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Archive for June, 2007

Jun 21,2007


Photo by Anwar Hossain, Trafalgar Square, London, 2007.
Whilst I always look askance at gongs, if outfits are going to dish them out then they should at least go to deserving cases. And Asif certainly is such a case. He merits this diasporic recognition.

Anwar Hossain and I caught up with him earlier this year. We found Asif to be mild mannered and softly spoken. Yet he has managed to harness the volatile energy of a very disparate internet constituency and put it to good use. As I have said before elsewhere in this blog he has changed the character of activism. Well done mate.

Chingri Bhortha

  • Filed under: Food
Jun 20,2007


I was a tad disappointed when I first went to eat at Tommy Miah’s Heritage restaurant in Gulshan. I was promised a range of borthas. Imagine my surprise when I saw that there was no chingri bortha. Beans, potatoes etc but no prawns. And of course as we all know there is nothing more delicious than mashed prawns.

So these days whenever I have a bit of time I make bortha. Lately I have been waiting for the DHL man quite a bit. And I have discovered that the wait is made much more palatable with a plate of chingri bortha and rice. In fact I have developed a peculiar Pavlovian type syndrome. Whenever someone says DHL or I think of DHL, I start salivating.

So here is ONE variation on the theme:

1. prawns. Fried in very little oil so that they get seared a little. Releases that crustacean aroma.

2. Fry dried chillis until blackish.

3. Wait for the chillis to cool down. Add raw onions and mash the mixture with your fingers! Salt to taste - add plenty.
4. Serve with rice.

It should look like above (taken with my new equally delicious olympus sp550)

Jun 20,2007

According to the 2007 Worldwide Quality of Living Survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Dhaka is one of the worst places you could find yourself in. At first I thought this consulting outfit was simply reproducing the views of Mohiuddin (the recently repatriated murderer of Sheikh Mujib) but it turns out their assessment is based on levels of medical service provision and sanitation. The dear old city ranks just above Baku in Ajerbaijan BUT below hell-holes in Madagascar and Haiti! Of course North America turns out to have the best cities. Again Mohiuddin and his supporters would agree there.

Check out the summary HERE.  Mercer’s own site HERE.

Immigrant identity

Jun 18,2007

Mira Nair has taken Jhumpa Lahiri’s book “The Namesake” and turned it into a film. Bengali, Hindi and English dialogue.  Anyone seen it??

Jhumpa Lahiri

Google her. She is interesting.  (Thanks FH for this)

Look East

Jun 18,2007

Eastern Europe, in this case. Bangladeshi workers might be heading for Poland. In England and indeed throughout the UK we have experienced a rush of workers from Eastern Europe. Lithuanians, Latvians, Romanians, Poles etc. They are employed in various capacities from restaurant staff to construction industry work to farm labour.  As people leave for Western Europe, they have contributed to a shortage of labour. And this is where the Bangladeshi workers might potentially fit in. This is the pecking order for edging westwards!
The cheap polish builder has become a bit of a caricature in the UK. I wonder what the Bangladeshis will face in Poland….hmm.

Jetting About

Jun 14,2007


So here is the man himself - the grand old man of Bangladeshi blogging - Rezwan. We met at an airport, as we jet set bloggers do….I was flying in from Scotland. Rezwan was flying off to Berlin. What did we talk about? Web 2.0 products and social networking of course!

The Blair imams

  • Filed under: Misc
Jun 12,2007

Blair and imam

Ruth Kelly ( member of Opus dei, ultra conservative catholic movement, believes in flagellation): Woah! The Pope has got a bigger one than that!

Tony Blair (speculation that he will convert to catholicism. Wife already has): Yes we christians have bigger ones!

Imam ( probably part of the new compliant muslims initiative): I trust you are referring to my turban, your highnesses?

Jun 12,2007

Here is a Press Release from the Bangladesh Foundation:

Bangladesh -The Way Forward seminar at the House of Lords

A high profile seminar on Bangladesh titled’ Bangladesh: The Way Forward’ was held today (Monday 11 June) at ‘Moses Room’ in the Houses of Lords, organised by the International Bangladesh Foundation and chaired by Lord Avebury, the Vice Chair of All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group. The seminar was attended by dozens of MPs, MEPs, Peers, representatives of human rights organisations, academics and members of overseas diplomatic missions based in London.

Syeda Muna Tasneem, Counsellor of the Bangladesh High Commission, gave an overview of the Caretaker Government’s reform plans, and was followed by Sultan Shariff of the Awami League, Cllr. Ayesha Chowdhury for the BNP, and Cllr Ayub Korom Ali of the GanoForum.

Other main contributors were Jeremy Corbyn MP, Baroness Pola Uddin, Robert Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Abbas Faiz of Amnesty International, Salim Malik of Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Professor Mustaq Khan of University of London, Dr Gareth Price of Chatham House, Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch, Dr David Lewis of London School of Economics, Rosie Cave of Safer World, Maggie Bowden of Liberation, and Prasanta Barua, who spoke for the minority groups.

Almost all the speakers were in favour of the anti graft operation run by the Caretaker Government, but concern was expressed about innocent people being caught up in the wave of arrests. There was concern that defendants were being held too long before trial, and that in some cases there was evidence of torture or ill-treatment in custody.

There was general agreement that the ultimate deadline of the end of 2008 for the elections should be maintained, and that if the roadmap to be published in July showed that an earlier date was feasible, the timetable should be accelerated.

The meeting was cautiously pleased to note that the commission to decide on land claims in the CHT was being activated, and hoped that particularly close attention would be paid to allegations about human rights violations of indigenous people. 

Lord Avebury while expressing his concern said, “I was glad to hear that the body of Cholesh Ritchil, the indigenous leader who was arrested on March 18 and died in custody the same day, has been exhumed with a view to conducting an autopsy. I had asked the Bangladesh government to conduct a full investigation into his death, and I understand that the exhumation will lead to a judicial inquiry”.
Concerns were expressed about the continued threat of terrorism, since the bomb blasts at the beginning of last month, and the accompanying threats against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
Speakers at the seminar also said that the Caretaker government must respect human rights, provide legal aid, and ensure no torture is taking place
Lord Avebury in his concluding remarks said, “The caretaker government has formidable tasks in their hand, which may need substantial help from the international community. The government has already asked for assistance in the immediate task of preparing the electoral register, and we look forward to hearing what response there has been, and what progress there has been on the promised roadmap. If there are other resources needed, we need to know how we can help”.

Jun 8,2007

video diaries from Luton Bangladeshis

This national asset we call the BBC, despite all the Blairite kowtowing, can still surprise. Ah those days when if I hadn’t listened to the World Service, I would feel like I haven’t performed some bodily ablution….

Take a gander HERE.

Hat tip to Dean for pointing this out.

VIPs in Jail - Yipee!

Jun 6,2007

Ah man there you go again jumping the gun. No, I am not referring to corrupt Bangladeshi politicians for a change. The above title refers to that well-known liar, indeed perjurer, and neo-con bastard and cum laude Yale graduate ( snigger, snigger) Scooter Libby. Bush’s people are trying their best to keep him out of jail. And if the presidential pardon doesn’t come…he could always do an Abdul Jalil and complain of chest pains? Or simply do a runner like …well so many of them? Like his ex-boss Wolfowitz, what he really deserves is not jail but some uranium shoved up his you know what….

Dhaka on Panoramio:lovely!

Jun 4,2007

As my trip is again delayed for the usual reasons, I am coping with the tension by viewing photographs of Dhaka on Panoramio - a Spanish based site recently acquired by google.

Check it out HERE. Some lovely snaps there.

Panoramio is a community photos website that enables digital photographers to geo-locate, store and organize their photographs — and to view those photographs in Google Earth. Other users can search and browse Panoramio photos and suggest edits to the metadata associated with the photos. Panoramio also offers an API that enables web developers to embed Panoramio functionality into their websites. (blurb from Google blog)

So sign up and start geo-locating!

Shahid Minar on Panoramio

Jun 4,2007

Bangladesh seminar: Way Forward

10am – 1pm, Monday 11 June 2007
Moses room, House of Lords

The International Bangladesh Foundation, in collaboration with British member of the Lords, House of Commons, European Parliament, international human rights organisations and academics have organised a half day seminar (10am – 1pm) on Monday 11 June 2007, at the famous Moses room, House of Lords. The present Bangladesh care-taker government has taken a number of reform steps which have been appreciated both in Bangladesh and abroad. But recent developments have tarnished the image of the government. Now, it is essential that the international community help the present government in order to complete the reforms to perform a free and fair election.

The seminar will discuss the forthcoming election, human rights and security situation of Bangladesh. Following from the seminar recommendations will be forwarded to the present Bangladesh government.

The seminar will be chaired by Lord Avebury, Vice Chair of UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group and Chairman of International Bangladesh Foundation.

(Above is a Press Release from International Bangladesh Foundation).

Hasina’s liberation movement

Jun 3,2007

Her call for struggle always sounded hollow, and this morning things are looking distinctly hollower with press allegations of what her firebrand general Abdul Jalil might have told the Joint Forces. Wheeling and dealing in party nominations is common knowledge. As is the requirement for large amounts of dosh to mobilise the mastaans and the like before each season, indeeed session, of hartal and gherao. But has Jalil really spilt the beans? You would think given his oratory, his demeanour and his zealotry that he is simply incapable of singing from any other song sheet? In anycase, I still maintain that allegations of financial wrong doings are insignificant compared to Hasina’s role in the incitement of violence.

And a week ago, Khaleda was denying that she ever set out to establish a dynasty. She forgot to mention all the appointments she had made from her family. And of course she forgot the classic BNP slogan ( who dreamt this one up, anyone?) “Khaleda Zia is our leader Ziaur Rahman is our philosophy Tarique Rahman is our future.” Similarly, Hasina no doubt puts her successes down to merit. Have a look at the front page of the awami league web site. Can you recognise the faces in the photos? Find any of the languishing in prison lieutenants there? Nope. Find the Sheikh Mujib family there…? Click the image to go to the web site. Or see my earlier post about her dynastic leanings.
AL web site

In a speech in London she dismissed the need for reform saying that it has been a continuous process in her party. To translate: there is no need for reform, it is on auto-pilot. And how dare you suggest I need reform? Her indefatigable arrogance is dangerous for the country. It is giving a blank cheque to those for whom democracy is dispensible. Bangladesh needs leadership and change now from the established political parties, and not more posturing from the likes of Hasina.

Moudud Ahmed surfaces

Jun 1,2007

in the pages of the Guardian thanks to Randeep Ramesh, the Guardian’s South Asia correspondent. Randeep is not a very cerebral Guardian hack it seems. His articles are entertaining in that you end up wondering how the hell he landed himself a job with the guardian. Take this latest article about dear old Moudud Ahmed. The Manchester Guardian is claiming to reveal the news of his incarceration to the world! Dear me.

We can forgive the Grauniad for being over eager. The article - like most of Ramesh’s work - smacks of a couple of quickie interviews cobbled together with tea room chit chat about the current situation in Bangladesh and no doubt some perfunctory “research” on the internet. Simply awful. And he makes slippery Moudud appear like a good guy (not that i subscribe to arbitrary detention or military unaccountability).

Still Mr Ramesh has given, I suspect totally unwittingly, a curiously accurate slant - and that is all it is, a slant - to our nobel laureate’s ridiculous departure from the political scene: Old Mo was ultimately not willing to pull out of his profitable grameen ventures given the time frame the interim government had indicated for polls. But Grauniad readers won’t put two and two together on that I am sure…and instead they will shake their heads and lament the “blow to the country’s hopes for a democratic future” that act represented. Get a grip, Ramesh old bean.