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Views from the Balcony

An overview of life around us

First Day of spring brings color in life
Posted:Feb 16, 2018 10:05 pm
Last Updated:Feb 17, 2018 8:42 pm
The day when we mingle with nature!

It is spring time now here in my country.

The people of Bangladesh have since welcomed this year “Pahela Falgun”, the first day of the spring according to Bengali Calendar, clad in brightly colored (mostly yellow, orange and red) dresses on February 13, 2018 last.
Thousands of young men and women had started gathering in the festival places from the morning and celebrated the day singing songs, reciting poems and dancing.

Falgun is the eleventh month in the Bengali calendar (First day of the month usually falls on Feb 13 of the Gregorian calendar).

We have six seasons in this part of the world. Among them, spring is considered as the king when birds start to sing and dance in the warm sunshine, colorful flowers bloom in the gardens and in the wild, and nature takes a new look throughout the country.

Spring lasts here until middle of April.

Appended are some photos of young men and women, boys and girls, dressed in mostly yellow and red, some of them also adorned themselves with spring flowers such as Shimul, Polash and Marigold for welcoming the day.

Photos of wild spring flowers are also posted for the viewers to see and enjoy.

Sources: The Daily Star and The Daily Sun

Artwork of a girl child in her early teens!
Posted:Feb 12, 2018 4:58 am
Last Updated:Feb 15, 2018 6:15 am
When she was born, little could I imagine that God has send another girl child to our family with an inborn capacity to draw or almost reproduce anything that she could imagine or view from time to time on a piece of paper when she was passing joyfully the fourth year of her life with us and was growing up.

It never occurred to me that my eldest grand daughter would be a born Artist like her aunt whose framed paintings she viewed hanging on the walls of our house where she lived with her parent during this period of time.

My daughter did not like to be a professional artist. In stead, she preferred to study architecture in an Engineering University of repute and became a professional architect! However, her paintings could still be seen hanging on the walls of our house along with the artworks of her little niece who is now in her early teens!

I take this opportunity to upload here on my blog page one photo of my grand daughter’s recent paintings for you to view and comment. You may feel free to let me know your views on the painting that could be either positive or negative! I shall be happy to read your comments!
Thanking you in anticipation!

1. Street scene

The Container House
Posted:Feb 5, 2018 9:26 am
Last Updated:Feb 13, 2018 10:18 pm
Just look at the photo of the colorful structure posted below (Photo # 1).

Could anyone please imagine why this structure has been built and why each of the compartments of the structure looks like a shipping Container?

Could the structure be a temporary home where the owner could visit to spend times during holidays or the weekends with the members of his family, friends and relatives to pass time? Could it be used for a permanent home?

It is needless to say that the structure is not a high rise building. It could not be more than three storied tall. However, the structure has enough space inside and around the house.

The three storied structure is located in a residential housing society in the city of Dhaka- still a hidden secret from the prying eyes of Dhakaites!

Here below is an extract from the article written by Supriti Sarker, and published in a local English News paper, that tells us in detail about a house which stands majestically in a city that has now transformed into a concrete Jungle:

Quote... One step onto the plot, and a sense of calm and stillness sets upon you just as the architects intended. Past the entrance, the first sight to befall your eyes is the harmony between the greenery and large open spaces within the structure. As I breathe in the serenity, and walk towards the front of the house, a juvenile almond tree at the atrium welcomes me, adorned with floating Mason jar candles. A wire mesh screen with aluminum pergolas covers the top of the tree. Hints of green vines were steadily growing to cover the mesh and protect the sapling for many summers to come; this young tree resides in the central triple height of the house, beckoning in fresh air for ventilation.
The front lawn made me nostalgic. All you see is green, the perfect place for children to run around, riding their bicycles, while the elders sit in the gazebo, sipping tea, sharing a laugh while watching over the little ones.
The staircase that sweeps upwards surrounds the tree, never barring its presence as one walks to and fro between the floors, from one container room to the other, that are secured on steel column-beam structures.
Every room on every floor stays true to the theme of relaxation and tranquility with large windows, beckoning in natural light and the neutral colours of the furniture and interior to complement one another. Materials for the walls, floors and stairs comes from abandoned wooden decks used in ships, and interestingly enough, the architects chose to preserve that ‘rustic’ feel rather than mask it…Unquote

Supriti Sarkar has concluded his article as follows:

Quote….Although at a glance this is a container house, it does create a space around itself; one of a kind home, that exudes rural vibes onto a modern structure.” Escape Den” is the weekend getaway within Dhaka, without the inconvenience of traveling miles away from urban life…Unquote

Yes, ‘Escape Den’ is the name of the container House.

Source: Supriti Sarkar,The Daily Star.
Photo Credit: Hasan Saifuddin Chandan

A festival of Kites, Lights and Fireworks!
Posted:Feb 3, 2018 9:04 am
Last Updated:Feb 6, 2018 6:52 pm
Shakrain Festival

When writing something about ‘Shakrain Festival’ celebrated annually by the residents living in a certain part of the city of Dhaka, I feel like traveling back to my boyhood days when I was simply addicted to flying Kites like my friends during the two months of winter from the rooftop of our two storied building located at my home town which is 76 miles or 123 kilometers (Crow Fly) away from Dhaka.

But “Shakrain Festival” though relates to kite flying; it is some what different than the normal thing and is celebrated mostly by the inhabitants of the oldest part of the city of Dhaka.

It is a day of flying kites, mostly in the afternoon by the Kids, Boys and girls, young men and women, and sometimes joined by grown ups too. In the evening, fireworks lights up the sky of the southern part of Dhaka city (old Dhaka) followed by shows of manipulating fire by the Flame –Eaters who gathers on the roof tops of houses to show their skills!

The festival is an annual celebration held with much fun and festivities on the last day of the Bengali month of “Poush” (9th month of Bengali Calendar and January 14 or 15 of Gregorian calendar) in old Dhaka--the congested part of my city!
It has become now an important yearly cultural event celebrated by all the inhabitants of old Dhaka irrespective of faiths they practice.

The festival day is also known as “Poush Sangkranti”. We as well as the people of India and Nepal call the day as “Makar Sangkranti”.

The tropic of Capricorn is known as “Makar” in this part of the world.

It may also be mentioned here that the word “Sangkranti” denotes movement of the sun from one zodiac signs to another.
It is believed that on this day, the sun moves towards its southward journey at the Tropic of Capricorn and starts moving towards the Tropic of Cancer.

The festival is significant to the Dhakaites as the day marks a major change in the solar system! It is believed that day and night on this day is equally long! After “Sangkranti”, the days become longer than the nights. In other words nights become shorter.

So what happened in oldest part of Dhaka on this particular day of the year 2018?

As mentioned somewhere in the foregoing, aside from kite flying by young and old, boys and girls, and men and women during the day but mostly during afternoon, the evening and night of the Shakrain day, ‘colourful floating paper lanterns (fanoosh), fire breathers and thousands of fireworks from old Dhaka rooftop enchanted the people of all ages.
Also there were laser lightings, music, and dance parties arranged by the young people of the community’.

My readers are invited to view ten photos of current year’s “Shakrain Festival” posted below for getting an idea about the festival which happens to be a part of our culture too!


Photo Credits: The Daily Star,Dhaka Tribune ,

Moving between different points in time!
Posted:Jan 30, 2018 8:31 am
Last Updated:Feb 6, 2018 5:19 am
Traveling backwards in time!

Time travel happens to be a fascinating concept. Though it may happen due to unavoidable reason beyond our knowledge initially because we usually don’t perhaps take note of such time travels until some one tells us the exact time and date on arrival to our destination by air!
A few days back, I was reading a news story about such a time travel that originated from Auckland, New Zealand.
The flight was originally schedule to take off from Auckland on December 31st night but a ten minute delay in departure made it to take off on 1st January 2018 and when it landed in Honolulu 8 hours later, the date was still December 31, 2017 though the travelers were flying in a Plane that was not a Time Machine!

This was not only flight that time-traveled from 2018 to 2017.

Six other flights from Taipei took off in 2018 and landed in 2017 when they arrived in North America.

Fascinating! Isn’t it?

The Vicious Circle!
Posted:Jan 28, 2018 6:05 am
Last Updated:Jan 30, 2018 3:00 am
The song that made me sad!

"In The Ghetto"

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto

And his mama cries
'Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
It's another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto

People, don't you understand
The child needs a helping hand
Or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me,
Are we too blind to see?
Do we simply turn our heads and look the other way?

Well, the world turns
And a hungry little boy with a runny nose
Plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto

And his hunger burns
So he starts to roam the streets at night
And he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto

Then one night in desperation
The young man breaks away
He buys a gun,
Steals a car,
Tries to run,
But he don't get far
And his mama cries

As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man
Face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto

And as her young man dies,
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin',
Another little baby child is born
In the ghetto

And his mama cries

The song posted above, is written by Scot “Mac” Davis, tells us about those who born and grow up on the wrong side of the trucks keeping in mind the childhood that he spend in Lubbock, Texas.
As the slums or ghettos could be found in every large cities of the world, Davis could have set the song way up any large city of the world where mornings look grey! The violent end of such angry men is predetermined not only in the ghettos of the city of Chicago but also in the slums of the city of Dhaka where I live.

Davis changed the title of the song from “The Vicious Circle” to “In the Ghetto” because according to him, he could not find anything to rhyme with ‘circle’. However, I feel that the song ends pointing out to a vicious circle that exists in every such ghettos of the world. The song, sang by Elvis Presley, became an instant hit soon after the album was released in 1969.

May be, many of my readers listened the song many times like I did after the album was released in 1969 and may like to listen it even now like me! The song makes me sad whenever I listen to it.

Davis entered the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2006. At the ceremony, Davis explained as follows:
• "It's a simple matter of growing up with a little boy whose father worked with my father. He lived in a part of town that was a dirt-street ghetto. I grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and it was a ghetto in every sense of the word, but we didn't use that word back then. I was trying to come up with a song called 'The Vicious Circle,' how a child is born, he has no father, and the same thing happens. The word 'Ghetto' became popular in the late '60s to describe the poor parts of town. A friend of mine, Freddy Weller, who used to play guitar for Paul Revere and the Raiders, showed me lick on the guitar one day. I went home and fiddled around with it, I wrote the song and called him up at 4 in the morning and sang it to him. He knew I'd written a hit with his lick, but that's the way it goes."

Hope, the readers of this blog of mine would like to listen to the song once again as it is now readily available on You Tube.

Photos are from Chicago and Dhaka.

Down the memory lane and the Photos of Great Bengal Famine 1943
Posted:Jan 12, 2018 4:48 am
Last Updated:Feb 5, 2018 9:27 am
The town where I grew up and finished my graduation was not my birth place. I was born in the port city of Chittagong, in December 1939, nearly three months after Hitler attacked Poland that resulted the outbreak of World War II. Just to remind my readers that World War II began in the month of September 1939 when Britain and France declared war on Germany following Germany’s invasion of Poland.

Soon after Japan seized Burma in 1942 and bombed Chittagong and Calcutta, my father sent us to our ancestral village home in Barisal fearing that Chittagong would be under Japan’s control soon and also rice, which is the staple food of Bengalis, became a scarce commodity there. Because the then British Government bought up massive amounts of rice and hoarded it causing the great man made “Bengal Famine”. At least 3 million people died from starvation and malnutrition during this man made famine in 1943 that I witnessed as a kid. (See the black and white pictures).

The famine is also called “Churchill’s Secret War”. Churchill had worsened the starvation in Bengal by ordering a ship load of wheat sent from Australia for Bengalis by ordering the diversion of the ship elsewhere for British troops posted around the world!

“Dr. Gideon Poyla, an Australian biochemist, has called the Bengal famine a man made “holocaust”.

So it will not be wrong if anyone portraits me as a product of British India.
I did not came to live in my home town ‘Barisal’ until India was fragmented and divided and Burma was allowed to get detached from India by the then British Rulers. They left the Indian sub continent and Burma without bothering about the problems that were bound to crop up during the transition period and after that!

Unfortunately, a large number of people of divided sub-continent and Arakan State of Burma- are still suffering from the problems left unsolved by the British rulers!

Deaths and destruction followed soon after British left the sub continent divided and Arakan state detached from the sub-continent.
Millions of people of the sub continent suddenly found themselves as refugees due to partition of British India in to two independent countries!
The ethnic minority people of Arakan (Rakhine) State, known as Rohingyas, suddenly became Stateless and now being forced by the Military Junta of Burma to flee their homeland to save their lives!
An ethnic cleansing operation is now going on in modern Burma under the civilian leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The purpose of posting the paragraphs at above is not for denouncing the questionable actions of the then colonial rulers as history has already taken care of analyzing the consequences of leaving the sub continent fragmented and divided by the British.
Churchill will be always remembered as the person responsible for the man made famine of 1943 which caused death of three million people of undivided Bengal (now Bangladesh and Indian State of West Bengal).

My intention to post the above paragraphs are to show my readers some pictures of the Great Bengal Famine Of 1943 and one picture ( Pic #1) of my home town where I grew up after the partition of the British India and where my parents and my little brother are now resting in peace!

Needless to mention here that I can’t identify the city where I grew up when I occasionally go there to pray at the graves of my parents and stay overnight in our Barisal town house that still remains livable!

My home town is now a crowded modern mega city almost unrecognizable to me.

Antiquities of Dacca
Posted:Jan 11, 2018 4:31 am
Last Updated:Jan 14, 2018 1:18 am
Four Great Paintings Depicting the Mughal Ruins of Dhaka

The appended four paintings are the works of famous British Artist Sir Charles D'Oyly (1781-1845} who was known to be one of those painters who experimented with the Indian Paintings.
A large number of his paintings depicts various subjects of 18th and 19th century undivided India.

He was born in India in 1781 and lived in Murshidabad with his parents before leaving for England along with the family in the year 1785.
His father, Baron Sir John Hedley D'Oyly, was the resident of the Company at the Court of Nawab Babar Ali of Murshidabad.

D’Oyly returned to India and worked as the Assistant to the Registrar in the court of Appeal in Calcutta in 1798.He was appointed as the ‘Keeper of the Records' in 1803 in the office of the Governor General.
He retired from the Company job serving lastly as the Senior Member of the Board of Customs, Salt, and Opium and of the Marine (1833).

The appended four paintings among some more were done by him while he worked as Collector of Dacca (now spelled as Dhaka, the city where I live).

He worked for the East India Company for 40 years before he left India for England in 1838.

He was conferred the Baronage after the death of his father and also received Knighthood.

Sir Charles D’Oyly died in 1845 while living in Italy leaving no male child behind.

While in Dhaka, he concentrated especially on drawing the Mughal Ruins of Dhaka. His drawings were published in form of folios from London since 1823. The folios are known as Antiquities of Dacca. These four paintings are from the book "Antiquities of Dacca".

Details of the Paintings:

1. A view in Dacca with figures in front of a ruined temple. Oil on canvas, 51 x 70 cm, circa 1811. Artist: Charles D'Oyly. Provenance: Eyre & Greig, 1988. Private collection. Courtesy: Charles Greig
2. Mosque in the suburbs of Dacca. Oil on canvas, 60 x 89 cm, circa 1812. Artist: Charles D'Oyly. Provenance: Eyre & Greig, 1988. Private collection. Courtesy: Charles Greig
3. Great Kuttra, Dacca. Oil on canvas, 60 x 89 cm, circa 1811. Artist: Charles D'Oyly. Provenance: Eyre & Greig, 1988. Private collection. Courtesy: Charles Greig
4. A view in Dacca with mosque, figures and cattle. Oil on canvas, 25 x 33 cm, circa 1810. Artist: Charles D'Oyly. Provenance: Eyre & Greig, 1988. Private collection. Courtesy: Charles Greig

Under the influence of a severe cold wave..........
Posted:Jan 8, 2018 4:50 am
Last Updated:Jan 8, 2018 9:50 pm
Global Warming, Polar Vortex, and Cold waves

The cold wave continues to disrupt life across my country. Though it is not like what the Americans and Canadians are enduring now yet the severe cold has paralyzed the life in the northern parts of Bangladesh!

The temperature here in my country has gone down to a record low in many places forcing the people to remain indoors!

The lowest temperature has been recorded to 2.6 degrees Celsius in Tetulia, located at the far north of Bangladesh. It is the lowest on record until now!

The weather office here considers temperatures from 4-6 degree Celsius to be a severe cold wave.
Such a severe cold wave has been sweeping across six divisions of Bangladesh since Jan 4 keeping people indoors.

People like us, who are living in Dhaka, are currently experiencing medium cold waves which are below 10 degrees Celsius.

Fog has become now a regular occurrence from midnight to morning but according to today’s weather bulletin, fog may linger into afternoon in many parts of my homeland.

According to Met office forecast, more cold wave for the Dhaka dwellers like me because the mercury would be dripping below 7 degrees Celsius tonight!

My readers may be interested to see what happens here in this land when cold waves sweeps across the country- especially in the early morning from the appended pictures. The pictures are mostly from the Northern part of Bangladesh.

Before I sign of, I may add that the scientists are of opinion that Polar vortex may cause extreme cold waves that my American readers are now experiencing! And it has proved President Trump’s recent tweet on Weather Pattern wrong.

They also say that Polar vortex would continue to happen more frequently in the coming days! If the forecast comes true then it would make our life more measurable here in this part of the world too.

Are the scientists correct? Could anyone help me to understand the situation? Does Polar Vortex has anything to do with Global Warming?

Meantime Happy Viewing: dear readers.

Lifestyle without Electricity!
Posted:Jan 5, 2018 6:45 am
Last Updated:Feb 3, 2018 5:40 am
Imagine life without electricity!

Could anyone living in a mega Western City or even in a village located in the remote part of a European country imagine life without electricity?

Perhaps, the answer would be in the negative. But there are millions of people in the world who live without electricity! These people live in most of the African countries and the numbers are rising. Just think about Nigeria- one of the world’s biggest oil exporters but 93m Nigerians depend on firewood and charcoal for heat and light!!

Even a few years back in my own country, Bangladesh, there were places where people were deprived of electricity for unavoidable reasons! The situation has now changed for better than last year. My country has installed over 3.5 m off-grid solar power system for the benefits of these villagers and the figure would set to double in next few years. “Electricity for all by 2021”, with this vision in mind our Government has taken many initiatives to ensure electricity for all within the targeted year!

Appended photos would tell the viewers all the stories about life without Electricity!

The last two pictures are from two remote villages of Bangladesh where solar power system has been installed recently and the remaining eight are from different villages located in Benin where people live without the benefits of electricity!

The photo #10 shows some villagers of a remote village of Bangladesh, chatting at night under a solar street lamp.

Happy Viewing, dear viewers!

Photos of Benin by Pascal Maitre


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