Bangladesh Slideshow

27 May, 2008

On Wings of Integrity

That we won the top award in corruption five years at a stretch is no secret. That our leaders, politicians, and government officers have amassed wealth beyond belief through dubious means is also widely known. Corruption is so endemic in the country that with our limited resources we can only go after grand corruption and ignore the petty.

Honesty, integrity and generosity are no longer prized social values. These were values held dear by our parents and grandparents, and seem so old-fashioned now. Today, we have become self-centered and inward-looking, avaricious and materialistic.

A sad state of affairs indeed.

But every now and then, something good happens, and it boosts hope anew. Like this incident:

Yesterday, some colleagues of mine were in a very bad highway accident. Swerving to avoid a motorcycle, their van went flying, turned somersaults, and ended up on its side in a water hyacinth-filled ditch. It was a miracle that they escaped with only minor injuries.

The locals came running to lend a hand, pushing the car upright, pulling the dazed passengers out, organizing transportation to the nearby health complex. They also got everything out of the car, cleaned and dried the things, and returned them. I can just visualize raised eyebrows as readers come to this part: Returned everything? Surely some things went missing? Oh, ye of little faith!

My colleagues were returning from a workshop and did have expensive things with them like digital cameras and laptops and multimedia projector. Not to mention everyday stuff like cell phones and overnight kits. And they had bought quite a lot of mangoes and lichi.

But everything was returned. EVERY SINGLE THING. Including mud-caked fruit and items of clothing, fancy notebooks and jars of sunderban honey. And when a colleague opened his toilet case, he found in it a packet of ballpoint pens and a blank cassette tape. Insignificant things, really. But very significant in the sense that someone was honest enough to pack them, knowing full well that these things would not have been missed in a carload of similar things.

When I listened to my colleague narrate this, I was so choked by emotion that it brought tears to my eyes. I felt so PROUD to be a Bengali, and I can tell you quite frankly that the way things are in today’s Bangladesh, such feelings are very, very rare. Honesty and integrity are endangered species in Bangladesh’s current political and urban life, but I am so very glad to be able to say that amongst those who make up the lifeblood of our country through their labor and sweat, these are still commonplace traits. We may look down on these people from our lofty, educated, know-all perch, but they can certainly put us to shame any day by virtue of their simplicity and goodness of heart.

Are honesty and integrity really such bad bargains? They may have lost a little of their sparkle in today's marketplace, but rub off the dust they've collected, and they are still the genuine article beneath.

If we are by and large an honest nation, why should we allow ourselves to be tarred by the brush of corruption that only a handful wields? Which path shall we take then, as a nation? Shall we plod through the dirt of duplicity, corruption and deceit, or shall we rise above such petty matters on the wings of integrity?

25 May, 2008

Bingo's Tale

Once upon a time, a little boy wandered too far from his home and was lost amidst a concrete jungle. 'He was worried and he was blue, he was sad and crying too...'

He was rescued by a woman who took him in and raised him as her own along with her little girl.

Growing up, he became fiercely loyal, and fierce too. He went to work with his Mommy, and made her workplace his home. He prowled the place at night and kept it safe from burglars.

Misfortune struck when jealous men conspired and complained against him, and threatened his very existence.

As he spoke a different language, he was unable to plead his own case. So with evidence stacked against him, he had to leave. But where would he go? He had a reputation now for being vicious!

Mommy's parents came to the rescure - graciously providing a home. (Okay, so Mommy used a bit of waterworks and emotional blackmail.) They lived on the other side of town, a short car-ride away.

It was very exciting visiting his new home, and he fell asleep on the ride back, curling up next to Mommy. He knew that she loved him the most in this world.

On the day of the move, he made sure all his belongings were packed.

And bid farewell to old friends. They were genuinely sad to see him go, but were happy that he was going to a good home.

In the car, like all little boys, he wanted to drive. But he didn’t have a driver’s license, he was far too young of course!

But he was just as happy watching the world go by. Occasionally making sure his things were still in the car with him.

His new home wasn’t as posh as his old. But it did have one commodity in abundant supply. Love!

He lounged on Mommy’s bed. Grandpa was always ready with a hug. Grandma hired a cook to prepare him two meals a day. They were lovely people!

And there were new friends. Very exciting!

He was given day-time/night-time homes! What luxury!! The day-time home was in the shade of a spreading guava tree (you can just make out the lavender roof amongst the green leaves). And the night-time home was on the open roof. He could frolic under the starry sky. And take shelter when it rained.

He supervised the construction; making sure things were to his liking.

There were so many new things to do. He played in the rain. Chased crows and butterflies.

Sniffed plants. Played fetch.

All the running around made him thirsty. And tired. It was a hot day!

Later, he took his post near the front door, the ever vigilant sentinel.

Love and laughter were back in his life. Thank you, God.

Puppies at Play

Okay so they are not puppies per se anymore. I am talking about my two babies.

Candy. And Bingo.

Candy, the German Shepherd, is 10 weeks short of her 2nd birthday. And Bingo, the Roadesian, is 19 months old. (I just can’t believe how time flies. It seems just the other day we brought Candy home, and mere months ago that I rescued from the streets a little ball of fur that was Bingo.)

But take a look at these photos of their latest play-date. And tell me that they’ve grown up.

Sure there were petty jealousies.

“Hey, are you drinking from MY bowl???”, growls Bingo, totally outraged. He later puts his paw in the bowl and tries to tip it over. Totally dog in the manger. It was a ‘you had to be there’ kind of moment.

Not to be outdone, a physically superior Candy pins her smaller sibling to the ground. “That’ll teach you to think MY Mommy is your Mommy,” she gloats.

A miffed Bingo makes a dignified retreat. Tail in the air.

Mommy tries to make them understand that she is mommy to them both. The children do not buy it.

But sibling rivalry aside, that they love each other is in no doubt.

And each is downcast when the date comes to an end.

Candy refuses dinner. And Bingo wails for hours.

And Mommy feels terrible at having upset her babies.

10 May, 2008

Another Family Birthday!

Ranak's birthday finally came around. Birthdays are a big deal in our family, and we make a huge fuss over the birthday person (regardless of age, breed etc.).

Presents were secretly bought and stealthily wrapped. The cake was kept hidden until showtime.

Candy was extremely unhappy at being woken up and made to wear a color-coordinated collar. But she did get all excited at seeing the cake!

Ranak had a hard time blowing out the candles. Weak lungs? Nope, we just got him trick candles (ha ha)!

Everyone had the yummy cake. It was black forest, and sinfully rich in calories. But really, who's counting?

The birthday boy wondered what was in the box.

Candy didn't want the remainder of the cake to be repacked! And was thoroughly disgusted when it was put away! She believes in eating in one go.

Excitement over, let me share with you a verse by Robert Browning:

"Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be."

And last but not the least, the ode to the birthday boy:

"I draw a circle, not a heart, around you, My husband, the one I love Because a heart can break But a circle goes on forever."