Mukti

Gone Girl

Posted in books, Drama, family, gender, movies, Rights, society, thriller, thriller by jrahman on June 26, 2016

 

What are you thinking?  How are you feeling?  What have we done to each other?  What will we do?

The primal questions of any marriage — says, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) as David Fincher’s 2014 adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl begins.  Wrestling with the unravelling of own marriage, the questions came as a jolt as I watched the scene in a lonely hotel room after a long day of work.

A decade of marriage, and you realise you don’t know who your partner is.  Worse.  You don’t know who you are anymore.

What have we done to each other?  Indeed!

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Degenerating the Faith (2)

Posted in books, classics, culture, faith, history, Muslim world, society by jrahman on December 5, 2015

Part 1.

Classical Muslim scholars used to divide travel and travel writing into two categories. First is what they called rihla — a description of what the traveller did, saw or experienced.  Ibn Battuta’s travelogues are the best known in this genre.  However, rihla can also be more than mere narratives and descriptions. They can form the basis of scientific enquiry.  An example of this kind of rihla is the 11th century polymath Al Biruni’s description of India.  Travelling under the protection of Mahmud of Ghazni, Al Biruni studied sciences and mathematics and wrote Tarikh al Hind — one of the most comprehensive books on pre-Islam subcontinent. In fact, great rihla, according to the scholars, had to have some analysis as well as description.

There is another tradition of travel and travel writing among the learned Muslims of yore, that of safr.  Safr is the word for travel or journey in most north and east Indian languages, including Bangla.  To the 11th century Sufi philosopher Al-Ghazali, safr meant any travelling through which a person evolves.  To him, safr meant as well as the physical act of travelling somewhere, mixing with the inhabitants of that land, imbibing oneself with their customs and ways, and evolving into a person closer to Allah.

Al-Ghazali further categorised travellers: those who travel seeking knowledge, the best kind; the Hajis; the immigrants — the Prophet himself was an immigrant; and the refugees, the worst kind.

What is the line between an immigrant and a refugee?  Salman Rushdie and VS Naipaul have both written about the uprooting involved in migration.  Both have noted that at some level or other, all migrants are really refugees.  But for Naipaul, the uprooting is mostly a bad thing.  Rushdie is open to the possibility of migration leading to something new.  Migrants are works of translation, he writes.

Those of you who have read the Quran probably have done so in translation.  Translation then can’t always be bad.

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Degenerating the Faith

Posted in books, classics, culture, current affairs, faith, society by jrahman on December 2, 2015

Being a Bangladeshi student in the urban west of the 1990s wasn’t easy.

Leaving home for a strange place — whether from a village in Maheshkhali for Dhaka University, or from Dhaka to foreign cities — is difficult for anyone in their late teens.  And at any age, student or otherwise, it is hard to move to a city.  Cities, metropoles that are cosmopolitan, dense with information to overload all the senses, and yet a depressing place where you are likely to be all alone amid the teeming multitude.  You seek to belong, because you find solace as part of something that is bigger than your mundane existence.

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Coffee House

Posted in gender, music, Rights, society by jrahman on August 1, 2015

As every educated Bengali knows, decades before a bunch of photogenic New Yorkers made it trendy, hanging out in a cafe — the Coffee House was cool.  Hanging out — adda –with your friends after work, who can’t relate to that?

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The Manna Dey classic suggests the great experience mid-20th century Calcutta would have been for young guys — the Art College graduate drawing sketches for marketing firms before making it to Paris, the reporter who would migrate to Dhaka (and write a great book on 1971), the Goanese guitarist who died young, the amatuer actor suffering from a romantic tragedy related breakdown, the unrecognised poet with cancer….

… and the girl….

Ah, yes, the girl…. the one who is supposed to be happy because she has a millionaire husband who buys her jewellery….

Ray’s Big City wasn’t a great place for women.

Much of the subcontinent still isn’t.

 

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For Bergman

Posted in Freedom of speech, Rights by jrahman on July 7, 2015

Not Ingrid, nor Ingmar, but David — the nefarious Zionist Islamist enemy of our Holy Spirit of Liberation.  In a just and fair country, he would be lauded for his effort.  In a normal country, he would be ignored by everyone except for a few academic type.  In Bangladesh, well, sigh…..

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The not-so-curious tragedy of AKM Wahiduzzaman

Posted in Freedom of speech, Rights by jrahman on October 23, 2014

AKM Wahiduzzaman is a geographer.  He used to teach the subject at Bangladesh’s National University.  A keen sportsman, he represented Bangladesh in basketball in the 1980s.  And a vocal BNP supporter in various online platforms, he has been in jail twice in last three years.  For the past year, he has been in hiding. He may well be going back to jail soon.  Seeing his ordeals, his father has become seriously ill.

Make no mistake, his ordeal is because of his politics.

He is a very good Bangla commentator, with verve and wit.  He writes galagali free polished Bangla, not indulging in ad hominem attacks — itself an extreme rarity in Bangladeshi cyberspace.  Just as rare is his steadfast and frank support of BNP.  Unlike so many, he does not hide behind so-called non-partisanship.

Because of his politics, he comes under attack from the Awami Leaguers (and their ultra-nationalist ‘useful idiots’) as well as Islamists.  There is nothing curious about that.  And that’s not particularly tragic either — your opponents will try to hurt you, that’s how it works.

It is, however, tragic when those who claim to be neither Awami collaborators nor Islamists — the so-called non-partisans — don’t stand by Mr Wahiduzzaman.  If there is one genuine case in Bangladesh where free speech is under threat, he ought to be the one.  It is a tragedy that this is not the case.

But it’s not at all surprising.  No, not to me.  I am not surprised that our so-called progressives don’t speak out for him.  You see, to our progressive intellectuals and activists, Wahiduzzaman is BNP.

Sanaullah Babu was hacked to death four years ago.  He was BNP. There was no human right violation for him.  Similarly, no rights for Ilias Ali or others who have been abducted.  They are BNP.  So why should it surprise me that no one cares about Wahiduzzaman?

It doesn’t.  And this post isn’t about demanding justice for him.  Because he won’t get it.

Over the fold is an example of Mr Wahiduzzaman’s writing.

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Shahbag to Shapla Chattar — songs of water and fire

Posted in activism, Bangladesh, blogging, Freedom of speech, history, Islamists, media, politics, Rights, uprisings by jrahman on March 26, 2014

The blog went into a hiatus about year ago. The reasons for that extended absence are, unfortunately, still relevant. That’s why the blog has been far less frequent than was the case in the past. However, it is what it is. I am not sure when the blog can be fully operational again. For now, pieces will come infrequently, and the blog will often be an archive for material published elsewhere. Also, the comments section will be off —it is disrespectful to not respond to comments, but since I can sometime be offline for days, if not weeks, it’s better to have the comments off.

This means no direct interaction with the reader.  But this also means the blog will become what blogs originally were — an online diary, a weblog, where one records one’s own thoughts and observations.  I guess it’s somewhat fitting that the first post in the new format is on the set of events that rocked Bangladesh as the blog went into hiatus.

These events, according to the contemporaneous analyses, were going to change everything forever. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that the contemporaneous analyses were mostly wrong. This is a for-the-record post summarising my evolving thoughts as the events unfolded between 5 Feb and 5 May 2013. It is important to note what this is not.  This is not analysis — I am not trying to offer an explanation of what happened, nor provide any insight into what they mean for our past, present or future.  This is not activism either — I am not arguing any particular case.  Rather, this is an extremely self-indulgent post, the target here is really myself years down the track.  If anyone else reads it, that’s just bonus.

 

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The Jamaat Factor

Posted in 1971, Bangladesh, history, Islamists, politics, Rights, War crimes by jrahman on March 13, 2013

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Delwar Hossain Sayedee, an Islamic preacher and a senior leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, the country’s largest Islam-pasand party, was sentenced to death on 28 February for war crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War. Within hours, Jamaat cadres and activists clashed violently with police and law enforcement agencies. Scores have been killed in some of the worst political violence the country has experienced in recent years.

Five other senior Jamaat leaders, including its current and former chiefs, are being prosecuted for war crimes committed in 1971. Another leader was sentenced to life imprisonment on 5 February. That sentence triggered what has come to be called the Shahbag Awakening—a month of largely peaceful gathering of tens of thousands of people in the middle of Dhaka. A key demand of the largely government-supported Awakening is to ban Jamaat.

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Will the Jamaat be banned? The ruling Awami League has a three-fourths majority in parliament, while the Jamaat is a key ally of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. A general election is expected before the year is over. So there are complex political calculations involved. Meanwhile, even if the party survives, how will it perform if its top leaders are convicted (and possibly executed) for war crimes?

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সাতকাহন

Seven trashes collected by the senses.

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সাতকাহন

Posted in economics, environment, history, Islamists, labour, macro, methods, Muslim world, politics, Rights, War crimes by jrahman on February 15, 2013

Seven trashes collected by the senses.

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