05 September 2007

Big change to a blank

Well, so I’m back in Bangladesh and have a bit less work today, so I though I’d dedicate some of the newly found spare time (not to facebook for once!) to updating this blog. I have changed theme to my philosophic corner (more like a circle as I’m bound to travel around and around!) instead of ‘only’ exploring the realms of my interpretations of Bangladeshi Culture (though of course I will still scribble down some words on Desh as the year passes by!)

Now off to business:

Have you ever starred at an empty screen and got shit scared? Not scared from how much work one has to do, but the infinite (at least to the very last realms of the human minds). A blank page is the future. Our future. Nothing has ever happened or taken place without some one somewhere having started off with a piece of empty paper or surface.

So regardless of whether we choose to chip on walls or write poems, draw, write books, formulate law and constitutions it all started somewhere. Shakespeare, Picasso, mothers and fathers, 4 year olds in kindergarten all have begun with this magic of creating something out of nothing. So to me the finest of arts is that of an empty page. It represents everything and nothing at the same time, and reminds us all of that which has not yet been created.

So welcome to my blank page!

09 May 2007

In a "minute."

A Bangladeshi minute has just passed. In the past few days some significant things have happened. Nobel laureate Dr. Yunus has given up on the idea of launching a political party, there have been some blasts on three main railway stations through out Bangladesh, a good friend has left Bangladesh, my stepfather has left Bangladesh and will return in late august, Sheikh Hassina (a former prime minister and leader of the political party the Awami League) has come back to the country after having lived in “exile” during the past months, the Care Taker Government is declining in popularity (although they are doing many good and necessary things), and a new set of rules has been declared issuing that industries (pending on area) will have separate weekly holidays (so some areas have holiday on Friday as normal, whilst others have holiday on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Monday etc – this in order to save on electricity)…so many things that have happened in such a short amount of time that if it would have been any other country it would have flooded the media (apart from that my friend and stepfather left Dhaka of course. Not even a foreign press would have paid attention to that!). Here all these things seem as completely normal. In many places this is a rather obvious philosophical statement, but in Bangladesh it is literally true that: what happened yesterday should not be taken for granted today.

I am in my office and have just finished off an afternoon coffee break. It has been killer hot during the past weeks. 38 degrees in the shade and 100% humidity. Sweaty.

Otherwise I am only up to my old tricks. Lot’s of work this summer. I may have some vacation in August and will then plan a small ‘Sweden trip.’


02 May 2007

Traffic Complaints

11 general rules apply when cruising down the river of cars in Dhaka and Bangladesh.

  1. Sound your horn and flash the head light as many times as necessary in order to make people aware (or rather not to forget) of your presence.
  2. Incase you have headed the wrong way and need to turn, feel free to do so any where on the road. Just make sure that you block up the entire road in order to avoid any unnecessary bumping of cars.
  3. When you are in a hurry (or not) make as many takeovers as possible. Your passengers may be impatient. IMPORTANT!: Takeovers should only be performed when cars in the opposite direction are heading right for you. If they refuse to get out of your way use the head light as many times as necessary.
  4. Use breaks only when an accident is immanent.
  5. You have the right of way if and when you assume that a fellow car will have time to break and stop for you.
  6. To hit pedestrians is a viable and recommended alternative, as cars and rickshaws may result in bumps in you precious metal.
  7. Don’t care about cars behind you, keep your focus on the cars ahead.
  8. When you are gracious enough to allow someone to overtake you, roll down your window, wave with one finger (index finger recommended) as to indicate “you may pass.”
  9. When making a turn you have to plan ahead. For a right turn, stay as far in the left lane as possible. Do the opposite when turning left: stay in the right lane.
  10. When all else fails, put your hand and arm out the window (for a more lasting effect have you fellow passengers do the same) and nonchalantly indicate as to what you want (stop, turn etc.)
  11. If you choose to neglect these rules, that is fine. Most things change over night, but one rule is constant: Don’t care about anyone or anything, as long as you reach (or die trying) your destination.

Best of luck!


24 April 2007


Have you ever heard of a ‘North-Western’? And no I do not mean the region in the north where it is far to cold to live but people seem to enjoy it anyways. In Bangladesh it is now the north-western season. This means that out of literally nowhere a storm (coming from south east) over takes the land. In a matter of minutes a clear blue sky turns black, and as if some supernatural force has turned on a tap the rain pours down. It is not unlikely that hail the size of golf balls come with it. 10 minutes later the whole thing is over and one stands wondering what the hell just happened.

Well that happened two days ago during our visit to Pink City. We went into the building under a clear sky and 20 minutes later when we had seen about all the bling bling we could take we went out and found ‘the day after tomorrow’ type of scenario. May be that is why I lived in the belief all yesterday that it was Tuesday. And Tuesday means one thing: social tennis at the Nordic club. (Social tennis is when no one can book the tennis court, and it is open for all adults to play one doubles match at a time…complicated to explain but never the less fun).

As I left the office to head to the tennis court I saw that the sky was becoming more and more black. But I decided to challenge fate and run to the tennis court anyways. As I reached the court my friends told me that though my tennis ambitions were high I was out of luck with regards to my sanity: it was Monday and not Tuesday. But they let me play with them, and we all were rather foolish to play when this monster storm was developing right over our heads (one could actually see clouds emerging right over us). And when lightning strikes one does not want to be caught in a serve with the tennis racket pointing towards the sky. 10 minutes later there was no mercy and the skies opened up. We gave up on the tennis and I had a beer with a another friend instead.

It is frightening to realize that when it gets to Mother Nature, we are after all, rather small.


23 April 2007

Pink City in a Watery World

So not only to I mistreat everyone I know with lack in contact, but I seem to abuse this blog as a gateway of communication as well! At least I am consistent.

Bangladesh remains a rather dry place. Yesterday was the fist day in a long time that it rained. The problem now is that the government has been rather slow at rinsing the sewers, so when the water comes (and trust me it is in huge amounts) the water cannot run off anywhere and hence the streets become rivers.

Speaking of rivers, Bangladesh is most known as the land of a thousand rivers (isn’t it incredible that every country is the land of a thousand something). The Falkland islands must for example be the only place which is the land of a thousand people! Anyways, these thousand rivers mainly originate from Nepal and flow through India to form the Bengal delta. Sometime ago India decided to build huge dams for irrigation purposes and hydraulic power. Now this means that when it is dry season India they close the dams to save water making Bangladesh a very dry place (maybe an overstatement but never the less true). During the heavy rains the opposite occurs. India unleashes its waters and Bangladesh stands flooded (regardless of how well they have rinsed the sewers!). Perhaps it is time to invest in a life raft to keep on top of the roof... (Sorry I know that to speak of ‘India’ and ‘Bangladesh’ as singular entities serves huge injustice to the two countries. Please forgive my generalization to illustrate this point of water troubles.)

I was out with one of my friends last Sunday afternoon and we had coffee at ‘coffee world’ and then went to a shopping mall called Pink City. These coffee places that are popping out of the ground are both nice and frightening. In one way it is nice that you can (as is part of the checklist of what busy people do) go somewhere to grab a cup of “coffee to go.” But then again I have never done that…ever! (well maybe apart from that one time when I had an espresso at Nesta in Malmo). Maybe it is a sign of how much of a non-busy person I am. Café ‘Mango’ is by far the best place to spend a lazy afternoon in Dhaka. Though mangos are no where to be found on the menu, it tells you to keep your private acts to oneself. What they mean with this is that there are so few places in Dhaka where couples in love can go and taste one anothers tongues. So the couples find their ways to a park somewhere, or to a corner in a café. Cute if you ask me. And somehow, this place has become the hotspot for making out (thus the management advices people to keep acts to oneself). But if private acts are to be kept to oneself, and kissing usually involves two or more people: how does one keep that to oneself? Grandiose questions!

Yet another question that arises is, how on earth can one name a shopping complex ‘pink city’?! Especially when the only thing resembling pink are the plastic coverings on the glass entrance doors. But shopping wise it’s quite ok. One can for example find a small wedding statue where it says happy birthday. Why not combine 2 in 1?

Ok! That’s all from a very humid Dhaka today!


PS. No offence to the 3,105 people who live on Islas Malvinas who may by accident(?) surf in on this page.

15 November 2006

A Long Grudge

Bangladesh is a parliamentary based democracy, run by the Prime Minister’s office and a President as Head of State. The President and Speaker of Parliament is appointed by parliament.

This half year is an election period. 6 months before a general election is held the sitting ruling party [alliance] steps down and a neutral non-partisan Care Taker Government (CTG) steps in and runs the country until a new government is elected and constituted. The person who becomes acting Prime Minister (titled Chief Advisor to the Caretaker Government) for the interim government is the country’s Chief Justice to the Supreme Court, and this person in turn appoints 10 additional Advisors. This process is provided in the constitution of the People’s Republic and in all fairness looks very good on paper. So far so good.

But that’s where the rout to ‘so far so good’ ends, and a new highway with many detours and speed bumps begin. At present there is a political deadlock in the country and the entire nation is at a standstill. Bangladesh has two main parties, the former ruling party Bangladesh National Party (BNP), and the former opposition party the Awami League (AL). Because of a conflict between the two parties (far to complex to explain in this little blog) that traces back many many many many years the two parties are each other’s sworn mortal enemies (literally).

The only thing the BNP and AL have agreed on is to disagree. But even if this agreement is constant, every time a disagreement occurs both parties seem equally surprised and without further dialogue take their business to the streets. In western classics and few other cliché movies two pissed off people look into one another’s eyes and say ‘I’ll meet you outside.’ The two of them go outside and do –what ever it is they do- and business is settled. Now imagine that Clint Eastwood and Kris Kristofferson say “I’ll meet you outside.” Then imagine that the two of them go home and the rest of the bar goes out and fight. Then imagine that Clint Eastwood and Kris Kristofferson were not at all in the bar (in fact they have not met in over ten years), and only communicated through articles in the press. Now imagine that the people who go out and fight are not thirty drunken people, but over millions (of non-drunken) people combating each other over grudges dating back far too many years.

To be continued...

30 October 2006

The Bangladeshi Minute

People speak of a New York Minute, which defined by Dictionary.com as: An extremely short period of time. But seemingly, no one has ever heard of a Bangladeshi Minute. A minute in Bangladesh is not a minute which conforms to our general idea of a clock. It would be more correct to compare this magic minute with the Bermuda Triangle than with GMT set standards. Things, events and time somehow float, drift and fly into an inexplicable (X-file like) phenomenon – and when you least expect it –floats back out (or it infinitely drifts in no-man’s-land). Now that can happen at such a high speed that a New York Minute [converted] is a Bangladeshi Second. The reverse is however also possible, where a New York Minute feels like a Bangladeshi hour.

At points Bangladesh has this breathtaking ability to find positive solutions to negative problems. And at the same time it also holds [in lack of a better word] a talent for having negative solutions for positive problems. And most importantly [perhaps a bit too philosophical]: sometimes the solution is the problem and the problem is the solution.

Main purpose of this blog:
  1. Give my friends and family who I constantly mistreat by never being able to keep in touch, an opportunity to glimpse into my world and for me to get a glimpse into theirs.
  2. To raise awareness about a country, to whom the international community’s attention for, is limited to cyclones, floods, poverty and over population. –When there is so much more of both “good” and “bad” – and hey, name one country which does not have either of these.
  3. To discuss with readers the problematique of “under development” and “over development.”
  4. Being able to ventilate my thoughts without representing anything or anyone but myself.
If you have no clue as to what I wrote before the four points above, all I can say is that I am struggling with that idea myself! Which is why I will explain myself more thoroughly in my next entry, when we will enter into the wilderness of the Bangladeshi Minute and Problem Solving Techniques.

Welcome to this humble blog of mine.