Finding Bangladesh location #5
The Temple of Heart Shaped Scribbles
By Anika Ali & Adnan M. S. Fakir Photos courtesy of Finding Bangladesh
Almost all run-down historical sites have one thing in common. They are all spots for lovers. Romantic lovers, smooch-y lovers, counterfeit lovers, feel-y lovers and all the other various sorts who don't have anywhere else to go. However one type of these love-y dove-y couples stand out by far. These are lovers with a strong intent to leave their mark, to become immortals.
Thus they did. These senseless numbskulls born out of cupid's scandalous arrows have written, marked, and engraved their names heartlessly defiling the walls of a beautiful 250 years old temple. They have covered absolutely every bit of this national heritage with phone numbers, names of people they are dating, names of people they wish they were dating and initials only because they really need you to know that they are in love. I say the government should issue an order to hunt them down and make them spend a significant portion of their lives loving in a prison cell.
The Shonabaria nava-ratna temple, sufferer of this insanity, is situated in Kolaorowa, Satkhira. Portions of brick engravings atop the entrance of the temple that are still not stolen, tell us that that the temple was built by Horiram Das in 1767 and was dedicated to Shyam Shundor, the beautiful, dark one, another name of Krishna.
The temple itself is a 33 feet sanctum with a total height of 41 feet. Being three storeys tall, this gigantic structure contains several dark rooms and dead ends that are now only remnants of its wonderful past. According to old records, there apparently used to be numerous statues on the second floor of the temple, many of which were stolen. Perhaps the thief (or thieves) was one of those imbeciles who scribbled his/her name on the walls? More incentive to hunt them all down! In all honesty though, Shonabaria temple's true beauty can only be felt by visiting its ruins. Oh, and the temple is home to an adorable puppy! Be sure to pat him for us if you are planning a visit.
Inspired by the displays that will forever be there for all to behold, we have decided to start a new business here: Want to express your eternal love for that girl who never noticed you? Come along to Shonabaria temple and write your name on its historical walls and your love will come true! Only Tk. 500 per name. One name free for every two names you write! Hannan, Mannan, Shuvo, Shila, Hanif, Shokhina; you will find them all here. Who cares about preserving history?
Catch more of FBD2 at www.facebook.com/ findingbangladesh.
Trek of Venus
Not a flying cow. Not E.T. on a bicycle.
The 5th of June marked the final transit of Venus across the Sun for this century. People all over the world rushed to find telescopes or hand-made viewing pieces to catch a glimpse of this rare event. Needless to say, most ended up disappointed. Wild fantasies such as exploding planets or fireballs shooting out of the Sun were replaced by a puny black dot sluggishly moving across the face of it. So why should a dot cause so much hype in scientific circles? Surely they have less mundane things to be excited about (or not).
Fact of the matter is the hype lay more in the historical significance of the transit than anything else. It marked the anniversary of the first time, in 1761 and 1769, man had successfully measured the distance between the Sun and the Earth. It was the beginning of astronomy as we know it and laid the foundations for further research. Making use of the now-universally hated trigonometric equations scientists around the world, following Edmund Halley's (of Halley's Comet) method for parallax, were able to obtain a close approximation of the astronomical unit.
This led to quite a few interesting developments as science then became more widely acceptable and people even took to using formulas to better measure distances and journeys (a fact even you can apply to great effect should you wish to find out the relative distance between yourself and the nearest hot girl. That way you can find out if you're doing things wrong). The idea of 'parallax' coined years earlier proved very useful and very soon, the universe boiled down to a few billion kilometers here and there. Tiny, indeed.
That was history. How was the transit important this time around? Well science is never complete and new mysteries are unravelled every day. This time around the scientists are using it to find out about the complex mesosphere around Venus. Incidentally, the transit was seen in Bangladesh during sunrise and the heavenly light shining down was the result of an arc of light emitting from Venus called the aureole.
That was how a small blob across the Sun shaped the future of science. Unless you plan to wait for another hundred and five years, take to your telescopes/amateur binoculars and make the next groundbreaking discovery that will finally prove the existence of aliens. Hurry.
The Special Birthday
By Mastura Tasnim
“birthdays are special, you know, they only come once a year, and it's never the same”, her father informed her. He smiled at her warmly and asked her what she wanted for her 7th birthday. “I want you back. Back home,” she replied.
His smile seemed to falter a little, or maybe it was just the ripple of the monitor screen. “Hey, don't you worry. I'll be back before you start getting used to being seven years old. Just a couple of more months, and it will be like I never left at all.”
“That's what you said before my last birthday.”
“Well, this time it's different. I promise I'll be back soon. Listen, I need to go now, they're calling us out.” His hand reached out to the monitor as if to touch her cheek. “Happy birthday, beautiful.” The connection broke.
Annie looked down at her scabby knees. Maybe she wouldn't fall over running away from bullies so much if he decided to come back.
Her mother came out of the kitchen to find her still seated in front of the computer, staring at her knees. She sat down beside her and pulled Annie on to her lap. “Is something wrong with the birthday girl?”
“Is dad really going to come back this time?”
Her mother smirked at her. “Why? Am I not good enough?”
“Don't act silly, mom! Will dad be back or not?”
Her mother spent the next half an hour convincing her that dad had said that he would get back, and that he would get back soon, and that Dad would be really sorry if he did not.
She ran up to the rooftop at ten o'clock. A plane flew by overhead exactly at five past ten every morning. She made it her business to stay on the rooftop every time it passed, waving her hands so that her father would see her if he paid a surprise visit. He never did.
He was a pilot; not the kind that flew airplanes with people, but the ones who flew the small planes filled with bombs. Annie had seen a picture of his plane. He called it a 'she' and talked about it all the time, even though her mother did not like that much.
He had promised Annie would get onboard once he got back. She had said no, thanks; she did not want to blow up. He had laughed hard at that; she still did not know why.
The plane had flown by. She had waved and even jumped a little. Her mother had given her high hopes and she did not want to miss a chance to surprise her dad.
Whenever she jumped like that, she felt like she could touch the clouds and perhaps touch a part of the world her dad occupied, except this time she did not get back to her own. When she looked down, all she could see was a rush of grey and green, and all she could think was “I bet he could have taught me to fly.”
The Hungry Tide
By Amitav Ghosh
By Neshmeen Faatimah
On the vast delta of the Bay of Bengal, along the coasts of India and Bangladesh lies the archipelago of islands called the Sundarbans. Life is fragile here, priced at a very low value. Here humans and animals share a complex and precarious ecosystem, where the wind and tides can radically alter lives on a daily basis- washing away islands, creating new ones, flooding and blowing off houses and habitats in a matter of minutes. Crocodiles and endangered Royal Bengal Tigers rule this forest and, fervently protected by international environmental groups, kill hundreds of humans every year. Mythologies and histories subvert this Tide country and it is in this mesmerising region of beauty and danger that the lives of our protagonists Kanai Dutt, Piyali Roy and Fokir- each from very different worlds, collide.
The story is narrated from the perspectives of Kanai and Piya. The former is a well-off businessman with a translation firm from Delhi, proud and arrogant who is called to the island of Lusibari by his aunt Nilima because of a package left to him by Nirmal, his late uncle who died 20 years ago. The latter is a young American marine biologist from Bengali roots who comes to the tide country to study the rare Irrawaddy dolphins that live here. Her trip begins with her being thrown off the boat into crocodile infested waters when her assigned guide and guard desert her. She is rescued by Fokir, an illiterate poor man, who is perhaps the truest and deepest soul in the book. Fokir has deep knowledge of the river and its wildlife and Piya sets out with him as her guide and Kanai, as a translator to complete her research in the deep waters of the forest to what turns out to be a life changing journey for the three of them. Along the journey, Piya develops a deep sense of liking for Fokir, and Kanai, attracted to her is envious of him.
The book does not offer continuous action and suspense which might bore some people off. However, the reader is kept attracted by the deep engaging back stories of the characters, the many sub-plots filled with a whirlwind of events and emotions, the deeply researched histories, mythologies and beliefs of the people living in the Sundarbans and the wide range of topics that touch everything from freedom, war, refugees, trafficking, humanism, environmentalism and idealism to beauty, love, compassion, jealousy, pride, trust, identity and emotional development. At times these can seem too overwhelming and long, but it is a small con of a book filled with pros. It is a complex book written in a unique style, making it a brilliant work of postmodern fiction, filled with the deepest of emotions that ends in heartbreak for the readers.