Random Desh ramblings (2)

Posted in books, culture, movies, society by jrahman on August 13, 2010

I am back in the world of uninterrupted electricity and fast internet.  Few more snippets before I forget.

1. I bought Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice from a street vendor in Gulshan 2.  I paid 200 taka, but my mother kept saying ‘you paid 50 taka too much, at Bijoy Sarani it sells for 150 taka’.  The thing is, the Indian publisher’s recommended retail price for this neat paperback copy is Rupee 750.  And in New Market the same book costs 1,500 taka (1,200 if the Zeenat people know you).  I assume the Gulshan vendor is making a profit.  So what am I missing?

2. Argentinian supporters, like our political parties, seem to have a hard time accepting the reality.  A month after the World Cup, Argentina flags keep flying.  One particular flag, visible from the Mirpur Road between Gabtoli and Mazar Road, has Allah Akbar in Arabic written in the middle.

3. There are mosques in every 100 meters or so in the garments belt of Savar-Tongi-Ashulia.  Given most of the garment workers are women, will these mosques be female-friendly?  Somehow I doubt it.

4. Buses rule the streets, and not in a good way.  They seem to pick up and drop off people wherever they want.  The concept of bus stand seems to have disappeared.

5. There are lots of battery driven threewheelers carrying upto 6 people in the mofussil streets.  Curiously, there aren’t many in Dhaka.  Also, these vehicles don’t need license because the traffic act (from the Ershad era) defines a vehicle as something that runs on fossil fuel.  I wonder if this means hybrid cars don’t need registration.

6. This was the first trip home since reading White Tiger.  Very unnerving.

7. The electricity situation is bad.  If things don’t improve, expect to see more headlines like this.  And I simply can’t see how the situation is going to improve.  I leave it to the reader to figure out the political implications.

8. Posters have started incorporating ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশের প্রবক্তা Sajeeb Ahmed Wajed Joy.  Pointing to a particular poster in Jasimuddin Road in Uttara, my 14-year old apolitical English medium niece said ‘I like this guy better than the other one’.  Assuming she was talking about Tarique Rahman, I wanted to know the reason behind her preference — after all, she will be a first time voter in 2014.  Her reply: ‘the other one looks মেয়ে মেয়ে (girly), this one is lot more manly’.

9. There is a new organisation in town — Bangabandhu Shoinik League.

10. The Bijoy Sarani extension does help with traffic, a lot.  The new road built parallel to Bijoy Sarani and Rokeya Sarani seems rather pointless though.

11. The trees planted by the Aricha Road (upto the National Memorial) ten years ago have grown up, and the whole road seems much prettier.  I hope the widening of the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway doesn’t happen at the expense of the trees.

12. I watched parts of at least half a dozen Manna movies.  They all follow this formula: he is angry, and keeps yelling এই; the heroine hates him, then loves him; the villain, usually Humayun Faridi, is a leech; whenever Manna moves, his name is echoed in the background (for example, Heera, Heera, Heera, Heera).

And finally, last time I graduated from Bhaiya to Sir.  This time I’ve been called an Uncle.  I guess Chacha and Nana await.

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  1. tacit said, on August 15, 2010 at 2:15 am

    7. How about all the power plants commissioned without any tenders? You don’t see them having any short-term benefits?

    8. Yes, Joy Bhai does usually get high marks because of his good looks. TR has been called a lot of thing, but I think “মেয়ে মেয়ে” is a first. 🙂

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

      Firstly, these plants won’t be online for a while — it takes time to physically build these things. Secondly, demand is (and has been) rising rapidly. The economy is growing by 6% a year. Household income is rising at least as fast. Electricity demand is income elastic, and hence rising faster (people using ceiling fans now want to use a/c). I understand even government officials believe things won’t improve until at least 2012.

  2. Rezwan said, on August 15, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Interesting observations. My $.02:

    1. Copycats destroying the publishing industry. The people don’t mind reading cheap books – in my opinion most of them who are buying these cheap ones could have paid the original price.

    2. I heard about the recent law about flags. It seems there is a large gap between law and implementation of the same. Thats why we still hear about Fatwa and repression of women although there are a lot of rules protecting them

    3. The increase of mosques is quite unnerving. There needs to be some rule regarding it to maintain quality and sanctity of the religious institutions and not make them available as political platforms other than praying.

    4. Dhaka needs metro rail and less buses.

    5. I have been on one of these battery driven autorickshaws and found them cool. I wish they would replace the costly Indian made CNGs (1.5 lakh against 4 lakh).

    7. I think people should start investing in their own energy sources – like independent big generators for apartment complexes – I think the cost benefit analysis will show that it will be a win-win situation.

    8. Digital Bangladesh term has become a political farce. I wish people knew what they are talking about for the betterment of the country.

    • jrahman said, on August 17, 2010 at 10:16 am

      Rezwan, not sure about a few.

      1. These books are not copies. They are original Indian paperbacks.

      4. It will take years to build metro, and even when built, will cover only selected areas. What about the rest?

      7. The electricity crisis is most acute outside Dhaka. And even in Dhaka, millions live outside big apartment complexes. Also, large powerplants can produce electricity more efficiently (ie cheaply) than generators.

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