Random Desh ramblings

Posted in books, culture, economics, movies, music, society by jrahman on July 29, 2010

I am in Bangladesh, hence the extended radio silence.  Normal programme will resume in mid-August.  A few tid-bits.

  1. Popularly held view is that the winter is the best season to visit Bangladesh.  I dissent.  Late monsoon is far better.  You see Bangladesh in its full glory — instead of the dullish grey winter smog, there is lush green.
  2. Heat and humidity?  Typically at high 20s or low 30s, it isn’t all that bad.  Besides, cold days in the winter are also pretty uncomfortable.
  3. Heat and humidity isn’t a problem if you have electricity.  But the electricity situation is bad.  Of course everyone knows that the electricity situation is bad.  Well, outside Dhaka, it is worse than what one might expect, even after expecting a terrible situation.
  4. Leaving electricity aside, things do seem to be better (then again, I’ve been called an optimistic before).
  5. Traffic isn’t any worse than what I saw 18 months ago.  In fact, in some routes it’s better — though this may be a function of summer break in some schools.
  6. There are many more buses, but they stop everywhere and seem to be the biggest bottleneck as far as Dhaka jams are concerned.
  7. People in Savar Bazaar are worried about Ramadan price hikes.  I understand the borro production will miss the target because of unseasonal rain.  This is worrying.  Will post on it when I get back.
  8. Will also post on the minimum wage issue.  For now, let me note that several garments owners (ranging from small to huge) have told me that they could have easily accommodated 3,500 taka.
  9. Meanwhile, there are dozens of ‘cosmetics stores’ in Ashulia Bazaar, selling lipsticks, shoes, bags, mirrors, and a few other things (I didn’t dare to venture into these stores).  They were definitely not there 18 months ago.  Who says trickle down doesn’t work?
  10. There isn’t much new music to speak of.  I missed Khoj: the Search and Bangla’r King Kong.  The latest trend is naming movies with ma — will post a full list.
  11. Bought a few cool books — will post on I’tesamuddin’s account of 1760s Vilayet.
  12. And finally there are monsoon fruits — jam, jambura, kamranga, amra.

Khodz (That’s how the cool kids say Khoda Hafez)

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  1. Udayan said, on July 29, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Eto chhuti pao kothay? 🙂

  2. Raihan said, on July 30, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    8. Can any of those factory owners say that in public?
    13. I am sure you made it up. But, I like it.


  3. Raihan said, on August 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Saw you live in Drishtipat. lose some weight, my friend. Heart attack is a plate of biryani away!

  4. jrahman said, on August 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Udayan, it’s all in the labour-leisure trade off. You North Americans should trade away consumption (and thus the labour needed to pay for it) for leisure (that is ছুটি)। 🙂

    Raihan, none of the factory owners will say anything in public. I didn’t make up khodz — I heard it from a cool friend. And yes, my record in the battle of bulge is as good as the US war on drugs or terror. 😦

    • tacit said, on August 13, 2010 at 10:46 pm

      Trade away consumption? But, but… President Bush said that if we don’t max our credit-cards, the terrorists win.

      We expect a detailed, composite post containing the insight gleaned from your trip and filled with anecdotes that the high-and-the-mighty of the land shared with you (a la Tom Friedman).

      • jrahman said, on August 14, 2010 at 10:39 am

        Okay, I’ll forgive you for comparing me with Friedman — but don’t make a habit of it. 🙂

      • tacit said, on August 15, 2010 at 2:10 am

        Hmm, who was it who compared our esteemed Rumi Bhai to David Brooks again?

        Well, my opening offer was Tom Friedman, and you’d clearly like Paul Krugman, so how about we settle? Fareed Zakaria’s too conservative, David Broder’s too old, and Jonathon Goldberg is, well, too wrong. I think the choice is between Andrew Sullivan and Frank Rich. You pick.

      • jrahman said, on August 15, 2010 at 10:23 am

        Sullivan is too hysterical, and Rich is too socialist (what you Americans call liberal). Why do you think Zakaria is too conservative?

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