Since Vladentine's Day
By Dibarah Mahboob
Let's face it, nostalgia drives us Bangalis deeply. It drives our culture and, what now it seems to be driving our politics. We spent the last few years tossing our feet in the War Crimes Tribunal issue and spent millions on it. We initiated the biggest movement in the country over an issue that brought back the flavor of 1952 and 1971 nationalist movements. Despite the outpour of raw emotion for solidarity and justice, the movement couldn't help but take a Nazi-nostalgic turn through the yells of “boycott them!”, “ban their reach”, “crucify those pigs!”. Maybe those self-immolating Tibetan monks could take a leaf out of our books on how to stage passionate protests quite suddenly. And now, amidst an alleged “revolution”, Bangladesh signed a billion dollar deal with Russia. (Strange, how could Russia possibly know the country was skidding towards an Islamist havoc?)
With all the nostalgia of youth movements in the country, Bangladesh goes on a date with an old flame from the time it was still East Pakistan- none other than the next James Bond, Vlad Putin. On January 15th 2013 Russian Vladimir Putin and our Prime Minister met up. While the country is at one of its most malleable political conditions, the two chat and after the meeting, Putin served a dessert of a $1bn credit to purchase Russian made armaments and military technology.
The last time we saw something proportionate to this defense deal was in World War II when America rose to eventual world economic domination through its cash-for-arms policy. So here we are in a new battle- a Cold one (pun intended) involving natural resources. Those sneaky Russians- With a 6% economic growth rate and a flashy Economist spread on how awesome Bangladesh is doing to help all those poor people, Moscow found an opportunity to reconnect with a vintage chess partner from the days of East Pakistan. In fact, Russia has set its sights on Bangladesh's natural resources to pay the credit line-up for the giant arms deal.
The Economist whispered how Vlad's conditions, compared to that of Bangladesh's other financial partners are financially inferior but politically irresistible. The country needs a strategic foothold in South Asia. With bitter eye contact between Vlad and Pakistan, Bangladesh is a great solution. After all our yearning to hang out with the big kids make us quite hospitable. Pleased the government seems to be to have found a donor friend in the alpha hottie of world politics. However
The government of Bangladesh seems to have developed a taste for other symbols of power it seems. Last year we made a home-delivery order for our first satellite. Only a few weeks ago we decided to shop submarines. Where the most obvious solution to long-term energy future in Bangladesh lies in a mix of coal and gas imports from Myanmar or the Middle East, we announce plans to build nuclear power plants requiring more cash than the country has ever laid it LDC eyes on. Coal and gas from the Orient just doesn't sound as cool as nukes from Russia.
It's not just cheeky Vlad who deserves the eye brow raise.
Bangladesh has been expanding its military capabilities recently with the excuses of unsettled territorial and border disputes with India and Myanmar. The arms agreement follows an earlier deal for Bangladesh to purchase tanks from China. Strange- all these might well punch a hole in those recent statistical estimates modeled after the respected Monty Marshall's Center for Systemic Peace's findings. The data showed Bangladesh to be suffering an especially high risk of suffering a coup d'état in 2013!
Arms deal isn't a regular capitalist shopping spree, especially one that stands as the largest since 1971. It relates to one of the country's most sensitive sectors- national defense. So can we talk about how ridiculous it is that it just went by and we didn't even talk about it properly?
An Unfortunate Trip to a Metal Concert
By Rumman R Kalam
You know that brilliant feeling after your get your first pay check? Your pocket's full and you feel like wasting your money just cause you can. And I was feeling extra generous one day in Gulshan 2 a year or two back. With my pockets full I decided to have a plastic cup of overpriced Starbucks Coffee, nothing says you're rich like a cuppa coffee worth as much as an Ethiopian boy's kidney.
Upon arriving at the coffee place, I saw that there was a concert going on at the moment and I didn't think much of it. What the hell, might as well pay to support the music scene. I paid for my ticket and got my wrist stamped on by a seal which had a goat's head in the middle of a \m/ sign and a serial number underneath. Thinking about how my dad would later blame me for joining a Satanist cult, I walked in through the doors expecting to see a nice acoustic setup. Now, the next thing that I saw was like seeing Chris Brown in a feminist lecture. There were two amps, a PA system, a set of cheap drums set up in the corner and half the place was filled up with metalheads who wore the usual band t's like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Sepultura and a few hipster ones wearing t-shirts written in the spiky metal language all band logos are written in. I sat down and a female fronted band went up. The guitarist sported an extravagant hairstyle with several piercings and the female vocal looked quite out of place in her latex strappings. I still did not expect what might happen and that's when they started playing a Paramore track out of the Twilight movie and a group of people started headbanging near the 'stage'... inside a coffee shop. To make matters worse, their next few songs featured the lead guitarist singing Cradle of Filth tracks. Now, I won't say much about Cradle of Filth cause their name does justice to their music but this hit a new low. The guitar-vocal dude was screaming like he was birthing an imported watermelon and between the multi-coloured lights and the artificial smoke, all I could make out was his tongue piercing vibrating menacingly like a bomb about to go off. I was pretty much stuck in a trance thanks to the tongue-ring until they said thank you in a metal accent and left the stage.
The next act up were a group of bespectacled men except for the lead vocalist who was full of metal swag in his army camos. All of them were donning the same Iron Maiden t-shirt which indicated they were a Maiden cover band. I didn't mind and I still don't mind Iron Maiden, I thought this couldn't be that bad with someone playing Steve Harris's basslines. Well, the bassline was the last thing on my mind after what the vocalist did. He started growling and pointed at the guy managing the sound. To quote him, "UUUURRRRRGGHHHHHHHH MID TA BARBE UUURRRGGGHH VOLUME BARBE" AND THEN, he kept going "OOOOOHHHHRRRRRGGHHHHHHH" while shaking his fist at the sound guy until the guy refused to increase the volume any more. This was prime entertainment until the vocalist started singing; he started singing Fear of the Dark in an Indian accent. Just imagine Vennu Mallesh singing Fear of the Dark. Yes, exactly like that. After their first Maiden track and the start of the second, I began to realise that maybe setting a 500 taka note on fire and snorting the ashes would've been a better method of enjoying my money than this. I began to reach for my already cold Ethiopian boy's kidn- I mean, coffee and then the vocalist announced in his death metal voice"ARE.. YOU.. READY.. FOR SOME DEATH METAL MASTER OF PUPPEEEEETTTTSS?". That was my cue. Get the hell out of here, Rumman. This is no place for a man seeking a peaceful cup of coffee and just as I got up, someone pushed me straight into the line of headbangers. All of a sudden, everyone was pushing and hitting each other. I was buffeted by the stench of the fake smoke, metal perspiration and something that smelled like onions. After getting pushed around by a few guys and then shaking hands with them for the awesome moshpit I started(according to them), I quickly left the premises and vowed to never return there. I was not metal enough. It's my cross to bear, for I am a pansy who cannot enjoy 320bpm chromatic guitar solos.
DISCLAIMER: Any similarities between the bands I wrote about and real life bands are purely coincidental. If you find any uncanny similarities, you seriously need to rethink your life.