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| vo l 2 I ssu e 4 | F R I D AY, M ay 30, 2014

Identity:

Who am I?

5

Hometown stereotypes

8

Endangered Languages

15

Transgender Beauty


CONTENTS

1

A Weekly Pro ducti on of

DhakaTribune

Volume 2 | Issue 4 | May 30, 2014

Editor Zafar Sobhan

NEWS

Features Editor Sabrina Fatma Ahmad

2 This week

Assistant Magazine Editor Rumana Habib Weekend Tribune Team Tasnuva Amin Nova Promiti Prova Chowdhury Farhana Urmee Rifat Islam Esha Faisal Mahmud Shah Nahian Syeda Samira Sadeque Adil Sakhawat Tausif Sanzum James Saville Art Direction/Photography Syed Latif Hossain Cartoons Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy Rio Shuvo

3 Say what?

FEATURES 4 Film Cannes Film Festival 5 Culture Desher bari koi?

9

6 Feature Bengal Lights Literary Conclave 8 Perspective Endangered languages

Photo story

The Faces of Boga lake

12 Listology Bangla expressions 13 Education Lively learning

Contributors Ahmed Muztaba Zamal Shaikhul Apon G’son Biswas Jennifer Ashraf Kashmi Chanchal Kamal DIna Sobhan

15 Society Transgender beauty 17 Standpoint Fighting the right fights 20 Last word What are you?

Graphics Sabiha Mahmud Sumi Mohammad Mahbub Alam

REGULARS

Colour Specialist Shekhar Mondal Kazi Syras Al Mahmood

14 Legalese Citizenship conundrum 16 Tough love Ex schemes and Dhaka dreams

Production Masum Billah Advertising Shahidan Khurshed Circulation Wahid Murad Website dhakatribune.com/weekend facebook.com/WeekendTrib

18 Stay In Selfies for good cause

13 Education

the cover

Identity:

Who am I?

This week’s cover selection was inspired by Magritte’s painting Son of Man.

Photographer Shaikhul Apon

19 Go Out Can you handle the truth?

Lively learning

Who are we? | vol 2 Issue 4 | FRIDAY, May 30, 2014

Email your letters to: weekend@dhakatribune.com

9 Photo story The faces of Boga Lake

stereo 5 Hometown types

Languages 8 Endangered

11

Transgender Beauty

How do we define our identity? Is it by our desher bari, as in “BNCC: Hometown stereotypes” (pg 5)? Are we our cultural pursuits? We attend a film festival as “Deshi cinephiles at Cannes” (pg 4), attend “Nalanda: The school of joy” (pg 13) run under Chhayanaut, and go to a literary conclave to meet the bright lights who examine the big questions intellectually in “Beyond Identity narratives” (pg 6). Are we our gender? Two transgender people rise above their constraints in “The many

Editor’s note

faces of beauty” (pg 15). And, staunch womens’ rights advocates though we are, we deconstruct some “Flaws of feminism” (pg 17). Are we our language? We celebrate “Very bangla” words that defy translation (pg 12), while to our dismay, indigenous languages are becoming “Endangered alphabets” (pg 8). “The faces of Boga Lake” (pg 9) strike our hearts. And then there are stereotypes that inspire political overcorrectness and “An identity paranoia” (pg 20). We’ll figure it our eventually. Meanwhile, enjoy.

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2 News | This week

Hopeful Afghans

Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah last week attended his election campaign gathering in Paktiya province. The second round presidential election will be held on June 14. News and photo: AFP

Pope for peace

Flowers in bullet-holes Flowers fill bullet-holes on the window of IV Deli, which was one of the nine crime scenes, where a series of drive-by shootings left 7 people dead in Santa Barbara, California on May 26. Twenty-two year old Elliot

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Rodger killed six people before taking his own life in a rampage through a California college town shortly after he posted a threatening video railing against women, police said on Saturday. News and photo: AFP

Pope Francis (2nd L) last week conducted Mass beneath a large mural at Manger Square, outside the Church of Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Pope Francis on Sunday invited the Israeli and

Palestinian presidents to come to the Vatican to pray for peace a month after US-backed talks aimed at ending the Middle East conflict collapsed. News and photo: Reuters


Say what? | News

3

For a skin-blank canvas

This summer, artists from 45 countries will compete with each other on human canvases. The competition will take place in Pörtschach, Austria. The World Bodypainting Festival, which will take place from June 29 to July 6, will celebrate the unique art of painting directly on the human body – with models as the canvases. The competition includes multiple categories, such as sponge paint, airbrushing and face painting, all featuring different techniques and materials. Often, the models are fully nude, with their whole bodies covered in paint whereas others wear props such as headgears. News and photo: BBC

Haiti lights A long exposure shows lightning in the sky with reflection in the water on the floor of a building under construction during an

evening thunderstorm in mid-May in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. News and photo: AFP

Chinese elderly commit suicide to avoid coffin ban Six elderly people in China are said to have committed suicide to ensure they died before new regulations banning coffin burials come into force, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. China has a tradition dating back thousands of years of ancestor worship, which usually requires families to bury their relatives and construct a tomb. But in recent years local governments across the country have demolished tombs as part of a national

campaign encouraging cremation, in an attempt to save on limited land resources. Government officials in Anqing, a city in the eastern province of Anhui, ordered that all locals who die after June 1 should be cremated, the Beijing News daily reported. It said government officials began forcibly to confiscate coffins from locals in May, which “had a huge psychological impact” on them. News and photo: AFP

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4 Film | Cannes Film Festival

A Deshi cinephile at Cannes Ahmed Muztaba Zamal, just back from this week’s 67th Cannes Film Festival, brings us the details from the front row

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he prestigious Cannes Film Festival is held annually in the south of France, and previews new films of all genres, including documentaries, from around the world. Founded in 1946, the invitation-only festival is held annually at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. I’m extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to visit the festival seven times. Attending the Cannes festival has given me experience and knowledge that I try to apply to the Dhaka International Film Festival, for which I am responsible as festival director.

Matir Moyna (Clay Pigeon), directed by Tareque Masud and Catherine Masud, which featured at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, rising up to the surface and grabing everyone’s attention. We hope our young film-makers will strive to reach that level with the support of our authorities; we want to move forward with this hope. Anyway, the beauty of France is, in itself, a motivation to make it there. At Cannes this year, 18 feature length films competed for awards, while many other films (including short films) were screened “out of competition.” But, interestingly,

We dream OF more films like Tareque and Catherine Masud’s Matir Moyna (Clay Pigeon), which was featured at Cannes in 2002, rising up to the surface and grabing everyone’s attention An international film festival is a platform for artistic development, bridging the gap between cultures. Cannes, alongside the Venice and Berlin film festivals, has become one of the most significant events for film buffs around the world. For filmmakers, producers, distributors, actors/actresses and film journalists – it is the place to be. On every trip, the beauty of France amazes me; it is such a wonderful place, peaceful and relaxing. Cannes has become a place where I enjoy meeting people, new people and old friends with a similar outlook. But, much to my dismay, unlike every other country, Bangladesh has no official representative. The government of Bangladesh should instruct the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC) to represent the Bangladeshi film industry at the Cannes Film Festival. Failing that, some privately owned Bangladeshi organisation should send someone. We dream of more films like Ahmed Muztaba Zamal is president of the Rainbow Film Society, and the founder and festival director of the Dhaka International Film Festival. He also runs Celluloid, a quarterly cine-magazine.

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you can’t buy tickets for the films being screened for competition at Cannes. Tickets are available on an invitation-only basis and cannot be transferred. These invitations are mostly reserved for people of Western origin. People from developing countries are not prioritised on the invitation list. More than a thousand films are submitted every year at Cannes, and directors hope their masterpiece wins the coveted Palme d’Or prize. But elsewhere at the festival, movies are bought and sold, and distribution deals made, in the most mercenary fashion. The Marché du Film (The Film Market) is the business counterpart of the Cannes Film Festival and one of the largest film markets in the world. Established in 1959, it is held annually in conjunction with the main festival. In addition to awards for best director, actress, actor, screenplay, and short film – Cannes rewards the overall “best picture” with the Palme d’Or, the runner up with the Grand Prix, and third place with the Jury Prize. There is also an award for the best debut film, the “Camera d’Or.” Every year the Cannes Film Festival has a Master Class where

The author at the festival with Iranian actress Simin MotamedArya and Bangladeshi filmmaker Samia Zaman Photo: Courtesy

renowned directors “share their experiences and memories of filmmaking, and debate with an audience of film activists.” This year’s Master Class featured director Jacques Audiard.

The big picture

Winter Sleep, the new film from Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a movie on few people’s lips two weeks ago, won the top prize. It beat a number of films that had been praised highly by critics since they premiered. It was Ceylan’s first Palme d’Or. Jury president Jane Campion, the New Zealand filmmaker, handed over the trophy to Ceylan, who beat 17 other contenders including David Cronenberg, Jean-Luc Godard and the Oscarwinning director of “The Artist,”

Michel Hazanavicius. It was Turkey’s first win since 1982, when Yol by Yilmaz Guney shared the Palme d’Or with Missing by Costa Gavras. The film, at about three hours and 15 minutes long, tells the story of a former actor who runs a small hotel in Anatolia, where he lives with his young wife and divorced sister. Ceylan’s films have grown longer and deeper over the years, but Winter Sleep is particularly courageous. In 2002, Ceylan’s “Distant” won the Grand Prix, the secondmost important prize at Cannes. In 2008, his Three Monkeys won the best director award, and in 2011 Ceylan won the Grand Prix again for One Upon a Time in Anatolia. But the Palme d’Or eluded him – until this year.

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Winners of the 67th Cannes Film Festival • Palme d’Or: Winter Sleep, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan • Grand Prix (runner-up to Palme d’Or): The Wonders, directed by Alice Rohrwacher • Jury Prize: Mommy, directed by Xavier Dolan; Goodbye to Language, directed by JeanLuc Godard • Best Director: Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher • Best Actress: Julianne Moore for Maps to the Stars, directed by David Cronenberg • Best Actor: Timothy Spall for Mr Turner, directed by Mike

Leigh • Best Screenplay: Leviathan by Andrei Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin • The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Jury also presented three prizes: • Official Competition: Winter Sleep, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, • Un Certain Regard: Jauja, directed by Lisandro Alonso • Parallel Sections: Love at First Fight (Les Combattants), directed by Thomas Cailley


Desher bari koi? | culture

5

BNCC: Hometown stereotypes A light-hearted survey of what people think of other districts in Bangladesh Promiti Prova Chowdhury

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re you a “BNCC?” Denizens of these regions are the butt of many jokes. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, go to Facebook and feast your eyes on the page

devoted to “pochafy-ing” people from Barisal, Noakhali, Comilla and Chandpur (BNCC). Here you will find helpful advice on dealing with these “selfish, uncultured misers.” Visitors are reminded to always

Chandpur, Satkhira, Kushtia

refuse marriage proposals from anyone hailing from these regions. This is meant in good fun of course, but certain stereotypes do seem to be pervasive. What have BNCC folk done to earn this place

of (dis)honour? Is it what they eat? Does it have to do with the topography of these districts? As with most stereotypes, it is most likely just a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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North v south

“Oh boy, I would never marry a girl from Chandpur, Satkhira, or Kushtia. Two of my ex-girlfriends are from Chandpur and Kushtia,” says an otherwise level-headed acquaintance. “The Chandpuira one was shrewd, and the Kushtia one was overemotional.” But it wasn’t just a broken heart behind his prejudice. “I have an aunt from Satkhira. She slapped her oneyear-old kid just because some maid had angered her!”

Roksana, a student of Jahangirnagar University, says people from the northern parts of the country are very “hostile in nature,” which she attributes to the droughts they suffer on account of their dry climate. On the other hand, she says: “People from the southern parts are generous as there are a lot of rivers there and paddy grows in plenty!”

Chittagong

Gopalganj

Tushar, a student at Dhaka University and native “Gopali” says: “There is this widespread notion that whenever Awami League is in power, natives of Gopalganj try to impose their will on others, as if they owned the world. To avoid the hassle, I just say I’m from Faridpur!”

pabna kushtia

Barisal

A close friend of mine believes Chittagonians spend too much on weddings – information he gained from regularly crashing them. He tells me a wedding in Chittagong was actually called off because the bride’s father, a poor school teacher, wouldn’t have been able to cater for the 700 people who’d been invited by the groom’s side.

“Barisaila people are so miserly, I tell you!” says Rajib, a student. “I had a friend from there named Kishore who we called “Kipta Kishore.” Whenever it was his turn to pay for cigarettes, he would give the shopkeeper a Tk500 note – knowing that the stall owner would have no change. We always end up paying

comilla chandpur gopalganj barisal chittagong noakhali satkhira

instead!”

Pabna

As everyone knows people from Pabna are mad. That’s why they built the famous mental asylum there. But say that to a Pabna local and you’ll get the reply: “We are the ones who fix the crazies!”

Double talk We have a range of regional dialects that can also be a source of comedy, especially when speakers of different dialects try to make themselves understood to one another.

Khamakha

The word “khamakha” in standard Bangla translates as “for no reason,” but in Chittagong it is used to mean “for sure.” When my mother was a newly married bride, and visited her in-laws in Chittagong for the

first time, her new relatives invited her to their places “khamakha,” much to her befuddlement.

Puri

In the rest of the country, it is short for dalpuri, but in Sylhet the word “puri” means “girl.” A friend of mine visited Sylhet, and went to a roadside teastall. Imagine the look on the shopkeepers face when he demanded: “Mama, I’d like 10 puris. How much?”

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6 feature | Bengal Literary Conclave

Beyond Identity Narratives Speaking in Writers and cultural tastemakers from Bangladesh and abroad come together to define a new world fiction for South Asia James Saville

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he weekend of May 16-17 saw the inaugural Bengal Lights Literary Conclave held at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh’s Dhanmondi campus. The event consisted of panel discussions, readings, and vigorous Q&A sessions, all broadly related to this year’s theme: “Beyond identity narratives: Defining a New World Fiction.” The first panel, entitled “Native informants: The Art of Sabotage,” was dominated by a lively discussion between the BritishIndian author Farruk Dhondy, and chair of BRAC University’s English department Firdous Azim. The former challenged the latter on the efficacy of academic terms such as “Native Informant” – a phrase used by some cultural theorists to denote a kind of pandering to orientalist sensibilities that often occurs when non-European authors write about their own cultures for European audiences. Farruk noted dryly: “As far as I can tell, the phrase is one of those things that keeps a lot of literature professors in PhDs, but that has absolutely no meaning.” Later on the Saturday afternoon, we were treated to the second panel, “Muslims in Fiction: New Prototypes.” Fakrul Alam began by asserting that “Islamophobia is the new racism … suddenly people are aware that they are Muslim.”

To this, the speakers attributed the sudden feeling that authors from Muslim countries were obliged to give a defence of Islam. Moderator Khademul Islam argued publishers of South-Asian fiction are increasing using book titles such as “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” or the “The Good Muslim” to create a sense of “us” and “them” – Muslims versus the west. Cypriot writer and professor of English at Greenwich University, Alev Adil, talked of Islam increasingly being seen as a religion of excluded outsiders in the UK, suggesting that a book exploring the conception of Islam as a subversive punk-like movement is long overdue. On the second day, the proceedings kicked off with the next panel: “New Lines New Letters.” This exciting panel gave the audience an insight into the booming cross-pollination of national literatures currently occurring. Panelists observed how the old paradigms of “World Literature” are breaking down, with many internationally acclaimed authors, from disparate corners of the globe, appearing to neither conform to the literary culture they were born into, nor the one their “foreign” audience hails from. The cultural identity of such authors is indeterminate, and thus

interesting. After lunch, the next discussion: “Post-Post-Colonials Breaking Bad” awaited us. This dealt with the welcome demise of exoticism in South Asian literature. Whereas before many characters from post-colonial societies had often been little more paper-thin cultural stereotypes, authors now felt the confidence to have more developed characters that deal with more interesting, and more universal, problems. The final panel, “Neither reportage, nor fantasy: The speculative sphere of fiction,” promised to be a break from colonial considerations. The panellists discussed the move towards ever-more fantastical fiction, and explored the increasing popularity of the kind of magic realism that seamlessly balances reportage with fantasy. The knowledgeable Guardian Review critic, Maya Jaggi, reminded everyone of Ezra Pound’s dictum that: “Literature is news that doesn’t stay news.” Another panel member, Syed Manzoorul Islam, in fact confessed to stealing from newspaper reports to find inspiration for his stories, but stressed the importance of using one’s own experiences to lend colour to his tales: “Making use of memory, the feeling of a place and its history … that is what good reportage is all about.”

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tongues with Chandrahas Choudhury Rumana Habib

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n an interview with WT, panellist Chandrahas Choudhury, the Mumbai-based columnist and author of Arzee the Dwarf, compares the burden of writers in West Bengal and Bangladesh, translates the South Asia world into English, and reveals his complicated relationship to his Oriya heritage. You mentioned earlier today that your mother speaks Bangla. Yeah Odisha is not very far, only 20 minutes by plane. An Oriya person can understand Bangla. My mother has just taken it a bit farther. Earlier a girl gave me a book of her poetry, and she was crestfallen when I said I couldn’t read Bangla, so I said my mother would read it aloud to me, and I can understand it. (Laughs). No South Asian male writer can avoid mentioning his mother at some point, very early on in an interview. So we’ve gotten that out of the way! You also said something earlier about not being able to get away from Bangali writers. English is full of Bangali writers. It’s very freeing not to be Bangali in Indian literature. You don’t have to deal with the history of [Satyajit] Ray and Tagore and all the “bhadralok” stuff. West Bengal has a sense they brought India independence, social reform, bureaucracy, freedom, and Subhash Chandra Bose. Therefore other Indians should say thank you before talking about anything else. In Bangladesh, writers are more open. That’s my experience. Why do you think that is? Maybe they don’t feel the weight of history so much. Bangladesh is a newer country. There was a lot of discussion about translations in your last talk, how they lack the essence of the original. I always shudder when, in an Indian novel someone is eating a puri, and it says someone is eating

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7

Literature of my cousins Rumana Habib

environment, this environment of multiplicity, would welcome her. Quite a lot of young women were coming up to me. It’s just really nice when younger people look up to you. I recently won an award as a Turkish community role model in London, which I couldn’t get my head around because the idea of a role model can be problematic because I think we make our own individual paths. But on the other hand, I did recognise that one of the motivations for why I write is to engage in conversation.

Photos: M R Rana

a “fried fritter of bread.” Better to leave some things be. It’s the work of a reader to discover what a puri is, contextually or otherwise. In [his novel] Arzee, someone started out saying: “Don’t think it’s all milk & honey for me.” I felt I could take the liberty of turning that into “milk and cream” because malai is a very South Asian thing, and English readers would still hear the echo of “milk and honey” at the back of it. So you can do things like that to translate the reality of your world. You write in only English? Yes. I wouldn’t be a very good a writer in Hindi. I use it less and have less of a vocabulary. Also, it’s very interesting to write about Indian democracy in English because a lot of these concepts did not exist in other Indian languages, ie you’re not falsifying that world. It’s more genuine in some ways. It changed from what it meant in the west; it has Indian manifestations now. Although, many people would love me to write in Oriya. I feel this pressure, since I’m supposedly a person from Odisha, or whatever. I’m sure people are reading you in Odisha, and proud of the fact that you’re a native son. Native. (Pauses). I don’t want to be claimed by Odisha. I have a complicated relationship with Odisha, I must say. My mother’s family disowned her when she married because my father’s family was of a lower caste. I grew up in

Tell me about this new literary journal, Critical Muslim It wants to be a Granta of the Islamic world, because we do have so many challenges and issues to deal with. It’s trying to create a space for diversity in the discussion of Islam, in a political, cultural and literary context, and put the issues on the table. It’s a beautifully produced journal, and not in any way proselytising.

a city outside of Odisha, exiled by family. So I don’t see why people should say I am not Oriya enough. Oriyas are so invested in being Oriya that they cannot see another version of Oriya-ness. There’s no reason for me to accept the argument on their terms. I would rather hold out. That’s a very interesting lens of South Asian identity to look through. It’s a very important time to talk about identity, especially in new literary cultures. It would be useful for young people to think through concepts in a light-footed way. Which concepts? Like: “What is a Bangla book?” An English novel about Bangladesh could be more Bangali than a fake novel in Bangla. I imagine the idea of “who is Bangladeshi” and “what is Bangladeshi” is a big debate in Bangla literature. And there may be very conservative ideas coming out on the Bangla side, and much more liberal ideas about that citizenship and identity coming out on the English side. So what is supposedly authentic is also dragging you back to some mythical past. Like what you said earlier about West Bengal and the weight of history? Yes. West Bengal is moderated by the fact that there are so many other realities to speak to. Whereas here maybe Bangladeshi literature could say: “This is the real world: Bengal as it is.”

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anellist Alev Adil is a UK-based lecturer at University of Greenwich of Turkish Cypriot origin. She is the author of Venus Infers, founder of online exhibition space MemoryMap, and contributing editor of the Critical Muslim. You've been really engaging with the students between sessions. Yes! We’re going to be Facebook friends. I would have liked more opportunity to spend time with young people. For instance during the discussion about Islam, a young lady in full niqab stood up during the Q&A and spoke about cinema. I’d asked her to write me a list of Bangla films I should watch, because it’s a joy for me to learn from young people. She'd had her hand up for a while, and you made sure she got the mike to speak. Was that because she was in niqab? Yes, I’ll be honest it was. I wanted her to feel that she could speak out in this environment. That a secular

How did you get involved? Aamer Hussein invited me to be a contributing editor, and I wasn't sure at first, because my spiritual views are very private to me. But he said he saw a strong strain of Sufism at work in my writing. It’s interesting when other people talk to you about your writing. You see yourself in a different mirror, and I found that creatively quite interesting to explore. There are probably many people who could relate to that, having a complicated relationship with their Muslim identity. To be a Turkish Cypriot… See Cyprus was colonised by the British and the majority of the population is Greek Cypriot. Only 20% are Muslim. After independence came there were ethnic clashes, which led to war and eventually in 1974 this led to the partition of Cyprus. It has a lot of parallels with the Indian subcontinent, so I’ve always had a close affinity to the literature of the Indian subcontinent. And these questions of “Should we write in English?” all these issues resonate. I've always felt that South Asia literature is a literature of my cousins.

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8 perspective | Endangered Languages

Disappearing mother tongues

Indigenous languages are being allowed to die out Muktasree Chakma Sathi

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ll these stories and findings have some common features. It is about the indigenous communities’ distinct cultures, which they are supposed to be proud of. And It is about their language and scripts, which are on the path to extinction.

At least 18 indigenous language are endangered, despite the fact that Bangladesh has an International Mother Language Institute (IMLI) to protect languages from extinction According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics data from 2011, the country has 27 “small anthropological groups” (aka distinct indigenous groups) consisting of 17,84,000 people in total. Indigenous leaders, however, claim that there are 5 million people belong to more than 48 such communities across the country. Within Bangladesh, there are at least 18 languages that are endangered. Shockingly, all of these languages belong to indigenous communities. This is despite the fact that Bangladesh has an International Mother Language Institute (IMLI), which is supposed to protect endangered languages from extinction. The IMLI is supposed to complete an “Ethnolinguistic survey” by July 2014. So far, barely 20% of the work on the Tk3.89 crore one-year project has been completed. Despite the availability of funds, sources from IMLI say, their officials have been negligent in ensuring the project stays on schedule. The institution has not contacted any indigenous community leaders, nor local professors or researchers on Muktasree Chakma Sathi is a journalist and activist concerned with minority rights. Follow her on Twitter: @SathiChakma

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indigenous languages. When probed about this, Jinnat Imtiaz Ali, director general of IMLI, told the media they could not start the survey because they needed technical assistance and researchers from abroad that could not yet be brought in. If duly implemented, the survey could be the saviour for many of the endangered indigenous languages, as it would catalogue all the local indigenous languages and document the written scripts. It would also provide the data needed to rescue another failed project for indigenous childern. The primary and mass education ministry was to publish textbooks in six languages: Chakma, Marma, Santali, Tripura (Kok-borok), Garo (Achik) and Sadri. The aim was to ensure that the indigenous children begin their initial education in their mother tongue, so they would not find it difficult to follow lessons, and eventually drop-out. However, the ministry has missed the deadline, which was set for January 2014. People get understandably frustrated when the failure of preservation initiatives allows the extinction of their language. But people become truly enraged when, despite having a reasonable budget, initiatives fail simply because the institutions running them do not seem to care.

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UNESCO classifies a language as “endangered” when parents are no longer teaching it to their children and it is not being used in daily life.

Case 1

One day, twelve-year-old Roopmoni Hajong, from Sylhet, asked her parents what the Hajong alphabet looked like. She had just heard that the Hajong language had its own unique characters. Despite being of Hajong origin herself, she had been completely unaware of this. Her parents did not know either. They had also heard that they “had” their own font, but it was presumably now lost.

Case 2

a Six-year-old Joytu told his mother that he didn’t want

Photo: Courtesy

Only 67% of indigenous children are being enrolled in school, while the overall school enrolment rate for the country is 97-99%

Feeling invisible to go to school anymore. Joytu is a student of class II in a remote village called Khedarmara in Rangamati. Sheuly Bala, his mother, asked why. He answered that he doesn’t understand most of the things his teachers say in the classroom due to the language barrier. Sheuly laughed out loud and told him he would eventually understand. “But I can’t even make the teacher understand when I want to go to bathroom,” he replied. “What about that?” According to a survey conducted by UNDP, only 67% of indigenous children are being enrolled in school, while the overall school enrolment rate for the country is 97-99%. The discomfort these children due to language barriers may be a contributing factor.

Case 3

“Forget about people who are racist. I don’t think even the education system provided by my government has ever taken care of me and my culture,” Samir, an indigenous youth, recently posted on Facebook. He said in his 28 years of life, he had never felt he belonged to this country. “Throughout my student life, I have never come across authentic pictures or information regarding my community’s culture, cuisine or language. I don’t even know what my native language’s script looks like.” According to a study by the Manusher Janya Foundation published in September 2012, 70% of teachers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts say national textbooks do not reflect the way of life of indigenous peoples.


IN BANDARBAN

The faces of

| Photo story

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G’son Biswas studied photography at the Alliance Francaise, and is currently pursuing a BA Honours in English at Jahangirnagar University.

Boga Lake G’son Biswas

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ast summer, as I was trekking in Bandarban, I was struck by the beautiful faces of the people I met: Young and innocent, old and bold. I found them busy weaving, filling the fabric with their

trademark patterns. The smoke of the local bidis wafted around their heads in the stillness of the afternoon. The local kids are used to tourists with cameras. They were happy to jump into spontaneous poses. After every click they rushed over to see

how the picture had come out, their little faces breaking into an easy smile. There are 15 ethnic groups in Bandarban: Bomong, Marma, Mru, Tanchangya, Khyang, Tripura, Lushei, Khumi, Chak, Kuki, Chakma, Rakhaine, Riyang, Usui and Pankho. Despite

the differences in lifestyles, attributes and ethnicities, one thing in common is their eyes that are filled with brightness and vibrancy. The photos were taken on my way from Bandarban town to Dragon Lake, commonly known as Boga Lake.

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Turn Page for photographs

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10 PHoto story | IN BANDARBAN

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12 LISTOLOGY | BANGLA EXPRESSIONS

Very Bangla

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n addition to practical matters, language is designed to convey thoughts and feelings. Part of its magic is that it evolves to suit its time and place, reflecting the nature of the society in which it exists. The Eskimos have 40 words for snow. We have a thousand words for rice. We can learn much about a culture by studying it’s untranslatable words and certain concepts that are unique to their region. Even the closest translations cannot express the core emotion or sentiment that is associated with them.

Tiring-biring

A fidgety restlessness, often endearing. A person who hops around, unable to concentrate on a single thing or sit quietly.

Potibrota

A wife who loves her husband unconditionally, and has

Language is all about communication. It reveals more than we realise Farhana Urmee

dedicated her life to serving him with the utmost care, sincerity and affection. “My husband is my god.”

Shoteen

It is the relationship between the multiple wives of the same man, know as sister-wives in the polygamous Morman community

in the US. Polygamy is permitted in Islam, though is not as common here as it once was.

Ponchayet

A council of leaders in a village, often compo sed of elders, that solves social and legal disputes through discussion, thus avoiding going to court. Villagers are obliged to follow a ponchayet verdict.

Here are some words which are quintessentially Bangla, but hard to express in English.

Obhimaan

The offended state of mind when one’s unspoken needs are not understood by a loved one. “Does everything need to be uttered?”

Nyakamo

Playing dumb to seek attention, It’s a combination of coyness and illness, with a tinge of drama and an undercurrent of manipulation.

Adda

Intense chats, ranging from idle gossip to heated debates. They can last for hours and are essential to building lifelong relationships. Subjects include politics, relationships and food. The adda is a common scene in the living rooms and tea shops of big cities, small towns and villages across the nation.

Apni

An honourific form of “you.” Bangalis address someone as “apni” when they are senior in age or hierarchy. English has dispensed with such formalities. It is also used with strangers or in a formal setting to show respect.

Dhuludhulu

The slow-motion batting of eyelids, often used by females to captivate their lovers. Hopefully they look seductive instead of sleepy.

Totostho

Panicked preparation for a disaster that someone has anticipate or is anticipating “I am Bangali and I cannot keep calm.”

WEEKEN D TR I BU N E | F R I DAY, M AY 30, 201 4

I AM

BANGALI I DON’T

KEEP CALM

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Lively Learning | Education

13

Nalanda: The school of joy A kinder, gentler way to learn Farhana Urmee

I

magine a school without taskmasters and full of play; a school that has boundaries, but where the children's spirits run free. It is run under the auspices of Chhayanaut Sangeet Bidyaton, a well-known music and dance school in the heart of Dhanmondi, and offers classes from plagroup to Class X. Unlike most schools in Bangladesh, where teachers are generally revered and addressed as “sir” or “madam,” at Nalanda, students call their teachers "Bhaiya" and "Apumoni" (terms for older siblings) creating a relaxed, familial environment.

Nalanda does not want their students to treat education as a commodity Nalanda does not believe in conventional teaching methods, like evaluating students only on the basis of their results. “A student should be assessed on their overall performance as a student: participation in class, peer activities, involvement in

extracurricular activities. All these should be taken into account,” says Belal. The teaching staff do not try to teach the students by force, rather they ingrain openness and acceptance of the new. The school aims to make education fun for students, not something that is imposed. Although Nalanda does not follow the conventional system of holding internal exams throughout the year, its students do well in public examinations like the PSC, JSC and SSC. There are no fails on record. These results show how the school's environment is critical in nurturing a desire to learn among the children – a prerequisite for achieving great things. The grades given out to Nalanda's students are A-, A and A+. Students are taught throroughly in school, so they do not require any extra tuition after class. And anyhow, Nalanda does not want their students to treat education as a commodity. Children are encouraged to not only memorise scientific facts and formulas, but to grasp the logic behind the science. In geography, they are not taught only maps, but the development of peoples' lives

in certain areas. In history classes, they are not simply furnished with dull numbers and dates, but are asked to conduct plays about the lives of people from bygone ages. This is how they learn to relate to others, empathising with the lives of people mentioned in the books. It is one of the very few schools in Dhaka that issues the same uniform for both girls and boys; they wear cotton shirts and pants. This does away with any sense of gender discrimination: "It helps them burst the bubble of gender stereotypes as they socialise at school," says Belal Siddique, coordinator of Nalanda. There is no hard and fast rule followed in the training provided to Nalanda's educational activists. The learning system is entirely

developed by Principal Sanjida Khatun, in consultation with other staff. The teaching staff must undergo an interview, and familiarisation with the school’s unique teaching system. This process includes attending trainings conducted by the principal herself. The staff believe that maturing into a great teacher is a lifetime's journey. They like to call themselves "educational activists" who direct the students' academic endeavours – present in the classroom not as an instructors, but as guides. “If a teacher comes to school a bit less prepared than usual, students can tell the difference, and they will tell the teacher that they did not enjoy the class. So it is

The teachers, or ‘educational activists,’ try to teach students by ingraining openness and acceptance of the new a constant challenge for Nalanda’s teaching staff to do better in every class, every day," says Belal. As Nalanda tries to admit students from all walks of life, it has a quota for children of families from certain income brackets. Nalanda started its journey in 2003 with 16 students. Before moving to permanent premises in Dhanmondi, Nalonda was run at different venues, mostly other schools in the city. The name of the school is inspired by the ancient Nalanda University, built in the fifth century at Pataliputra in India – the historic capital of the Magadha Kingdom. Nalanda has since introduced its curriculum to other institutions, to spread their teaching style throughout the country. Photos: Courtesy

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14 Legalese | With Jennifer Ashraf Kashmi

Q Citizenship A

Jennifer Ashraf Kashmi is a barrister and solicitor of England and Wales. She is currently Senior Partner at Legacy Legal Corporate.

conundrum

Cartoon: Rio Shuvo

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I am a UK citizen who was born in Bangladesh but left in the 70s. I would now like to get a Bangladesh passport. The problem is I have no birth certificate, or indeed any

personal documents from this era that can prove I was born in Bangladesh. I have no surviving relatives in Bangladesh either. What should I do?

Dear Reader: My mind is boggled by the fact that you, despite being a UK citizen, are now choosing to obtain a Bangladeshi passport. Usually it is always the other way around – Bangladeshi or other countries’ citizens are the ones clamoring for UK citizenship or the much coveted Green Card. I am also curious about why you would need it, or whether you are a proud Bangladeshi and wish to return back to your homeland. Regardless of the reasons, your desire to obtain a Bangladeshi passport is definitely inspiring and I hope that I can help you out today. My first question – what documents do you currently possess to prove your ancestry? You mentioned that you have no birth certificate or any personal documents from this era which would help prove that you were born in Bangladesh, but this can be resolved with other supporting documents. As a UK citizen, you must possess a British passport, correct? Your passport should also have your personal details i.e. your date and place of birth, your mother’s name, father’s name and so forth. This should help immensely and serve as a personal document when you apply for your Bangladeshi passport. In Bangladesh, at the moment, the Citizenship Act 1951 will apply in this instance. You mentioned that you were born in Bangladesh. One of the provisions states that “Every person born in Bangladesh after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of Bangladesh by birth: Provided that a person shall not be such a citizen by virtue of this section if at the time of his birth- (a) his father possesses such immunity from suit and legal process as is accorded to an envoy of an external sovereign power accredited in Bangladesh and is not a citizen of Bangladesh; or (b) his father is an enemy alien and the birth occurs in a place then under occupation by the enemy.” I am taking a wild guess that neither of these conditions would have been applicable to your father and therefore you would qualify for “citizenship by birth.” You also

didn’t mention anything about your parents. You left Bangladesh in the 70s, so I am presuming that your parents were Bangladeshi citizens as well during that time. The Citizenship Act also states that – “a person born after the commencement of this Act, shall be a citizen of Bangladesh by descent if his [father or mother] is a citizen of Bangladesh at the time of his birth: Provided that if the [father or mother] of such person is a citizen of Bangladesh by descent only … ” This provision therefore also entitles you to “citizenship by descent” if any one of your parents was a Bangladesh citizen when you were born. For this purpose it would be helpful to obtain your parents’ documents and your current passport can also be used to establish and prove your relationship with your parents. The Citizenship Act also contains a provision which could prove to be quite favorable to you. This provision is applicable in instances where there is doubt as to citizenship and it states that – “Where a person with respect to whose citizenship a doubt exists, whether on a question of law or fact, makes application in that behalf to the Government, the Government may grant him a certificate that at the date of the certificate he is a citizen of Bangladesh … The certificate, unless it is proved to have been obtained by fraud, false representation or concealment of any material fact, shall be conclusive evidence of the fact recorded in it.” This is massively helpful as it is supportive to the applicant and enables the grant of citizenship to avoid being an onerous process. In conclusion, I see no reason why you cannot finally obtain your Bangladeshi passport if you truly want it. It may take time and a whole lot of paperwork, but you know what they say: “Nothing worth having is ever easy to come by.” Also, I do advise you to apply through a specialist or a lawyer, in order to avoid any confusion or accompanying pitfalls. Best of luck!

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Got a problem? Write to Jennifer at weekend@ dhakatribune.com


transgender beauty | society

15

Third gender:

the many faces of beauty Jhinuk and Nodi, two transgender people who have forged their path to self reliance, and became role-models in their community Adil Sakhawat

Jhinuk: Beauty role model E

ight years ago, like many other transgender people in Bangladesh, Jhinuk used to beg or engage in sex work for a living. But her fortunes changed when she snapped up an opportunity to get trained in beauty parlour courses, arranged by the NGO Susthho Jibon (which translates to “Healthy Life”). Today, 45-year-old Jhinuk has 50 students, who are in turn receiving training from her on how to run a beauty parlour business. She operates Banoful Beauty Parlor in capital's Gandaria, which she established in 2005. Upon arriving at Jhinuk's parlour, I found a vibrant atmosphere. Jhinuk was busy attending customers, and there was a line of people waiting to be served by her, despite a number of other available

staff. Sonia, a bride who came from the Shonir Akhra area of Narayanganj, said: “Jhinuk Apa is an expert in adorning girls according to their expectations. My elder sister also came to her to get her wedding makeup done.” While attending to the rush of customers, Jhinuk shared: “I have 30-50 customers everyday. Usually the weekends and weekdays afternoons are rush hours. But I try to make all of my customers happy. They are women of all different ages and classes. They do not hesitate to come to a transgender person for their beautification.” “After 5pm I am usually busy with my students. The classes continue up to 8pm. After that I am free,” she said. Jhinuk charges Tk30-200

for different services including manicure, pedicure, makeup, hair colouring, haircutting, fair polish, bleach, and facials done with gold, neem, chandan, fruits and cucumbers. Special bridal packages are also available at her parlour. She offers fellow transgender customers a discount. She also sometimes gives them a discount on the beauty courses, for which she usually charges Tk10,000 per student and Tk500-1000 for certain courses. Jhinuk said: “I want all transgender people of this country to join honourable professions like the parlour business. That is why I charge them less. Sometimes I do not take any money at all, if they can convince me that they really want to do something good.” Jhinuk is content with her

parlour business which has a monthly income of Tk25,00035,000. She has left the dark chapter of her life some 10 years ago. “People used to mock me by calling me a hijra. Sometimes I could earn well, but there were days when I could not even earn a penny. Now people in this area respect me because a number of women who are operating parlour businesses in this area also happen to be my students.” Next month, 17 transgender people from New Delhi are scheduled to arrive to take training from her. Zafar Ali, a local man, said: “We are proud of Jhinuk because she helps many women in this area to earn a living by doing a respectable job. She also stands beside poor people in the time of their need.”

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Nodi: Dhong and honour

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odi started operating her fashion house Dhong in the capital's Khilgaon area in 2004, with an initial investment of just Tk50,000. Today Dhong is a renowned fashion house that designs attire for popular brands like Jatra and Noborupa. Business starts at 9am sharp everyday, and remains open until 9pm. For Pahela Baisakh this year, she designed 500 pieces of panjabis and saris ordered by customers. Nodi has 15 people working under her who also receive her training. She has an additional 30 transgender students who come to her for training in design. “I am very busy the whole day. So I have told my transgender students to come whenever they have free time, and I manage to give them some time while also handling my customers.” Nodi currently earns Tk50,00060,000 a month from designing clothes and offering training classes, which are taken by women

of a range of socioeconomic classes. Shahina Akhter, a teacher, said: “Nodi apa has unique design ideas. I come to her for training and to design my own dresses.” All of Nodi's “chalas” (disciples in the transgender community) now hold paid jobs at various organisations, rather than collecting alms from markets as many others do. One of them, Songita, said of Nodi: “Guru Ma trained us in a different way, and showed us to live with honour. It is true that we do not disclose our identity as transgender people at our workplace but we are transgenders.” Nodi plans to set up another show room in Dhaka next year to make her business more profitable and raise its prominence. “No one should treat transgender people as a burden. We have the ability to work, to run businesses, to work in honourable profession, if we could be educated like mainstream people,” says Nodi.

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Jhinuk busy attending a client at her parlour

Photo: Sebastian Chatelier

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16 TOUGH LOVE | DINA SOBHAN

Ex schemes and

Dhaka dreams

Got a problem? Write to Dina at weekend@ dhakatribune. com

Q A

An ex-boyfriend of mine recently invited my parents to his wedding, which will take place in a few months. The news came as a shock. He’d mentioned that he’d met his now-future bride over the internet, and they’d been dating for just a few months. What’s

more, I think it was mean of him to invite my parents, even though he is on good terms with them. I would never do that to someone. I have a gut feeling he may have invited them just to make me jealous. What do you think?

I think it’s irrelevant what his intentions were, especially since he’s the guy you (hopefully) dumped for being the kind of pathetic loser who marries a girl he’s only known for a few months over the internet. If he’s trying to make you jealous, you need to demonstrate how insanely unjealous you are by not even acknowledging the invitation. I do think it would be a bit odd if your parents were to attend, unless they were already good friends with his parents prior to you two dating. However, if they did attend the wedding, it

would show him and the world how above it you are and how trivial his marriage is to you. Of course, better yet would be for you to accompany your parents to the wedding, dressed to the nines – making his bride look like an overdressed trollop by comparison – and congratulate him warmly and sincerely on his rapid wedding (the meaning fully implied), then proceed to be the most radiant and charming woman in the room. That would be not only turning the tables on your petty ex, but beating him at his own silly game.

Dina Sobhan is a freelance writer, and cautions readers not to take her ‘advice’ here too seriously!

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Q

I grew up in Dhaka, but my husband is from Kushtia, and we’ve been living here with his family for the past three years. He has three brothers (two older, one younger), but he’s the responsible one, and earns the most money. My in-laws are

A

Well, let me start by commending you on your ability to survive in Kushtia for three years. I think you can safely tell your husband that you have done your penance and played the role of dutiful wife to completion, and must now go and suffer like everyone else in the city. Who would prefer the quiet and peaceful existence in Kushtia to the crowded, polluted and dirty metropolis that is home? I think everyone deserves a good meal or mela, as the case may be, and you have earned

Cartoon : Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy

decent people, but I hate this small town! I miss the hustle and bustle of the city: the shopping, the concerts, the melas … I feel like crying every time we leave after a visit. How can I convince my husband to move back? I’m willing to get a job to help cover costs, if only he could get over his guilt at not being there for his (perfectly healthy) parents. your right to shop for formalincoated fruits and veggies at the Gulshan-1 market ‘til you’re blue in the face. Apply for a job at Grameen phone, much like every other citizen in town, and what little money you save after all the kamizes are bought from Rina Latif and meals eaten at the Westin can be sent back to support the family. And if you find yourself without funds and a nice place to live by the end of the year, well, there’s always good ol’ Kushtia and your family waiting to welcome you back home.

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Fighting the right Fights| Standpoint

17

Flaws of Feminism

The fight for equality is a just one – but we must accept the differences between men and women Shah Nahian

E

ven in the 21st century, there are many women in our country who are denied basic human rights. They are denied the right to a proper education; they are not allowed to work, and mostly, their voice is not heard in our patriarchal society. Women, in many cases, are prisoners in their own homes. If we are to move forward to a brighter future, women along with men, must stand up against these atrocities. Under the eyes of the law, it is essential for men and women to have equal political, social and economic rights. That being said, one also has to take into account that men and women are not exactly the same. Feminists constantly ignore the fundamental fact: men and women are different psychologically, temperamentally, socially and physically. The pronounced differences between males and females can be observed from the early stages of their infacy. This is why I believe a few of the core ideologies of feminism are flawed. I think because of the nature of the cause, people often do not like to question feminism, but if we are to take a more realistic approach to the equality of the sexes, we also need to take into account the reality of a developing country such as ours. Most women dream of having kids and raising them from a very early age. Feminism can easily

Photo: Bigstock

be mistaken for an ideology designed to make women feel that it is wrong for them to want to be the primary caregivers to their own children. Complaints about inequality in the roles of parents are nothing more than misconceptions. The man’s position as the breadwinner is not more important than the woman’s position in the home, as a wife, mother and homemaker. Both are essential building blocks of society – equally important but different in function. Feminism has also built an appearance, rightly or wrongly, as an aggressive, hate-fuelled movement with the intolerance of differing opinions, including those of other women. Gloria Rachel Allred, an American civil rights lawyer who has been a feminist for over 30 years, boldly states in an interview: “If you’re not a feminist, you’re a bigot. There’s nothing in between.” This statement assumes that women with different opinions are oppressed by a male dominated society. However, that is not always true. Countless women, including many I know, enjoy chivalry from men such as picking them up/dropping them off cars, paying close attention to their wants/needs, and keeping them “safe from harm.” These women are far from oppressed. Travelling around Dhaka city is a dreadful mess if you are

stuck using the public transport system. Usually, inside the already over-crammed buses, seats are reserved for women in the front of the bus while men (figuratively) fight each other for the remaining seats. To treat both sexes equally in this particular situation means seats will no longer be reserved for women in the front row - resulting in women competing for seats with men. There is a 40-50% difference in upper body strength

Dr Elly Tams “One of the things I have found hardest to accept about feminism is just how incoherent it is, and how it often uses dodgy data and – well, actual lies – to promote and justify its statements. I studied gender at a PhD level and beyond, and so have based a lot of my own work on feminist theory and feminist-influenced research. Was it all wrong? The answer is yes and no. But I do not claim everything written by feminists to be useless. Feminist theorists and writers whose work I have not abandoned altogether include Camille Paglia, Judith Butler and Gayle Rubin. But I think they all still focus too much on women, and women’s issues, which weakens their arguments. I need another article, or maybe a second PhD to demonstrate how feminists are inconsistent in their views, and how research they

between men and women and a 20-30% difference in lower body strength, according to a report by amStatz.com, an online reference for personal trainers. Now, if men are allowed to compete for a seat with women, that is hardly a fair fight. The reasoning for misguided ideologies in feminism is often influenced by dodgy statistics and data. Feminists tend to propagate their misinformation and faulty reasoning, frequently stating the accusation as the evidence. Ex-feminist Dr Elly Tams, a freelance researcher and writer, explains one of her reasons for leaving feminism behind was the inconsistency of many feminists. Some often tend to focus only on women and women’s issues and thus betray the fundamental point of gender equality. So, do I truly believe women deserve equal rights? Absolutely! However, I also believe that the policies demanded for empowering women need to be practical and based on proper statistics and data. If we base our policies for an ideal world on data that is inconsistent or incorrect, it is bound to create more problems than it actually solves.

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use is often very poor. But here is a recent example: The Fawcett Society provides us with another example of inconsistent feminist data. They currently have a campaign about the way women are hit harder economically by the recession than men. I find the figures they use to be particularly insulting to all of our intelligence, because they ignore the ‘fact’ that we all know from our own lives, that in the vast majority of cases, men and women live together, are in families whether nuclear or extended, and support each other. Another fact ignored by feminists is how fathers who do not live with their children and who often don’t even have much access to their children, tend to pay the mothers of their children considerable amounts of money in child support.”

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18 Stay in

Sudoku

Use the numbers 1-9 to complete each of the 3x3 square grids such that each horizontal and vertical line also contains all of the digits from 1-9

Selfies for a good cause Rifat Islam Esha

S

ocial media recently underwent a storm of selfie campaigns, most of which deal with serious issues. Selfie, a social media term for self portrait, can be seen as a self-gratifying gesture (see pg 4), but netizens have started posting pictures of themselves to convey serious messages and awareness. Many important and renowned individuals have also participated in these selfie campaigns, boosting their reach. All you need to participate is a camera phone and a hashtag.

“Breaking Stereotypes”

Rajesh Dudeja, an activist, posted an album called “Breaking Stereotypes” full of selfies of people holding

WEEKEN D TR I BU N E | F R I DAY, M AY 30, 201 4

placards with different messages on them which challenge the everyday stereotypes we face.

their selfies with placards with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls written on them.

#BananaSelfie

#nomakeupselfie

Another selfie campaign which used two hashtags #BananaSelfie and #WeAreAllMonkeys was a reaction against the racist act of a football fan who throw a banana at Barcelona star Dani Alves during a game.

#BringBackOurGirls

Netizens from around the world participated in the campaign #BringBackOurGirls to urge the Nigerian authorities to bring back more than 200 school girls who have abducted by extremist group Boko Haram. Many tweeted and posted

Earlier this year, the #nomakeupselfie was trending, triggered by the remarks on the 81 year old actress Kim Novak at the Oscar’s. Novelist Laura Limppman posted a picture of herself on facebook as an act of protest to support Kim Novak which quickly picked up popularity and became viral on Facebook and trending on Twitter. #nomakeupselfie started trending on twitter as women posted photos of themselves asking their friends to do the same, and helped raise more than $13m in six days. The campaign

Last week’s sudoku solutions

became so popular that it ended up raising funds for cancer patients.

#YesAllWomen

Straying a bit from selfies, the #YesAllWoneb Twitter campaign has emerged as a response to the recent mass murder in California, where Elliot Rodger killed six people.The campaign that focuses on issues such as consent, sexual harrassment and boundaries of men. The mentally disturbed Rodger claimed in a prerecorded video that the spree was triggered by his frustration at being rejected by women. #YesAllWomen was a response to the heated discussion that followed on women’s freedom to reject, and men’s perception of consent.

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Go out

19

Weekly Planner

May 30

May 31 June 1

Film | Jibondhuli

Shopping | Fashion & Lifestyle

WHEN 4pm-6pm WHERE Short Film

Forum, Aziz Super Market WHat Tanvir Mokammel’s latest feature film on the life of a drummer during the Liberation War 1971.

Cartoon : Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy

Exhibition

Can You Handle the Truth? Faisal Mahmud When

May 31- June 7 From 9:30am to 8pm This week, check out the exhibition of 25 political cartoons drawn by cartoonist Syed Rashed Imam Tanmoy. The show features cartoons published in the Dhaka Tribune during its first year of publication, and runs until next Saturday. Talking to the Weekend Tribune, Tanmoy said a cleverly drawn cartoon is worth a thousand words. “Especially the political ones, which you can use to highlight discrepancies, and provide food for thought,” he says, adding that it demands great skill and ingenuity to present major news stories in such a widely accessible form every day. Political cartoons can tell a truth that everybody knows, Tanmoy says, but cannot be said aloud. Sometimes they focus more on thought provoking subjects like the suffering of ordinary people and economic neglect. “Sketching a political cartoon is not an easy task. First, it requires news sense. Then you need to create a theme, based on which you can convey a message with an equal amount

Where

EMK Center, House 5, Road 27 (old), Dhanmondi of satire and seriousness,” says Tanmoy. Very few exhibitions of political cartoons are held in the country. “This is mainly because of the content. Galleries, and even the cartoonists, fear that their work might cause a backlash. But in a democratic country, such exhibitions should be held on a regular basis,” he says. The last exhibition was of Shishir Bhattacharyia’s work many years ago. Controversial elections, debates over national identity, and the failure of politicians to reach a consensus on burning national issues have all come up in Tanmoy’s cartoons. “This is just the start for me. I hope to hold a lot more exhibitions like this in future,” he says. “Can you handle the truth?” is Tanmoy’s first solo cartoon exhibition, though he has participated in more than 50 group shows. Eminent writer and cartoonist Ahsan Habib will grace the occasion as chief guest, while seasoned political cartoonist Asiful Huda will be present as special guest. The exhibition will continue until June 7.

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WHEN 11:30am-10:30pm WHERE Steak House, House

8, Road 53, Gulshan 2 WHat The exhibition will showcase imported sarees, salwar kameezes, designer gowns, and imported jewellery ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.

Music | An Evening of Classical Music

6:30pm-8:30pm Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC), House 35, Road 24, Gulshan 1, Dhaka. WHat Pandit Amaresh Roy Chowdhury will perform classical music at the programme. WHEN WHERE

Food | Burger and Biriyani Fest WHEN 12pm-10pm WHERE Emmanuelle’s

June 4 - June 18 Exhibition | Unconsciously Conscious WHEN 5:30pm WHERE La Galerie,

Alliance Française de Dhaka, 26 Mirpur Road WHat Solo painting exhibition by artist Md Abdul Guffar Babu.

Banquet Hall, Gulshan, Dhaka WHat Dhaka Foodies caters a variety of food items from your favourite brands. Entry ticket for the festival is Tk50 per person.

June 5 - June 7

MAY 31

University Bangladesh, Plot 16, Block B, Aftabuddin Road, Bashundhara WHat An Engligh language interuniversity debate. Registration fee is Tk3,000 per team and Tk1,000 per adjudicator. You can register your team and confirm your registration by paying to the bKash number 01787719193.

Art | Second Sight WHEN 12pm-8pm WHERE The Daily Star

Centre, 64-65, Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Dhaka Eighteen paintings and 15 drawings of SM Sultan will be exhibited.

Music | An Evening of Sitar Recital

6:30pm-8:30pm Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre (IGCC), House 35, Road 24, Gulshan 1 Satyajit Chakraborty will play Sitar at the musical soiree.

Competition | IUB Parliamentary Debating Championship WHEN 9am-10pm WHERE Independent

WHEN WHERE

MAY

2014

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20 Last word | What are you?

Anti-stereotype: an identity paranoia The line between stereotype and identity Syeda Samira Sadeque

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uring my first week at Grinnell College, a (very) liberal arts institution in the United States, I was hanging out after dinner with a dorm-mate. She mentioned she was Jewish. My immediate response was a joke: “You’re a Jew? How come I didn’t know this? Oh my god you’re Jewish!” This proved fatal in my attempt to create a good first impression on those around me, not only because of the painful lack of humour in the joke, but because it portrayed me as insensitive to issues of race and religion. She seemed offended at my tone and I never knew why – until I moved back to Dhaka four years later, and began to view this incident and my whole college experience from a different perspective. In South Asia, if you ask someone about their racial or religious identity, it is not taken as an offence but as a gesture of curiosity. Even in France, an acquaintance recently blogged about that she does not mind at all when about her multicultural heritage. But it is not taken so well in the US. Many Americans dislike being questioned about their identity, and are often fidgety about asking others about theirs. This stems from a fear of stereotyping and thus appearing to be racist. Still, there is no doubt that racism is rampant in the United States. During my time at Grinnell, which is renowned for social activism, I learned all about racism – by observing others’ experiences, by experiencing it myself, and also through numerous conversations and debates on how to identify and tackle racism. But it was not until I left college that I realised what a deep effect these conversations had on me, particularly my willingness to make associations between people and their specific cultural traits. While my college education taught me a great deal about the ghastly effects of stereotypes – racism, sexism, extremism – it also left me incredibly paranoid about making any associations. At all. The fact that America has a racism problem is illustrated by the Trayvon Martin case, which is not an isolated incident. Martin was a 17-year-old AfricanAmerican from Florida who was fatally shot and killed by George

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Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer. Despite shooting Martin when he was unarmed and without any reasonable grounds, Zimmerman was recently acquitted of the murder charges, sparking a national conversation across the US about racism. It is unfortunately common in the US that a person of colour is deemed more of a danger than a white person, and this story illustrates just that. With such

which a girl of African-American, Italian, Mexican, Native American and Swedish origin rants about how she dislikes being asked what her heritage is, and how “exotic” is not a term she likes being used in reference to herself. While “What are you?” may be a very crude question, is it offensive to ask someone what culture they identify with, if any? The author likes being identified first as a New Yorker and as a

While my college education taught me a great deal about the ghastly effects of stereotypes, it also left me incredibly paranoid about making any associations. At all. grave incidents plaguing America, it is only natural that people are extremely uncomfortable about any associations being blown out of proportion. Yet, while racial associations can have grave implications, an innocent curiosity about a person’s race is still legitimate, and does not always need to be deemed offensive. I recently read an article entitled “PSA: ‘What are you?’ Is not an icebreaker,” in

woman – which is a valid choice. It varies from person to person whether they want their primary identity to be their culture, race, city, nation, gender, passion – or lack of any of these. And that is where we are different. While my primary identity is that of a Bangali, someone else’s may be their religion, and for someone else it may be their gender. Does that restrict me from

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asking someone about their origin or religion if I find it interesting? But America, with its paranoia about associations, does not give one the space to do that. In its fight to be “politically correct,” it actually ends up creating more confusion for many. The most contradictory thing about today’s anti-stereotype culture is that it teaches you to not put anything in a box, and yet looks down on you for asking someone about their take on their identity. Unless we associate certain traits with someone, how else do we identify them? Aren’t such traits often what make us unique, what differentiate us from one another? Again, while it is wrong to generalise crudely, like in the Trayvon Martin case, or in cases of Islamophobia, there are some traits that are specific to our culture; thus when one is associated with these traits by belonging to that culture, it’s not necessarily offensive. The culture of stereotyping does stem from the association of certain categories of people with certain traits. But the fear of being shamed as a peddler of stereotypes also restricts legitimate curiosity as well. Until we recognise this, the confusion surrounding the politics of identity will only continue.

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