Chobi Mela VIII : Redefining “intimacy”

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What is “Intimacy” ? close bodies? close hearts? close people? Are we intimate with ourselves? to our souls? My views on “intimacy” not changed, but was shaken, after the exhibition “Chobi Mela VIII“. It started its journey on 2000, and after that, continued biannually.

I am not any photographer, nor I understand art or photography 🙂 But I love to visit all the exhibition of Chobi Mela in various galleries of Dhaka. This year, it expanded its spheres, and was organized also in open places of Puran Dhaka (old town), and Dhaka University Fine Arts premises.

I love to watch photos as a story, as a whole, so took these photographs from distance, with lights and shadows, with their presentations, with my ordinary mobile camera. I didn’t put any caption, as every artist has put their own on the website..and what I loved most? My heart got closer to these people, to those things, I never met, will never meet..

I’d just share one story with you, that by Andrea Diefenbach. Of an HIV/AIDS infected lady in Ukraine. First photo, family woman with her pet cat, happy. next photo, she got infected with drug abuse.. next her tensed husband.. next their war to win her deathbed.. next she died, just died..next her lonely husband..and next? two butterfly pins on the mat..thats it! thats all! Defining “intimacy” with the most distant one!

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Holy Cross, we shall be TRUE !

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Teacher’s Pet.”

When I am asked to tell about my school-college-university journey, I feel somehow awkward..  somedays earlier, one of my colleagues said, you studied in 4 schools in your 10 years primary and secondary life? then, you couldn’t have a soul-friend!

Ya, she’s right! I studied at a kindergarten for two years in Chittagong, another city. All I could remember, loud rhymes, beautiful class teacher and lots of weird activities 🙂

Then moved to Dhaka and was admitted in  a government school. Here, the school compound was huge, and I met many friends from lower or lower-middle class society..We managed to make adventures in the horrified corners, trees, and as usual a ghost in the washroom! 😀 But as I said, class, here I learned how to love people whatever they are! Life is the best teacher though…

Then another school, one of the top and aristocrat girls school in Dhaka.. It was suffocating! grade six, when a girl needs care and mental shelter most, I learned what upper social class is!!

And finally, came to my HOLY CROSS, at grade 8, and the journey ended at grade 12. But did it end? Never! Holy Cross taught me whatever your class, religion, race, complexion etc etc etc is, you are lovable and respectable, and you must give the reward back! Try to do a single thing for another, littlest it be!

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My teachers, Sister Philomina Quiya, Sharmin miss, Jharna Mitra miss, Mrs Fahima Gias, Rezwana miss, Chandraboti miss, Pinaru sir, Ostadji (islam religion teacher), Sharkar sir, Mrs Sattar…how many names are peeping on my mind! The wonderful ladies were the living examples of what a LADY is! They were confident, erudite,  independent and affectionate!

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The most amazing lady of my life, Sister Joseph Mary! This wonderful lady came to our land, from another part of the world, and the whole life, lived and loved us all! When I found her, she was a very very old lady, but strongest than all! I can remember yet, how she used to walk on her shaky old legs, her normal skirt, flat shoes, climbing stairs, and finally teaching us English accent, in her own artful style!

Once she burst out crying and scolded us loud when she saw a girl sitting on the new building wall..We were bored to see a old lady crying! But when she told us, we were mum. One of her close friends died this way, that day I realized, preachers are human too! They cry out for their own family, whether its long forsaken, or whether its the new us! Next day, she started working on making safety grills on the walls! gratitude is so small for this extraordinary lady!

I wouldn’t lengthen my post anymore, just would song that we sang everyday..

“Hail to thee, our Alma Mater,
We, with loving hearts, proclaim.
Long may our college live,
Ever glorious be her name.
Orient skies smile upon us,
As we pledge our love anew,
Holy Cross, we shall be loyal,
Holy Cross we shall be true.
Through the years our song will echo
As we walk our paths apart.
Each note will bind us closely
To our Alma Mater’s heart”

The quintupled hymn

I was searching for the right word, to picturize the beautiful call for prayer, five times a day, the Adhan. Islam has already become the religion of debates, of fear these days, and I am not going to this path anyway. To me, the evening bells from mandir (hindu temple), the evening bells from church, or the evening adhan from mosque, all are equally respectful! But as a muslim, Adhan not only reminds me of prayer, but also reminds me the first days of Islam, when all were equal, the honor of first muazzin or adhan reciter was given to Hazrat Bilal(RA), a slave! And what have we made ourselves today! We have made even different Adhans for different muslim groups!

It is said that, Dhaka is a city of mosques. We have thousands of mosques in neighborhoods, main roads, everywhere. Five times a day muazzins recite its beautiful rhythms, “Allah is greatest, I bear witness there is no God but Allah, I bear witness Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, Hasten to worship, hasten to success!” I love the beautiful part of the Fazr (early morning) salat, “prayer is better than sleep”..I am very lazy person, I cant wake up that time most of the days, but whenever this only line is recited I can’t sleep anymore!

One day, one of my friends called from Australia. Adhan (we call it Azan) was being recited, as always, on loudspeaker, my friend said, turn your voice down, how long I haven’t heard it! Yea, thats a sound pollution of course, when its started at thousands of mosques at a time, in this super duper noisy city, but is it really? No! as I repeatedly tell about the religious culture of our nation, its another example of it. Our non-muslim friends, regard Adhan as clocks! As the way, clocks in churches, in our country, when Adhan for Zuhr prayer is called, its 1 PM! simple!

Days become long, days become short, whole year round, we understand this by the changes in Adhan times. Children goes to field when its afternoon, when Aasr adhan is calling, come back home when its dusk, Magrib adhan. Don’t come home after magrib! moms from all religion, same language! When the sun is setting, first the Magrib adhan, completed, then the bells from hindu homes..no clashes at all! Thus in this peaceful country of rains, this hymn, simple, no instruments, only bare voice, only some lines, quintupled, reminds us of prayer, of that unity we have forgot in this mundane world!

A journey to the Swan Lake

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Once Upon a Time.”

Listen my little kitties, listen to your granny..It was a sunny, yes, very sunny winter day..I might be old today, but the day, I still can remember it. It was the day of January, 25, 2015. The date of today. No, no, don’t think I am making up the date..It really was 25 January, your granny’s not that old yet!

It was the day of “Saraswati puja“. Nowdays, you just don’t bother about old religious programs, but once they were great festivals. People from all religions, muslims, hindus, buddhists, christians, all gathered in the puja field..Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, with her four hands (mind, sense; intellect, reasoning; imagination, creativity; self consciousness, ego), her book of knowledge, her crystal garland of inner reflection, her water of purity and her musical instrument of all creative arts and sciences; called all her pupils… And above all, mother’s SWAN, not a normal one, her beautiful, enormous, snow-white swan..You know, why swan is her vehicle? because, you give her swan mixture of water and milk, it would able to drink the milk alone…Knowledge is not only learning, but the ability to differ good and bad!

Goddess Saraswati statue by Deparment of fine arts, Dhaka University photo courtesy: http://news.priyo.com/photo/2011/feb/09/19373.html, https://www.flickr.com/photos/arrajib/8557738043/?rb=1

I know, what you are thinking bunnies, that, I am a muslim, pray five times a day, don’t believe in Gods and Goddesses, wouldn’t take a mark of sindur or chandan on my forhead, then what was my relation with the veneration, isn’t it? Yes, you are right. On that day, people also asked that. But it was our country of harmony, that’s a rare word today.

Our University of Dhaka organized a big big big festival that day, actually for many years. All the departments, from science faculty, arts, business studies..54 departments established saraswati statue, in their own way, reflecting the theme of their department..You know, there was a statue from Islamic Studies department as well! Huh, what harmonious days they were!

But if the day was that easy, may be I wouldn’t tell you this story. The huge monsters of politics swallowed the whole country..No security, nothing, anytime you might be burnt in the petrol bomb! Boom! and you would be a lump of flesh! But dear, should we let the evil win! No, we couldn’t! We decided to visit mother saraswati, might we didn’t believe her, but we believed the power of knowledge, good and bad!

After office, I came out, whole monthly salary in handbag, lots of cash in a day of chaos outside. No, I didn’t have a horse, a white one as you see in fairy tales, but I made myself entered in a crowded bus..Our university was not far, but there was a fear everywhere. Anytime you might be hurt by thugs, anytime the whole bus could turn into ashes..Yes, it was 2015, but our politics might be from stone ages! (Nah, stone age was far more humane!). Each stoppage passed, a fear for next stoppage grabbed our throat.. I was alone that day, but you know, not really..My friend was coming to the puja from a long distant district, another side of the country, only to meet all!

We, the warriors arrived..Loudspeakers, as bugles, welcome us! many other friends, seniors, juniors..We took photos, we ate foods of veneration, yes, we are muslims, but we had a wonderful thought that time. Hindu friends ate as blessings, we ate as foods! We didn’t venerate the statues, but all shared the beauty of it in hearts.

In this world of religious fights, atheism-religion fights, there was a land of fairy tale. Extremists wanted to separate us, but we didn’t separate ourselves! In the year of 2015, we won! My little children, never let this harmony drowned, let mother saraswati’s swan swim…swim across the ocean of unjust, to give us knowledge of right and wrong!

More pictures of Dhaka University, Jagannath Hall Puja, 2014, (as 2015 pictures are not published yet), http://www.somewhereinblog.net/blog/sanjoymukharjeedumb/29923031

We fight to save a single flower!

When I look back to our Liberation War, 1971, feel, it was a bi-product of cold war! But was it really? No! This war not only gave birth of a country, but a nation, that we are not Pakistani, not Indian, we are Bangladeshi… I feel sometimes, why this bloodshed in the name of war? But feel very proud that we were not involved in a civil war, nor we invaded another country. We never press anything upon others. We live to live with all. And Allah gave us wonderful cultural friends, enormous helping hands from all over the globe during our war..

All these things I tell to give a bad news. Today the songsmith of our liberation, whose songs gave new strength to every soldier then, and every citizen henceforth, Govinda Halder  passed away (may his soul rest in peace)

I wouldn’t discuss about his life, his work, as I gave a link above. But I would like to translate one of  his songs. This single piece elaborates our whole war, our goal, our dream, our mentality. I am not good at translating, so just translated word by word, didn’t want to give a single touch of me in his wonderful work.

“We fight to save a single flower
 We raise guns to save smile on a single face.
   Land who embraced me whole life
   her river-water-flower-fruits portrayed my dream
   her blue sky gave wings to my mind
   rhythm of her soil I felt whole life.
We fight to write a new poem
We fight to sing a new song
We fight for a beautiful art
We fight today to save the world peace!
   For the love of that lady, heart beats for
   for that smiling child, whole world for
   for that sweet home, of heavenly couple
   We fight to save the peace of those peaceful lives!
We fight to save a single flower
We raise guns to save smile on a single face.”

yes dear, BANGLADESH it is!

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I am patriotic, not in a nationalist way, rather of a natural kind, was born in this country, so love my mom, like this way. No offense to others, no defense either. At this time , we are a critical generation of Bangladesh. We love our country from the core, can do anything (a fashion way or a serious way, both) from own positions, feel proud for our liberation war, our language movement (which is the only one in modern times, pride, isn’t it?) and we all hate violent politics. As we already realized that nothing is in our hand, we set them free!! They are doing whatever they want, we pay a damn, and doing our things. A garment worker is sewing a foreign jacket, whereas a software engineer is developing things, scientists are doing large things from tiny lab set ups…but we are doing things, making ourselves ready to stand beside the developed world (personally, i don’t like the classifications, each nation is developed in its own ways!)

Anyway, I am stretching things far to tell a story. I heard a “nice to meet you” from a foreigner today, which felt like he was cracking a coconut with his teeth! knew someone who described Dhaka as a living hell! and one’s wife made him promise not to eat or drink a single thing in our nasty country! I met many till, they were warm and nice, may be dislike the system, or the country, but not this kind of hate!! the thing is also true for some of Bangladeshis, they curse their fate everyday to be born in this horrible place!

Yes dear, with the densest population, our Dhaka is a garbage of slums, but do you think, the maid coming to your home everyday for household chores, or the rickshawpuller, where they live? in these slums! The shirt, or the pant, or the jacket, you are wearing, with a exclusive brand tag, where did it come from? A garment worker, may be a teenage girl, sewed these in her hands! Our food, sure they are formalin wrapped, dangerous, really, but don’t forget bird flu, swine flu, SARS, hemorrhagic E.coli or salmonellosis dear, THAT were not in Bangladesh!

Today was the “Akheri Monajat” of Ijtema, I was watching people going to the field on train, I couldn’t believe my eyes, if I wasn’t born here. The train was completely invisible. The similar picture is seen when people return to their village homes in Eid festivals. Anyone can think these people are THAT religious! no, we are THAT festive! They were holding national flags, as they were going to a international cricket match! We carry our flag from the bi-cycle to the Everest, cause we love it personally! THIS is Bangladesh dear, where the completely unknown lady beside you on the bus will ask you,” what are these rashes on your skin girl? you just don’t take care of yourself! use this paste or that cream, my cousin’s niece’s sister-in-law is completely well now!!”  There’s no Mr.X or Mrs.Y or Miss.Z here, all are mama (uncle), khala (aunt), apa (sister) or vaiya (brother)..from top to bottom, from bus conductor to office boss! When loudspeakers from Durgapuja pandals are paused during the Adhan  time, or young people sing folk songs along with John Denver or Bon Jovi,  dear, that is our BANGLADESH!

I would request to all, please don’t come to Bangladesh with a hope for taking or giving something…no help, no good memory, no bad food, nothing…come to visit us, we will also sometimes, we all are relatives in this tiny beautiful world, and in human culture relatives don’t give or take, we all just SHARE 🙂

The Lone Rangers

Dhaka, probably being my only subject of blogging in these first days. This city is so enormous that I found no way to escape it. Orhan Pamuk, Turkish Nobel prize winner novelist, said, The story of his life is the story of Istanbul, his own city. May be, this is going to be true for me as well. If you google “Dhaka” , you will find political crisis ( more like vendettas), absurdly unplanned buildings, more absurd traffic and most absurd population ! But for the dwellers, its their home, where the heart is… I started my blog singing the rhythm of rain in my city, today going to tell the stories of lone rangers…

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As other big cities, streets here, never sleep. Thousands of cars, rickshaws, million of people rush every second in this city.. As night is darker they go home, besides the hardworking bus, truck, lorry workers distributing loads of goods to the city or the hijackers….I am talking about the city’s own dwellers, may be he is a multibillionere, may be she is a call girl… may be its a highrise, may be its a shack, may be its a footpath polythene home, but they walk there, give a smile to fellows, sleep for another morning…A rickshaw puller with half kilo rice, two potatoes, one onion walks to his slum home….the sweaty figure dreams of making some money, buy a tiny piece of land in his village…this dream make him live in this wretched city…

Here are people having no home, even not a polythene one, never actually tend to have them or want to have them…Its their tendency to eat, or not eat, sleep or not sleep…some of them are damn addicts…heroin or others…some act like insane, which they are not….Along with their unfortunate children, some become beggar, or religious “Baba”s, which they are not also, but  they cover up the lone rangers…

The lone rangers of our city, are “who, no one knows” . I have seen a man, sitting, beside a road for years after years. When was little, was afraid to ask, why are you sitting all the time? couldn’t. When I could, knew he was cripple. But he never begged, I gave him some clothes, for the first time, he received, on the second time, refused! When its too cold, i think, how he survives? Check, if he is dead..but no, this old man survives each winter, each summer…sometimes I think what he eats? But I know there is a nocturnal cycle in it…when its night, deep deep night, no angel comes down from the sky…The lone rangers do..They among themselves have a business, what we never dealt with..They have society, law of their own…the street law!

Once I found one above everything of this, at Dhaka University campus..He also refused everything, but not in a sane way…when I looked into his eyes, I was petrified..His eyes were blank..no, not like the heroin addict ones…different..very educated ones with deep despair in them…Nothing could pacify him, nothing ! Money, food, love, family, he was above everything..laid all day all night by the street, smelled only of urine…I prayed to Allah, please have mercy on him, please bestow DEATH upon him..The day he died, I didn’t come closer, Authority took off the corpse, I cried in distance..

I wanted to save him, tried to talk to him, wanted to know, why? what? what was that made your life so worthless? so meaningless? why you people don’t let us to enter in your lives? Why are you so alone? Life’s not that fragile! or have you found something spiritual? is this so precious that you have to protect by life? or you are just a Schizophrenic? I find myself shaken inside… Everyday we are trying to make ourselves more intact, more hard, more inert..what if one day I become one of them? above everything else, or beyond everything else…Just another lone ranger!

Wings, Feet or Fins..

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Today, when I woke up in the morning, a sunny winter one, my younger brother was going out. “If I had wings! Its so tiring to walk ! Even the bus, or the rickshaw! I am tired!” Suddenly it came to my mind, if we had wings! In mythology, Gods had wings, later angels had them. But human, never.. One day Daedalus made them and Gods weren’t happy. But could the Gods do any good with their wings? Whether its Zeus or Apollo or Aphrodite, whenever they came to a human, a flower, a nymph, a river, whatever it is, destroyed their lives. Shouldn’t we write the myths in a different way? We should have made ourselves fly, not to fall in the sea like a tragic hero, like Icarus…

Whatever it is, we wrote our lives, and now we fly anyway. Coming to my city, my life. I live in a clumsy city, which is organized in her own way. Our city, Dhaka, has a life. Two different parts in her one heart, with two different forms, two different lives. One of them, Puran Dhaka, is an ancient city, beautiful, historical. Her own scent, color, people, everything is hers. People here have wings, wings of their own Olympus.

On the contrary, the newer one, new Dhaka city, is a world itself. People from various districts, various cultures, various languages, everyday come to this concrete world. I live in this world. Long before, my parents came here from their own beautiful villages. Its like that water mermaid, who lost her fins, walked on the stony paths with her shaky feet, newly formed… Our parents, some for job, some for education, some for adventure came to this weary world with their shaky feet, thousands come everyday..

We, who were born and brought up here, are not shaky, even we put on shoes. We, our parents, sometimes visit our ocean world, where we have roots, but cant fit there, we lost our fins, we cant swim anymore…”Heaven gives it glimpses only to those, Not in position to look too close” yes, we cant anymore look too close to our old heaven..we cant even look toward our new heaven..Its too high to fly, too steep to ride.. We just try to make wings of wax, though we know they could be melt down anytime, we fly to reach our heaven.. We try to build a new heaven, a new Olympus for ourselves…And the most ugly city of all (As per some critics), with the most beautiful heart in her, never lose hope on us. She in her own reticent way, everyday carry our travel bags towards the mountains, towards our new Olympus… 🙂

Dreaming In A dream!

I never wrote in English, besides in my exams…writing a blog! English! simply a nightmare! but sometimes we do things we want to, whether we can, or not..its a kind of thing.. When I saw this website, I just went through, made an account, and now, feeling the empty slate, felt like filling it 🙂

I am basically from science background, completed my Masters in Microbiology last year, working in a research organization( Not that much RESEARCH though! :D). I didn’t travel abroad, even saw a few things in my life..When I am writing here, I am asking myself, what am I doing?? I should do my GRE , TOEFL preparation, read scientific journals, learn to write scientific ones! and here, I am just telling my life, my city, my etc and etc!! As I have a lot in my dream, dreaming in a dream as I say, and I want to convey them to others..Who knows, may be far far from my home some one is dreaming the same ! and you know, I am enjoying it 😀

In our beautiful country, the most beautiful thing is… everything! and when everything look more most beautiful? when it rains….before rain, during rain, after rain… when it drizzles, when it thunders, when it fights hard… Its warm, but not hot, cool but not cold, clear and hazy at the same time… from ants to eagles or sport cars to pedestrians…we live in the rhythm of rain…. so starting my English blog journey, in the name of Dear RAIN  🙂 lets start it !!

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