Monday, March 30, 2009

Gender

Student

I'm scared of girls.

I've mentioned this before, that I always felt that most of them looked at me with a mixture of animosity, suspicion and contempt. This is, of course, not true (I hope) and just a result of me being stupid, overly sensitive and letting my imagination indulge in itself.

It's ironic, because I am very fond of talking to women here. The younger ones tend to be more reserved, so I chat mostly to older folks. Truth be told, the ones who are less well-off are also a lot more easier to approach. I hardly ever feel inclined to respond when a man/boy wants to start a conversation with me, but if a woman says anything at all -- I have all the time in the world for her.

Anyway, just some photos of what I feel is the "average" Dhaka girl -- something I wish I saw more of. The below were taken at Fantasy Kingdom, the amusement park on the outskirts of the city in Ashulia.


Fantasy Kingdom

Fantasy Kingdom

Fantasy Kingdom






Digressing slightly, today's xkcd rocked.

(Police reported three dozen cheerful bystanders, yet no one claims to have seen who did it.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lovely Topu told me a lovely story today.

When I was on my trip in Norway, we were at a bar with some people and a girl asked me, "Tell me the two main differences between Bangladeshi culture and the culture here."

And I told her, "Firstly, we can have fun without beer. Secondly, we spend half of our lives living with our parents, and, for the other half of our lives, our parents live with us."


Don't think I could get more fond of that guy.

Also, thought that this was an amazing letter of resignation by Jake DeSantis, printed as an op-ed in the NYT:

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

Monday, March 23, 2009

After the 156th time you utter "I'm not feeling so good", you start to wonder if it's all in your head.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional debilitating cold (KIRSTY!!) but after the last five days of no work and all sniffles, gastric pangs and other similar nonsense... I'm ready to call it quits.

You hear me? This is getting ridiculous. Stop it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sigh.

Dialects add to burden

Time, energy better spent on mastering English and Mandarin: MM Lee

By Goh Chin Lian

MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew yesterday reiterated his stand against Chinese dialects, saying that learning dialects adds to a child's burden.

Also, it takes away the child's time and energy from mastering English and Mandarin, he said.

In addition, English and Mandarin differ in their vocabulary, phonetics and syntax and adding on dialects will cause 'negative interferences' in the learning of the two languages, he added.

In defending the decision to promote Mandarin over dialects, he also noted that the value of a language is its usefulness.

With Mandarin, the reach is far greater than dialects: 'If you speak Hokkien or Cantonese, you reach some 60 million in Fujian and Taiwan, or about 100 million in Guangdong and Hong Kong. With Mandarin, you can speak to 1,300 million Chinese from all provinces in China,' he said.

Mr Lee was speaking at the launch of the annual Speak Mandarin Campaign, which he introduced 30 years ago.

Since then, most Chinese Singaporeans have adopted Mandarin over other dialects.

However, about a fortnight ago, the acting head of Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies, Dr Ng Bee Chin, sparked a debate when she reportedly said at a language seminar:

'Although Singaporeans are still multilingual, 40 years ago, we were even more multilingual. Young children are not speaking some of these languages at all any more.

'All it takes is one generation for a language to die.'

Monday, March 16, 2009

Man Reads Monkeys' Mind

My usual morning news rant. I know its unpleasant, how I go around throwing barbs from the comfort of my not so comfy chair. Still, this is what I do.

Rare langur rescued, left in centre for care
She clung tight to his neck. With her big round eyes, she gave us a cursory glance and then nibbled at the grape she was holding so delicately with her long, beautiful fingers. Then she saw the apple in my hand and immediately abandoned her grape to reach out.

She felt the apple around and explained her joy in a sharp trilling voice. She did not like the cameras much and hid her face in the chest of Dr Anwar Hossain, the zoologist, and trilled. She was wondering why we were there, and why so many people. She found safety in the warmth of the human body. Probably she felt it much like her lost mother from whom she was separated some 10 days ago.

And where is her mother? Nobody knows. Probably she was killed and eaten up by the Tipra people. Probably the mother just left her behind, which is unusual for a primate, when people chased them. Nobody can tell that exactly.

Clearly, the reporter has a means to accessing the inner workings of this monkey's brain. He can talk to monkeys.

Which is why he singled out the Tripura (aka Tipra) as the probably cause of the mother's disappearance. You know, because there ain't no other damn animals in the forest that eat monkeys.

But it was awfully nice of him -- after deliberately singling out the likely culprit -- to say "nobody can tell that exactly".

Now, if he had backed up his assertion with a statement like "The Tipras have been responsible for the dip in monkey population due to over-hunting" or "The Tipras only eat monkey meat and hunt them vigorously" -- it could be a bit easier to swallow.

In a country where I get yelled "Chakma!!" on the streets as if it were a venereal disease, its quite sad to see such cultural arrogance and carelessness in the leading English broadsheet.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Revolutionary Road has been the most violent movie I've watched in ages. I think I could barely breathe throughout the movie.

Time to get the book.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Responsibility.

If there's one good reason for forking out the extra money for a faster internet connection, its so that I can see Jon's face again.

Daily Show's Jon Stewart Rips Into CNBC

Full, unedited clip here.

Jon took Mad Money's Jim Cramer to task for being, well, a shitty journalist. Since I can't stream the video, I made do with the transcript, which is just as spectacular.

STEWART: But isn't that part of the problem? Selling this idea that you don't have to do anything. Any time you sell people the idea that, sit back and you'll get 10 to 20 percent on your money, don't you always know that that's going to be a lie? When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work. That we're workers and by selling this idea that of, "Hey man, I'll teach you how to be rich." How is that any different than an infomercial?

CRAMER: Well, I think that your goal should always be to try to expose the fact that there is no easy money. I wish I had found Madoff...

STEWART: But there are literally shows called Fast Money.

CRAMER: I think that people... [Audience laughs] There's a market for it and you give it to them.

STEWART: There's a market for cocaine and hookers. What is the responsibility of the people who cover Wall Street? Who are you responsible to? The people with the 401ks and the pensions and the general public, or the Wall Street traders, and by the way this casts an aspersion on all of Wall Street when I know that's unfair as well. The majority of those guys are working their asses off. They're really bright guys. I know a lot of them. They're just trying to do the right thing and they're getting f--ed in the ass, too.


Link

Whenever it feels as if the world's going to shit, and that there's no hope for the human race -- its good to know there are people like him around.

But Daniel Sinker at the Huffington Post makes a good point about the media coverage of the "showdown" -- the fact that American news outlets covered the spectacle of the interview, and not the point of the interview itself.


I also hope that some of the folks at the excellent Bangladeshi political blogs take a close look at the NY Times article summarizing Hasina's position post-mutiny. Some of the "facts" mentioned seemed dubious, but I lack the confidence and knowledge to make any claims. If my suspicions are correct, it wouldn't be the first time international newspapers get a little careless when they do reports on more "obscure" world events.

(Please don't tell me I should just be glad that the NYT covered it at all.)


Case in point: AP's coverage of yesterday's fire at Bashundhara City, contained a mistake in the very first sentence of the article which states: "A helicopter plucked survivors from the roof of Bangladesh's biggest shopping mall Friday..."

Now, unless my own eyes deceived me when I was watching the helicopter load ONE person from the roof, this reporter is being slightly careless with the use of plurals.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Holi

Old Dhaka

Having one of those very sombre days.

I didn't have as good a session as I'd hoped at Holi yesterday, because when we came back for Round 2, I was assaulted by a group of teenagers who very aggressively smeared the dye all over my face and someone's finger landed in my eye.

At least now I know that blue-coloured contacts don't suit my face.

So I was half-blind and just generally not in the mood after that. Still, it was a lot of fun. Round 1 -- only kids who couldn't wait till after lunch to get started -- had me laughing like crazy. The funniest bits were the adults who thought it would be a good idea to walk through the streets, only to end up drenched purple/blue/red.

I read an article somewhere before, about the etiquette of snowball fights, and how the rules don't apply when kids roam the streets on Christmas looking for victims. You're in their territory now - your authority means nothing on this day.


IMG_3355.jpg

He's not posing. Just waiting for people to empty his bucket on.

IMG_3416.jpg

IMG_3328.jpg

Holi Faces

Not happy with any of the photos. These will do.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Waking up early to shoot feels good. Sleepily good. Hope that the early morning light will make it easier for me to make some hard decisions.

Monday, March 09, 2009

YouTube and other media sharing sites has been blocked in Bangladesh because of an audio clip -- featuring Sheikh Hasina at a meeting with army officers after the mutiny.

Just listened to the clip (linked from the article above), and I'll have to wait to get someone to translate it for me, but I did manage to catch a few utterances of "suor baccha" which literally translates to "the child of a pig".

Anyway, as the author of the article linked above wrote: "For those of you who do not understand Bengali, shouting sounds the same in any language."

True.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Because I Can Be A Little Obsessive

Ok, so my heart stopped with jealousy when I saw this photo.

Link
Is that a job I can apply for?

Found on I Can Has Cheezburger which I absolutely adore. I admit I haven't yet warmed up to Lolspeak, but it does have its moments.

Been on the site for the last couple of days. Housemate knew I liked cats, but I don't think he was aware of how much.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Time's A-Wasting

Found these on moderncat :

CONTROL A CAT REMOTE



This wins the prize for best possible gift for any moderncat owner — the Control A Cat remote. With push button commands for “show affection,” “retract claws,” and “remain aloof,” plus purr volume and eject fur ball keys, this is pure genius. I especially love the instructions for use:

  1. Point remote at subject.
  2. Push any button on remote.
  3. Hope for the best.

And the best part, “No batteries required: powered by positive thinking.” Exactly.


Another one on the Sure-Would-Like-To-Have-This list:



Curved Pet Board by Akemi Tanaka


And finally:



A camera for your cat. It automatically takes photos ever XXX minutes or so. Not recommended for felines that don't indulge in much movement.



Wordle is turning out to be quite interesting too.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Nice bit of trivia (thanks to xkcd. again.)

Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990.

The law states: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

Monday, March 02, 2009

End.

Back to the routine.

I don't have time to follow up on the event anymore, and you have no idea how much I wish I could be doing that as a job and not a side thing. The last few days has put things into perspective for me, personally, and I'm grateful for it.

So here's the final photo on the BDR mutiny.

BDR Mutiny - Aftermath


The BDR soldiers who were not in the compound had to report back. And they did, in droves that blocked up the entire road outside of Rifle Square. I felt strange to be amongst all these soldiers in uniform. Just a few days ago, a sight of a soldier in this uniform was the sight all photographers wanted (and feared) to see. And here they were, surrounding me.

A young man came up to me and Naeem, to ask if we were journalists. I didn't really know what to say, but he assumed it anyway and told us his father was in the BDR, in the queue waiting to get his name taken down.

The look on his face made such an impression on me. The face of a young man trying to be as strong as he possibly could, but the stress was too much and threatening to etch itself onto his face. A face which tried to hide it, but still showed the uncertainty and the worry he had about what will happen to his father. He didn't rant or complain like many others had. He spoke in even, measured tones, controlling his emotions as best as he could.

"What do you think of this?" he asked.

I told him I was confused. That I didn't know what or who to believe anymore.

He told us, his father had been on leave. They lived in the compound, and had been allowed to leave/escape on the second day of the mutiny.

Throughout the conversation, I just had this sense that there was something he really wanted to say, but chose to hold it in instead.

And in a country where its common for everyone to want to be heard, to have a chance to state his/her opinion -- silence sometimes means so much more.