began nearly 250 years ago when the British first wrested
control of this land by con.
the 1757 skirmish at Plassey, often referred to as a battle,
Robert Clive and his 800 men defeated the 50,000 army of Nawab
Sirajuddowla, despite Bengal's artillery and technical superiority,
all because of the betrayal of monafek Mir Zafar,
who was bought off by the British clerk.
not stopped being bought off, but most importantly the British
eradicated many of our century-old traditions and left behind
many of their legacies, some of which had been out of context
from the very beginning.
Digby, apparently British, wrote in 'Prosperous British India'
published from London 1901, 'Before Plassey was fought and
won, and before the streams of treasure began to flow to England,
the industries of our country were at very low ebb'.
noted in 1863 in 'The British Rule in India', published from
Moscow: 'It was the British intruder who broke up the Indian
handloom and destroyed the spinning wheel. England began with
driving the Indian cottons from the European market. It then
introduced twist into Hindustan and in the end initiated the
very mother country of cotton with cottons. From 1818 to 1836
the export of twist from Great Britain to India rose in the
proportion of 1 to 5200. In 1824 the export of British muslins
to India hardly amount to one million yards while in 1837
it surpassed 64 million yards. But at the same time the population
of Dhaka decreased from 150000 to 20000. … British steam
and science uprooted, over the whole surface of Hindustan,
the union between agriculture and manufacturing industry.'
of our customs continues.
now managed to transform within about three years of record
time a zilch into a national celebration. This one looks like
having come via India through its card marketing strategists
and the culture transfer tactic catalysed by channel invasion.
We should hardly be surprised if some Bangladeshi political
party promises Saint Valentine's Day a national holiday in
their upcoming election manifesto.
is supposed to be a holiday in the Western world honouring
lovers. But then are we not West of Myanmar? The custom is
to send greeting cards or gifts to express affection on February
14. Valentines, as the cards are called, sport hearts to indicate
love. A car or a hefty bank account does better these days.
Historians trace the holiday to the ancient Roman feast of
Lupercalis celebrated on February 15. But because the feast
day of two 3rd century Roman martyrs, both named St. Valentine,
fell on February 14, and because St. Valentine was traditionally
regarded as the patron saint of lovers, the day was chosen
by card manufacturers as yet another number to add to their
Mother's Day, Father's Day, Teachers Day, Grandmother's Day...
Pyar Ali, who got off at Sadarghat at dawn on Saint Valentine's
Day after a long night's journey from Hularhat, knew none
of this. He was confronted by a chirpy interviewer from a
local TV channel at the Terminal Building with the microphone
and the set question up his throat, 'What do you understand
by bhaalo basha?'
aback Mr Ali was taking his time. He had seen such scenes
on TV back home. The bubbly thing kept egging him on.
basha… bhaalo basha should have current,
water, good place to keep the cows, rain should not come in
through the roof…'
Ali, who had fallen behind, had by then caught up with her
husband. She tugged at him on seeing this shahurey lady rather
aggressive. Biting at her aanchol she muttered, 'What does
she want with you?'
wants to know what I understand by bhaalo basha',
have no shame-sharam. After two marriages and still
you are at it'.
took out his tongue long enough to be able to bite it. 'Whenever
I don't have something to eat in the morning I hear and say
funny things. But why should this town girl want to know such
a stupid thing. Everyone knows what love is.'
don't understand kissu', said the wife. 'She is rich.
Cannot you see how many guys are working for her? She even
has her own video. She goes on asking the same thing to everyone
and everybody. She then uses the answers she likes to impress
'He is another champion, who pretends he does not know what
'How does that help him?'
'Don't you understand? Town girls like stupid boys, so that
she can put a string around his nose and drag him to wherever
'But town guys are not stupid!'
'That's what I am telling you! The town girls are not clever
enough to know that.'
'What if he is caught being not stupid?'
'He will just say sorry. Whatever they do, if they say sorry
everything is forgiven.'
'But that is love?'
'Neither the town boy or the town girl are clever enough to
'What about the girl making a mistake?'
'Have I ever made a mistake?' asked Mrs Pyar Ali shyly.
'Dhooro! Did I say that?'
'Aida-o love!' said she.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005