Thursday, January 31, 2008

Content and The Rest Of It

After seeing a bunch of art photographers have a go at photojournalism - wow. My Mind is Blown.

I am so utterly grateful to them for having opened my eyes. I really needed this.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Too Much Nescafe


Jess has had way too much coffee.

Masud tells me he is 7 but he looks like he's 4. He often stares into space and blanks out, not responding to calls and words. He looks drunk - which is not possible - so I'm not too sure what's going on in his head.

Another child who really doesn't give a fuck what you think.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Cold Spell

So the cold spell shut everyone up about the unusually warm winter. It seems to have lifted over Dhaka - no rain today or yesterday - but the weather's back to what I remember January to be like. Topu and I agreed as we headed out to tea: "This is winter."

The reports came in about people dying of cold-related diseases. Stay back everyone! Old people and children first. And those without the back-up jackets and shawls. Cold is one thing, but cold with rain?

Rajiv and I came out of Coffee World cursing at the weather. He was already having the flu, and the jacket wasn't doing much to keep out the wind. The cold comes in through your ears, someone once said to me. We waited to see if the rain would let up.

The boy came round to us soon enough, trying to sell sweets. Rajiv gave away some chocolate instead. Didn't seem like he preferred it over money.

Some time later, another boy with sweets joined him. The two were unbelievably cold. Hunched over, wet clothes as a second skin, rain drops glistening off their hair. Too cold to even pester us in the way they usually do. They stood there silently, with their sweets in their hands. Maybe we misunderstood. Maybe they were just seeking shelter like the rest of us. The crowd streamed by.

I clumsily took my camera out and started to shoot. No one seemed to care. Rajiv kept whispering tips and advice from the side. Keep it wide. Don't go in too close.

It was an obvious picture. So obvious that I don't even try to get these anymore. The poor and the rich, the cold and the warm, the skinny and the fat. I once said that I don't trust fat people in this country. It's means something to have the ability to be obese in this country. Well, it means something to me and my mind anyway.

Maybe I should save my judgments for myself.

Cold Spell

I'd like to keep this pic at 800px wide, but then again we'd all like a lot of things and life just doesn't work that way, does it?

At one point, the boys from two worlds started to talk. "Shoot now now now now now," Rajiv said. I didn't get the shot, but I saw the scene. I wondered what they talked about.

I would like to say how it broke my heart etc etc, but it didn't. We stepped out into the rain and walked home. The two boys sprang to life, and tried to chase after us with the sweets. Their voices cried out from behind while we looked ahead.

I stuffed a 10 taka note into the palm of one before running off with my guilt into the rain, my cappuccino still warm in my stomach.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rajiv Bites

The following quotes suffer from a serious case of YHTBTism (You Had To Be There).

"Have you watched the movie Ulysses' Guessz?"



"You mean, Ulysses' Gaze."

"Yes, 'Gaze'. But, it sounds like 'gays'. Ulysses' Guessz."

"I ate a very special thing during Eid. Cow boob."

"New York is like Dhaka, but worse."

"I sympathise with you Jessica. For your empty head with no brain... Jellyfish?"

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Geneva Camp

I asked him first of course, and he asked me, "Why?"

"Em ni." No reason. I shrugged my shoulders for effect.

He grimly nodded, and neither he nor his friend moved an inch. It was perfect. No rushing to pose together, no 'action-action'.

I walked off after saying thank you, and I heard him call me from behind. I turned around. He beckoned me over with his finger. I cannot remember the last time I obeyed such a command. Anyone else, I would have walked off.

Thus began the usual interrogation. He told me he had been to Singapore when the British was there. Sadly, I couldn't understand much of anything else he said. I wonder how he became blind in one eye. Cataracts? I couldn't ask. I didn't know the Bangla word for it.

His friend, perched high in a rickshaw, never moved from his position. Only once, to wave his hand to shoo off a curious boy that came too close.

A cold spell has hit, something about depression over the Bay of Bengal. The pressure's been wonky all night, and I woke up at 6 am in the morning because my door kept banging open-shut-open-shut.

The electric cables across the street from my office has just exploded with a fiery bang twice. And as a result of watching too many Jason Statham action-bang-bang movies (5-in-1 for your convenience!) last night, I heard him say in my head "Cut the power to the whole block." in that trying-a-bit-too-hard-to-be-gruff voice.

I don't know what's happening, but I know there's a short circuit involved somewhere. Some dude's leaning out of the window with a fire extinguisher trying to put out the burning wires.

And I saw the list of Oscar Nominees, and now feel much regret that I never made it through my discount-copy of McEwan's Atonement that I picked up at some library book sale years ago. I like watching movies based on books I've read.

I tried. It just never hooked me. Maybe I only like the Brit writers that come from the north.

Saturday, January 19, 2008



I still have time to take my twice-daily baths though. Good news all round, then.

I bathed in the river in Bandarbans when I visited. Well it wasn't so much a bath than a quick soak sans soap. It was effing cold, and I think I inadvertently flashed myself a couple of times due to my inexperience in handling a tami (sarong). But it felt good.

Arjun swam to the other side of the river and got up on the rocks under the river cliff and predictably proceeded to show off some diving thingamajig. I, predictably, wanted to wade out as well to the deep edge ("I CAN SWIM"), and he predictably told me to stay put. I (predictably) did not listen, and held on to my sarong as tight as I could and tried to walk with all this cloth wrapped around my legs.

Did not predict that A. knew what he was talking about and the current proceeded to sweep me off my feet, and if the water wasn't so shallow I probably would've gone downstream - naked.

I blame the cloth. Nosso streamlined in design.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Good News, perhaps.

International Herald Tribune

Monday, January 14, 2008

PARIS: In a sign of shifting attitudes toward biofuels, European Union officials are proposing to ban imports of certain fuel crops whose production could do more harm than good in fighting climate change, according to a draft law seen Monday.

The proposals, to be unveiled next week, are aimed at enhancing the environmental credentials of biofuels like biodiesel or ethanol to counter concerns that European drivers are playing a role in destroying wetlands, forests and grasslands in areas like Southeast Asia or Latin America each time they fill up their tanks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sick, Sicker, Sickest

I've had to visit the hospital five times since I arrived in the country. That's probably more than the number of hospital-encounters I've had in Singapore, (delivery of babies DO NOT COUNT).

These are the various reason. Two are mine, guess which?

1. Fucked Up Ankle (duh)
2. Stomach Flu
3. Fucked Up Back (Sorry T.)
4. Congested Lung
5. Non-stop Vomitting (still waiting for blood tests)

The hospitals are fine if you can fork out the money, but even the nicer ones are plagued by total inefficiency and staffed with a flock of very confused staff. (Ha.)

The not so nice ones put the reception area on the fifth floor, make you run out to a nearby pharmacy to buy your own bandages, make you hobble on a bad ankle to another clinic to get an X-Ray done, make you pay first before you get your blood test results back, give you a gas mask that looks like its from WW2 and the last guy who used it died because of all the mucus that was in his mouth/nose.

So there.

I have two sick boys to tend to. I am busy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.

I've always enjoyed the idiosyncrasies of the English language, although I never made an effort to study it properly and I never bothered about grammar in my life. Shouldn't come as a surprise then, that all my essays, or "compositions" as we called them then, in primary/secondary school were constantly marked down because of errors in spelling and grammar.

But since I had to do a fair bit of research into this unfamiliar territory for my English classes (a great source of mirth for Arjun, who enjoys telling people I am an English teacher who doesn't understand grammar) - I gotta admit this is turning out to be seriously fun stuff.

The highlight of the week was coming across this article in Wired:

Very Short Stories
33 Writers, 5 Designers, 6-word Science Fiction.

We'll be brief: Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves.

Dozens of our favorite auteurs put their words to paper, and five master graphic designers took them to the drawing board. Sure, Arthur C. Clarke refused to trim his ("God said, 'Cancel Program GENESIS.' The universe ceased to exist."), but the rest are concise masterpieces.

The title of this blog is taken from one of the entries, written by The Dude Whose Existence/Craft Made My Life More Beautiful.

Speaking of dudes... why, hello there James. It's been a while.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Nothing Ado

Yesterday I tried my best to find a copy of Infernal Affairs. God knows I shouldn't indulge the guys' alpha-male-gangster-bang-bang-hero-honour-brother-brother tendencies (and god knows they really don't need any help in that area), but I personally just want to look at Tony Leung's miserable and tortured face.

They may have all the obscure art flicks, but apparently the only East-Asian thing they stock here is Kurosawa and a whole lotta Jet Li and Jackie Chan.

Have also been trying my best to find a nice 2008 diary that doesn't have the same thickness as some Tolstoy novel. Seems to be an impossible task. Goddamn that MUJI doesn't ship to Bangladesh.

I also know that I need to find that diary soon, because my procrastination indulges itself by being a strong believer in chronology - Diary First, Deeds Next. And so! I will find that damn thing today.

Monday, January 07, 2008

'round the 'hood.


Still nothing to say.

Heading off to Agora to buy some goddamn fish for my goddamn dinner. I found out the hard way - that fish with scales do not good dinner make. It's probably fine if you had one big fish, but it is a big mistake to buy 20 little fuckers (like ikan kuning) and then have to meticulously remove all the tiny slivers.

Also, I have also been consuming waaaay too much muri for my own good.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

I Am Intruiged

by Antonio Mancini.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I keep thinking its 2009.

Typed long self-reflective post-NYE post and promptly trashed it. What kind of declarations and statements were you trying to make this time? Really Jess, you should know yourself better than that.

Oh and in case you didn't already know, mankind is awesome and life is great.

Great Outdoors

Happy New Year to you too.