Sunday, December 31, 2006

Eid Mubarak & Happy New Year !!

It's Eid Ul Adha in Bangladesh. Eid Mubarak to all. I've got a goat in my toilet and a cow downstairs. This is the best Eid ever!!
Then goat starts crying if it doesnt see anyone, so i had to put it in the toilet. I've left the toilet door open so that it can see me while I try to sleep in my room.
It's the first day of 2007. Hope it goes well.

Video of Saddam Hussein being executed

I have found this video on google video. This video may not be suitable for people with weak heart.

In the video, Saddam is shown as defiant as ever on the gallow, contray to what the Iraqi government officials said. He was hanged while declaring Shahadah.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cattle-log

We bought a cow today for the Qurbani. That’s not what this blog is about. It’s about how we brought the cow from the cattle market to our house. I’ll remember this day for rest of my life. Let’s jump into the journey from cattle market to home then..

Me, my dad, Bindi, Towhid and Nuru went to cattle market this evening. We bought the cow from the cattle market of sector 6, Uttara. After we bought the cow, while we were waiting to end the formalities of the buying, the cow scared a boy and the boy dropped about 50 notes of 500 taka. They were all in the mud. We were all laughing at him, little did we know about our imminent future!

We had to cross a dual carriageway to get home. The dual carriageway is about a mile away from our house. We managed to cross the dual carriageway with some difficulties, as soon as we went on the pavement, a taxi cab beeped at the cow and the cow went erratic. It pulled all three of its strings and ran away from us. In the process it dragged Bindi to the ground. He had bruises all over his body. So I told him to go home. The cow then ran in front of a bus and got hit by the bus. Luckily the driver stopped the bus, so nothing bad happened. I was running after the cow, but as soon as I saw the bus hitting the cow I ran to save my own life! The cow jumped over a 4 feet tall barrier of the dual carriageway then started eating grass on the other side of the road. Towhid jumped across the barrier, and got hold of the cow. Then Nuru and I went to get the cow as well.

We hired another man from the cattle market to take the cow home. So it was 4 of us now-me, Towhid, Nuru and the hired guy. It was a 2 hour struggle to get the cow home for all of us. We walked about 1 mile more than the usual 1 mile just to avoid heavy traffic. We had to stop every 10 yards just to avoid the cow getting mental! We were walking down the pavement; the cow suddenly started running and hit 3 guys in front of us again. I thought we were going to get beaten up by those people! Luckily they didn’t say anything. We then had to go through the quietest of the roads possible to avoid traffic and got home eventually. Knackered, exhausted- my heart was beating @ 120 per minute.

A legalised Murder

It's Eid-Ul-Adha in UK. Eid Mubarak to all my friends and family in UK and the Arab world.

Woke up with the news of the death of Saddam Hussein. While I fully understand that Saddam Hussein deserved the punishment, I can't but stop thinking about the western leaders who had been backing him throughout his brutal rule in Iraq. They have escaped without even their names being mentioned in the court proceedings. Saddam got the punishment he deserved, but I don't think the court proceedings were fair enough. Anyway, it's not my call. I am waiting to see how the Iraqi people react to this execution.

What really surprises me is that, how Saddam kept the integrity of Iraq. The Shia, Sunni and Kurdish people all lived more or less harmoniously under his regime. Now the US led Iraqi government is failing to stabilize the country. Another thing is, most of Saddam's alleged crimes were done when Saddam was a friend of the West. Why didn't they say anything then? They only started speaking against Saddam when he started talking against the West.

One more thing I am really annoyed about is the timing of execution. US led Iraqi government hanged Saddam on the night of Eid, which is a really holy night for Muslims. The Arab and the whole Muslim world might think this as slap on their face. It's a norm not to execute anyone on the Eid day. Moreover, prisoners are served special meal on the Eid day throughout the Muslim world. I hope the Muslim world will wake up and at least speak against the trial procedure of Saddam.

Now I hope that the other western war criminals will be brought to justice for killing muslims all over the world.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tenders: the root of corruption in Bangladesh

Bangladesh was 3rd in the corrupted countries index published by Transparency International in 2006. Corruption in Bangladesh is deeply rooted in the development and administrative works undertaken by the Bangladesh government. The main incentive for the politicians to get engaged in the development of infrastructure of Bangladesh lies within the tender culture. From the student activists to the top level politicians, everyone gets a fair share of money from the administrative and development works undertaken by the government.

The other day, I was speaking to some of the government officials who have served at the Bangladesh government secretariat. One of them told me that, whenever a tender is called, the corrupted officials and the politicians keep at least 30% of the money in their own pocket. Therefore, the contractors do substandard work due to lack of fund. We see that, every year in rainy season how the holes become evident in the streets due to the lack of proper ingredients in preparation of the streets in Dhaka. Moreover, there are digging that goes on in the pavements and streets all year long for no apparent reason. The reason for these meaningless digging is actually to eyewash the public so that the contractors and accomplishes can engulf the public money.

Few days ago, I read Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s autobiography, where he stated that, once he was told by one of his ministry to do some repair work of a dam in Pakistan. He was quoted an amount which was requested to be allocated as budge for the repair work. But he got suspicious and asked army to check if the repairing was needed on the dam. The army worked on that and advised there is no need of a repair work on the dam. Musharraf then rejected the request for fund for the dam. The dam is still working properly. He later wrote on his autobiography, had he given the fund to those corrupted officials to do the repair work, the money would’ve been sucked in by them.

I think similar sort of stance should be taken by Bangladeshi leadership as well. Here is the main problem, every single government Bangladesh had had since its inception was corrupted. Year by year, this corruption has increased. There have been no check and balance, as the people who are supposed to do the check and balance are themselves corrupted. This is a vicious circle in which the Bangladesh people are in. Bangladesh needs an honest leader who can change it all. But within the current political framework of Bangladesh, no honest person can be a political leader. Even if someone wasn’t corrupted before he joined politics, he would need to be corrupted just to survive in the politics. The more I see, the more I get frustrated.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas and a Happy Wedding !!

Merry Christmas to all my celebrating folks in UK.
I went to the wedding of my mum's cousin in Mirpur, Dhaka. I haven't been to a wedding in Bangladesh in a long time, so it was a welcome experience. Had a good time with all the family members. And met some newfound family members too!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A better day for the Bangladeshis

Awami League led14-alliance have agreed to participate in the election with the current voter list. This is amazing to the people who know the Awami League style of politics. I am really surprised!! I am becoming a fan of Awami League now. They have learnt a lot since the last election! The people of Bangladesh now know that whoever rules the country is going to be corrupted, and they accept it. Awami League now also understand that people aren't so much bothered who rules the country as long as they can feel safe when they go to bed after hard work of the day. I congratulate 14-alliance for making such a wise decision. In future Awami League should learn from this lesson and avoid violent protests in the street. It will do them a world of good. People don't like hortals (strike) anymore.

Another encouraging news is, Bangladesh Bank today forecast the economy would grow 7.1 percent in the current fiscal year through June, a record projection for Bangladesh. I think this is a record amongst the third world country. At this rate Bangladesh should be a medium income country by 2015 Inshallah.

The central bank was cautious, though. Resident economic adviser to Bangladesh Bank Syed M Ahsan said such high growth is possible only if politics remain stable and uninterrupted power along with other backup facilities for agriculture are ensured.

GDP growth has been projected between 6.6 percent and 7.1 percent for fiscal 2006-07.

Growth was 6.7 percent in the last fiscal year against the central bank's projection of 6.3 percent to 6.8 per cent. This performance was solely achieved by the private entrepreneurs and the foreign remittance. (This is not a success story of BNP government, they were too busy making their own fortune while they were in power)

One thing BNP can claim credit for is the formation of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). This force was formed using the members of police and army. Although, RAB has been blamed for extra judiciary killing, they have done a lot for security in the streets of Bangladesh. In my area, Uttara, they have managed to reduce robbery significantly. And the people who were killed by RAB were all culprits, I haven't heard a good person being killed by RAB yet. Those who don't understand why RAB have been killing criminals extra judicially have to understand Bangladeshi political situation.

Every single robber, hijacker, terrorist in Bangladesh has a political link. Whenever they get arrested, their godfathers use their influence on the judiciary system to get those terrorist out of jail. This obviously frustrates the security forces who put their lives at risk to catch those terrorists. This frustration leads to the extra judiciary killing by RAB. In a corrupted political environment like Bangladesh's this is the best way to get rid of the social demons. Like I said in my previous day's blog-Extreme situation demands extreme measures.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bangladesh Voter List : Make the Army useful

Bangladesh politics has again dived in uncertainty as the 14-party alliance has refused to hand in their nominations without the correction of voter list. I have never been an ardent supporter of Awami League lead 14-party alliance. But I agree with them on this issue. Reason being, for the first time in my lifetime I have seen Awami League coming up with a constructive idea which they are not following up with street violence and hortals (strike).

The voter list of Bangladesh is largely inaccurate. It has been inaccurate since the inception of the country. The country doesn’t have an ID card system like Pakistan or India. Bangladeshi citizens aren’t issued with social security numbers either. So it’s really hard to keep count of the actual population. Moreover, 60% of the population are illiterate, which doesn’t help when it comes to census. Most of the population don’t even understand the need of a census. Some of the rural areas are always left untouched during the census.

I have never been a voter in Bangladesh; I was nearly 20 when I left Bangladesh. I know that my father never went to vote, in fact, I don’t remember anyone voting from my family or my friends from school and college.

According to the election observers, there are more than 10 million fake voters in the voter list. This information was supported by the local print and electronic media. I could see on the TV how the frustrated people on their TV interview expressing their concern after not finding their name on the voter list.

The 14-party alliance are demanding the poll reform by the correcting the voter list. The President and the Chief Adviser Prof. Iazuddin Ahmed is as confused as ever. He can’t decide whether to listen to BNP (his employer!!) or to apply some common sense and go for correcting the voter list. The election commission in Bangladesh is supposed to be independent. But this independence is ceremonial as I understand, as government seldom intervene the decision of the election commission. I think if the chief adviser wants to correct the voter list, there is still time to do it. I think this time it should be the members of Bangladesh Army who should be engaged in creating the voter list instead of the school teachers. School teachers often get influenced by the various party members when they prepare the voter list. This problem shouldn’t happen to the members of the army. Bangladesh Army is really professional and they are appreciated by the people worldwide. Bangladesh Army is the biggest contributor to the UN peacekeeping missions worldwide. If the members of the Bangladesh Army can help to bring peace worldwide, why can’t they help bringing peace in their own country?

I know some people would say that, the army shouldn’t be involved in civilian administrative activities like creating a voter list, I totally agree with them. Then again, extreme situation demands extreme measures. If we can’t use the army now, then when can we? We do not need an army to fight India; we have no chance of winning a war with India. Only reason we should have an army is to keep the stability of our country, and I think the stability of the country is at stake at the moment. Moreover it’s the most cost effective option too; the election commission won’t have to pay a single penny to the involved army personnel as opposed to the school teachers who are paid a considerable amount of money from the election budget.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Eid is on 1st January

The Eid Ul Adha will be observed on 1st January 2007 in Bangladesh. The first day of the gregorian calender is Eid!! I think the New Years Eve is going to be a bit different in Bangladesh this year. In UK the Eid Ul Adha will be observed on 30 December 2006 Inshallah.

It's the festive season in the Christian world. I have been missing the festive season as I am now in Bangladesh. I wish all my colleagues and friends in UK a very merry christmas and a very happy new year. Specially to Fai Wan who starts new job on 5th January!! All the best to you Fai! You have been an outstanding colleague at work, and it was an absolute pleasure to work with you!! New year and new job, I bet you couldn't wish for more!!!

Ferdous apu, Pervez bhai, Brishti and Farabih came to our house today. It was really nice to see them after a long time. Ferdous apu hasn't changed a bit. Still really fun to talk to.

My mum's cousin's wedding is going to take place on 25 December Inshallah. My mum's cousin came from Canada to get married here. All of my mum's cousins from Luton and Cardiff (UK) are in Dhaka now. Hoping to have a good time at the wedding Inshallah.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Where's the party yaar?

I watched "Where's the Party Yaar?"this afternoon on TV. The film is about an Indian guy who goes to USA as a student. Then he gets into all sorts of trouble including falling in love with an American born and raised Indian girl. Obviously, being a FOB (Fresh off the boat) he was prejudiced everywhere he went. In the mean time he had to leave his uncle's house as he didn't get on with his cousin who was also raised in America. The film shows the culture of the American Desis. And how someone from India tries to get on with the US culture. The whole film was shot in the USA apart from few minutes at the beginning. Most of the crew were American born South-Asians so the film had a flavour of originality. The whole film was in English. I think the film had a very good touch of reality which matched my personal experience in UK to some extent.

I would ask all the students who are planning to go to a western country from South-Asian countries to watch the movie. The quality of the movies isn't all that good, but the message within the movie will be helpful for the people who are planning to study in a western country. It will help them to have an idea of who would be your friend and who wouldn't.

From my own experience, I have always found the 'White' colleagues more helpful and friendly than my 'British-Desi' colleagues. But having said that, I was blessed with some wonderful friends who were born and raised in UK, who had accepted me cordially at the Uni. Namely Junaid, Amir, Mohib and Ibrar. They never treated me as a FOB but they treated me as a true friend. But I don't think everyone gets that lucky, though. So I would ask all the students who are going to a western country from a South-Asian country to be friends with fellow international students and the 'White' students (it's positive discrimination) and keep away from South-Asian students who are born and raised in the west until you can find friends like the friends I had.

I also watched Ice Age and Ice Age: The Meltdown in the evening. I don't think the movies were fantastic. Just average animation films. Shrek is still topping my list of favourite animation movies.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A journey by Rickshaw

picture of rickshawToday I went to Dhaka University to meet my friend Miraz Ahmed. With him, I decided to go to Old Dhaka by rickshaw.

It didn’t take long to get to Old Dhaka. We first went to Agamasi Lane and got caught up in huge rickshaw traffic. The traffic was literally static so we had to leave the rickshaw and take a walk to through the lanes of Old Dhaka.

Now let me describe Old Dhaka. The widths of roads have been same for last 200 years, but the population of Old Dhaka have increased tenfold. Therefore, there is always a traffic chaos. Rickshaws are the only means of travelling through the narrow roads there. No traffic lights, no signal, no presence of traffic law. Everyone tries to squeeze through the lanes however they can.

We first went to Bongshal, then went to Nababpur Road. We decided to taste Falooda at the Star Hotel. It was delicious. We then walked around Old Dhaka for an hour. To me, the Old Dhaka looked like a filthy place. Rubbishes were scattered everywhere, non-existence of sidewalk, narrow roads and very old buildings that are nearly falling apart. I know that, Dhaka is in the middle of an earthquake zone, which means that a large scale earthquake may occur in near future. I am really concerned about the inhabitants of the old houses in Old Dhaka. I don’t think those houses will be able to take the toll of the earthquake.

After finishing the visit of Old Dhaka, we went to Dhaka New Market. Bought couple of T-shirts from there and then went to Bashundhara City. I spent an hour there. We went to Farmgate afterwards where Miraz had few things to do. We then took the Bus home. It was a pretty interesting day for me.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Match(es)

 Me at the MatchMe and Towhid went to watch cricket match between Bangladesh V. Zimbabwe at Mirpur Shere-E-Bangla stadium today. Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe by 3 wickets as usual. I was disappointed at the performance of the Bangladeshi top order batsmen, though.

In the evening watched the Manchester derby between Man U and Man City. Man U won 3-1. I was still disappointed at the United’s performance. City only lost because of their poor defending.

After watching the game, I managed to catch the move ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ on Star Movies. The movie was good. Like the lips of AJ.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tickets !!

Bought tickets for Bangladesh V. Zimbabwe 5th One Day International Cricket match yesterday. After that went to Baridhara, then went to Dhanmondi. Me, Rajib, Rana, Salim and Sabbir were there. Went to Gulshan today. Just did some window shopping with Sabbir, Salim and Rana. Looking forward to the ODI cricket match tomorrow. Me and Towhid are going to watch the match Inshallah.

How to convert .docx without MS Office 2007

Suppose, your client just emailed a Microsoft Word 2007 document ending with a .docx extension but you have no clue about how to open and print the file or convert from docx to .doc and other text formats. No worries, here are some very simple solutions on handling .docx file when you don't have Microsoft Office Word 2007.

The .docx files, which are now the default file extension in Microsoft Word 2007, are essentially a bunch of zipped XML documents - you can even rename the file extension from .docx to .zip and then extract the file contents using Winzip or some other decompression tools
.

In order to convert .docx documents to .doc format, just download the free Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack from here. This will help you open, print, edit and save .docx files in Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003.

And if you are on Mac, you can get the Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac here - this converts .docx to .rtf (rich text format) files which can be viewed in Office for Mac and other Mac word processors. It is also possible to open and edit a .docx file in OpenOffice or StarOffice using the free Open XML Translator from SourceForge which converts .docx Word documents to .odf and vice versa.

The Word 2007 .docx format is currently not supported by GMail Word viewer or Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

DITF 2006

Went to Dhaka International Trade Fair 2006 with Sabbir, Rajib and Salim. It was quite a hectic day. DITF 2006 is a huge initiative by Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau which is held in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka. Lot of foreign and local companies took part in the fair. The facilities in the fair was okay. I think there are still scopes for improvement to reduce the dust level in the fair. Also the Entry, exit, toilets and the mosque should be signposted in a better way. It was a good experience overall.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bad day for English Cricket, good day for Bangladesh cricket

England have lost the second Ashes test in adelaide. The way they lost the match hurts me a lot. For first two days of the test England was hoping to win, then when they couldn't get OZs out in the first innings, they were hoping to manage at least a draw. But a collapse in the 2nd innings saw them lose the test. I know that Trescothik and Vaughan are out of team but still this kind of demoralising loss will not help England keeping the Ashes. Now,I don't think England have a chance to keep Ashes this year. Apart from Bell and Pietersen, most of the English batsmen are playing carelessly, and the bowlers can't bowl at all. Hoggard isn't the best of the pace bowlers, Harmison forgot how to bowl, Giles can't spin so Flintoff is taking most of the pressure with the ball. I think Panesar should be included in the team, Giles has never been a test standard bowler. Even Bangladeshi first class tournaments have better bowler than him.

On the other hand, Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe again today to take the series 3-0. It's a 5 match series and next two games are going to be played in Mirpur, Dhaka. I am hoping to go to one of those matches Inshallah.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Few more movies, few more games..

Last few days have been monotonous to say the least. I spent the days just watching movies and cricket on TV thanks to our beloved polititians of Bangladesh. The two day long blockade has been called off, so I am hoping for a more eventful day tomorrow Inshallah.

I watched few movies along with Ashes and Bangladesh V. Zimbabwe cricket series over last few days.

I watched nearly all of the James Bond movies ever produced. I also watched Alexander. Thought the movie was
bullshit. I also bought all of 4 Harry Potter movies, and tried to watch them all.