Thursday, November 24, 2011

Critical Mass 3 Bicycle Ride

Riders of all sizes came, small ones...

...and big ones...

...some were excited...

... while others enjoyed the winter sunshine...

There were athletic riders...

... and relaxed ones...

... and others who needed no hand!

Expats joined in, including Australians...

... and this American girl who traveled in style...

Of course the local girl had her own style... the victory sign ruled the day...

... and while Dhak and Dhol played...

... the boys found time for dancing a quick jig...

So with thanks to all the organizers ...

... I say to the the riders who joined in the fun...

... until the next time my friends, ride safely!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Critical Mass #3

The third critical mass bicycle ride is tomorrow (25 Nov). There is a meetup at 7am at Gulshan 2 circle and the actual ride is from Manik Mia Ave in front of Parliament at 8am.

Should be fun and not too strenous!

Just to set expectations about timing... For CM #2, I could not find the Gulshan group at 7am and so rode by myself to Manik Mia Avenue. The group there did not start until about 9:30 (even though it was scheduled for 8 am I think.)

Lots of time to hang around and make friends. It was fun anyways.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hay You!

There, now that I have your attention...

Two attractions for the Dhaka Hay festival tomorrow, Nov 21st:

a) Commonwealth Prize winning writer Tahmima Anam's second novel A Good Muslim will be launched in Bangladesh, published by Prothoma. She will be signing the books at 11:30 am tomorrow at British Council.

b) Writer's Block, a group of talented Bangladeshi writers, will launch What The Ink?, an anthology of shorts, extracts and poems. Writers are: Awrup Sanyal, Farah Ghuznavi, Saad Z Hussain, Munize Manzur, Masud Khan Shujon, Iffat Nawaz, Samir A Rahman, Lori Simpson, M K Aaref, Sabrina F Ahmad, Saadaf S Siddiqi, Srabonti N Ali, Sal Imam, Tisa Muhaddes and Shazia Omar.

Congratulations to all for their accomplishments!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hay Festival

The Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts is coming to Dhaka on 21 November. It is a one day program "bringing together writers and thinkers from Bangladesh and Britain to share stories and ideas in the spirit of Rabindranath Tagore in this his 150th anniversary year." Lots of luminaries will be taking part. More details at the festival website.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Here is a Bangladeshi writer who is active in the international fiction scene. Farah Ghuznavi's short stories have appeared in two consecutive volumes of Curbside Splendor, a literary magazine from Chicago.

Digging deeper, I discover that Ms. Ghuznavi's stories have also appeared in several other anthologies including "Woman's Work: Short Stories" (USA), "The Rainbow Feast" (Singapore) and "Journeys"(UK). Another short story recently won a "Highly Commended" honor in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition.

I think of Ms. Ghuznavi as the writer of "Food for Thought", the long-running column in the Star magazine (The Daily Star.) While she still writes that, Ms. Ghuznavi is now focused on writing fiction and thinks of herself primarily as a fiction writer.

The transition came about in 2005, when she was enraged upon reading about the abuse of a maid in a well-off home. She thought about writing a column attacking such abuses but realized it would not be effective in reaching those she wanted to target. So, on the advice of her editor (the inimitable Aasha Ameen), she decided to write a story, her first. It was about a young girl who comes to work in a home in the city. The poignant, powerful story is here.

This opened the floodgates of her story-writing, many based on her experiences as a development worker, and she has never looked back.

Curbside Splendor is available from the publisher and also from Amazon, both in paper and Kindle form. The publisher has a special offer on the two volumes in which Ms. Ghuznavi's stories are featured. Go get them while they last!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Touring Old Dhaka

During Eid, Dhaka's streets empty out as people head home to their village for Eid. So it is a good time to explore Dhaka without the traffic madness.

I have a route that I often follow when friends and relatives ask me to take them on a tour of old Dhaka. This route takes 3-4 hours and covers several highlights. Note that you should call ahead to find the timing of gated places, such as Lalbagh or the Church.

Anyways... the route is described in my Tangents column today.

If you have a car, you can get dropped off in front of the Court and get picked up in front of Dhakeswari Temple at the end of your tour.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Critical Mass Bicycle Ride

I went for the second Critical Mass ride last Friday. There were over 200 bicyclists! The ride started from the Parliament Building and went towards Dhanmandi where a group photo was taken at the Amphitheatre near the Road 8 bridge. Then we rode towards Panthopath, in front of Sonargaon hotel, and towards Tejgaon Industrial area, all the way to Gulshan 1 and 2. At Gulshan 2, it turned left and headed back towards the Parliament building.

It was great fun. Unfortunately I did not have a camera. But here is a video that someone posted on YouTube (Hat Tip: Anwar)

A few weeks ago, I was out bicycling during a hartal. I ran into a group of bicyclists in front of the National Museum and rode with them to Shahid Minar. Here are some photos from that day (this is much smaller than the Critical Mass ride):

There is an active and thriving recreational bicycling community in Dhaka. I know of at least two clubs, Royal Bengal Riders and BDCyclists, who organize rides on weekends. Some rides are short, others are longer and tougher. Both groups have Facebook pages where you can get more information.