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     Volume 6 Issue 27 | July 13, 2007 |

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The Two Other Wonders of the World


Construe not that I am lamenting that our Paharpur, shrouded in five thousand years of mystery as it is, was not among the recently announced Seven Wonders of the World. In fact we have more than our share of wonders in our fallen politicians, felling forest officers, and fooling bureaucrats. But more about them in a future episode, or you may even try figuring out your own list. It ought to be fun, especially if you can stay out of it.

Judged more by appeal of tourism than by the measure of antiquity or contextual values, our chances in the contest were faint given that over the decades Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation has been used more for experience-gaining of their officers than for ushering in foreigners, who would have voted for us. Sadly, soon after gaining invaluable experience in Chichen Itza or Machu Pichu, the knowledge-primed officers are either transferred to Chilmari or retired to Muktagacha.

The role of BPC emerged as important after it became apparent that popularity of a place as a tourist destination was the foremost criterion. Of course, the inexperienced officers now manning our tourist office can blame poor communication, political unrest, only three months of cool weather, high cost of hilsa, long queues at CNG stations, burglary at gold shop, and the law and order situation, as the real deterrents. But then that is our treasured culture, sharing and giving; in this case the blame. The case between reformists and the conformists, who have turned re-reformists, is a case in point.

Despite the hullabaloo raised by channels across the world in the dying minutes of the election process, it seemed that we were not even included in the voter list. Even if we were included, the election schedule was not properly publicised in this land of thousands of wonders. [Seven! Hah!] That stains the entire process, reportedly carried out over months, as not being free and fair.

In electing the Taj and the Wall from Asia, what has not been wonderful to me was that although ten crore people voted in the selection process, I came to know of it only when the results were about to be announced. Unbelievable, because I scan 60 channels every 120 seconds as long as I have the remote in my hand. I don't know about you, but one wonders if a population of 140 million can be ignored, if that is not election engineering, then what is. To me the failure to be informed about such a world event is the 8th Wonder.

The 9th Wonder that has now unfolded is the stance that some former ministers (sizes L, M and S) and MPs, and active politicians and workers have taken. In the guise of being washed tulsi leaf they are now regularly paying homage at their newly built political shrine; in the same manner in which they sought party ticket only a few months ago at the discarded Bhaban. Oh! How I do recall the intensive traffic jam around the heavily-guarded place every evening. Then it was show money, and now it is hide money.

Some of them are still looking for the new house. Those already in the new house and those beating about the bush, they have not changed their primary ideologies power and profit. At best it may be said that they have changed their address.

I would like to even wager that if there is a whiff of hawa in the direction opposite to the prevailing wind (all winds do not bode well, so said Chintito) then there will be such a hoormoor to get back on the leader's lap that tongues not lapping the lapis lazuli would be hard to find. But the fact is that I do not bet. The advantage is in that way I never lose.

Who says indoor politics has been suspended? The reality is that almost all outdoor games are now played indoors. Look at volleyball, basketball, kabaddi, and even football. You only have to be interested in the spectacle to recognise it as a valid game or not.

It is these very leaders, if you may call them that, young and old, who were hell bent to go ahead with the general elections as per a long-drawn game plan, in which there were only one winner.

The post-election portfolios were even distributed years before the election schedule was announced. The name of the future (!) prime minister was written on all available walls and tin roofs across the country since 2002, followed by khosh amdid. We did not hear one reformist protest that move then, nor do we hear them protesting now. Their talks are abcha abcha, and there is never any reference to the rampant corruption that overtook this country, or of the corrupt.

If this is the way reforms will take place then the form of that party is no better than that of our cricketers in the first two Tests in Sri Lanka. Nirghat innings defeat, even if a reformist may score a century.

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