Action: Piyaju-Beguni & Eid4Every1
EID vacation's been over for some time now. Your life's probably crept back to its old routine. One exhausting day following the next. Looking forward to the upcoming Puja and Eid vacations? This article's for you then.
How are you planning to spend your Puja holidays? And Eid? Will it be the same boring schedule? Maybe you could take a page out of CommunityAction's book - a social service organisation that seems to have found the answer to the secret of happiness!
The secret is… (Drum roll)... 'Do something for others'! Don't believe me? Go ask any Actioneer from CommunityAction and they will all agree that 'shared joy is double the joy' is more than a slight understatement. While cramming every possible way to celebrate Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr within the tight schedule, they managed to squeeze in some time for the less privileged kids around us which actually turned out to be one of their best times.
About 500 volunteers shared their Iftar with working street children in 20 places within Dhaka, all of them had the same happy feeling you have when you share your happiness with someone. This 18 day-long 'Action: Piyaju-Beguni', reaching about 3300 children, perfectly exemplified what 'Even a smile is charity' means - think how many smiles this bunch of college/university going students brought!
These extremely enthusiastic people even managed to share their Eid celebrations in the simplest yet most satisfying way you could think of, 'Action: Eid4Every1'. When getting Mehendi on our hands or having a self-customised T-shirt is just a 'normal' thing in our lives, street workers in Mohammadpur or Dhaka University area and in parks around Dhanmondi and Ramna eagerly lined up to get designs of their own choice on their hand or on white T-shirts. It was the first time these children had experienced something like this and even a smiley drawn on a t-shirt or their own names written with mehendi on their hands lit up their faces!
The Actioneers also spent some time with the orphans in 'Chhotto-Moni Nibash' celebrating Eid by giving out clothes and toys.
One group even went to a remote village in Bogura, to a school where the children did not even know what greeting cards were, let alone ever getting one in their life. CommunityAction provided colour pencils, taught them how to make cards and the next thing you see were kids drawing beautiful pictures and writing Eid greetings on the cards to give to their friends and family.
And what did the Actioneers get by doing all these? By celebrating and sharing with others they had fun only social work could bring, they were being responsible human beings while enjoying themselves at the same time. What more could you want? If you are interested to learn more, check out ca-bd.org
By Nabeeha Azmi
For the Love of Shukti
My Nanu loves shutki. She will have it curried, stir-fried with laal-morich, or simply pounded into a bhorta. It doesn't matter if it makes us avoid her for the rest of the day. So it certainly didn't matter when the posh aunty next door complained about the smell. Nanu, sweet as ever, arranged for an especially spicy dish of shutki bhorta to be sent over. You can just imagine what that did to the auntie's freshly powdered face.
All hell broke loose the day Nanu decided to dry her shutki on the roof. Aside from stinking up the whole flat, it was attracting all the wrong sorts of attention. As in, from crows. Who needs a garbage-dump when you have a feast of fresh shukti? They came in hordes, settling on Nanu's beloved rotting fish. But years of shukti-eating experience had prepared her for this. Screaming like a banshee, she hobbled towards them with her walking stick. The crows squawked off resentfully, leaving behind a shower of white, gooey bullets.
When it was finally dried and cooked by Nanu herself, it was time to eat. No amount of laal-morich or coconut milk could disguise the smell. Next-door-aunty sent her death glares through the window. Somehow or the other, all fourteen of us grandchildren simultaneously remembered that we had to go somewhere for lunch. The little ones feigned stomach aches. Nanu didn't bat an eyelid. “We'll just have to save it for dinner then, won't we?” she said.
So dinner it was, with Nanu sitting at the head of the table, and offering everyone generous helpings of her favourite dish. Watching everyone swallow at least a mouthful of the stuff, she started off about how there were no refrigerators in the good old days; and it wasn't possible to go fishing every day, either. The only alternative was to find a way of preserving fish. “And that's how shutki came to be,” she ended with a satisfied belch.
The minute Nanu left the table, fourteen grandchildren dug their pockets for mints. The little ones had miraculously recovered from stomach aches. A mama emerged from the toilet after two hours. Nanu was quick to notice him. “You missed the shutki bhuna,” she said. The mama fumbled and muttered something. “No problem, though. I can always cook you some next week.” Her voice was light, oblivious to the damage she had caused to our taste buds. Pizza would never taste the same again.
There is a serious lacking in the Geek culture in Bangladesh. The Internet has bridged this gap somewhat bringing geeks all over the place closer to each other.
Comic books are awesome. And they are rare gems to find here. And the 6 inch Indian publications of DC/Marvel stuff don't really count. Our comic fixes are to be satisfied by reading them on our computers, and that quickly gets to be a pain.
And of course, watching Big Bang Theory and the gang's occasional forays into the neighbourhood comic book store, us geeks can't help but feel a little miffed with our own lack of such a place. One of the amusing moments in the series was when Sheldon and Howard sift through a box of comic books each saying, “Got it! Got it!” in rapid succession. Ah, if only we 'had it'.
Indeed, we probably can now. Jamil's Comics & Collectables, Bangladesh's first ever-comic book store has opened up shop at Banani UAE Market under the entrepreneurship of Alamgir Khan (Jamil) assisted by Ashiqul Islam. Right now, the store is still in its infancy and they're still planting its roots. The store, though unpainted with posters yet to be put up, and a 42” LCD on its way to the wall, still manages to create a welcoming atmosphere to comic book readers. It's promising and it has quite a wide collection ranging from Vertigo populars Sandman, Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, to DC and Marvel’s X-Men, Batman, Superman, what have you not. It does brighten the heart of this ol' geek.
From what we were told they have over nine thousand comic books and graphic novels! Unfortunately, everything hasn't been inventoried yet thanks to the graciousness of our customs system. Their site is up and running, and they're making good business despite the fact that they did very little advertising, with word of their existence spreading through word of mouth.
Saquib Chowdhury, a comic book fan we met at the store tells us his satisfactory experience at JCCBD, who has not failed to show up at the store since opening. He tells us of his experience with the mentioned Indian publications, and how JCCBD has made it so much easier to be a comic book reader.
As pioneers in the industry in Bangladesh, it's likely that they're here to stay. And a good thing, too. Comic book fans finally have the chance to get their hands on their old favourites in a tactile format, while discovering new ones. Prices range from Tk.25 to well over a thousand depending on popularity, demand, as well as their actual price. One key factor is that the prices are always cheaper than what you'd have to pay to retailers.
By SS Emil
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