imperfect | world | 2010

Archive for September, 2007

Beet lobon

  • Filed under: Food
Sep 29,2007

Nibash da holding beet lobon

Its a salt compound of sorts, and unbelievably, its not man made.  Yes this stuff is absolutely delicious and has a slight smokey aroma to it. And equally incredibly for such a tasty thing - its ok for hypertensive patients or at least so says our hypertension suffering editor. I have been lying on the floor listening to gazals for our new documentary and chomping on sour fruits dipped in this stuff.

And how does one deal with iftar given the state of traffic in Dhaka? The market has an answer: small children diving in and out of the traffic, on hot stuffy roads, selling water to the pious.

Water boy

French Disconnection in Bangladesh

  • Filed under: Art
Sep 28,2007

Court blocks shipment of priceless objects


Salaams and secular greetings from Dhaka. If you recall I blogged about a major Paris based exhibition on Bangladesh called “Shonar Bangla.” One aspect of the programme was a major exposition of films and documentaries about Bd. Another part of it was to display, for the first time outside Bangladesh, recently unearthed and priceless archaeological objects….I say “was” because, ooh la la, the organisers have hit a snag. Various Bangladeshi cultural activists and intellectuals were alerted to the lack of process and procedure in the shipment of these objects, lack of accountability, and deficiency in the sums insured. They took the matter to court and there is now a 2 month stay order on these objects (scheduled to be shown in Paris in less than a month)! Mon dieu indeed! The presitigious Guimet is in a bit of a pickle, and I suspect the local French ambassador here in Dhaka is busy twisting arms.

I must say I was a bit peeved when I asked the Museum to check the versions of two documentaries I have been involved in and to make sure they show the latest versions. It has taken 4 months, and I still have no answer! Rather insultingly, but in a sweet french way of course, they informed me I would not have to pay to attend the shows…. If that is how small issues are handled…then, sacre bleu, how are they managing the biggers ones? And from our point of view, i am glad that we are not simply surrendering precious artefacts without any kind of process. Perhaps some of this concern will rub off and be of assistance to those desperately trying to save our heritage sites.
Here is their blurb about the stuff ( which I reproduce in full from ) :

Bangladesh possesses an immensely important cultural heritage, this arising from the fact that the eastern half of Bengal has been one of the cultural richest regions of the Indian world; a vision far from the catastrophic one that the western world often tends to favour.


Dilla Kulub in Space?

  • Filed under: Asia
Sep 23,2007

Another country which is not new to “cartoon capers” is Malaysia. The Danish issue got up the wicks of these cartoon haters and most recently, an image of Christ with a fag in one hand and a can of beer in the other also did not go down well. But its a lot more serious than that:

Malaysia’s first astronaut is going to blast off on October 10th and so, very thoughtfully, Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development have produced a 20 page booklet for the lucky sod giving him guidelines about how to fulfill his muslim obligations. They are hoping he will choose to fast and pray five times a day whilst spinning around the earth 16 times in 24 hours and in zero gravity. What is day up there in space is not well defined by the learned people at the department. Perhaps just as well….I calculate the astronaut would have to pray 80 times if the satellite is circling the earth 16x a day…? The booklet also covers washing rituals but sadly the press report does not go into much detail here. I suspect they are packing some dilla kulub for him? What do you think?

Are you surpised the Malaysians can send people to space? Well actually, the Malaysian is hitching a lift with the Russians. Part of a billion dollar deal where Malaysia buys fighter aircrafts from Russia and gets a free ride to space for a bloke thrown in.  Here too the ever vigilant Islamic Development have anticipated issues and are ready with solutions: they doubt the Russians have the technology to prepare halal food for their fearless muslim brother-cosmonaut and so have instructed the good mossolman to only eat enough to stave off hunger. You can’t make it up…. (Buying a whole fleet of fighter aircrafts ….now thats pretty Islamic).

Arifur Rahman

Sep 20,2007

Arifur Rahman Arrest. Reporters without Borders statement.

Malaysia Airport Photos

Sep 20,2007

Workers in airport, KL

waiting in KL

Suddenly the papers are full of indignation about what has been happening to stranded workers in Malaysia. Well they were a few days ago. These things happen all the time. I repeat: all the time. And at various points of the chain leading to work. Yes the scale is bigger here, and the High Commission shenanigans are disgraceful but let me say it again….these things happen all the time. I blogged about a mini-incident here. Anyway, about time there was a hue and cry. Above photos from Bazuki Muhammad, a photojourno in KL.

Sep 19,2007

Yunus Stamp

Here is a snippet of the preliminary conversation which took place between Md Yunus and Md Design Wallah for the design of the commemorative stamp (released/inaugurated the other day ( see my post on that)).

Muhammad Design Wallah: Sir, i have come to consult you about the stamp design.

Muhammad Yunus: Its very simple. Dont get it wrong. Make my face the biggest element in the stamp. Touch up my teeth if required. Next put in my Nobel medal..Slightly faded and have it as a halo around my head. Get that? As a saintly halo. And thats it. Get on with it.

Muhammad Design Wallah: But Sir the stamp commemorates Grameen Bank as well.

Muhammad Yunus: What? Oh yes forgot about that. I shared half the money with my own Grameen Bank, didnt I? He he. Those Norwegians…he he. Yes paste the Grameen logo in. But make sure it doesn’t compete with my face. Understand?

Muhammad Design Wallah: Yes sir. Very good sir. Nine bags of wool sir. Anything else sir?

Muhammad Yunus: Can I advertise my grameen phone on it? No I guess not. But make sure you cut and paste Grameen Check on my Kurta. Ok? Any more questions?

Muhammad Design Wallah: Sir, forgive me, but the last time you inaugurated a microcredit stamp was in 2005 ( the UN Year of Microcredit). Madame Khaleda presided over the proceedings. She is now under arrest. Do you think the same fate will befall those who inaugurate this stamp?

Muhammad Yunus: Beyadob. Faizlami koro amar shathe?


2005 stamp inauguration:

2005 inauguration

2007 stamp inauguration:

2007 inauguration

The stateless in Bangladesh

Sep 17,2007

Six decades, three countries…and only a dream of a promised land. Here are production shots from a forthcoming documentary about the bihari community. Shots by Anwar Hossain.
Adamjee Camp

Adamjee Rain

Adamjee Camp more rain

Adamjee train track

Sep 16,2007


Just another scary American? Yes. With some scary information for fellow republicans still with their heads up their arses:

‘I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’

From Alan Greenspan’s autobiography.

Sep 13,2007

Sultana Kamal, former adviser to the care taker government and human rights activist, presided over a ceremony jointly organised by Drishtipat and the makers of the documentary “Bostrobalikara: Garment Girls of Bangladesh” at the Bangladesh Film Centre, Dhanmondi yesterday evening. Funds were distributed to help a few of the garment workers who took part in the documentary. I posted a press release about it earlier.

Tanvir Mokammel, the director of the documentary, told me the recipients were happy and quite emotional. Below is Noorjahan - she was the main character in the doc. The little girl in the red dress is Nadia. Nadia lost her father in the Spectrum disaster.

Noor Jahan


Sep 12,2007

Estrada life imprisonment

Life imprisonment for corrupt ex-President: “This is the last chance for the state to show that we can do it, that we can charge, prosecute and convict a public official regardless of his stature”

Read here.

Vulgar Dhallywood Songs - part 1

Sep 11,2007

Ah yes my lifelong interest in all things prurient has led me here….So dear audience here below for your delectation is a phonetic transcription of a song that accompanies an incredibly vulgar dance sequence in a Dhallywood movie. For non-bangla readers, apologies….you are missing out on the outpourings of a young girl wedded to an old git whose “machinery” isn’t working….And did i say part 1? Well if you want more, you will have to wait for my Dhallywood book..


Here is a taster:

Dhally text

Sep 11,2007

That has to be the quote of the week by Foreign Adviser Iftikhar Ahmed Chowdhury. Apparently the Russians are going to help develop nuclear energy in Bangladesh. “All countries do not like to extend nuclear cooperation. Russia has the appropriate technology for it.”  Yes tell that to the Ukrainians, Mr Chowdhury, and they might remind you about a nuclear plant called Chernobyl. But yes, unquestionably, energy policy and energy development should be top priority for any administration and especially so after Kansat last year.

Sep 10,2007

In two day’s time, prominent human rights activist Sultana Kamal will preside over a small ceremony to recognise the courage of some garment workers who came forward and spoke about their experiences in the garment industry on film. A one-off fund has been established by Drishtipat and the film makers of Bostrobalikara. I quote from the Bangla press release below.

Asif Saleh, one of the founders of Drishtipat said: “Drishtipat
launched in the UK last year with a dance play and panel discussion on
the plight of the garment workers. This fund is an extension of our
work to continue to highlight the ongoing problems faced by these
workers who through their toil have done so much for the country.”

Tanvir Mokammel, the director of the documentary, added: ” I am
extremely pleased to be able to make a gesture, with the help of
Drishtipat, to the brave girls who came forward to speak to us on
film about their lives in the garment industry. I consider it a great
privilege that my team could film them and make their voices more
audible through the medium of this documentary.

The funds are a one-off payment and will go towards
schooling, medicines, for baby sitting provision, the relief of debt
and for a marriage celebration among other things.

Sep 7,2007

Koko sent to jail

Koko on his way to jail gives a performance equal in every way to the cowardly letter writing abilities of AL’s firebrand Abdul Jalil. It later transpired Koko’s blood pressure was critically and dangerously normal at 115/75.