“How come there's so much wrong in the world, Lafayette? How come so many people are willing to do bad things and hurt other people?” Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood)
This week, the world dealt with a horrible natural disaster that destroyed a nation and millions of lives, as well as the ongoing premature deaths all over the world from various bombs, murders, and other unnatural causes.
And in our little corner of the world, we deal with nasty cold waves, shortage of gas and electricity, even MORE poison in our food and stupid, ignorant fools destroying our lush country:
1. The tiny, impoverished nation of Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake of 7.0 magnitude on January 12. The epicenter was capital city Port-Au-Prince, which suffered severe damages with schools, hospitals, government buildings, prison, airport and even the presidential palace being completely destroyed.
Nations all over the world are again joined together in lending a hand to help in any way they can with countries sending medical and financial health as well as food and clothes.
The death toll continues to rise at a staggering rate from 50,000 to 100,0000 (and still counting) in a matter of days. It is reported that 3 million people have been affected by this horrific tragedy. Bangladesh is reported to have sent a medical team to aid in the rescue operation on Monday 18th January.
2. In the off chance that the food we eat isn't poisonous enough to us already with all the chemicals in it, now the farmland used to grow it in has arsenic too!
Mining of groundwater for irrigation is not declining, but is causing heavy deposits of arsenic to seep into farmlands, threatening future crop production. Researches have also shown arsenic in the crops, although it is at the very low level of 0.3 milligram per kilogram of paddy grown.
3. The Haikkar Khal in Rayerbaz is again under threat of being filled up as a real estate company has been dumping sand on its bank on the west side of the martyred intellectuals monument. The khal, one of the last remaining natural canals in the city, has been in bad condition because of nearby tannery waste outlets dumping toxic waste into it.
The canal begins from the Turag near Shoalmachi and winds its way through the marshy land, beneath Basila road and beside the Martyred Intellectuals' Monument before joining the Buriganga in the south.
Dhaka City Corporation tried to fill up the canal 10 years ago for the construction of a truck terminal but was stopped when a report in The Daily Star caused the locals and environmentalists to protest against it. The real estate company in question is said to have installed a 1km long pipe to pump in sand from a barge in the Buriganga, outraging the locals, who say this is what will cause the khal to fill up.
4. Now on to some very rare good news, another honest Bangladeshi cabbie in New York is getting high praises for going out of his way to track down a 72 year old Italian woman, Felicia Lettieri, to return her purse containing $21,000 and jewelry worth thousands more. Her sister, Francesca Lettieri, 79, of Long Island, said the honest driver had saved her family's vacation.
The cab-driver Mukul Asadujjaman, a medical student, was quoted by the newspaper saying that even thought he may be broke, he was an honest man. "My mother is my inspiration. She always said to be honest and work hard," he says.
Mr Asadujjaman is not the first honest American-Bangladeshi cabbie to hit the headlines for noble behaviour.
In 2007, driver Osman Chowdhury returned a lost bag containing diamond rings worth $500,000 to the rightful owner.
By Musarrat Rahman
Now you see it, now you don't!
“Iya Allah, how incredible!” the little boy staring through a pin-hole projector screamed aloud in joy. “It looks like somebody has taken a bite out of the sun as if it were ice-cream!” Several people in the crowd laughed while others cheered and clapped, waiting their turns patiently in the queue.
On January 15 2010, Friday, the Dhaka city-dwellers had an almost once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of witnessing the much awaited natural event of the New Year, the annular solar eclipse, observed from 12:44:07 pm to 4:58 pm local time. Anushandhitshu Chakra, a leading science organisation of the country, along with the enthusiastic students of the University of Dhaka, arranged a successful observation camp from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm (according to the press release) at the DU central playground in celebration of the event.
The Bangla for annular eclipse is 'Boloygrash'. An eclipse of this kind occurs when the sun and the moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun. Hence the sun is seen as a bright ring or annulus, surrounding the outline of the moon.
The eclipse started much earlier at the southern regions of Bangladesh and the highest point was observed at 2:31:37 pm at St Martin Island, leaving roughly 25 percent or so clearly observable from Dhaka. Nevertheless, that fact hardly diminished the general public interest towards the natural event. Only a few months back (July 22, 2009) people had gathered in the northern districts of Bangladesh to celebrate a similar phenomenon, the total solar eclipse. That coupled with the fact that the next annular eclipse is expected around the bend after a good 55 years (scheduled in 2064, while the next total eclipse will take place in 2114, after 105 years), are probably what triggered the immense response from the general population.
“The weather was very foggy yesterday and to tell you the truth, we were a little worried. We kept praying for a sunny Friday,” said Somen Kumar Mistri, a volunteer at the camp. Then he added with a huge grin on his face, “Looks like we got lucky. The weather's great today and we have a lot of people gathered here. It's almost like a festival.” Anwar Siddique, another volunteer at work, was seen shooing over-enthusiastic spectators away from the two pin-hole projectors made and supplied by the Anushandhitshu Chakra. “See, this here is a screen and the other side of the telescope holds a pin-hole,” he began explaining to this reporter when asked to. “When light passes through it you can see a shadow on the screen and- hey bhai, bhai, watch it, will you? Can't you go play somewhere else?” And he ran after a bunch of people playing football nearby, yelling his lungs out as he went.
Volunteer Tanvir Noor Nafiz, on the other hand, shared his fun experience with this reporter, “There was this man who asked me, bhai where exactly is this eclipse taking place? I was so amused that I didn't know what to tell him. So I simply gave him the directions to our camp. He would find out what's happening eventually, right?”
Similar incidents also took place everywhere around the camp. Anushandhitshu Chakra supplied the crowd with their special solar filters for eclipse observation. Many spectators were seen asking the volunteers, “Bhai, why can't I see people with this thing? Everything's so plain dark.”-while the volunteers replied exasperatedly, “You're not supposed to see people with it, you're supposed to see the eclipse!” Somewhere in the crowd, a little kid was heard shouting, “I see it, I see it! The sun, it's BLUE!!”- and everyone around him started to laugh in amusement.
Imteaz Ahmed, the coordinator of the camp, was seen busy with management duties throughout the event. He said, “We never thought that we'd get this much positive response from the people. We are really inspired and feel very fortunate to be a part of this phenomenon. We look forward to organising more events like this.”
At 12:44 pm, one of the volunteers came running towards the main camp yelling in excitement, “Shuru hoise, shuru hoise! It's finally started.”- and everyone immediately grabbed their solar filters. A queue was formed in front of the two pin-hole projection telescopes. Also, a special LCD display was set up for the audience. The crowd watched in awe as the sun was slowly being engulfed by the shadowy moon. Within a couple of hours a huge chunk of it went missing and an awestruck spectator was heard muttering, “Look at that. A few hundred years ago people would have thought the world was coming to an end if something as extraordinary as this were to happen. It's really amazing when you think about it.” The final moment of the annulus, the 'Boloygrash', was also treated with equal dramatic reactions. It was a brief moment, but one that the observers would remember for the rest of their lives.
By Raisa Rafique
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