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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Sep 10,2006

Holy smoke - Bangladesh is set to get its first saint!! Yes folks it another first for bengalis - this time a bengali is entering the pantheon of saints! The process has started for the canonisation of the late Archbishop Theotonius Amal Ganguly. At present he has been declared a “servant of god.” This is the first stage of a three stage process of becoming a saint. Apparently he is the first “servant of God” among Bengalis and of course the first in Bangladesh.

I don’t want to be flippant here but when it comes to matters of religion I can never help myself - so here goes: I think this could have a beneficial impact on tourism. Of course the odd sighting of the Virgin would help, and bleeding stigmata always adds a bit of spice.

I wonder how the Government of Bangladesh and its islamic zealot contingent will react to this news. Christians have faced restriction after restriction -  everything from bible printing and dissemination, preaching and the formal status of christian organisations.

Junk food in Dhaka

Aug 25,2006

Ah yes the big daddy of junk food - KFC -  is opening very soon! I won’t hear a bad word about them despite the grease and fat and low wages etc… was one of the very few things I enjoyed during my chemo days. Here is a picture of the work in progress. You will have to wait three or four weeks I should think judging by the state of play. In Gulshan 1 near Aarong and opposite Banglalink.

KFC in Dhaka

Some worrying links

  • Filed under: Misc
Aug 16,2006

The Awami League web site report a “Bid to foil mourning day program” where a chap wearing “punjabi, pajama and a tupi” was apprehended cutting cables. The same story becomes “Police foil plot to kill Bangladesh opposition leader” in Gulf news and “Bangladesh police foil bomb attack plan on Hasina” in India News. Of course it doesn’t hurt the Awami League leader’s cause to have the story make her a victim. Maybe the AL webmaster will sex-up, to use a british phrase, the title of the story later…?

Is this article in Haaretz (israeli newspaper) a joke or is it an indication of how far removed Israelis are from reality? Haifa zoo animals stressed and ill after 34 days of guerilla rocket fire.

There used to be a time when I would thank god that I was living in a liberal democracy like Brtain. But news like this story in The Times which claims that in the future certain types of travellers - READ MUSLIM TRAVELLERS - will face selective assessments certainly doesn’t do anything for my onions.

There also used to be a time when I would dabble in philosophy of various hues. No seriously I did. It was the done thing for pseuds like me to have some philosophy book peeping out of a coat pocket with the title just visible. Except in my case it wasn’t to impress some beautiful English lit undergrad…no I had already done that by other means…. And so it came as a bit of a shock to read that Mr George Bush, a man who has difficulty eating pretzels, has just finished reading The Stranger by Albert Camus at his Texas ranch. Who is this monkey chump trying to impress? And according to this article he made quick work of this book. Hmmm. I wonder if the aide who suggested this book sees some connection between Mr Bush and the main character of the book? And I wonder if George ever even suspected that whilst he was reading it?

Jul 23,2006

They are not calling this ethnic cleansing. They are not calling this state terrorism. No the words being discussed are “proportionate” and “disproportionate.” No one can attack you or try you for war crimes or terrorism if the issue relates to proportionality.

And as the Israelis continue to ethnically cleanse southern Lebanon, they are not forgetting northern Lebanon either. They are bombing everywhere.

Here are some snaps I took from a demo we went on in Glasgow yesterday. The only political party on the platform was the Scottish Nationalist Party. What happened to the Libdems? And once labour activists would have thronged such a gathering. But yesterday they were nowhere to be seen. Incredible how fickle this world is.

Stop the war demo Glasgow

state terrorism

stop the war coalition poster

Jul 13,2006

A very interesting and riveting review of the shift from secular leftism to islamism in the east end of London by Delwar Hussain. I wish he had written more about the failure of the left. Delwar if you are reading..and i may be so presumptuous….I can tell you a thing or two about how the left cocked it up. Yes you are right…the day to day bread and butter issues were never taken up. Indeed party functionaries in Bangladesh wanted these to be taken up but the local London leadership….ah man…I have too much to do today to rile myself up thinking about those boneheads.


  • Filed under: Misc
Jul 9,2006

Disaster. I am devastated. He was going to be man of the match; he would have won the golden boot and perhaps also the trophy. And then, like my mate says, he went mad. Lost it. Sad end. Human but frustrating. Just like the game.

Zidane for Bangladesh!

Jul 9,2006

The great Zidane is headed for Bangladesh in November. Does anyone know Mohammed Yunus sufficiently well to get me an autograph of Zizou?? I will be your best mate for ever.

ZZ will be acting as an ambassador for french company Danone who are setting up a joint-venture project with Grameen to establish a plant in Bogra.

The plant will produce energy-giving yoghurt to meet the nutritional needs of the children, and around 50 such plants will set up in different parts of the country if the yoghurt produced by the plant is successful in reducing the utritional deficiencies of the children in poverty-stricken Bangladesh.

Incredible no?

World cup flag sales down in Gulshan

  • Filed under: Misc
Jul 7,2006

After the departure of Argentina and Brazil, Quddus Miah has not been selling as many as flags as he would like to. Brazil, Argentina and German flags are everywhere in Dhaka but of course these teams are all out. Between the italian and french tricolours he says he is selling more of the Italian. Indeed the large one in the pic was the last one he had left. I bought it for a mate for 100 takas ( i was a little generous). My French flag is going to be wrapped around my head when Zinedine takes to the pitch tomorrow. I took the above snap in Gulshan 2.

Jul 1,2006


As a follow up to my last post concerning the world cup’s impact on the economy, I am certain this soccer spectacle has resulted in an unhealthy increase in chanachur consumption in Bangladesh.( Chanachur - bengali word for bombay mix or chevda). Take a look at the amount I managed to munch from this large packet of Karnaphuli chanachur - the best non-spicy and non-greasy one you can buy - in 93 minutes of the England - Portugal game. I am watching it live on 3 Live here in Dhaka, and so far without any powercuts.  I was ready to go down to my local powerstation with some assorted thugs but so far so good. Anyway, like a good development economist, I am extrapolating this consumption behaviour to the rest of the country without any idea whatsoever of the number of satellite tv sets in the country or indeed the level of interest in this particular game or the availability of Karnaphuli chanachur outside Gulshan 2 - but hey I am willing to wager chanachur consumption has gone up by 420 percent at the very least.

Jun 29,2006


Knitwear manufacturers have recorded a surge in exports thanks to the world cup! Jerseys and other clothing are selling like hot cakes obviously. I wonder if Zizou’s Number 10 strips are made in Bangladesh? Wouldn’t that be fantastic? I want one! Allez Les Bleus!

Jun 6,2006

It is not often you get some municipal official who takes it on himself to bring modernisation to the citizenry. But it appears that a certain brave soul called Mijanur Rahman Minu, the mayor of northern Rajshahi, has decided to do away with a certain practice condoned by islam but which is prohibited in most modern polities - polygamy. So from now on, if you want a nice young or indeed a nice old second wife you will have to contribute 10,000 takas ( about ninety pounds) to the city coffers. The tax on a third wife is 30k and on a fourth - 40k. Mijanur says

“Polygamy is a disrespectful and outdated act in this modern age. We have imposed the taxes to prevent such acts and for the welfare of the families”

I know two very poor Faridpuri women who recently got married to husbands who were already married. It was the women who had to fork out for the privilege of marrying. In one case, the woman, a 38 year old, parted with her entire life’s savings of 50,000 takas. However they both considered their investment worthwhile, and they both considered acquiring a husband as a pre-condition for security in old age. I wonder what such a tax will do amongst the poorest of the poor. Yet another push factor for the labour market?

Jun 5,2006

Ah yes the battle lines are drawn over these two teams as the football fans in Bangladesh prepare to go crazy ( although some already have gone crazy - read here and here).

Unlike millions of other argentinian fans back in Bangladesh, i have been lucky enough to see them for real in the 1998 world cup (albeit in a dull game against Croatia. I have got some fantastic shots - esp of female fans ;) - from that event and may post some up if football fever hits me badly). I also have to admit that having supported Brazil throughout my life I changed my mind in the final of the great 1998 world cup and hooted for France. It was a monumental game. Indeed a great national moment for France and I don’t mean in terms of football alone but in terms of France recognising and confronting its national question. I was at the Hotel de Ville, Paris watching the game and I could not hear a damn thing when the goals were being scored. I had to phone my wife in England on my mobile to find out what the hell was happening. Nevertheless it was fantastic and for me a great political and football event!

Argentina played Saudi yesterday in a friendly, and as i was incarcerated in hospital my thoughts turned to footballers’ wives (and why not?). Here in England they have a “reputation.” TV soaps and reality programmes and sunday tabloids have all created a very salacious/peculiar/catty/greedy image of these women. I was wondering if the wives of Saudi players have any kind of image - real or not? I was also wondering what they would be wearing as they follow their men from city to city? Burqhas? This is what the hotel was requested to do for the Saudi team:

The hotel has removed alcohol from the minibars, blocked adult entertainment and other free-TV channels showing naked women and taken down tasteful nude photos in the fitness area, according to the Reuters new agency.

Sunday Links: Living Conditions

  • Filed under: CHT, Misc
May 28,2006


Monica Ali’s new book is inspired by her home in the Portugese Algarve. She say’s her success with “Brick Lane” has given her time for “truthiness” - “something that’s a good story, that “feels” right, but doesn’t correspond to reality.”

And the reality of life in the Rohingya refugee camps in the south of Bangladesh does not correspond with that which is acceptable. 21,000 people face deteriorating sanitation, health and education conditions.

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May 15,2006

Bangladesh Biman are offering a fantastic new deal to its long suffering passengers. If you book a ticket to New York, you will most likely see Montreal, get put up at the Sheraton or, now get this, perhaps never get there at all!!! Which loss incurring nationalised industry anywhere on the planet can match this deal?

Read it HERE. JFK refused landing permission to Biman’s plane which had already entered Canadian airspace after taking off from Brussels. The plane was then diverted to Montreal. The article doesn’t tell you that 3 out of 5 of Biman’s DC-10s have been grounded this year and frequency of flights curtailed because, yes you guessed it, the planes are dodgy.