Memories From The Hill Tracts
Shah Arafat Hossain, Shashish Shami Kamal and Nazia Kabir
A famous song goes - “Gram chara oi rangamatir poth, amar mon volay re” (My heart is captivated by the red path leading away from the village). The song does a good amount of justice in describing the natural beauty and magnificence of Rangamati, but it is difficult to find words that can do justice in describing the feelings that we felt after arriving the beautiful place. We barely realised that Rangamati's beauty will leave us breathless.
We were a group of 31 undergraduate students, including some faculty members and staff of the Department of Development Studies of Dhaka University. The study tour was part of our two ongoing courses on “Gender and Development” and “Project Management.” We believed that stepping outside the classroom would give us a better insight of society and culture that cannot be gained from textbooks.
We reached Chittagong by train, which was a fun ride as we stayed up during the whole journey. It was a five day trip. As we reached Chittagong, we freshened up and had refreshments at the 'Circuit House.' After the short break, we got on the bus and went down the winding bumpy road and reached our destination- the wonderful Rangamati. We were all pumped up to explore Rangamati and its historical sites.
We were received by UNDP. They gave us a PowerPoint Presentation, which enriched our knowledge on Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) followed by an energetic question-answer session. We, then, took engine boats and had an unforgettable journey on the Karnafuli River. The exhausting train journey followed by a bumpy road trip had not made us weary. As we floated on the lake, the gentle breeze rejuvenated our spirits.
The boats took us to a UNDP project site, a secluded village surrounded by a lake. We were greeted by the local people with flowers. We had an exchange of views there. Then we reached the famous Peda Ting Ting restaurant to appease our hunger. The name of the restaurant is a local term, which in Bangla means “pet purey khai” (eating to the fullest). We came across local cuisines like chicken in banana leaf and hot chilly smashed prawn with steaming jhum rice. After the sumptuous lunch, we sat again to convey our formal thanks to the UNDP project coordinator. We returned to the motel, calling it a day. On our way back, we enjoyed the river cruise and took a walk on the amazing hanging bridge -the icon of Rangamati.
We started off our next day with ever greater enthusiasm. We took a morning walk in the enchanting hilly roads. We conducted a meeting with the key development actors of the region. They are the Regional Council Chairman J B Larma alias Shantu Larma and 24th Infantry Division of Bangladesh Army. The Chairman Larma received us at the door steps and allowed us to hold the meeting in Bangla and created a rather friendly atmosphere. We learned a lot from the ex-combatant as he raised many issues related to the Chittagong Hill Tracts ranging from the British Raj, Regulations of 1800, armed struggle, peace accord of 1997 and various development interventions in the hills.
Since Bangladesh Army is also an actor in the hills for long, we thought it would be worthwhile to visit the 24th Infantry Division at Rangamati region and get their views on various development interventions in the CHT.
The following day we had our meeting with CHTDB in order to know how the development activities are really undertaken. We met the Vice-Chairperson and other members who were eager to talk to the students of Development Studies. We asked them many questions on development interventions in the CHT. Then we went to downtown Rangamati.
Later that day, we went to see a UNDP project of women's co-operative which prepared shawls, mats, hats and other indigenous products and observed their marketing capabilities. We ,later, visited the house of Chakma Raja, which was burnt a few months back. We also visited the museum of various ethnic groups housed at the Tribal Cultural Institute and an ivory shop on our way back.
The next day we visited the famous Kaptai Hydro-electric Project to witness whether it was a development or a disaster project. The area was restricted, for which we were not allowed to take any photographs. We were amazed to see the power stations and machineries going 70-80 feet under water! The days spent at Rangamati were so culturally enriching. We learned, interacted and brought back memories to cherish forever.
DID YOU KNOW?
Singer, Actress, Record Producer, Film Producer and Director, Entrepreneur and Fashion Designer, Cherilyn Sarkisian, better known as Cher, was born on 20 May, 1946 (turning 66 today) in El Centro, California. Her father, John Paul Sarkisian, was Armenian American and worked as a truck driver. Her mother, Georgia Holt, an aspiring actress and occasional model, is of English, French, German, and Dutch descent. Cher's half sister is actress Georganne LaPiere. Cher's parents got divorced and she was raised primarily by her mother, who at one time was married to Gilbert Hartmann LaPiere, a banker who adopted Cher. Due to financial problems, Cher's mother temporarily placed her in foster care. Later, her mother provided money for acting lessons to help her career. Due to severe, undiagnosed dyslexia, she left Fresno High School at age 16. Sonny Bono, 11 years her senior, was working for record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. Through Sonny, Cher started as a session singer in 1963, and sang backup on several of Spector's classic recordings, including The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling", Darlene Love's "A Fine, Fine Boy," The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and The Ronettes' "Be My Baby". Her first solo recording was the unsuccessful single "Ringo, I Love You", released under the pseudonym of Bonnie Jo Mason and produced by Phil Spector. Her second attempt was "Dream Baby," released under the name "Cherilyn" and written and produced by Sonny Bono. Both were released in 1964. With Sonny continuing to write, arrange and produce the songs, Sonny and Cher's first incarnation was as the duo "Caesar and Cleo." They received little attention, despite releasing the single "The Letter" in late 1964. While success was slow to come, their luck improved when network TV talent scouts attended a show, noting their potential appeal for a variety series.
Information Source: Internet.