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‘Jhhalmuri’ is a delicious snacks for which I always craved . There were ( I am saying ‘were’ as I don’t see jhhalmuri vendors that visible anymore) no public place you could imagine without a jhhalmuri vendor around. I remember school gates, bus train stations, stadium gallery during football or cricket game or the other corner of the neighborhood—-used to have a permanent fixtute, the jhhalmurui guy with the typical container full jhhalmuri.

However when I was in Dhaka earlier this year, I found jhhalmuri vendors being replaced with popcorn vendors. You hardly can stop in any traffic light without being solicited to buy the pre packed popcorns.

Jhhalmuri-ghoogni vendor>

My friend invited me to have dinner with them, and as ususual popcorn was the starter. My transient comparative discussion about popcorn and jhhalmuri was quickly dismissed by the host as the American vacationeers ultra-romaticism .

Popcorn vendors

Another extinct item in our culinary genre is ‘lebur sharbat’. I very much miss this ‘lebur sharbat’ or lemon serbet. Wasn’t it Bangladesh culture to entertain with lebur sharbat when the surprise guest used to show up? Now a days, I bet, you will definitely be treated with RC Cola, sprite or Tang, not ‘lebur sharbat’.

And talking about the ‘surprise guest’? In this cell phone era, you will definitely get a running commetry of the journey that the guest takes to get to your house.So ‘the surprise guest’ is another extinct breed.

A Question of Time

Aly Zaker

A glorious past travelling through a promising present toward a formidable future.

…………….. I remember having been overwhelmed by his (Neheru) narration of the world chronicle in his “History of the World Civilisation” at the impressionable age of fourteen. The way he took pride in being an Indian–the India that had one of world’s oldest universities–the great university of Nalanda. Incidentally, this university was also graced by a Bangali scholar from Bajrajogini in Bikrampur. A gentleman by the name of Sriggan Atish Dipankar. I remember having seen an almost innocuous road in remote Kamalapur named after him. A road that leads you to the Buddhist monastery there. As if Atish Dipankar was only a monk. As if naming of an inconsequential road was an adequate honour for him.

…..

I read the Aly Zaker piece published in Daily Star several years ago. So this time when I visited Bangladesh, I made sure I visit his birth place, which is located within a stones throw from by ancestral home.

Who is this Atish Dipankar?

Tibetans revere Dipankar, granting him a rank second only to Gautam Buddha and refer to him as Jobo Chhenpo (a great god). The lamas of Tibet, who hold political and religious power, feel proud to be introduced as disciples and heirs of Dipankar. The influence of Dipankar is still felt in the religion and culture of Tibet. Dipankar wrote, translated and edited more than two hundred books, which helped spread Buddhism in Tibet. He discovered several sanskrit manuscripts in Tibet and copied them himself. He translated many books from Sanskrit to Bhot (Tibetan). He also wrote several books on Buddhist scriptures, medical science and technical science in Bhot. Dipankar wrote several books in Sanskrit, but only their Tibetan translations are extant now.
Dipankar was born in a royal family of Guada in Bikramapur of Bengal which is east of Bajrasana. His father’s name was Kalyansri and mother’s name was Prabhabati. His birth place, Bajrayogini reminiscent of a ‘Yogi with Bajra’, a typical Buddhist name with Mahayana traditions still bears the same name across the long stretch of a thousand years despite many ups and downs in history.

Atish Dipankar household was identified to the generations of people in Munshiganj/Bikrampur area as “Nastik Panditer Bhita” (meaning ancestral home of atheist scholar). People of successive generations particularly after decline of Buddhism in Bangladesh in 13th-14th Century may have had forgotten Atish Dipankar. Yet he had lived in public memory with veneration as a remote anonymous atheist scholar till his birth place was identified by scholars working on life of Atish Dipankar.

Anyway, going back to my visit to Dipankar birth place, As we came closer, a signboard of a’ goru chhagoler khamar ‘( Goat and cow farm) greeted us at the entrance of the mud approach road. The khamar has been erected alongside a walled compund. A signboard of ” Atish Dipankar Smriti stamva” is lying upside down in one side. Within the walled area there is a 3 feet tall brick structure with a plaque stating ” Deep Regards For His Immortal Soul. Memorial Stone Laid By“…. followed by two ministers name who apparently came to unveil the memorial(?). People living in the Khamar has hanged clothes for drying on the perimeter fence of the “memorial Stone”. It was after Eid Ul Azha, look like people have used this empty piece of land for cow slaughtering and processing. There was dried blood everywhere.
I looked at the dried blood and tried to remind myself what Atish Dipankar preached all his life.

Detail of Atish will be be found in many websites but this is the most comprehensive I came across so far.

Atish Dipankar foundation has established ADUST , the atishdipankaruniversity in Dhaka.

Ash of his body is well preserved in Kamlapur Buddhabihar in Dhaka. Late president of Bangladesh Ziaur Rahman arranged the transfer of the ash-casket from China in 1978.

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-Rumi

Telegram used to be a both very important and dreaded word in out communities as late as 80s. With increasing availability of telephone, early 90s probably first saw a decline in telegram usage in BD . Sickness, death news as well as important binding business documents used to be transmitted via telegram. Somebody is sick used to mean he or she has already died.

Probably there was a similar scenerio in USA too. Western Union used to be the provider of telegraph service in USA starting from the early decades of this century.

Western Union Sends Its Last Telegram

The era of the telegram, an icon of communication dating back 150 years, came to a quiet end last week. Western Union says it delivered its final telegram on Friday.

In truth, the telegram long ago succumbed to long distance telephones, faxes, e-mail and instant messaging. Even deliverers who sang them couldn’t save telegrams from the dustbin of history. The fact that one final telegram was sent last Friday is a tribute not to the telegram’s endurance, but to the glacial tediousness of extinction itself.

What will we remember of the telegram? Probably the prose style the economic of telegraphy engendered. Punctuation cost extra, so the word STOP substituted for a period. Otherwise, it was brevity in the extreme — pronouns, verbs omitted.

It was probably early 80s I had to use telegraph service in Dhaka. Bangladesh telegrapg and telephone board still has this service. Sending a telex in USA will cost you Taka 70/minute. I don’t know in this age of e mail, fax, mobile phones is there anybody left to use the telegram service anymore.

Bishwa Ijtema was a major news out of all Bangladeshi media outlet. Even international press covered the event with due importance.

Millions gather for Islamic prayer

Muslim gathering closes in Dhaka
At least four million Muslims are estimated to have attended a three-day gathering in Bangladesh.

I was going through the Bangladesh related blogs over the internet during these days. Young Bangladeshi bloggers are ever vigilant against any negative, sad, bad news coming out of Bangladesh. Any slightest flicker related to Jihad, violent islam gets magnified in the Bangladeshi blogs and keeps on Banging the blogs like 10.0 richter scale apocalyptic event.

But except for a childlish negative write up, bloggers were mostly dead silent about the successful management of Ijtema.

But it should have been the other way. While we are ever hellbent against Islamism, vigilant against rise of violent islam, we could cease the opportunity and show the muslim population of the country that Islam can be non-violent, non-political also. Compared to violent political Islam, Ijtema host Tablig Jamaat has come up as a good alternative movement of nonviolent, non political Islam. Tablig jamaat, born in our subcontinent, has shown this. Rather than importing wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, we have a peaceful movement to export to those Islamic countries which are the breedig ground of violent Islam.

In fact, I feel the the way, esp without any major incident, mishap, rather with relative efficiency, this huge gathering is being hosted annually, is commendable. Comparing the consistent catastrophies during Hajj in Mecca, Ijtema organizers as well as Bangladesh administrations over the years are doing a superb job in handling the crowd.

Not only for Muslims, Bangladesh has been arraging the mass crowd of the ‘Langalband snan’ of Hinduism followers for hundreds of years.

Langalband is a holy bathing river bank for the hindus since the Vedic time. It is situated on the right bank of Old Brahmaputra river, 12 km to the South East of Dhaka, on Dhaka Chittagong highway. Every year Over 50,000 Hindus gather here on the 8th lunar day during the Bangla month of Falgoon (April-May) to bathe in the holy water of the old Brahmaputra, purifying the soul and mind, driving the evil out.

A fairness while blogging— will it be too much to ask?

I went to see the new Spielberg movie “Munich” today. My pre-movie intention was to write on my observations of Hollywood’s changing tone on politics, especially middle east politics. But a dialogue of a movie character gave me a new question to think on.

In a scene, a character, referring to the plenty amount of food in dinner table, makes a comment, that is something like ” There is Enough food here to feed Bangladesh..”…

Well, the movie was based on events of early 70s. Bangladesh has just came out of the famine of 1974. The infamous comment, international basket case, is already well circulated. What Sub saharan Africa is now a days, Bangladesh, in 70s, was indeed an example of extreme poverty, misery, hunger, strife etc.

We would hope that we have moved on. That sort of stereotyping, hopefully, will not happen with Bangladesh again. Although Bangladesh is no longer the example of the most extreme, hunger, poverty are still there. In fact in international and lately in Indian media also, I see referrences like, ‘a desperately poor and impoverished country’, ‘very impoverished’, ‘hopelessly poor’ , ‘One of the poorest countries in the world’ etc when Bangladesh need to be mentioned for any reason.

My question, how many years it will take Bangladesh to leave behind the poverty curse? Will this happen in one generation?

Anti-ahmadiyya Demonstration
Bigots clash with cops, 57 injured
Police stop marchers from reaching Ahmadiyya mosque; zealots vow fresh programme.

Read the full report

Jamaat is formidable and the ultimate obstacle to a secular and progressive Bangladesh. But Jamaat does not seem an immediate threat or annoyance.

Our immediate trouble are those madrassa based religious movements. Be it JMB, JMJM or Khatme Nabuwat or Amra Dhaka Bashi.

Time and again, I have been writing, we need to totally exterminate these entities.

I feel, highlighting Jamaat for the bomb blast and related activities is nothing but playing fiddle for the Awami election Politics, and unfortunately most of our progressive media as well as intelligentsia have fallen into this trap.

I am shocked to see these Khatme Nabuwat etc dare take an offensive against Ahamdiyas in a time when the national sentiment is against violence in the name of religion.

Why do they dare to do these? Because government is not as strong against them as they are now against JMB.
Definitely governmnet is to blame. But do the media or opposition share some of the blame who are using the bomb events for making political gains against ruling jote by breaking the jote. I was shocked to see desperate attempts in Prothom-Alo and daily Star to somehow relate the bombings to jamaat and a sympathetic tone in Prothom-Alo for these Amini, Mufti Shahidul Islam or other Muftis of Islami Oikyo Jote.

When will we understand that we are letting this madrassa based Frankenstein grow behind our backs , while our minds and conscience ae being used by a side in Awami league and BNP’s politics of power.

– Rumi

So many good news in a day. Am I dreaming?

JMB military commander Sunny heldHe was behind all suicide attacks; explosives warehouse found at Sabujbagh containing grenades, pistols, bullet dies, bomb-making gel; Ctg militant commander caught with bombs and ingredients

Better late than never.

Babar takes U-turn to term Yadav innocent.
In a U-turn from his earlier knee-jerk reaction, State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar yesterday said that Yadav Das who was killed in December 8 suicide bombing in Netrakona was innocent.

Gobu Montreer Bodhodoy. Qudos to Brave Bangladesh media.

‘The win is for the martyrs’Sports reporter from Karachi.
Everybody was on the edge of their seats as the clock was ticking towards the final whistle. The nervy Bangladesh tent at the People’s Sports Complex Stadium here went for frantic changes to buy precious time. It worked for the holders as they survived a late Pakistan pressure to eke out a 1-0 victory and a place in the final of the SAFF Championship for a second successive time.

Shabash Bangladesh.

Political consensus a must to root out militancy. Speakers tell roundtable.
Civil society members, political leaders and educationists at a roundtable yesterday called for a political consensus to stamp out Islamic militancy, which has threatened the national security and has been destroying the economy and social fibre. They also stressed the need for the unity among political parties and good governance at this critical period.

Al Presidium Member Suranjit Sengupta also wants political consensus.

World Potential EconomyBangladesh on Goldman Sachs ‘Next Eleven’ list
Goldman Sachs, a US-based investment banking and securities firm, in a report on world’s potential economies has placed Bangladesh on its “Next Eleven” list as a key member.
The report said, “Bangladesh, the world’s tiny economy with most corrupt brand, will power the global economy something of the magnitude of the BRICs economies.”
The “Next Eleven” is the second term the Goldman Sachs has coined to describe economies with high growth potential, such as the “BRICs” economies encompassing Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Probably Goldman Sach’s is positively impressed about the potentials of Bangladesh after observing the work ethics of some of its Bangladeshi origin leadership.

The New Nation. Bid to deny duty-free access Bangladesh warns of veto at WTO conference, By BSS, Dhaka, Wed, 14 Dec 2005, 11:00:00
There are indications that some developing countries are trying to figure out Bangladesh as an advanced LDC, not similar to other LDCs to deny it the duty-free and quota-free trade access to some of its products, more precisely to RMG products to the markets of the developed countries. It appears Bangladesh is being singled out to be punished for its success in global trading as an emerging exporter from the LDC group, experts here in Hong Kong said in their initial reaction to such an exclusion possibility.

Advanced LDC!! Doesn’t sound bad at all.

Sakib alone sufficesBangladesh clinch U-19 title beating Lanka
Sakib Al Hasan struck a swashbuckling hundred as Bangladesh clinched the under-19 tri-nation trophy in style with an emphatic six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka at BKSP yesterday.

Please keep up the form as you grow, dear kids.

ADB transport and energy proposalBangladesh as regional hubIn our opinion there is a great deal of merit in the proposal that has been put forth by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help build up South Asia’s transport and energy infrastructure by means of developing Bangladesh as the sub-regional hub around which these sectors can pivot.

It’s snowing allover midwest. Let it snow. Leet it snow. Let it snow.
–Rumi

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