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From Rags to Rajbari

By Anika Ali & Adnan M. S. Fakir
Photos courtesy of Finding Bangladesh

You remember all those inspirational stories, right? You know, the ones where some kid who lives under someone else's bed, in a slum, works really hard and becomes rich enough to buy the whole shindig? The story of the Rayerkathi Rajbari, Pirojpur is kind of like that but with added cheese.

At some point in the 16th century, Leonardo da Vinci was trying to make bikes fly, Galileo was desperately trying to make money out of thermometers, and a widow at Pirojpur, [in Barisal] was sweeping floors in the house of a Brahmin, while her son tended the cattle. The name of this boy was Srinath Ray and he is the protagonist of our rags to riches story. Now, this kid was cool as heck. So cool, in fact, that the Brahmin whose house he lived in, decided that the boy must be a blessed person and decided to take on the responsibility for his education.

When the boy got older, he became very attractive and charming and that's on top of all the inherent amazingness. One fine evening he was just walking by the river when the Nawab of Bengal was cruising along it. As fate would have it, the Nawabcalled out to Srinath and asked him why he was living in a backwater village even though he appeared to be so cool (he posed the question in more elegant words, presumably). Srinath responded with an impressive and charismatic answer to which the Nawab was impressed and charisma-tised. He offered Srinath a chance to join him in his cruise which Srinath humbly declined saying that he should get his mother's permission first. Told you he was charming! The mother said 'Awesome' and Srinath went on to become even cooler.

Now, hanging out with the Nawab is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that must be earned. So the Nawab put Srinath to a test. It was an impossibly difficult task that no one had managed to complete before. We couldn't even find out what the task was.

Srinath however, completed the task and become all bold and mighty. The Nawab was greatly pleased and he rewarded Srinath with a nice piece of his own estate along with some forest area. Srinath turned it into a nifty little kingdom.

According to documented history, this legend might not be entirely accurate. But whatever; legends are cooler than history. In any case, the Rayerkathi Rajbari belongs to the same Ray lineage that Srinath Ray was from. In fact, it was his grandson who established the Rayerkathi Rajbari and the 14 Temples after he had seen a dream where he was instructed to do so. Dreams sadly have lost their vigour nowadays.

Find more Legends, Histories and Mythologies at


The Pity Effect

By Sifana Sohail

People are always in a rush. They run from place to place; businessmen stride to and from the workplace, briefcase in hand, no time to spare for anyone. Even the White Rabbit rushing into Wonderland had no time. The new models and techniques are better and faster than the old ones. Speed is such an important issue. In this hectic world, our busy lives seem to pause and move in slow motion once we enter a bank or a hospital or the passport office. There we meet the enemy of the fast-moving existence - The Line.

Lines are long, stretch into oblivion and move slowly. The people at the counter on the horizon have their own lives and laziness to take care of. The slow line is no concern of theirs. Hence we are resigned to halt and twiddle our thumbs until we can move on. The horrible thing about lines and people who have lives is that they don't want to deal with you quickly and efficiently. They put you on hold until they can spare a free minute for you. If you're on the phone, there usually isn't anything you can do to reverse their negligence. In a line, or in person, it's not that difficult.

A dead relative, cancer, crying children - they will all get you bumped ahead in line. A meticulously executed manipulation results in less time spent in the abyss of slow-moving queues and in front of suited, professional assistants. Leakage of tears, harried faces, pinched frowns and, in extreme cases, sobbing are all useful, efficient tools which can transport you back to the World of Running Everywhere and Being Busy At All Times. This wonderful phenomenon has been around since a person first felt sorry for another human being. After they got over the delight of having dominant emotions like happiness, sadness, humiliation, pride and jealousy, they discovered the petty sentiment of feeling sorry for someone. And then someone used it to gain what was rightfully not theirs. It's how we've defied Mendel. Survival of the fittest has been thwarted by one small emotion.

Everyone has manipulated and been manipulated in this way at least once in their lives. For beggars, it's their livelihood. Even Mother Earth's finally started to make use of it. A hole in her ozone layer and a fever with higher temperature and she's got stuffy, penny-pinching, carbon-dioxide producing companies paying money to plant trees. Who says shortcuts don't work?


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