Thursday, September 20, 2007

Butter (huh?)

Dhaka (and presumably the rest of Bangladesh) has seen a shortage of butter for a few weeks. Neither domestic nor foreign butter is available in the stores.

So I had a chuckle when I saw this.

Dow seems to be doing fine, thank you. No, wait, it was that market crash in August that caused our butter production to stop. Err, no, our butter stopped and then the crash came. Which came first, the butter or the S&P? Quick, someone write a research paper. :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Ramzan

Once more we arrive at Ramzan, the Muslim month of fasting. I immediately notice a shift in the rhythm of daily life. In the mornings things are languid, even relaxed. Many people sleep in a little, after having woken at 4am for their early morning meal, Sehri, before starting their fast. At offices, even the hardest workers glaze over occasionally. Energy levels reach their lowest in the early afternoon, when eyelids start drooping and minds start wandering towards visions of food and drinks. Then, about two hours before Iftar (breaking fast), things pick up again. Half the people in the city start thinking, "Can I get home in time for Iftar?" The roads start jamming up. Horns start blaring. Worst of all, people start losing tempers if anything gets between them and their Iftar waiting at home.

At a street corner on my commute, I see a normally placid policeman suddenly lose his cool at a bicyclist going the wrong way. He yanks the handlebar - from which dangles a bag of precious Iftar - and yells at the bicyclist. "Can't you see the jam? Why are you going the wrong way?" The bicyclist remains nonchalant - and picks up as soon as the cop's attention is diverted by an errant CNG.

I also realize the preciousness of life and the importance of little things that we ought to be grateful for, every day. From my fan-cooled office, I look out at the workers who have to toil in the sun and still fast. A bottle of water on my table beckons at me as I realize what an immense gift it really is.

For me Ramzan is the hardest month of the year, not just because of the physical hardships, but also because it forces me to change gears in my life, to contemplate all that is alive, and to appreciate our Creator's bounties. But for the same reasons, it is also the most rewarding.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Interesting Pair of Trees

Here is an interesting pair. The banyan appears to have wrapped itself around the palm, which was there first (or so I am told.)

Congratulations Tigers...

On your victory over West Indies. You make us proud.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I have started exploring Bashundhara (the housing project, not the Mall!) and am getting to like parts of it. For those who don't know, it is a large suburb on the Northeastern edge of Dhaka. Much of this land has been filled in with sand from river beds. The outer reaches of this area are beautiful. There is controversy surrounding the manner in which land was acquired for this project.

Here are some pictures.

Kaash flowers bloom in the eastern edges of the tract.

Boy at Aamdia village on the southeastern part of Bashundhara.

Fisherman returning from morning's work.

Sentry post.

Boatman at Northern edge of Bashundhara, to take people to Khilkhet.

Twin sons of a Bashundhara employee.

Fishing net waiting to be cast.

Looking East towards Kathaldia village (more on Kathaldia - an island - later.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Inching Towards the Middle?

The Economist has a handy Pocket World in Figures on their website, which shows the relative rankings of countries on various parameters ie, "Top and Bottom of the World."

In the 70s and 80s, Bangladesh was in constant competition with Burkina-Faso (then known as Upper Volta), Chad, Ethiopia, Mayanmar, etc for the bottommost position of various country-rankings. Over the years, things have certainly improved. In the Economist lists, for example, we managed to stay out of the bottom 17 lowest doctor-population ratio, the lowest 25 life-expectancy, and the highest 20 cigarette-smoking countries. Nor are we in the top 40 biggest current account deficit nations (whether that is good or not I cannot say, since the Americans seem to do very well with lots of deficit :-) )

But population hurts. We are #7 in the world, between Pakistan at 6 and Russia at 8. Worse, our projected population growth (93 million between 2004-2050 ouch ouch) is at #8, between Ethiopia at 7 and China (!) at 9. So in the next 4 decades we will add more people than China? Sheesh.

Interestingy, Russia is rated as the country whose population will decline most (by 30 million) by 2050 - and I am sure they need more people - so maybe we can trade, heh heh :-)

Seriously, not a bad showing at all, and a strong testament to the hard work of Bangladeshis, their development visionaries and their entrepreneurs. To be sure, there is a long way to go, but we are headed in the right direction.