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Exploring the leafy green world

My knowledge of plant life was sadly limited to what I had studied in my grade two science class and tit bits that I had gathered from snatches of conversations. But it was only upon entering the grounds of the “Horticulture Fair 2008” (otherwise known as Brikkho Mela) that I realized my high level of ignorance upon the subject.

All at once I found myself in a lush green surrounding, sprinkled with the colors of flowers. The vibrancy of the foliage struck out even more against the dull, gray sky under which hundreds, if not thousands of plants had been placed for sale. I felt a sap of life enter me, as I eagerly took in this refreshing change from the monotonous life spent within concrete cells in Dhaka city.

The first stall showcased exhibits from the famous Balda Gardens of Wari. Among other unheard of species, the unusual Keya fruit caught my attention. It was nearly the size of a small football and the brownish exterior resembled the cells of a beehive. I also came across the 'Naglingom' fruit. Although there was nothing very striking about its nut-like appearance, I found out that it was so named because when the fruit flowered, the petals remind you of a 'Nag' i.e. snake with its raised hood. I pondered over why people could not have chosen a less terrifying name as I walked away.

On the other hand, my mother being an orchid enthusiast had a more difficult time tearing herself away from the exotic breeds. However her sorrow was short lived. As we moved from stall to stall, admiring and bargaining for whichever plant caught our fancy, we stumbled upon one that was selling orchid saplings at tk.25/= per piece. My mother was overjoyed as she grabbed the opportunity to buy at least 8-10 such saplings at one go! Soon, I meandered through the narrow lanes set between the potted shrubberies. The air was bubbling with excitement as plant lovers all around me chose great variety of flora set before them- each of them unique in size, breed and color. There were delicate ferns set in conch shells and miniature trees more popularly known as 'bonsais'. The sweetly perfumed flowers such Beli, Gondhoraj, Golap (rose) and such, tempted one and all to buy them. Those who had the luxury of space in their homes opted for the Rongon, Bougainvillea, Cherry, Alamanda and other outdoor beauties. However it was the fruit plants, which sold like hot cakes.

The Mango, Pomegranate, Jamrul, Tamarind, Boichi, Papaya, and other fruit saplings alike bowed down to the weight of their delicious, ripe fruit. I was highly tempted to pick those mouth-watering delicacies for myself. The strawberry saplings had also caused quite a stir. After a few inquiries, I found out that strawberries are currently being farmed in the hilly regions of Bangladesh and thus being made more available in this tropical country. I soon saw that an aunt of mine who had accompanied us, in a high pitch of enthusiasm had bought more plants than I believed that our car could possibly hold!

By Sarah Khan

Surreal solo
Courtship of society - Infiltration of Urbanization

The most important aspect missing from Maruf Hasan Abhi's first solo photographic exhibition is possibly the coherence of the underlying theme with the display. The photographs stand out on their own, speaking volumes for his artistic brilliance but the documentation fails to live up to the expectation of a first solo.

The work entitled the 'Lost Autumn' captures a haunting image of the city skyline at the break of dawn, the overhung clouds in a perpetual motion as if representing the escaping seasons from urban living. 'Forced migrants' is simple in composition but Hasan has played well with light and shade capturing the silhouette of a rickshaw puller, on his own three-wheeler, fatigued and weary of his new found vocation.

But his best work is possibly 'Bleak Future' a moment captured in time showing characters at a distance in a playing field; the colour palette of the sky set as the backdrop, creating illusion of shadowy figures. The 'Exhausted Environment' needs special mention for capturing surreal nature, while 'Courtship of Society' frame binds monsoon in fresh romanticism. These pictures however seem out of place, the central theme being urbanisation, its effect on pastoral life and environmental degradation.

Maruf Hasan Abhi's work is being showcased at Galerie Zoom, Alliance Francaise de Dacca everyday till 23 July 2008, from 9 pm to 12 noon and 5 pm to 8 pm.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif

PFM Bangladesh

At the 2000 United Nations Millennium Summit, several targets were set for developing countries of the world. These targets are more commonly known to the public as 'MDGs', or Millennium Developmental Goals. These goals intend to eradicate poverty in these developing countries. Bangladesh is one such country. Because Bangladesh is seen as one of these countries, the PFM, or People's Forum on MDGs, was formed.

The PFM was formed to propel the fulfillment of these goals set in Bangladesh. It is comprised of diverse groups of people. Some of the organizations that are part of the PFM are women's groups, trade unions, youth groups, environmental activists, cultural groups, and more. The PFM is also associated with the GCAP, or Global Call to Action against Poverty. They focus primarily on aid, trade, and debt.

The purpose of the PFM is to pressure the government into fulfilling the promises that were made at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. They try as best they can to help the progress of MDG achievement.

One of the major components of fulfilling the MDGs is climate change. This particular topic affects every aspect of the eight MDGs that need to be fulfilled. The goals are to eradiate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equity and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat major diseases, ensure environmental stability, and develop a global partnership.

Climate change affects each of these things. It damages the homes and crops of the poor, it destroys learning facilities, it increases the prevalence of diseases, and reduces the quality and quantity of available resources, such as water. A clear example of the harms of climate change is Cyclone SIDR. It was unquestionably one of the most detrimental natural disasters in the world. These, however, are only a few of the injurious effects of this. Climate change makes it exceedingly difficult to achieve the MDGs set by the United Nations.

The PFM has many resolutions in regards to the issue of climate control. They have demanded several things of the government. They have asked Bangladesh to pay close attention to the issue of climate change. Some of the demands they have made are: climate change be made a key agenda item at the SAARC summit; climate change refugees be given the right to provided rehabilitation and the right to migration; voices of the poorest are heard during negotiations which regard climate change; and many others.

Anyone can join the PFM. It welcomes all people and groups to participate in the fulfillment of their goals. Their website is www.campebd.org.

The PFM is a very focused organization, and they are extremely dedicated to their cause. They will continue to fight for the fulfillment of these MDGs until the achievement of these goals. Whether or not they will be successful is still to be seen, but hopefully, Bangladesh will be able to keep the promises it made 8 years ago.

By Sana Majid


This is the time
Yet so rife
I still didn't make it mine
To make things right
To make them the results
I have wanted almost every night, not want to do the hard work,
Dominated my memory
And controlled my senses.

By Anika Aditi



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