolutionaries of East Bengal, who had been working with the intention of

Liberation War Museum

Manohardi and the neighbouring areas of Narsingdi. “A man of fierce fighting spirit, Asad considered democracy to be the only path to attain the emancipation of our people. He was also of the opinion that in order to uplift the fortune of the helpless and oppressed people, it was necessary to educate the vast masses,” expounded Rashiduz-Zaman. For this, he demanded that primary education should be free and compulsory. He established a

forming a sovereign state and an exploitation-free land since 1968,” said Rashid-uz-Zaman. “Asad’s role during 1969 and his other contributions are beyond what the pages of history say. Asad envisaged an oppression and exploitation free nation and that was the cause he gave his life for. And surely, he deserved much more than the homage we pay him. The respect he deserved is still due,” Rashid-uz-Zaman ruminated sadly. n

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


10

POST-RIPOSTE

Members of the Cabinet

Should opposition leaders be a part of it? With the recent formation of our government’s new cabinet, the WT team dukes it out on whether members of the opposition should be a part of it

It would be more democratic Sumaiya Shams

I

n parliamentary democracy, the duty of the opposition is to make the government accountable for what it does. On the other hand, the government performs its executive duties through its cabinet. If the cabinet has members from the opposition, then it does not violate any constitutional rule, but it has, in principle, created a contradiction with the constitution of Bangladesh and thus the spirit of the whole concept of parliamentary democracy. Now, if a cabinet member from the opposition raises a bill in the parliament and his/ her party objects to the bill, then as per article 70 of the Constitution, which states that if a member votes against the decision of his/her own party or vice versa, then his/her membership from the party would end. On the other hand, if the opposition doesn’t criticize the validity of the bill, it will contradict with article 55(3) of the Constitution, which speaks about the accountability of the government to opposition. n

It weakens the cabinet Constitution

W

hy not? Bangladesh is a democracy, so involving a different voice in the government that would be responsible for the nation for a certain period of time makes perfect sense. And it is not entirely impossible. In 1999, a case between the parliament secretary and Khandaker Delwar Hossain, the then secretary general of BNP, was tried in the Appellate Division of Supreme Court, which was about the inclusion of a member from the opposition in the cabinet. In the landmark judgement, the Appellate Division’s verdict stated that the cabinet could have a member from the opposition if, and only if, the government is formed by a coalition. Since our new government is formed by a coalition of several parties, a member from the opposition can easily be included in the cabinet of ministers. Since a major political party, favoured by a significant part of our population, did not take part in the election, this would provide them with a voice in the parliament. A democracy is all about giving the general mass a platform to voice their opinions, so including an opposition leader in the cabinet could potentially widen the range of that platform. n

Faisal Mahmud

Cartoons: Rio Shuvo/Dhaka Tribune

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014


TOP 10

11

Films of the Year

The Oscar-worthy movies of 2013 As the 86th Academy Awards Ceremony – better known as the Oscars – quickly approaches us on March 2, Shah Nahian compiles your votes for the top 10 films of the year. The Weekend’s winners were selected based on results from our weekly social media poll found on the WT Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WeekendTrib, and on the Dhaka Tribune page, www.facebook.com/ DhakaTribune

4

1 Based on a true story, 12 Years a Slave tells the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man who is tricked by slave traders to travel to Washington, DC, only to be abducted and sold into slavery. Directed by Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams and Michael Fassbender, this film powerfully shows an immense struggle for survival and freedom that place it at the top of this list.

American Hustle

With an all-star cast of Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper, American Hustle is a story about a brilliant conman, Irving Rosenfeld, and his partner, Sydney Prosser, who are forced to work for an FBI agent to set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey.

Great

Not nominated for the actual Oscars but still managing to find a spot on our list, The Great Gatsby is an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved novel. The film adds a modern touch to the story of Nick Carraway and his realization of the obsession, madness and tragedy revolving around the world of his millionaire neighbour, Jay Gatsby.

12 Years a Slave

2

The Gatsby

5

The Wolf Wall Street

of

Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street tells the true story of Jordan Belfort, a wealthy stockbroker’s fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

3

Gravity

On a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes when the space shuttle is destroyed, leaving Dr. Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalsky spiralling into darkness with nothing but each other. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, this visual thriller is well worth a watch.

6

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

Captain Phillips

Based on the true and controversial story of Captain Richard Phillips, whose cargo ship was hijacked by Somali pirates, the film and Tom Hanks’ performance please those seeking an exhilarating action thriller.

7

Prisoners

8

Nebraska

9

Her

After Keller Drover’s six-year-old daughter, Anna, goes missing, he is forced to take matters into his own hands. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, Prisoners made it onto our list even without an Oscar nomination. Using unique cinematic style, Nebraska tells a story of a booze-addled father on a road trip with his son from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. The trip hits a bump in the road, when the father finds himself with scores to settle in a small town in Central Nebraska where he grew up.

Directed by Spike Jonze, Her is the story of a lonely writer who develops an unlikely relationship with his new operating system that is designed to meet his every need. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johansson, the cast and quirky plot makes it worth seeing.

10

Philomena

In the story of a former journalist and a woman’s search for her son taken decades ago, director Stephen Frears, and actors Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, deliver the compelling emotional drama we all crave from time to time. n

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DAY IN THE LIFE OF

12 Farhana Urmee is a forgetful journalist who is very serious about taking her notes, because without those she is of no work

A Stuntman

Last action hero

Farhana Urmee meets the man behind the stunts

I

magine having a job that not only has the least safety measures, but also has the highest risk of injury or death. Imagine living under the shadow of the grim reaper everyday, every moment. A fraction of a second’s mismanagement, the slightest miscalculation and you’re left with a massive wound, handicapped, perhaps even dead.

This is the work of a stuntman or dummy-man of a hero or villain in films. What’s more, they consider this less of a job, and more of a passion. Undertaking the riskiest of stunts that an actor cannot perform for safety reasons is a mere hobby to these real life heroes. Mohammad Farhad, has been working as a stuntman in Bangladeshi films for the last 28 years, and dreams of making his own film one day. It is this dream of becoming a silver screen hero, the heartthrob of millions, and the idol of many, that leads youths like Farhad to come into this industry at the age of 21. Working on a per shift payment plan, he knew he was signing on for a hand-to-mouth lifestyle, and yet his dreams have helped him remain undaunted. Farhad recollects his childhood in Keraniganj where he was one of the most restless boys among his peers. “I used to run and play a lot; I used to play fighting games with my friends, I used to jump from high places and give dive into the water,” says Farhad with a smile. He has chosen a profession where he did not need to lose that childishness that he had exalted. “Think of a job which while earning you a little amount of money, keeps you at the risk of losing your life most of the time; we

have to tempt fate all the time, and often she spares us, sometimes she does not,” says Farhad displaying his broken hand. He got that injury a few years back while giving a take riding a motorbike. He had suddenly lost control and found himself flying over the ground and landing awkwardly with his hand contorted underneath him. He has suffered for more than four months with his broken left arm, but despite his family’s warnings, he rejoined his old job. He cannot leave the FDC behind him as he has spent a large part of his life doing the stunts for heroes. Now he also assists the fight director in coordinating fight sequences. It’s a place that he has earned for himself over time. Also, the actors, whose dummy he becomes on-screen, love him a lot. Moreover, these actors depend on people like Farhad for their acting careers and they acknowledge Farhad’s contribution in their career. Farhad recalls his friendship and affection with and for actors like Jashim and Humayun Faridi.

F

arhad also describes our industry’s limited budgets for films as a key factor behind why directors ignore the necessity of safety measures for the stuntmen during shooting. “Nowadays we have placed foam on the ground

in shots where the stuntmen jump from high places, but when I started working in this industry I had to jump on to bare floors often simply covered by some sheets of sacks,” says Farhad, adding, “If I had missed my target, I could have had my hands or legs broken badly.” Being the stuntman for a film is a job that is rife with risks. Whether it’s breaking through glass doors on a motorbike, or jumping from a three or four storied structure, or running through fire, or diving into deep water, these guys do it all. Minimal safety measures are not the only problem in their lives. There are other frustrations as well: Farhad tried to take on life insurance a number of times, but every time the insurance companies got to know his job description, they denied his application. In this industry, there is no arrangement for compensation for these people in the advent of an accident or death. If an accident occurs, the victim needs to take care of himself then go back to work. So Farhad does, and he hopes he can always remain this spirited and continue to fight everyday. With little to no financial benefits, the constant risks to their lives, and the ever-diminishing chance of fulfilling their dreams of becoming someone, the stuntman remains a real life unsung hero.

All in a day’s work

Photos: Quamrul Abedin

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

Early morning He wakes up as per the shooting schedule 7am He prepares to leave his Uttara residence and head over to the FDC or wherever the location of the shoot is 9am Reaches FDC/other location and begins working and assisting fight directors 11am Remains busy filming and rehearsing for retakes 2pm Is given a lunch break, but can hardly have lunch before the end of the shoot 5pm After filming all day long, he goes for a meal and then rests 8pm Reaches home after packing up


13

PHOTO STORY SHAKRAIN

Poush Sankranti A photo story by

Photo: Riasat Rakin

Quamrul Abedin

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


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PHOTO STORY SHAKRAIN

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oush Sakranti, or Shakrain, is the last day of Poush, the ninth month of the Bangla calendar. Marking the start of the harvest season, the day is celebrated in Bangladesh, as well as many other countries. The celebration mainly revolves around kite flying, but over the years, it has somewhat evolved and become much more. In Dhaka, it’s celebrated with much fervour in the Old Town. This year, the festivities were split over two days. During the celebrations, people were gathered on rooftops, flying kites of different colours and sizes, and at night, there was music and fireworks. This was a nice break for the Dhakaites who could let their hair down and simply enjoy the occasion. Disclaimer: All photos by Quamrul Abedin unless otherwise stated.

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014


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W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


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PHOTO STORY SHAKRAIN

Quamrul Abedin is primarily a documentary photographer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His photos have been extensively published in local daily newspapers and have been showcased in national and international photography exhibitions. He is currently on the verge of graduating from Pathshala, and is working as a contributing photographer for the Dhaka Tribune.

Junan

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014


Realpolitik

17

Ariel Sharon’s Legacy

Eight years and eternity

Ibtisam Ahmed writes about the former Israeli prime minister’s role in the Middle East

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hen Ariel Sharon died at the age of 85, the reactions ranged from heartfelt tributes to scathing criticisms. The former prime minister of Israel had courted both praise and controversy during his years in power, so it was hardly surprising that the same lines followed his passing. Never mind the fact that neither Sharon – who had been in a vegetative state for the past eight years – nor his actions, were as regularly invoked in his country as people would like to think. As prime minister, Sharon continued the legacy of his predecessors and cemented the path of his successors by strengthening Israel’s military capacity and its contentious settlement policies. The early part of his tenure seemed to hint at a return to his hawkish days as the defence minister in the 1980s. During that time, Sharon had been complicit in the horrific Sabra and Shatila Massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Although

the perpetrators were Lebanese Christian militias, Israel supported the bloodbath by providing technical assistance. Sharon was found to be indirectly and morally responsible, which subsequently forced his resignation as defence minister. After holding lesser cabinet positions, he eventually became prime minister on March 7, 2001 and immediately began calling for Israeli supremacy. His decision to occupy Palestinian land with settlements generated the ire of the entire Arab world. Sharon’s actions even drew sharp criticism from his Western allies, who recognised that the settlement policy went against the Oslo Accords and the principles of the Camp David Accords. Sharon made drastic changes in his policies toward these territories in later years. Having been one of the most vocal proponents of Jewish settlements, he made a conscious effort to reverse his position, advocating instead for full removal of the settlements from occupied

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

Ariel Sharon with Mahmoud Abbas and George W Bush

lands. The man who played a part in a camp massacre suddenly became the first Israeli leader to advocate for Palestinian autonomy. Accordingly, his office oversaw the return of Palestinian rule in the West Bank and Gaza. When Sharon slipped into a coma in 2006 while still in office, his legacy had evolved into one of positive cooperation. Once privy to the slaughter of hundreds of refugees, Sharon became part of a peaceful and permanent solution to those victims’ descendants. Nevertheless, eight years since Ariel Sharon held office, the political landscape remains much the same as when he first started. The current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, chose to summon Sharon’s focus on military security in his eulogy – predictable in a time when tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories is at

fever pitch. Hamas, the Palestinian political movement that runs Gaza, chose to highlight the same legacy with a naturally less forgiving angle. At the end of the day, the man, now used as both a symbol of courage and the target of grievances – depending on which side you talk to – had no real influence in the most recent developments in the Middle East. It was not Sharon who oversaw Israel’s offensives into Palestinian territory in recent years, nor him who attended the funerals of Israelis who died when rockets came the other way, neither was it he who was present at the UN General Assembly when the State of Palestine became an official observing member. Perhaps it is time to stop looking at what he did – or more accurately, did not do – for the last eight years and instead focus our energy on ending the decades of tragedy that have plagued the volatile region. n

Did you know? n

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The Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organisation in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948. Following Britain’s withdrawal from the region, it became the core of the Israeli Defence Forces The Sabra and Shatila Massacre took place in 1982 during the Lebanese Civil War. Although the attack itself was carried out by Lebanese Christian militias, the Israeli army was in charge of overseeing the security of the refugee camps, making Defence Minister Ariel Sharon indirectly responsible. The number of casualties was at least 762, though it could be as high as 3,500 Sharon’s new party in 2005 was called Kadima (forward). It was a centrist party, far more moderate than Likud, and its main goal was to completely remove Israelis from the West Bank in a series of unilateral withdrawals

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


18 Promiti Prova Chowdhury is a journalist at the Dhaka Tribune and is curious about different lifestyles

Throughout the world, most of the rivers are shared by more than two countries but, the treaties tend to be bi-lateral. It is easier to negotiate between two countries. Ritwick Dutta Advocate, Supreme Court of India

Feature

joint river commission

What’s mine is yours too

Promiti Prova Chowdhury questions the effectiveness of the decades-old bilateral commission

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n November, a news report titled “Mighty Teesta turning into a narrow channel” caught my eye. Parts of that article, which was an especially interesting read: “Teesta, the second largest river in Gaibandha, is drying up quickly and the drastic fall in its water level is impacting agriculture, communication systems, employment and ecology in the region. Officials of Bangladesh Water Development Board said the water level started falling sharply in September and now most of the river has dried up at an alarming rate, leading to a number of chars forming on the riverbed. People living by the riverbanks attribute the present situation to the unilateral construction by India of a barrage at Gazoldoba over the Teesta, around 100km upstream of the Teesta Barrage Irrigation Project (TBIP) at Dalia of Lalmonirhat district.

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

The char dwellers have urged the government to take up necessary measures to resume the navigability and water flow in the river and continue it all the year round by rolling on the water sharing treaty with India as early as possible.” The reason why this report caught my eye is, just a few days before it was published, I attended a two-week dialogue between India and Bangladesh, where the topic of discussion was “trans-boundary water resources management.”

The Joint River Commission

Throughout the multidimensional talk that was attended by 20 young scholars from both the countries, the most engaging issue for me was the Joint River Commission (JRC). As I listened to the on-going discussions, one question kept bothering me: was the JRC truly a “joint” collaboration? Or was it just a controversial, pro-government

institution? This cloud of confusion started clearing during the second week of the dialogue, held in BRAC CDM, Savar, where Prof Asif Nazrul, from the Department of Law, Dhaka University, criticised JRC’s limited mandate. “JRC members are government officials. They cannot protest against the government’s decisions,” he said. “There is a provision for appointing a technocrat honorary member in JRC. Dr Ainun Nishat [Vice Chancellor of BRAC University and a member of the government negotiating team on the Teesta issue in 1989] had been one. But, during the last regime of government, they did not appoint any such member. Some JRC members told me that India was not agreeable whenever Bangladesh wanted to appoint any local expert, although there were some proposals from Bangladesh’s side during the last tenure of BNP

to appoint a neutral independent expert,” he added.

Both sides of the coin

In order to know the other side’s story, I approached Ritwick Dutta, an environmental activist and advocate at the Supreme Court of India, who also attended the dialogue. He said: “No country in the world would ever give the decision making authority to water resource specialists. They may be a part of the team, but ultimately the ministry of water resources, the prime minister’s office, or the ministry of foreign affairs would decide. The ministry of water resources will be at the prime to negotiate or appear to negotiate. “These are the issues that affect security of the whole region. Therefore, ultimately the policy decisions will be taken by bureaucrats and diplomats. Engineers come second in the policy making structure.” A source in JRC Bangladesh


19

alleged that they wanted to build a sub-regional framework. For instance, the Brahmaputra basin is shared by Nepal, Bhutan, China, India and Bangladesh. Therefore, they wanted to engage Nepal and Bhutan in the negotiation. “But India was highly against it. They said they would negotiate with us, or other countries, separately,” the source claimed, preferring to be anonymous. Dutta had more to add in this regard: “If you look at the river system, you will find that interest of Bangladesh and Nepal are completely different. For example, Nepal will be interested in building more storage dams, which will restrict the flow into India, whereas India would want to make more diversion channels that will affect the movement to the lower riparian country. Nepal is upstream of India and Bangladesh is the lowest. So how do we merge the interest of all three? “I personally do not understand what can be the issues of common interest between Nepal and Bangladesh. I can see commonalities between India, Bhutan and Nepal, because they are the upstream Himalayan states.” He also said a multi-lateral agreement was highly unlikely. “In our current geo-political situation, there is no way that Bangladesh would be able to convince India to involve Nepal. The answer will be

‘no’, for a simple reason that it would complicate the discussion which no one wants,” he added.

What the JRC statute entails

A sub-divisional engineer of JRC Bangladesh, seeking anonymity, claimed that, though the statute indicates to hold at least two joint meetings a year, only 37 meetings have been held since the JRC was formed in 1972. The regular meetings are always postponed by the Indian counterpart. In June last year, India cancelled the regular meeting at the last minute because of “unavoidable circumstance.” “The number of meetings depends on timing and willingness. Two countries might be at different political stages at a time. It may not be a national election in India, but it can be a ‘panchayet’ election in Calcutta, a state election in West Bengal or in Delhi. In such circumstances, India will not be willing to hold a meeting,” Dutta said. At this point, I realised that on the surface, the problem deals with a river treaty that has to be signed by Sheikh Hasina, Manmohan Singh, and Mamta Banerjee, but remains strangulated because of the ageold artless negotiation with a tremendous lack of coordination. Prof Nazrul pointed out that in the previous agreements shared by the two countries, in the Ganges

Water treaty, for example, there was no mention of the word “pollution” – an issue that is comprehensively talked about in all European and American water sharing treaties. Drawing examples from different global laws, like the UN Watercourses Convention 1997 and Helsinki Rules, Nazrul mentioned a number of factors to define “equitable utilisation” including population, impact of the project in the area, available alternatives, etc.

What’s next?

The demand of time, it seems, is for Bangladesh and India to revive the JRC statute and meet as frequently as possible. It’s high time to take the voices of people living on the basin of Teesta into account. However, Bangladesh also needs to remember that ours is the lowest riparian country and gets extremely less amounts of water during the lean period. For example, Teesta flows 60bcm (billion cubic metres) year round, whereas, during the lean period, which is September to May, the flow reduces to only 5bcm. If we want “equitable utilisation” of water that ensures rightful share of all the stakeholders, we should know that farmers are the ones who actually know where and what quantum of water flows at different points of the year. So they should be heard through representatives. The think tanks and technical experts have to consider the local interest. n

JRC is not supposed to be the way it is today. It is supposed to be a joint platform, but in reality, the chairmanship is held by water resource ministries, as in, the politicians who do not have the time to focus on human-centric subjects. It is more like two separate national river commissions headed by respective ministries. Mahbub Hassan Saleh Deputy high commissioner of Bangladesh to India

Courtesy

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Digital Bangladesh

Mobile Phone Repair shops

Mobile wizards at your service Faisal Mahmud tells us where to go to patch up broken phones without spending too much Faisal Mahmud is good at memorising seemingly unnecessary information and finds that journalism actually appreciates, if not nurtures, that sort of futile flair

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o you have trouble with your mobile phone? Your phone’s battery doesn’t work, the display is broken, or you can’t send your text messages? Do not worry, for there are repair wizards to fix your phone, making them as good as new.

Magic at the ready

These mobile phone “technicians” can be found with their shops all over the capital City. However, the largest, and best, bunch of them can be found in Nahar Plaza, a shopping joint in Dhaka’s Hatirpool area. The technicians can fix a variety of problems in mobile phones, both software and hardware related.

Chinese mobile phones have made it possible for many to have smartphones without spending a big wad of cash. That is bad news for the repair shops, because another advantage of cheap phones is, they’re easily replaceable – no need to go through the hassle of repairing them

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

Photos: Chanchal Kamal

Mohammad Shamim Sheikh (24), has been repairing mobile phones for a living for the past 10 years. He has fixed thousands of phones in his tiny shop in Nahar Plaza, with his inadequate collection of repair tools. “I started very young, at the age of 14, when I dropped out of school. I learned this servicing job by working as an apprentice at a shop in this market,” he says. It took him about three months for him to learn the basic rules of fixing the hardware snags. It also helped that hardware issues were the most common mobile phone problem that he faced when he was learning.

What kind of problems is common now? “People come here with various problems. But the most common are power-related,” Shamim says. The most common hardware problems, however, are keypad and network related, according to him. But how does he deal with different problems? Shamim explains: “It doesn’t matter what problems people have with their mobile phones when they come to me. We always start by dissembling them, part by part, carefully, because even the slightest poke can ruin the entire circuitry.” Next, he washes the parts with octane, then dries them using heat. “After that, I start looking for the problem. At this stage, I use a hot air gun, DC power supply and the soldering iron, depending on the service the phone set requires,” he adds.

On the inside

While most mobile phone issues are hardware-related (around 80%), sometimes there are software glitches too. And there are shops in the market that cater to those problems. The most common software issue is jail-breaking. Md Farhad Hossain (28), owns a shop where jail-breaks of mobile phones brought from abroad are done. “We need to import special software to open the lock, which is very expensive,” Farhad says. Farhad has different flashing tools and device boxes in order to jail-break mobile phones. For Android phones, he uses JAF box, which costs around Tk 11,000-12,000. For iPhones, he uses Smartclip, which costs Tk 24,000. However, business has been on

the downside lately, as Chinese brands of mobile phones have gained much popularity for cheaper prices and less sophisticated designs (which means fewer complications). Mohammad Ashraf, owner of another mobile phone servicing shop, says: “People now don’t bother to spend money for repair work as they can just get those slick Chinese phones for little money. It isn’t worth spending the extra money to repair them. Moreover, those sets can’t be fixed as their parts are not available here, and most of them are cheap electronics.”

Easy money, here I come

For many, fixing mobile phones is a good source of income. Training usually takes six months, so it is an easy option for thousands to earn livelihood. Akmal Hossain, head of the Mobile Accessories Sales, Service & Training Institute, located on the fourth floor of Nahar Plaza, believes if a person wants to be self-sufficient within the shortest possible time, mobile phone servicing should be the best choice as a profession. “I have been running this institute for more than 10 years. So far around 9,000 people have received training from here, among whom more than 5,000 are now working in various countries of the Middle East, as well as in Thailand and Singapore,” he adds. Akmal’s institute provides sixmonth training on mobile phone repairing, which includes theoretical and practical servicing, at the cost of Tk15,000. “With this training, one can get a job at any servicing outlet, or can open up a shop of their own by investing Tk25,000-30,000,” he says. n


Stranger in a strange land

21

Shivers in Moscow

Mustering the masochism of a Moscowvite

Natalie Siddique is a half-Bangali, halfRussian, exploring her roots in Bangladesh. Understanding why people are the way they are consumes most of her day

Natalie Siddique reflects on her survival of the Russian winter

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he sensation of waking up every day on the other side of the world is a dangerous libation to offer a person like me: one who is too easily intoxicated by cultural extremes, aesthetic stimulation and social provocation. Accordingly, each day that I found myself waking up in Moscow – the epitome of new and old, and East and West – I was served a platter of exploratory opportunity, enabling me to discover a new detail in my periphery, witness an anomaly challenging the expected, and attempt to understand why things were the way they were in a place unlike anywhere else. And Moscow – let alone the vast country of Russia – is a lot to handle, even for a halfRussian fluent in the language. Having in some ways found myself living there, retracing the footsteps of my Bangladeshi father and Russian mother, who had met and studied together there at my very age, I learned to find comfort in the concrete moments that made me realize that this “foreign” place was also my “home.” After all, I was Russian, and despite having grown up in America, the culture was indelibly tied to my life. So, with six months to investigate my roots on my own as an adult, I was presented a priceless opportunity. That being said, adjusting to life there certainly took some time. I can still feel the -26 degree Celsius weather with which Moscow welcomed me on that February day in 2012. I definitely can’t say it was a “warm welcome.” I think my skin grew ten times thicker after just a few steps in the meter of snow that covered the vast land around me. I remember thinking back to all of the people who called me “crazy” for moving to Russia in the middle of winter, and agreeing that they were probably right. But I quickly reminded myself that I deliberately chose to test my endurance and appreciation for the season that defined Russian identity. Sure I had spent summers in Russia, but never yet the winter. The snow-draped City of Moscow instantaneously smacked me with its awe-inspiring magnificence, but I wasn’t sure if I could live in it. Women prancing around in fur coats and high-heels, and men trudging forward with fur hats and focused faces intimidated me. They, like many

generations of Russians before them, accepted and embraced nature’s incomprehensible might. Meanwhile, I was ultra-sealing windows to retain heat in my dingy dorm and panicking about frostbite. Eventually, I learned to stop fighting the inevitable, and joined their ranks as a winter-bearing, masochistic Moscowvite (minus the heels, because I’m nowhere near that talented). After establishing some semblance of a routine, I developed a strange enjoyment of it all. My twenty-minute walk through blizzard conditions before reaching a hot tea in my Soviet-era building each evening became inexplicably comforting. I found something so excellent in the process of covering myself from head to toe in a costume of clothing; a cloak, a coat, concealing me in a cape of camouflage as I joined the white winter wonderland to wander beside busy bodies bustling through the streets in pursuit of a place, a purpose or just peace. I began to love my role as a silent stranger in the middle of it all, living my inconspicuous life as both a Russian and a foreigner.

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ever did I feel the magic in the duality of my existence more than moments in which I swapped glances with a stranger on the metro. Locking with the deep and sagacious eyes of an elderly woman draped in fur and clutching a book, I would relish in the fact that she accepted me as Russian and that we shared something. At the very least, we followed similar traditions, customs and an undoubted love for the literature so integral to the Russian soul. I knew that we could happily sit, drink tea, eat pelmeni, and listen to Russian anecdotes and poetry – all differences aside. Through these connections, a full-fledged love affair with Russia’s elements had flourished, including with the cold that often had me questioning my ability to survive. I realized that it was mutual struggle that bonded all of us living there, and that patience and resilience were implicit facets of “Russianness” – characteristics that have empowered Russians to do the unthinkable. I remember one day in particular that solidified my love for the Russian winter and people. I was

Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune

cross-country skiing on a frozen lake one afternoon in a park, surrounded by fellow skiers, ice-fisherman and children stopping to play before nightfall. The falling snow and sloshing of my skis as I glided over this solid body of water created a celebration of rhythmic tranquility. It was people living and enjoying life despite the static nature of an environment deemed undesirable to others. Each in our own way, we were participating in a snow dance embracing what nature had offered; and one man, carving an oddly large hole through the ice, stood out in particular. Beaming with curiosity, I inquired after his purpose: “For work? For fish?” “No,” he said, “for health!” He then proceeded to strip down to his boxers and dive into the freezing water. It was one of the many strange, unabashedly Russian delights that I saw during my adventure that revealed the natural, innocent, unpredictable and strangely masochistic features of this culture and place that are impossible to hate and hard not to love. n

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22

TOUGH LOVE

DINA SOBHAN

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I’m a Bangladeshi man and am, what you might call, vertically challenged. On a scale of one to obese, I’d probably fit in the latter category. To top it off, I’m not making a whole lot of money at my dead-end job. The problem is, all my friends are married and I’m thinking I should get up on that bandwagon too. There’s this girl and I think she’s the one. She is literally the last thought on my mind every night. I want to ask her to marry me, but am hesitant. Should I go for it, or should I get to know her better first and maybe ask her out on a date? What do you think?

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@ dhakatribune.com

I think what I’m hearing is you’re a short, fat, broke man who wants to ask a girl he barely knows to marry him. Is your name George Constanza, by any chance? All kidding aside, I think getting married because your friends are doing it does not make for a great marriage foundation. Moreover, I’m baffled as to how you came to the conclusion that a complete stranger is “the one.” Perhaps, getting to know her better first is a good idea. While you don’t seem to have a great deal going for you, you can rest assured that women are willing to overlook a great deal for a man who is kind and funny. Do those sound like qualities you may possess? If not, I would try and work on at least becoming less obese. Or get a better job. You gotta have something to bring to the table, man. n

Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy/Dhaka Tribune

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I have worked very hard all my life for a successful career. Now that I have one, I find myself incredibly lonely. As I worked through school and university, I had very little time to socialise. I never really managed to make friends, and hanging out with family wasn’t an option as I have nothing in common with them. My social awkwardness has always gotten between me and a potential girlfriend. Now I see everyone around me settling down, and I don’t even know what W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

dating a girl feels like. How do I move forward with life? I think the online dating industry was invented by and for individuals such as you. Whereas a decade ago, you would’ve been relegated to a life to solitude and misery, you can now meet women without your awkwardness and lack of grace getting in the way. Chances are there is someone equally odd and alone out there who is looking for someone to share her life with. At the very least, you can offer to share your socially awkward life with her in style. n


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WT LEISURE

Across

1 Country containing health resort? (5) 5 Vase found in furnace (3) 6 Tree sap mixed before egg nog initially (5) 8 Woman of the plant kingdom (5) 10 Number of honesty (3) 11 Equine bear moved after first of zombies (5)

Down 1 2 3 4 7 8 9

Pig gets round obstruction for bird (7) Pam misread unit of electrical current (3) Non-union sister? (3) British princess follows in US state (7) Energy the spanish used for fish (3) Hat for each Zulu, at first (3) Globe little brother comes up for (3)

Solution and clues for last week’s crossword

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)

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


24 Ehtesamul Haque is a student of business who likes to travel in his free time

GAME ON

English Premier League

Leagues to go …

Ehtesamul Haque reviews the Barclay’s premier league season so far

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arclay’s premier league season 2013-14 is experiencing the most dramatic spell of football. Not only have the top-flight teams been in an intense battle for the cup, but the race to stay in the league is also sprucing up as we head towards the last quarter of the season. Let’s look at performances of some of the top teams, individually.

Arsenal

A reignited Arsenal is leading the title race and has been the most consistent team of the season. The club did not hesitate to splash cash on their new acquisition, German midfielder Mesut Özil, who has attached the missing links in the midfield. The Gunners need to prolong their winning streak, since only three points separated the top three teams. Arséne Wenger may need to dig deep into the transfer kitty to secure a world-class forward, since Theo Walcott has been ruled out for the whole season due to injury.

the Spanish trio Silva, Navas and Negredo, can at times be too much for any defending unit.

Chelsea

Chelsea has been enjoying a decent run so far, after tying notch with Jose Mourinho. Currently, they hold the third spot, only two points behind the league leader. Many football pundits have already seeded them as the favorites to win the league with one of the most versatile midfields. Juan Mata, last year’s top performer for Chelsea, finding himself more on the bench than he would like, may opt out of the club to join Juventus during the January transfer window. Eden Hazard has already netted nine times so far, while Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o are still struggling to find the net on a regular basis.

Liverpool

The reds have been enjoying a highflying season after a disappointing 2012-13 campaign,

Manchester City

being in fourth position with 42 points. Brendon Rodgers had to dig deep to retain star forward Luis Suarez by rejecting big offers from Arsenal FC. Suarez returned the favour in his way, scoring 22 goals in just 16 games, by far the highest goal scorer of the season. They are certainly one of the main contenders for the league title and champions league football.

Tottenham

Manchester City probably has the most balanced team in the league, and currently is in the second spot with 47 points. Manuel Pellegrini’s all-out attacking formation is perfectly suited for the team, as they have a 100% winning record at home. African player of the year, Yaya Touré, and Sergio Agüero have been in top form, and have received the backup of one of the best defensive lines in the league. The aweinspiring football of

Tottenham can be considered the biggest disappointment of this season. Tottenham used up Bale’s transfer revenue on seven foreign players (approximately Tk1365.70crore), yet none of them managed to create an impact. After some horrific results against Manchester City and Liverpool, André Villas-Boas was shown the door and Tim Sherwood took up the mantle, ignoring the disquieting signs of the transfer market in an attempt to get back in the race. Nine clean sheets for the defence line can be seen as the only encouraging aspect.

Everton

For many, Everton’s performance this season came as a surprise but

the Merseysiders have produced beautiful football throughout the season. Former Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, banked on the young talents who have created a fuss among national team managers. Young Belgian Forward Romelu Lukaku occupied a significant role at the front, while many of the important goals came from unexpected sources, like Irishman Séamus Coleman with five goals so far. Everton is current at the fifth spot with 41 points, just one point behind Liverpool.

Manchester United

The current title-holder, Manchester United is experiencing a tough season this time, holding the seventh spot with 37 points. The problems have been many: new manager David Moyes failing to sign up key players at the beginning of the campaign, Robin Van Persie appearing in only 11 occasions due to injury, and the ageing midfield, which Marouane Fellaini has been unable to rejuvenate. The Old Trafford boss must take extra initiative during the January transfer window to sign up players in order to have a shot at the top four spots. n

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W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

Luis Suarez is 13 goals away from becoming the top scorer in a single season in premier league history. He has 17 more matches to achieve this feat West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio managed to win just three games out 13 with Sunderland as a manager. He was eventually sacked on September 22 after one of the worst premier league starts by any club Arsenal, Manchester United and Swansea are now leading the tally of most injured players (nine players from each team) The bottom 11 teams are just six points apart


THE WAY DHAKA WAS

25

Shahidullah Hall, DU Shahidullah Hall, 1921

Bangladesh Old Photo Archive

Shahidullah Hall was my home for years, as I did my Honours and Master’s at Dhaka University. Life was quite exciting back then. Aside from the usual ‘thrill’ of student life, I also witnessed frequent fights between the student wings of the political parties. But there were moments of fun and laughter, too. The best part of my experience in Shahidullah Hall was probably getting to know Humayun Ahmed, who was the hall’s provost at the time. Overall, those were the best years of my life. M B Zahangir Hossain Mirpur 10, Dhaka

Today

Chanchal Kamal

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


26 Pragya Rahman writes to please and is pleased to write. She is mostly insane, brought to sanity by sight

Culture Vulture

Rivers of the World 2014

Four nights of artful celebration Pragya Rahman experiences art and music in harmony

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It can be said with a great sense of pride that not just the younger demographic of the city were seen at this event, but a diverse mix. Even the rikshawalas, observing from their majestic thrones, seemed to enjoy both the art and the music

he Rivers of the World exhibition, co-hosted by the British Council and HSBC, inspired a series of magical evenings filled with bright coloured lights, art displays and swarms of people enjoying live music and engaging with friends. The many wonderful musical performances throughout the four-day event were just a supplement to the actual attraction: the artwork. Part of the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme, the event’s purpose was to “encourage every child to apply and use their creativity to make an impression on the planet, as Bangladesh is not just a country with countless rivers, but also countless creativity,” as Aklima Sharmin, the project coordinator, said. Students from six schools in Sylhet and four schools in the UK made an array of creative pieces that reflected diverse representations of the Surma and Thames, respectively. The artwork

was displayed both at Dhaka Art Center and around Rabindra Sarobar. Artist and photographer duo, Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy and Tamanna Tasmeem, were the main event organisers. The participating musicians and their music were cleverly chosen to compliment the theme of the artwork. The paintings focused on the Surma River of Sylhet were matched with resonating music. Performances by MINAR, Chirkutt and Swagata and Friends, and baul singers performing songs of folk legends Lalon Shah, Hason Raja and Shah Abdul Karim, powerfully conveyed the significant role of the Surma in Bangladesh. As a perfect

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

Photos: Sadia Marium

ending, the closing ceremony on the 19th awoke the silence of the still artwork through instrumental songs and a fire spinning show that portrayed the bold creativity of the Bangladeshi youth.

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yed Rashad Imam (Tanmoy) shared his praise for the participants: “The school children that we worked with didn’t even have art on their syllabus, but after only two days of workshop, they produced an outstanding art, which just goes to show how exceptionally talented they are. They represented Bangladesh amongst 30 countries in the world. The event has been a huge success even though most

people do not attend art exhibitions in our country. But here we have people admiring artwork, sitting around the stage and just being stuck to the aura of creativity.” Renowned artist Shamsul Alam Azad acknowledged: “Even though most of the artwork was not done by professional artists, the act of re-illuminating the relationship between rivers and people, a bond that has existed since ancient times, is brilliant. It’s a positive thing because the world is engulfed by modernisation, but the identification of simplicity and the events between people of different countries is being upheld via this project. This works much like a

compass that is helping people find their ways to humanity.” Each evening, the event managed to bring together and dazzle crowds in Dhanmondi. Guests of honour included writer Abdullah Abu Sayeed, cartoonist and project mentor Ahsan Habib and literary scholar and editor of the daily Prothom Alo Anisul Hoque. British High Commissioner Robert W Gibson, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Bangladesh Andrew Tilke and Director of Partnerships and Programmes of the British Council Robin Davies also attended the event. n


OBITUARY

27

Suchitra Sen

The Greta Garbo of India

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

Ibtisam Ahmed remembers one of the subcontinent’s most celebrated actors

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hen Karunamoy Dasgupta and Indira Devi celebrated the birth of their fifth child and third daughter Rama, little did they know that she would grow up to become the actress who defined an entire industry, and an entire generation. Having married Dibanath Sen at the young age of 16, one could easily imagine her fading away into domestic obscurity, as has been the case with many women of her time. Fortunately for her, her inlaws were supportive of her acting ambitions. Fortunately for us too, for we would have otherwise not had the great privilege of seeing Suchitra Sen grace our screens. After an unsuccessful attempt to launch her film career in 1952, due

one of her most iconic roles. Another famous part was in 1963’s Uttar Falguni, although the plural parts might be more appropriate as Sen played two characters, showing an extraordinary range within the same film. It was later remade in Hindi, with Sen again in the leading roles. Continuing with her success at home, Sen shot to international stardom when she won the Best Actress award at the Moscow International Film Festival for Saat Paake Bandha. In doing so, she became the first actress from the subcontinent to win an international award.

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en was a dedicated performer, even acting at the time of her

immediately shelved without any complaints from the director or the producers. Indeed, Sen commanded such respect that the great Satyajit Ray cancelled an entire project when she turned him down for the lead role in Devi Chaudhurani. Raj Kapoor was equally unsuccessful in his bid to make her act in one film under the RK banner; like Ray, it is alleged that he too shelved the unnamed film. A devout spiritualist, Sen spent her retirement shunning the public eye – earning her the moniker of India’s Greta Garbo – in favour of working for the philanthropic Ramakrishna Mission. She even refused to attend the ceremony for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005, thus depriving

A diva’s life

1931 Born on April 6 in Pabna 1947 Marries Dibanath Sen; her father-in-law, Adinath Sen, is particularly encouraging of her acting aspirations 1953 ‘Sharey Chuattor’ is released, catapulting her and co-star Uttam Kumar into stardom 1963 Becomes the first actress from the subcontinent to win an international film award at the Moscow International Film Festival 1972 Awarded the Padma Shri for her contribution to the arts to the movie failing to release, Sen starred opposite Uttam Kumar the next year in Sharey Chuattor. The film was a critical and commercial hit, and launched the legendary duo into prominence. Indeed, the two of them came to dominate the Bangla film industry and the heading of “Uttam-Suchitra” became a genre in its own right. In 1955, she acted in her first Hindi film, Devdas, which earned her multiple Best Actress accolades. 1959 saw her in Deep Jele Jai, which became noted for its partly-lit closeups of Sen. It is generally considered

husband’s death in 1970. Many of her colleagues noted that she seemed to draw from a deep well of emotional experience in her roles, something that became more pronounced when she went through periods of hardship. Her elegance and charm, combined with an undefinable gravitas, made her stand head and shoulders above her peers. Alas, her star was set to fade in the late 1970s after Pronoy Pasha flopped. Such was her standing in the industry that when she decided to retire not long afterwards, the film that she had already started working on was

her of the honour, as the recipient needs to collect it in person. Suchitra Sen fell ill with a lung infection last month. Although she showed signs of improvement later on, a heart attack claimed her life last week. Her passing was mourned by the region’s top politicians and cultural figures around the world. While she may have passed away, her invaluable contribution to our cultural heritage will never be forgotten. We should respect that legacy and bring back the golden days of Bangla cinema. That much, at least, is owed to her memory. n

1978 Retires from acting and public life, dedicating her energies to philanthropy 2012 Awarded the Banga Bibhushan for lifetime achievement in film acting 2014 After falling ill the previous December, passes away on January 17

W E E K E N D TR IBUN E FR I DAY, JAN UARY 24, 20 1 4


28

LAST WORD Audity Falguni Audity Falguni is a freelance contributor

Love thy Muslim neighbour?

The right to freedom and safety is for all, not a select few

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n her book “Freedom from Fear,” Aung San Suu Kyi said: “Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure.” After Jamaat cadres went on rampage and set fire to houses in Malopara-Chapatala, villages in Abhaynagar, Jessore, I took part in the march from Dhaka to Jessore organised by Ganajagaran Mancha earlier this month. I also visited the state-run hospital in Nawapara, where I witnessed, firsthand, the sufferings of some of the victims, who were severely wounded. There was Biswajit Sarker, still coughing up blood after taking severe beating from the miscreants on the Election Day. There were Sunil Kumar Biswas, Sushil Kumar Sarker and Shyamol Kumar Biswas, who were lying on hospital beds with stab wounds in the head and broken bones. When I went to see Biswajit, in between gasping breaths, he

The Bangla term ‘Abhaynagar’ is a compound word that literally means ‘the city of the fearlessness.’ I wonder how Biswajit, Shushil, Sunil and the other victims felt when they were brutally attacked, their home destroyed. How fearless were they?

W E E K E N D TRIBUNE F R I DAY, JAN UARY 24 , 2014

described his horrible experience to me. “It was the morning of January 5,” he said. “I am secretary at the Awami League office in Prembagh union, Ward 9. The polling booth was 10 minutes away from our village. I went to the voting centre at 7.30am. When I went inside, I noticed Aziz Yousuf Moulana, a Jamaat leader, along with a few Shibir activists. As soon as I began calling for the villagers to come to the poll centre and vote, bombs started going off, and I also heard blank gunshots. Then, suddenly, I found myself surrounded by 15 Jamaat cadres. I pleaded with them not to attack our village, I told them we would not vote, but they paid no heed. They started beating us with hockey sticks. I ran for my life, but at one point I passed out. When I came around, I found myself in the hospital.” Biswajit also told me that his daughter Priya (18) was with him that day. She got away by jumping on a boat in the Bhairab River, went across the river and hid on the other side. Sunil and Shyamol had similar stories to tell. “Kibria, the BNP secretary in Ward 9, and his man attacked and started hitting me on the head with daggers. I managed to flee and get first aid in Chemutia Bazar, but when I went across the river, I fell unconscious,” Shyamol said. Sunil said his village Uttarpara was attacked at 5pm, right after the vote casting ended. Taslim Hossain, a grassroots activist of Awami League, also suffered from several stabs in his head. He said: “Apa, do you know that the Jamaat and BNP cadres continued attacking the abandoned houses in the Hindu villages that day? The looked for the men in the houses, and when they couldn’t find any, they started looking for women.” Before visiting the hospital, I had visited Chapatala village. There,

Attacks on minorities are nothing new. It has happened before, it will happen again. The best way to avoid the loss of lives and property is to stay alert. Some attacks, like the ones that took place right after the elections, can be anticipated, and proper caution can be taken to prevent those from happening

I met a housewife, Minu Sarker, who also described the horror that swept through their village on the morning of the Election Day. “When they started attacking the men, the women fled to the other side of the river.” The attacks continued all day and everyone who managed to escape, went across the river to save themselves.” When addressing the Chapatala people, Dr Imran H Sarker said: “The greatest pledge of our Liberation War was to establish this land as a safe abode for all – be it Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists or Christians. Unfortunately enough that, dream is yet to be translated into action.” On our way back home, I mulled over the day, and realised that although we could go and stand beside the victims of such attacks, we could only provide temporary relief. What if something like this happens again? Who would provide them with security? Can secularism be attained through state security until we can uproot the religious fanaticism from society? Until we can get rid of such bigotry, the dream of having a truly secular country would remain just that – a dream. n


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