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|Volume 11 |Issue 46| November 23, 2012 ||
On an exasperating day after work' a friend of mine took me to a reputed bank because I had to open an account. As we proceeded towards the information desk, after much confusion as to where it was, we could manage to stand in queue amidst other worn out clients who had lost all hope of getting any sort of assistance from the employee sitting at the desk. Among the people in line, there was an old lady who seemed to be very hyped up about her form. She inquired rather whimsically as to what the abbreviation on the paper stood for. The young lady, who happened to be an intern from a private university, was getting annoyed at the lady because she was reluctant to sign the form. Upon witnessing the client's adamant behaviour, the young intern had no choice but to get up and call for a senior colleague because she didn't know the abbreviation herself.
What baffled us both was not the old lady's obstinate manner but the fact that the abbreviation was nothing more than the full name of the bank in short. Moreover, how come such reputed banks hire inadequate interns like those who don't even have the basic knowledge about the instifutions they are interning at?
I was at the Hay Festival this weekend and was really excited to see so many reputed writers and personalities in one place. I talked to my favourite writers and took photos with them. At one point I spotted a reputed Indian actress (I won't take any names) and asked if I could take a picture with her. She seemed extremely irritated about something and didn't spare me a glance as she ignored my question and walked away. This upset me a lot and I promised myself I wouldn't ask a second time. In fact I don't think I'm that big a fan anymore. I really believe that if you are a public figure you should be prepared for people who will ask for your attention and a few moments of your time and behaving rudely with your fans isn't the best way to deal with this because it is your fans who make and break you.
Recently, I was at a book launching ceremony with my cousin who was excited to see the writer whose first book she had enjoyed so much. When the writer came on stage however, we were quite surprised when she started talking about unrelated things like her personal life and other matters and didn't really speak about her new book until an almost an hour into the launch. Her behaviour was also childish and a bit ridiculous and I think many of the audience was quite embarrassed on her behalf.
During last weekend's Hay Festival, there was a small protest outside by people opposed to the event being hosted by Bangla Academy. I was on my way out at the end of the first day, having had a great time listening to such interesting writers speak in English and Bangla, such as Vikram Seth, Kamila Shamsie, Anisul Hoque, Shamsul Haq and Firdous Azam, when I stopped to listen to an angry man shouting. Not clear what he was saying, I turned to my boyfriend and asked in English, “What is he saying exactly?” A man by the tea stall we were standing by stepped forward and in English said, “He's saying we don't want you here. Bangla Academy is for the Bangla language and literature. Your books are too expensive and not accessible to everyone. We are the leftist Communist Party opposed to having you here.” Before I could reply, my boyfriend told the man, “She's Bangladeshi” and with an “Oh”, the man walked off. It was only then that I realised the man did not mean “you” as a Hay Festival attendee but in fact “you” as in a foreigner (which I am mistaken for because I am very fair). This racism, which ironically he expressed in English, is a shocking display of ignorance. Putting aside how hurt and offended I was to be targeted, actual foreigners, including the visiting writers, learnt so much about this country's love and fight for its language through the Hay Festival. Surely that's what Bengalis and Bangla Academy would want for our language and culture to be recognised by the outside world? What was the point in protesting that?
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