Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Five Renowned Sacred Mazars in Bangladesh

Sakib Khondoker

‘Religion’ is one of the key pillars that people tend to stand on; it gives us a path, a way towards ultimate contentment. But, how much do we know about?

Let’s have a look at the five most renowned mazars in Bangladesh, and why it is of utmost importance to visit them, at least once, irrespective of our religious diversities.

Tomb of Hazrat Shah Paran
Having played a significant role in propagating Islam and establishing Muslim rule in the Sylhet region, Hazrat Shah Paran had been exceedingly well-regarded. Born in Hadramaut, he was the nephew of Hazrat Shah Jalal. It is unclear as to how and when he died, but he is buried near his khanqah. His grave is located in a high hillock and is carefully preserved in a place built with bricks and surrounded by walls. On the northern side of the grave, there is an old tree named Asha-gachh (a tree of hopes), the branches and branchlets of which are extended above the entire tomb. There is an ancient mosque by the side of the tomb, which had been modernized in the early 90s. About 1500 devout Muslims can now say their prayers there.

Place: Sylhet

Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal
This fascinating and atmospheric shrine of the revered 14th-century Sufi saint Shah Jalal, is one of Bangladesh's biggest pilgrimage sites. Housing a mosque and the main tomb, the complex is accessed through an open staircase from the East Darga gate entrance. Shah Jalal’s tomb is covered with rich brocade, and the space around it is illuminated with candles in the evenings, lending a magical feel. Non-Muslims can enter; however there are certain dress codes that are needed to be maintained, and shoes need to be removed before entering. You can also walk around the hillside graveyard behind the shrine, dotted with tombs.

Place: Sylhet

Tomb of Hazrat Golap Shah
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Gulistan, one of the busiest intersections of the city, a small, beautifully decorated shrine known as the Golap Shah Mazar, catches the eyes of pedestrians and commuters passing the area.

For thousands of followers of Golap Shah, the century-old shrine with all its serenity and spiritual ambience, is a place for praying and paying respect to the spiritual leader. But very few people know the actual history of the shrine.

Situated in Gulistan, Dhaka, this is one of the most visited mazars and anyone not having visited it, well, should.

Place: Dhaka

Tomb of Konya Shah
Adjacent to the main tomb complex of Shah Paran, found in the East of Sylhet, is another tomb visited by worshipers, which is of Konya Shah. Legend has it, that this follower of the great saints was neither man nor woman. There is a permanent exhibition of the life of this saint; contemporary paintings and pictures featured at the exhibition depict a person most likely to be a eunuch. Though the original conquerors earned a prominent role in Islamic history, main stream Islam shuns the idea of worshiping saints. A road bridge over the Surma River, a passenger ferry, and a hall of residence at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, have all been named after Shah Paran.

Place: Sylhet

Shrine of Bayazid Bostami

Residing in Chittagong, the shrine area, as a complex, consists of a tomb surrounded by a brick structure, along with an old mosque and a large pond. The whole complex is located on a hillock of Nasirabad, considered to be a holy place and attracts a large number of visitors and pilgrims daily. The tomb and the sarcophagus it houses, were originally discovered in 1831. This shrine is much different from all the aforementioned shrines; numerous myths and mysteries circulate around it.

Place: Chittagong

Relive the history for yourselves, of the five most sacred mazars in Bangladesh; hop on Tiger Travels Limited and make it a tour worth remembering. 

8 different Iftars, 1 Bangladesh

Sumaiya Tasnim

Ramadan, for Muslims around the world, is considered to be a month of forgiveness, love, and patience. As Ramadan is getting closer by the day, there seems to be an increasing anticipation of what this year’s Iftar feastings will bring forth. In Bangladesh, after a day of fasting, we do tend to go a tad bit overboard with all that food, with eight different divisions exhibiting their own unique styles of preparing Iftar.

Barisal: The diary of Sujabad
Zerin Ahmed, a sophomore in a private university, has always spent the last weeks of Ramadan at her grandparents’, an ongoing tradition that requires the entire family to come together and bond. For Iftar, following the usual khejurs, piyaju, and daal puri, they tend to eat a bowl or two of some chira and curd mixed together; it is thought to help the body with proper digestion.
Hotel Grand Park arranges Iftar with a variety of dishes, which have gained a lot of popularity over the years. Just remember to stop yourself from binging too much.

From Chittagong, with Love
Best known for their seafood delicacies, Chittagong has its own style of making Iftar. Shammi Kebab, Beef Shaslik, Chana Bhuna, Piaju, Jilapi, and the likes, are considered to be the crowd favourite, but prawn fries dipped in a spicy batter, seems to always win the race.
Chittagong Gooners, Handi, Peninsula Hotel, and several other places, organize their Iftars with delicious dishes.

Dhaka: The Heart of Bangladesh
Dhaka, the capital of our country, seems to be full of innovative ideas in preparation for Ramadan. During that period of time, people tend to look out for the different offers and discounts, which a lot of restaurants tend to give out. Places like Old Dhaka and Chawkbazar seem to start a food rage, as early as three in the afternoon during Ramadan. Many kinds of khejurs, along with numerous recipes of Haleem, are willing to create a party for your taste buds. If invited to a family gathering, jilapis, different flavours of yogurt, or even fruit juices could pose to be the perfect gift.

Delicious Khulna
Street food seems to create all the hype in Khulna, starting from the vendors who sell fried dishes like piyaju, to the ones who sell juices and fruits.
Shawarma House, Café Mariot, CityLight Café and Restaurant, are also very popular spots for Iftar feasts.

Mymensingh and You
Mymensingh, popular for the hill tracts and tourists’ spots, brings about a different side when it comes to Iftar items. Along with the other kebabs, the Gurda kebab and jaali kebab, are two of the most popular Iftar dishes.

Mangolicious Rajshahi
Rajshahi is famous for the varieties of mangos available in the region, and using them, people make mango yogurt, mango smoothies, aam makha, and the list goes on, all of which are served during Iftar time.

Rangpur and Potatoes
Potatoes always steal the show in Rangpur, when it comes to Iftar. It could be incorporated into the menu as simple fries, or as a sidekick to other dishes, but as far as potatoes are concerned, let’s just say Robin sometimes outshines Batman.

Sylhet: Not Just About Tea
Sylhet’s Iftar delicacies are almost as refined as their tea. Modina Bazaar, Ambar Khana, and other such places, provide saucy chicken lollipops, jhal aloor chop, and boot bhajha as delicious Iftar items, and of course, tea is offered as a part of post-Iftar adda!

If you happen to be a foodie who also likes to travel, then “Tiger Tours Limited” is something that you could consider; they are a small group of people from all across the world, committed to the development of sustainable tourism in Bangladesh, in order to strengthen homegrown programs for social and economic development of this young country.

On that note, here’s hoping this Ramadan will be an amazing one! Let us love and learn to empathise!

Fruit Talk

Marzan Jamia

Contrary to the ruthless summer heat, the cool and delicious bursts of flavors from seasonal fruits is what makes Bangladesh feel like it’s nothing short of being a paradise. Being a subtropical country favorable to agriculture, farmers grow all kinds of fruits, starting from Jackfruits, our national fruit, to mangoes, pineapples, litchis, watermelons, bananas, grapes, papayas, and many, many others. Now, homegrown strawberries and blueberries seem to always end up in our shopping carts when we’re out for a fruit run, as well.

The sweet and thirst quenching coconut water, mainly harvested in the floodplain of the rural landscape of the Meghna river, tends to save lives, protecting people from heat strokes, and the likes of dehydration. Geographically being riverine, Padma, Jamuna, Meghna, Titas, and all other rivers together, make Bangladesh the ultimate fruit haven, under the scorching sun of summer.

From children to grown-ups, there are very few people who might resist chomping on fruits, despite their very temping aroma. Fruits are indulged also in the form of smoothies and fancy dishes, for example, in the form of the famous mango sticky rice, originally a part of the Thai cuisine.  Speaking of mangoes, the fruit is not just enjoyed during summer but consumed all year round, and even imported to our neighboring countries.
The rainbow adornment of the fruit market is also due to local fruits such as litchi, jackfruit, and of course, watermelons, a big source of which is the Badamtoli Ghat. If the place is visited, people can see boats full of watermelons ready to make the journey to the other side of the river; it is a sight worthy of being captured and documented, as a memoir, in their travel journals.

Farming in Bangladesh is no longer limited to rural men in their loincloths, toiling for a decent meal. It’s a profession that people have grown to respect, understanding the sheer importance of it. Strawberries, which used to be only available for people who could afford to travel to a place where they were grown, are now cultivated in places like Tangail; all because much research and thought has been put into the expansion of agriculture in our country. Home grown strawberries are being imported abroad, while people in the country drool over the delicious strawberry bhortas.

These fruits are coming to us from all over the country, but unfortunately, by the time they reach us, these beautiful tales of nurturing and hard work, gets coated by a thick layer of chemicals like formalin. So, here’s an idea, why don’t you take a trip down to these scenic places and grab the fruits yourself? Before any sort of adulteration has managed to steal away its nutrients?

Through Tiger Tours Limited, unlock the beauty of Bangladesh with trips that not only promise safety, but guarantee tons of fun, and memories to be cherished for a lifetime; they promise you a perfect summer if you’re willing to find it. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ramadan and a Trip

Shunanda Sharmin Niloy

Travelling in the scorching heat of Bangladesh’s summer, that too while some of you are fasting, may not seem like an appealing idea to the bunch of you, but with the right destination, and extremely convenient transportation services provided by Tiger Tours Limited, the trip could turn out to be amazing.  Here is a list of places worth giving a shot:

Panam Nagar

The Nagar, with a mix of Eastern and European architectural influences, will bewitch you with its antique outlook. It’s a place replete with monuments, where numerous ancient buildings stand, radiating their historical aura. A visitor would be able to easily find spots on site, to rest for a few minutes without getting burned by the direct sunlight, so that’s a plus. Besides, this place is close to other great places like Sonargaon, so two birds, one stone folks.


Sonargaon has an eloquently rich share of historical monuments, in Dhaka, within its territory. One can find Boro Shordarbari, Chhoto Shordarbari, Grand Mosque, Takshal, Lokshilpo Museusm, and many more places to visit in Sonargaon. The Lokshilpo Museum has a magnificent collection of Bengali Jamdani Sarees, beautiful and traditional.

Am ample number of restaurants available in the surrounding area of the place is a cherry on top for travelers. Tiger Tours Limited also provides tour guides, well trained and helpful, in order to lead them with the lantern of a proper plan; all the more to gain.

Tara Mosque 

Stamped on the Bangladeshi 100 Taka bill, the image of Tara Mosque is something your subconscious mind notices almost every day. Built in the 19th century, the mosque has the incorporation of Chini Tikri, a Chinese broken tile pattern with blue star mosaic designs, found on the floors and walls of the mosque, giving it the name it has now. 

Make sure to be hydrated so that the heat fails to get the best of you, and also, take breaks once in a while, which shouldn’t be a problem, because with a tour guide, getting around these places becomes almost too easy. 

Escape the hustle bustle of the city, and visit these sites. With Tiger Tours Limited, the trip is hardly going to be anything but refreshing. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sweet enough?

Tim Steel

Sugar and Bangladesh have a long history

Sweet enough?

Histories of sugar, published by both historians and commercial interests, usually seem to commence with a fascinating leap of imagination.

“It is not known where sugar originated, but it is thought to have first been used in the Polynesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean over 5,000 years ago,” goes the first line of many such commentaries.
A subsequent line, phrased one way or another, however, describes that leap: “Sugar was then taken to the coastal areas of India. In 510 BCE Darius, the Persian Emperor, arrived to conquer the Indian sub-continent and found that the people used a substance from a plant to sweeten food.”

It appears from such commentary that, sometime between about 3000BCE and 500BCE, sugar was transformed into a commercial interest, sufficient to compensate, at least in part, Darius for his invasion; an early form of reparation, perhaps?

So, commentary on the history of this invaluable and still highly profitable commercial product, in passing, would appear to lend credence to those who suspect very ancient, prehistoric, connections between, especially, the east coast of the subcontinent, and international seafaring.

A connection supported by the DNA studies of “indigenous” inhabitants of northern Australia, that suggest linkages, millennia old, to the sub-continent; and that the closest relation to Australia’s famous dingo dog being the Indian dog.

The tales in the second millennium BCE, Mahabharata, of the voyages from, evidently, the lands around the Ganges delta, the lands of today’s Bangladesh, in ocean-going vessels capable of carrying hundreds, appears to further endorse possibilities of such ancient connections, and ocean-going potential.

However, there is no great, or real, evidence in archaeology of any pre-historic human habitation of Polynesia, and certainly nothing to compare with either such evidence of human habitation or domestic agricultural activity, for example, in the very fertile Ganges basin and deltaic lands, of which there is evidence of over tens of thousands of years. Nor is there any evidence of great fertile lands within the islands for the domestication of what was, presumably, originally an indigenous plant.

Which might, in itself raise other questions about the true origins of the cultivation of sugar, from some more prolific, naturally occurring, source.

Certainly, whilst extravagant claims are made for such origins, including South America, all documentary, archaeological, and empirical evidence, in fact, points to the Indian sub-continent. And given the continuing success of such cultivation in the extraordinarily fertile lands of the Ganges delta, and the agricultural cultivation that can be traced back as far as, for example, domesticated rice over 12 millennia ago, as with so many other staple crop plants, fruits, and flowers — the lands of Bangladesh would certainly have a strong claim to possible, even probable, origin.

Whilst there is evidence of sugar eventually becoming a valuable, commercial commodity in Europe, the route by which it reached that developing market is said to have been Arab incursions into the sub-continent as early as the seventh century BCE by the Achaemenid Empire.

However, since we are familiar with the interesting trades possible in the sub-continent, bringing traders from across the known world to the Ganges delta from at least the middle of that last millennium BCE, it appears far more likely that it was merchants, rather than soldiers, who spread such sweetness across a wider world, replacing honey for culinary purposes.

Following, it is said, close to a thousand years later, the seventh century CE/AD invasion of Persia by Muslim forces that created the Umayyad Caliphate, both military might and trade, widened the availability. In the ensuing century, the Caliphate spread itself across much of the Middle East, North Africa, and southern Europe; bearing, no doubt, the gift of sugar.

It may be of more than passing interest that there is substantial, and increasing evidence, from such sites in Bangladesh as Wari Bateshwar, Mahasthanghar, Egarosindhur, and even sixth century CE/AD Bhitaghar, of centres of international trade dating from that earlier period, not least silver punch mark coins, which represent clear evidence of trade, more sophisticated than that of earlier barter trade.
Much of the commentary of ancient history, these days, tends to focus on military incursion and conquest. In the light of what we increasingly know about unquestionably the earliest of the famous “Silk Road” international trade routes, especially the earliest of all, the Southern Silk Road between China and the lands of Bangladesh, we might reasonably wonder if such international trade was not carried out more in a  friendly trading fashion, along the ancient highways of seas and rivers, than through violence?

Through the Arab linkages, sugar cane and the use of sugar in the diet spread across the developing world, being taken to much of the middle East and the lands around the Mediterranean, but it may have taken a little longer to reach into countries of northern Europe.

In Britain, for example, it is believed that sugar was first introduced by crusaders returning from the “First Crusade,” at the end of the 11th century, though we may well wonder whether the Romans, who were certainly aware of its pleasing quality, or even the Vikings — famous not only for the colonisation of much of Britain from the later part of the first millennium CE/AD, but also for their trading connections as far as the Black Sea — may well, also, have enjoyed its use as an expensive substitute for honey.

The household of King Henry lll of England, we know, from court records of 1264, used sugar, and it was certainly in more general use in Britain by the early 14th century.

It was expensive, the more so because, of course, it was rapidly recognised as a source of revenue, from taxation.

Columbus is credited with carrying the crop to the Americas, having collected plants from the Balearic Islands, during a stopover in his famous voyage, for, it is thought, a flirtation with the islands’ first female governor.

There can be little doubt that the East India Company also became one of those responsible for the greater, worldwide development of the crop; transporting it across the Atlantic for faster and safer availability,  because of the increasing globalisation of, especially, seaborne conflict. As a result, its importance in their trades with the east diminished.

Today, overuse of sugar has acquired much criticism from health professionals, and there is little doubt that such criticism is, in fact, justified. The “home nations” as we might describe those, such as Bangladesh, who were not only the probable origin, but also, still, major producers and per capita consumers of cane sugar, are also sadly at the leading edge of the diabetic and other consequences of over consumption.

Those ill effects, however, were noted in other ways long ago. By 1750, production of sugar had become, for Britain, the world’s greatest trading nation, the “go-to” route to wealth for English merchants and gentry.

There were already, at that time, 120 British refining factories in the West Indies, producing 30,000 tons of refined sugar, which was heavily taxed, producing, by 1815, about £3 million in revenue, much needed for continuing to prosecute its global colonisations and maritime warfare. But its economic benefits, just as today, stretched a long way through society, including practitioners of dentistry.

In 1785, when Thomas Berdmore, formerly dentist to King George lll and author of one of Britain’s earliest works on the subject, “A treatise on the disorders and deformities of teeth and gums,” died, he instructed that his monument should note that his fortune was made by tooth drawing. His family, with a little more discretion, noted on the monument, “Who acquired a liberal and ample fortune by the profession of dentist.”

There is no doubt at all that the absence of tooth care, and the ever increasing indulgence in sugar, especially after the 1874 abolition of sugar tax by Gladstone, had, from the Middle Ages, been a major contributor to the painful condition of tooth decay for which there is evidence reaching back, now, for at least a thousand years.

And, even today, around the world, politicians wrestle, even more ineffectively than their dealing with the health effects of tobacco, to reduce a continuing consequence to health, economy, and even life, of over indulgence with such a naturally produced treat for the taste buds.

Fascinating to consider just how much the social and economic history of sugar, with its entirely possible origins in the Ganges basin, and deltaic lands have affected both today’s nation and people of Bangladesh, and like so many other naturally produced treasures of the land, including rice, cotton, jute, and even saltpetre, even its history and heritage.

There can be little doubt that sugar was amongst the traded goods from this, one of the world’s earliest centres of international trade. Not least, we either know, or suspect, because of the worldwide development of demand and the readiness throughout thousands of years of commercial organisations to exploit the benefits of such trade, to these lands, its peoples, and its rulers.

Regardless of the price to be paid by so many, from labourers in field, factories, refining plants, and shops, amongst others.

Shared from Dhaka Tribune
Link: http://www.dhakatribune.com/opinion/heritage/2016/10/29/sweet-enough/

My big fat Bangladeshi wedding

Faisal Mahmud

Bangladeshi marriages are anything but simple.

As a predominantly Muslim country, marriages in Bangladesh should have been simpler as Islamic rituals require that the burden on bride’s family be easy. But Bangladeshi marriages are anything but simple. Marriages here are known for their extravagance. A lot of money and effort are put through to organise food, decorate the venues, and sometimes, a celebrity presence to show off the affluence of the families.

Interestingly, marriages in Semitic religions such as Islam, Christianity and Judaism are basically holy bonds tightened under some holistic rituals. In these religions, marriage is probably the only ceremony where different religious functions are held at the center stage and are primary. The rest – feeding guests, cultural programmes and all other things are secondary.

From time immemorial, marriage has been considered a ‘celebration', not only for the bride and groom but also for near and dear ones. And its celebratory face, marked by rich cultural rituals and joyous programmes, somehow manage to supersede the religious spirit at times.

A typical Bangladeshi wedding is a testament to that – at least in two areas…

Bride’s price or groom’s dowry?

For long, Bangladeshi weddings have been associated with dowry, especially in the rural region. In urban areas, dowry still plays a major part only in guise of sophisticated negotiations between the two parties. Unfortunately, here the dowry is needed to be paid by the bride’s side and this custom of giving dowry is not part of Islam.

In fact, it is a practice which has never been sanctioned by Islam and is not prevalent amongst Muslims of other cultures, except for in the sub continent. It seems to be in imitation of ancient Hindu culture (as almost all sub continental Muslims are basically converted Hindus) in which daughters were not given any share in the family property, but were given payments, part of which might be in the form of household goods, as a measure of compensation. Islam however granted daughters some share in their family property and inheritance.

A 'bride-price' is either an amount of money, goods or possessions given to the bride by the bride's family at the time of her marriage, in order to attract a good husband for her. It would, in effect, become the property of the husband or his family upon his marrying her. This is a totally un-Islamic practice. In Islam, women are not 'owned' by their families and should not be 'traded with' in this manner.

Meanwhile, ‘dowry’ is not the appropriate translation of the word ‘Mahr', and this particular word has been a thing of misconception in Bangladesh. Islamic law commands a groom to give the bride a gift called a ‘Mahr’ prior to the consummation of the marriage. A Mahr differs from the standard meaning of bride price in that it is not to the family of the bride, but to the wife to keep for herself. Islamic law considers it haram for a husband, the groom's family or the bride's family to take the ‘Mahr’ of the bride without her willful decision.

Unfortunately, most of the Muslim families in Bangladesh somehow take it lightly or don’t try to understand the essence of it. In some cases, just to show affluence, a big ‘Mahr’ is fixed which is not being paid by the groom or groom’s family to the bride before the wedding.

Who’s paying for what?

Another area where a typical Bangladeshi Muslim wedding deters from an ‘Islamic wedding’, is the arrangement of programmes. In the first era of Islam, marriage was a simple affair, without pomp or ceremony. Any expenditure incurred in its performance was quite minimal, and not a burden on either family.

Nowadays, much difficulty and hardship can be caused by the enormous wedding feasts and celebrations which bring a most unreasonable financial burden on the families concerned. Financially crippling celebrations are totally in opposition to the spirit of Islam, and are not necessary.

Islamic laws and rituals said that a bride’s family doesn’t need to spend any big amount or need to arrange any stupendous programmes. As marriage is basically a sad occasion for the bride’s family, since they are giving away a family member forever, the bride’s family is exempt from financial losses.

On the other hand, groom’s family is getting a new member and they need to announce the arrival of this new member through arranging a programme and feeding their near and dear ones. That programme is called ‘Walima’, bearing the financial burden for arranging that lies onto the family of groom.

In Bangladesh however, a bride’s family usually needs to go through a series of financial burden. First, they need to spend a good amount of money when the groom’s family members first come to see the bride officially for the first time (be it an arranged marriage or a love marriage). Then the bride’s family needs to spend another big amount on the occasion of ‘engagement’ if that didn’t happen during the first visit.

Nowadays, ‘Akdt’ (the actual marriage) and the marriage ceremony (Nikah) take place in two separate programmes. Nonetheless, the ‘Akdt’ itself is another big programme and the bride’s family usually bears the financial cost of it. Then come two other programmes, ‘Gaye Holud’ and the marriage ceremony. Again, it’s the bride’s family who pays for those. Lastly, there is another programme called ‘Firani’ where the groom (after walima, groom stays at bride’s house for some days) and brides are officially taken back from the bride's house for a day or two.

The groom’s family usually arranges two programmes: one is ‘Gaye Holud’ (for the groom) and the ‘Walima'. So in a Bangladeshi Muslim wedding, the bride’s family needs to pay for six programmes, whereas the groom’s one needs to pay for two.

Shared from Dhaka Tribune
Link: http://archive.dhakatribune.com/weekend/2015/nov/05/my-big-fat-bangladeshi-wedding

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Problems new-age travelers face

Sakub Amin

In this day and age of gridlock, commotion and the constant chase for making ends meet, journeys to faraway places seem both like a luxury and a necessity. It is a getaway of the most crucial importance, for the body is tired and the soul yearns for some searching. This has given rise to the young travellers who often ignore the conventional norms of the society and embrace a lifestyle of gypsies; in other words, the rise of new-age travellers.
When thinking of traveling destinations, it’s surprising how we often overlook places in our own country. Gifted with over 700 rivers, Bangladesh is the most beautiful delta one could ever witness. Scenic natural places, mangrove forest of epic proportion, the longest sea-beach, you name it, Bangladesh has lots to offer.
Let us talk about a trip to Tanguar Haor as an example to highlight the numerous troubles travelers today might face. It is located in the Sunamganj district of Bangladesh. Haor basically means low wetland. Known for its outstanding natural beauty, migratory birds, endless horizon of panoramic view, you are bound to fall in love with this place. However, the journey is not a hassle-free experience. Travellers travelling to Tanguar Haor is bound to face some common problems. Some of the common problems are:
  1. The Journey Itself: The conventional way of travelling to Tanguar Haor is by taking a bus to Sunamganj. After that, one needs to take a bike, auto-rickshaw and reach the destination. It is a troublesome experience that is uncomfortable, especially in summer when the heat is unbearable. And then there is an issue with the quality of the buses as well. In most cases they are in abysmal state. One can always opt for the boat ride which covers the entire journey. It comes with its fair share of trouble as well which will be discussed in a while.

  1. Hygienic Food and Drinking Water: Journey is a long commitment to time and takes a toll on your body. One needs to replenish oneself to look forward to the best part of the journey. Unfortunately, journey to Tanguar Haor by bus or boat means you will be missing out on good quality food and of course, safe drinking water unless you buy the packaged ones.

  1. Sanitation: Taking a boat ride means lack of access to sanitation. Although some boats come with sanitation facilities these days, the state of the washrooms is terrible. This is a problem specially for a traveler who is willing to go to Tanguar Haor and spend a few days. A bus journey doesn’t solve this problem either.

  1. Security: Security is a big concern when travelling. Unfortunately, the situation isn’t getting any better. A bus or boat ride fails to ensure the security of the travellers.

  1. First Aid Facilities: Travelling often means unwanted injuries and at times severe ones. Lack of first aid facilities is a key problem in the journey to Tanguar Haor.

  1. Internet Connectivity: The modern day traveller stores all the records of his/her journey in social media. Photos, life events and everything else is categorized in the form of a journal in social media. Internet comes in handy in emergencies as well. Needless to say, a journey of such sort means goodbye to internet connectivity.

  1. Comfort: All these lack of facilities and more lead to an uncomfortable journey devoid of the basic necessities a traveller needs. Sure at the end of the day, you might end up in Tanguar Haor but wouldn’t it be better if it could be done without sacrificing comfort?
Thankfully, times have changed and there are comfortable ways of enjoying your visit to the magnificent Tanguar Haor. Tiger Tours Limited, a leading touring company in Bangladesh arranges state of the art overnight cruises to Tanguar Haor. Such a comfortable journey not only eliminates the drawbacks already mentioned but also adds convenience, luxury and ultimately the much needed comfort. Air conditioned spacious rooms, WiFi availability, access to delicious and hygienic food, RO and UV treated drinking water, refrigeration for preservation of food, first aid facilities, CCTV cameras all around with professionally trained staff etc. make this journey an adventure of a lifetime.
Their inherent commitment to ensuring the ultimate convenience and comfort of guests has made such a dream possible. Tiger Tours Limited earnestly believes that travelers deserve nothing but the best and nothing should deter them from the conquest of peace of mind. Wouldn’t it be amazing to enjoy the glorious sight of a million stars in the sky all in the comfort of a splendid cruise?

Friday, April 14, 2017

The spirit of Boishakh

Niloy Alam

The spirit of Boishakh
Two women dressed in Boishakhwear on a scooter in Karwan Bazar in Dhaka on April 13, 2017
Courtesy: Sushobhan Sarker

Maybe you saw the photo on Facebook today, maybe you did not.

A pair of women on a scooter – the picture speaks volumes about empowerment. The women are not riding on the backseat with their arms wrapped around their “husband/boyfriend’s” waist or on their shoulders.

The photo perhaps captures Bangladesh in its flight for the future.

A woman is driving the scooter herself. The passenger she carries perhaps feels butterflies in her stomach, perhaps they both feel a gleam of pride. Perhaps they wear a shadow of a smile as they ride on.

The scooter is not just another fuel-guzzling, environment-polluting contraption. It is an electric scooter.

Women’s empowerment and environmental awareness – these are two major issues that are among the cornerstones of discourses in Bangladesh today.

In 2017 Anno Domini, we stand on the cusp of the 1424 Bangla year, and as we bid farewell to the decaying, shrivelled husk of yesteryear, we spread our arms wide open to embrace the New Year that is perhaps a step towards freedom for all.

Shared from Dhaka Tribune
Link: http://www.dhakatribune.com/around-the-web/2017/04/13/women-scooter-spirit-boishakh/

Friday, March 24, 2017

Relive 26th March, 1971: An anecdote of the places where history was made

Nusrat Noshin

The history behind 26th March, 1971 is encrusted with stories that still give us excitement and

chills every time we are reminded of them, which just sheds light on how important this date is.

The incident starts in the year 1970, when East Pakistan finally got a fair chance in gaining

political prowess and the ability to correct the tyranny they have been facing for years. The first

ever free election of Pakistan took place where the Awami League led by Bangabandhu Sheikh

Mujibur Rahman unanimously won the election in both provinces. He was promised the prompt

transfer of power from Yahya Khan but the negotiation was later broken off due to opposition

from the Pakistani army. The party was barred from taking over the parliament.

The Ramna Race Course:

Realizing that East Pakistan could not usurp the suppression and discrimination they were

facing from the other side through fair means, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman decided to take a radical

step. On 7th March, 1971 he delivered his legendary speech at the Ramna Race Course in front

of thousands of civilians where he urged them to prepare themselves for a war; the fight for

freedom. He motivated them into thinking that it was honorable to sacrifice and die fighting as

long as it was for the independence of the country. This was his way of preparing the nation for

the biggest war to be embossed in our country’s history.

Yahya Khan and Benazir Bhutto were yet to deal with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his rapidly

growing popularity. They stayed back in Dhaka for further negotiations but soon had to leave

because of what the Pakistani army was brewing.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s well-received speech not only amalgamated the East Pakistanis as a

united nation, it also made them a force to be reckoned with. This was very bad news for West

Pakistan and hence, to stir things up the West Pakistani army planned a crackdown which was

later known to be as the infamous “Operation Searchlight”. On the evening of 25th March

Bangabandhu and the other party leaders were informed of the impending ambush from Bengali

army insiders after which all the leaders fled to Kolkata except Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Despite

heart-felt persuasions to flee with his peers, he granted them freedom and asked them to

preserve the independence of Bangladesh while saying farewell. At 10pm, the Pakistani army

commenced with the operation.

University of Dhaka:

The raid targeted many crucial places of the city like Pilkhana but one of the memorable and

tragic incidents of that night was the massacre of the students of the University of Dhaka. The

Pakistanis held a grudge against the people associated with this institution since 1952 when the

students gallantly stepped forward to disobey the section 144 rule which subsequently led to the

language movement. This made the students a crucial part in the fight for freedom.

The army broke into the halls and murdered thousands of unarmed students, along with other

civilians and intellectuals within Dhaka. Not being able to tolerate it anymore, Sheikh Mujibur

Rahman sent a wireless telegram to Chittagong and instructed the other party leaders to

proclaim independence. The message was sent at around midnight of the 25th March and

shortly after that he was arrested by the attacking army as a part of their operation.

Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra:

The Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra radio station was widely used by the Bengali Nationalists

during the war; it was first famously utilized by Major Ziaur Rahman. After the message

transmission was made by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Major Ziaur Rahman made the first

historical declaration of independence on the afternoon of 26th March. The session lasted for

around seven minutes but due to poor quality, it was broadcasted again the next evening.

26 th March is considered as the day of independence for Bangladesh because it was the day

when Bangladesh as a nation decided that she will no longer be a part of Pakistan and instead

give her people an independent land and identity. This neither meant that other countries

considered Bangladesh as free entity, nor did it indicate that Bangladesh attained free

governance, because it took the following nine months to earn full freedom from the Pakistanis.

This day simply marks the day when the fight for our liberation started.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The advertising man from Manikganj

Tim Steel

Though largely forgotten, Hiralal Sen was a trailblazer in the film industry

Manikganj, in the latter part of the 19th century, was an area of flourishing agricultural activity, of which traces still exist in some of the lavish palaces of the Zamindari of the area. Baliati and Teota palaces, amongst others, even in their semi-ruinous state today, bear testament to that affluence.

Born in 1866, in Manikganj, Hiralal Sen was the son of a successful lawyer and judge, from a zamindar family, like so many. His father’s work, eventually, took him to Calcutta. It was there that he developed a fascination with the relatively new art and technology of photography.

Such an interest, alone, together with the opportunity to indulge it offered, presumably, by his family wealth and connections, would identify him as, what we now know as “an early adopter,” ready to embrace and explore innovation in its early stages.

But it was moving film that became his true vocation following his first exposure to it in 1898. He was to go on to become, it is believed, the first maker of film for entertainment, advertising, and even political propaganda “commercials” in India, advertising, amongst other popular consumer products of the time, Jabakusum Hair Oil and Edwards Tonic.

Such, “commercials” were, just as today, aired during public showings in the developing, early cinematic world.

He might be regarded, especially, as the innovator of such film material for political propaganda purposes, influencing viewers’ political attitudes.

This was made for the Swadeshi Movement, resisting the partition of Bengal; and the film finished with the rousing slogan: “Vande Mataram!” It was aired at Calcutta Town hall in 1905.

In the international pantheon of early film makers, no doubt Sen would have had even wider recognition … not least for his turning his hand to using the medium for advertising, were it not for the fact that the entire collection of his work was accidentally destroyed by fire, a few days before his death, in 1917.

Advertising, of course, is an ancient form of communication.

My former business partner in the advertising business we founded in London, the late great Don White, president of the Creative Circle in London, and former creative director of McCann Erickson Advertising, in its heyday of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, in London, always swore, when lecturing on the history of advertising, that the earliest piece of “modern” advertising material was to be found in the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, in Asia Minor.

The material comprised footprints engraved in a pavement, leading to a bawdy house; even in my life in advertising I have seen such promotional form of the floors of supermarkets, leading to a particular product display!

Even the United States had to wait, it seems, until the 1904 advent of “Cohen’s Advertising Scheme,” for film to be used as an advertising medium, which puts Sen’s efforts right at the leading edge of advertising innovation, worldwide, in his work with film.

By the time Sen arrived in Calcutta, photography had already, certainly, become a popular passion. The chemical processes of photography arrived in India early in the 19th century, and there is no doubt that, by the time of Sen’s arrival, probably in the late 1870s, it had become a popular pastime, especially amongst the better educated and wealthier, for whom Calcutta was the main Indian social and economic honey pot of the time.

Official photography, in the early days, had become the prerogative of the British, and, even for official photographic purposes, skills were often imported from Britain.

There can, however, be no doubt that, by the time Sen decided to make his career in the art, he was already pioneering in making a living from it as a photographic specialist. Indeed, his life might well be considered that of a technical and commercial pioneer.

By the time he was first exposed to moving images, in 1898, he had already created his own flourishing photographic business.

It was in 1898, that, alongside a stage show, “The Flower of Persia,” at the Star Theatre in Calcutta, he saw a presentation of film — the moving image — by Professor Stevenson, one of the earliest protagonists of this innovative entertainment.

Recognising, immediately, the appeal of this new form of visual communication, Sen teamed up with his brother to acquire an Urban Bioscope, projector, and camera, from the Warwick Trading Company of London.

The kit had been developed, in 1897, by Walter Isaacs, for Charles Urban of the Warwick Company. It was based on patents held by the French developer George Demeny and development work in the USA.

In 1899, Sen, together with his brother Motilal Sen, formed The Royal Bioscope Company, based in Calcutta. They had immediately recognised the potential for using the small spools of film that the machine included for recording brief episodes with which to intersperse live stage performances.

It was an entirely new medium, for both entertainment, and, as Sen had immediately appreciated, for information, and an evidently compelling one. A fact that the brothers determined to exploit.

Initially, Sen, the man who managed the business, was reliant on imported film recordings to fill the theatrical spaces, but he was soon recording his own material.

Between 1901 and 1904, his material was, mostly, recordings of stage productions at the Classic Theatre, but, in 1903, he produced his longest piece, Alibaba and the Forty Thieves, based, also, on a stage presentation at the Classic.

He quickly found that the demand, for both public and private entertainment, was enormous. It was in that early period that he evidently realised, also, its potential as a medium for publicising products, services, and political beliefs.

By 1913, however, newer forms of film-making and projection were arriving on the Indian, especially the Calcutta, market, and Jamshedji Framji Madan of the Elphinstone Bioscope Company had taken from him much of his market.

His growing disappointment and financial difficulties were then compounded by the discovery that he was suffering from cancer.

Between 1900 and 1912, Sen, and two of his brothers, made 12 films, 10 documentaries, and three “commercials.”

There is little doubt that, at the leading edge of such innovation, Sen blazed a trail that others rapidly followed. There is, of course, a saying in the communications business: “Pioneers are the ones the Indians kill!”

In the case of Sen’s innovative business, it was, literally, true. The cliché was, of course, being of American origin, a reference to American Indians, but, sadly, in Sen’s case, it was both the unhealthy atmosphere of late 19th and early 20th century Calcutta, together with the unquestionable stresses of commercial and technical innovation, that combined to contrive his somewhat early demise, both physically and commercially.

But, equally, there is no doubting his early appreciation of the cultural and commercial potential of moving images, and his unquestionable skills in production.

Were it not for the loss of his archive of work, one suspects that Sen would, today, be a name that might resonate in the international world of film and television advertising, the multi-billion dollar industry that can nowadays afford to pay its most senior executives upward of $80 million a year as a reward for the endeavours of their businesses.

Sen was, perhaps, yet another of those world leaders in innovation, born in Bangladesh.

Shared from Dhaka Tribune