A Big Dipper Phase of Life That is Worth Living

Just four weeks ago, I was stuck in the traffic of Dhaka, commuting to my work. Life was stuck in a routine, a boring one. Get up at 6 am, slip into jeans and tops, drape a scarf around the neck, have breakfast while mom packs the same thing for lunch, hop into the car, finally reach office after a sweaty battle with Dhaka traffic, and coming back home after similar struggle. Hardship doubles up when it rains. I used to be the happiest on Thursday nights. Not like I planned a lot of stuff for the weekend, stuff that could balance my weekday struggle. The thought of sleeping a bit longer in the morning and not having to go outside of home energized me a lot. I avoided going out as much as possible. Surprisingly, my parents hate to see me at home doing nothing, even if it’s weekend. They would offer me to go take a walk outside, but my one despising look was enough make them realize how much I hate the idea. Catching up with friends didn’t count and was something I was always up for because that was the only time I could be ME, only time I could rant about anything and everything, only time I could find some solace, altruistically.

I was an intern at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka for three months. It’s not as impressive as it sounds like. Ministry never had interns before; fortunately or unfortunately, I and one of classmates were the first interns (read guinea pigs). We didn’t even have a desk to work on. We just found ourselves a place in the corner of the library. So, the internship went more like a pilot project, an opportunity to make the pitch smoother for the future interns, our juniors at the university who can thank us later. At least in one case, I was lucky because this classmate-turned-to-co-worker is one of my dearest friends. She was the best person to help me out whenever we were asked difficult questions like, “What you want to do next?” or “Why are you here?”; someone with whom I had done multiple group assignments where I always tended to be a free-rider.

We were aliens. Till the end of the internship, we had to explain to the security guard at the entrance why we want to go in. Till the end of the internship, we explained at least one person a day about our position, our motive, our job description, and why we chose to intern here at the ministry rather than going for some other sector that would make a proper utilization of us. Nobody cared or even noticed if we bunked office or left earlier. For three months, we left no stone unturned in search of opportunity to work and receive exposure as much as possible. We met some extra-ordinary personalities who have been contributing with their brainpower in terms of forming foreign policies and building up foreign relations for the country. We looked for opportunities to work where the future interns can be engaged in.

Well, we also undertook assignments that we can boast about; for example, writing up statements for Bangladesh on international issues for the UN General Assembly, researching and reporting on opportunities of some proposed and existing diplomatic missions abroad, and developing resources helpful for day to day operation of the ministry.

Sudden change of backdrop.

Within one week, I am in a van, travelling to a remote village of the Northwest of Bangladesh, a place where I have never been to, with colleagues whom I met just a couple of days ago. I was going there for a field visit because within 2 weeks I was going to shift there with 18 volunteers and my UK counterpart for three months on a development project. In the meantime, I loaded my suitcase with clothes that are “village-friendly”. No more jeans and tops. My office is at ten minutes walking distance, an abandoned room with a tinned roof, broken windows, and doors with completely nothing in it, not even a chair and a table. The only market in the village only becomes alive in the evening for couple of hours where only men come and socialize. Mode of transportation would be 3 wheeler rickshaw van and only needed if I need to get out of the village for some reason. Traffic? Well, the van driver has to slow down or brake if only there’s a queue of ducks crossing the road or a livestock relaxing on it like he owns it.

I and my counterpart chaired a meeting with the people we will be working with in the village. Here, we, especially my UK counterpart were alien too. We were asked questions that are similar to the questions asked in the ministry. This time, it was easier to answer because the answer involved them, their well being. We were there to work with the youth of the village, mobilize them, make them aware and vocal about their rights, and train them for life skills, skills that would earn them livelihood. At the same time, we will be involving the local government and make them more responsive towards the community. They accepted us at once, without any further question or doubt. They said they’ll be waiting for the time when we finally shift there and get started with the project work.

We came back with hearts full of hope. We met our volunteers, shared all the information received during the field visit. Together we travelled for 14 hours to get to the community, dealing with all kind of hardship together, starting from flat tire to slow service of lunch at a highway restaurant. We got welcomed at our village by heavy rain almost at the middle of the night, yet all of us found our way to different host homes. “Tomorrow is a new day,” said my counterpart.

It had been just 2 weeks I know him. He is not a person to be judged at first sight. The only thought that crossed my mind when I first saw him is, “Whoa! That’s a tall one!” Within two weeks I realized I wouldn’t have gotten a better counterpart. He’s the kind of person who would have a definite direction and purpose before setting out for somewhere. He’s one of the few gentle men I have met in my life with all the British-like manners poured in. You know, adding sorry, thank you, please at the end of each sentence, holding up doors, always let the ladies go first and so on. He’s very focused and passionate about the project (so am I!). He’s a good listener which is much needed for making the leadership role more balanced. Most importantly, he has his share of humor when it’s needed, which is a big relief for me. Altogether, we have built a strong working relationship. We did a great job in terms of team building. Everyone seemed super excited to know their roommates and counterparts. We were so excited to get started with the project. Team Northwest was on!

Then everything got blurred.

On the night of our very first day in the community we got to know that my counterpart has to leave for the UK to resolve a menial visa issue, immediately. After a long day of orientation, me and my counterpart sat together to reflect back to what we did for the day and what needs to be done. That’s when I got a call from the Project Manager and was conveyed this news. He said not to be frustrated, but I know how hard it is to have a straight face. I am not fancied by the line “The show must go on”. I and my counterpart realized we have no control over this issue. So we decided to do what’s best for the project: I stick to the planned activities while my counterpart flies back to the UK to resolve his visa issue and help with the project work as much as possible from long distance.IMG_5801

So here I am, in a remote village of Northwest Bangladesh, with 18 people of around my age from two different parts of the world, standing in one leg like a flamingo, eager to put the first step towards the project, eagerly waiting for the return of the other Team Leader with fingers crossed. I and my team ARE a little frustrated, but we are not hopeless. We are still working together on building the pillars of the project. It’s a full moon tonight. All my team members came together to embrace the moonlight and suddenly I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful team! 

All these changes took place within four weeks, just four weeks. I love my life!

28 September 2015

5 (or maybe 4) things I’ll do When I’ve Only 24 Hours Left to Live


A few days ago, I saw an article online which was about thing someone would do if he/she gets to know that they have only 24 hours left to live. There are actually a lot of articles as such if you just google it. When I went through one of them, it made me think what I would do if I were in that very unlikely situation. So, I came up with this list as I couldn’t decide on one single thing to do. Surprisingly, while creating the list, the thought of death didn’t scare me at all. On the other hand, I felt the sheer happiness of carrying out all these things listed below.

1. Spend all my money eating at places I always wanted to but never could.


2. Write letters/e-mails to the near and dear ones, write about my feelings for them, appreciating what they did for me, and apologizing if I have ever hurt them.


3. A night out with my friends, drink and party hard.


4. Give away all my belongings.


5. I would love to experience one more thing which requires a partner, but for the lack of a partner, I’ll give up that wish. ;)


So, what about your list? :D

Sister Love


Reblogging because it’s sister’s birthday!

Originally posted on fmoriam:

keep-calm-and-love-your-sister-1140Do you remember when you were a newborn baby, someone took you in her small arms clumsily and you bitterly complained with a cry? You were brought up wearing her clothes which she used to wear in her childhood. You enjoyed breaking her toys that she had preserved with her life for years, but she never complained about that. She is no one but your sister.

A sister is someone who used to change your diapers when you were an infant and your mother was not at home.

A sister is when she took you to the playground obeying your mother’s order. Her peers used to play joyfully there, but she couldn’t help but see that from a distance, holding you in her arms. She couldn’t join them because she had to look after you.

A sister is someone who is born to create competition for you. Sometimes you think…

View original 225 more words

Cut the Knots of the Corruption Web

Bangladesh is a champion of corruption and we, the Bangladeshis, religiously curse corruption at every point of our lives. When we are young, we promise ourselves that we will never engage in this heinous activity. We teach our kids that corruption is a bad thing to do and how it is being a blockade for our country’s progress. Do we realize that corruption is just like a web and we are just one of the knots that is keeping the web integrated?

A few months ago, I had to visit a government office for a particular document to make a machine readable passport. My parents advised me to slCorruption: A Way of Lifeip a couple of hundred taka notes to the government employee and get the document. I complied because my plan was to get the document in hand and ask the employee whether he gets paid by the government or not when he asks for money. My parents thought it to be a very bad idea and my dad decided to go fetch the document instead.

Maybe the government employee receives a meager salary which might not be enough to run a family. As he gets accustomed to the “extra income”, his desires increase too. Sometimes we slip those hundred taka notes out of pity and because we are so rich the amount does not hurt our wallet. Most of the time, we are forced to slip the notes because we want to get things done without delay. Even if we earn the money after such toil and pay taxes to the government, we have to let go a big portion of our hard earned money paying bribes at different places. If we just randomly pick a sector, say law enforcement sector, we will find 79.6% of the household faced corruption when they sought any kind of help from the law enforcement agencies. Each household had to pay an average amount of 3,352 taka to get things done in this sector (Nawaz 2012). We feel proud of ourselves that we are not receiving bribe. However, we are bribing others and that keeps the corruption cycle going.

Now the question is how to untwine the web. In an article entitled “Anti-corruption Mechanisms in Bangladesh,” Advocate M. Shamsul Haque mentions, “…corruption in Bangladesh is considered a way of life that cannot be avoided or eradicated” (Haque). Are we going to get used to this way of life? For example, to avoid bribing, one might suggest complaining to the higher authority. It is quite confirmed we will find the higher authority corrupted to a greater level than their juniors. How can we expect them to take action against their juniors when they themselves are found guilty for the same crime? This even encourages the lower level employees to claim for bribes because they know nobody going to charge them for the crime. On top of that, their seniors might be claiming commissions from them as a price of letting them receiving bribes. As a result, corruption prevails and our life becomes so much intertwined in it that gradually we stop noticing it. Even a teacher who is supposed to teach his or her students that corruption is a bad thing has to pay a bribe to get a job in a government school. A report of Transparency International, Bangladesh mentions that to get a job as a teacher in a registered primary school, bribe is taken in the form of donation. Not only this, but also they are coerced to pay 1000-1500 taka in the name of different subscriptions when they go through a training program for “skill development” (“Administration and Management of Primary Education: Problems and the Way Out”, 5).

As a remedy to corruption, Advocate Haque suggests to make a “corruption-free” family. Parents might try to do that by encouraging their children for career option that includes less scopes of corruption, options like—doctor or engineer. Even if all of them don’t turn out to be doctors or engineers, many pursue private sectors where they think they can extricate themselves from corruption. Nowadays, parents encourage the least to go for government job because they might have to pay a huge amount of bribes to get the job. Secondly, the salary is very low and they do not want their kids to get involved in corruption to supplement their income. At the end of the day, they somehow get involved in corruption when they have to pay those extra amounts to get their passport, driving license, or at least to get rid of the traffic sergeant blocking their way for no good reason. This takes us to the state of nature described by Thomas Hobbes where human by nature is selfish (Wolff 12). People pay bribes without a big fuss because their self-interest lies there. They want to get their work done without any delay and do not mind paying for it when it is needed.

Advocate Haque also suggests exercise of religious values which I think has least to do anything with corruption. Even if we avoid corruption in fear of god, we submit to it at different levels to please our gods, such as—in the process of going for hajj or getting permission to set up a puja pandal during Durga Puja. Advocate Haque has said, corruption has become a way of life, we think it does not contradict with our religion when we are bribing people and praying to our gods simultaneously.eradicate corruption

So, what is the solution? What would have happened if I had collected that document and refused to bribe that government employee? It would not have made any difference in the whole corruption system, but it would bring some change if a large number of people do the same at once. When a group of people refuse to bribe, it sets an example that there is an option to be bold and say no to bribery. Gradually, it will ripple all over the society and make more people realize that they have the collective power to come out of the corruption web. When everyone altogether refuses to pay bribe to anyone, corruption has to stop right there. To be candid, this sounds dreamy when every individual is driven by their self-interest. The conflict here is between individual rationality and collective rationality. Collective rationality is considered the best way when everyone becomes a part of it. According to an example by Jean-Paul Sartre, individual rationality said cutting down trees would increase productivity, but that would destroy the land. Collective rationality is to avoid cutting trees altogether. Same applies in terms of states. Individual rationality lets us pay the bribe and get our work done, but when everyone does the same, it brings destruction to the state. To make collective rationality successful, effort needs to come from the agency.  Therefore, to achieve a society free of corruption, everyone needs to let go their individual rationality and become a part of the collective rationality. Is it something very feasible to think of? I hate to be pessimistic.

Works Cited

“Administration and Management of Primary Education: Problems and the Way Out.” Transparency International Bangladesh. Transparency International Bangladesh, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014. <http://www.ti-bangladesh.org/beta3/images/max_file/rp_es_PrimEducation_En.pdf&gt;.

Haque, M. Shamsul. “Anti-corruption Mechanisms in Bangladesh.” – Asian Human Rights Commission. Asian Human Rights Commission, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2014. <http://www.humanrights.asia/resources/journals-magazines/article2/0901/08anti-corruption-mechanisms-in-bangladesh&gt;.

Nawaz, Farzana. “U4 Expert Answer.” U4: Anti-Corruption Resource Center. Ed. Gareth Sweeney. CHR. Michelsen Institute, 12 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2014. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.u4.no%2Fpublications%2Foverview-of-corruption-within-the-justice-sector-and-law-enforcement-agencies-in-bangladesh%2Fdownloadasset%2F2800>.

10 signs that say you are from AUW (it’s lame)

1. You are too cool to dress up like other girls all the time because you don’t have time for that!Image


Sportswear is easy to find! 

2. But when you dress up occasionally, you leave the opposite gender breathless! 


Before and after

3. You always have something to carry with yourself, e.g. a backpack (loaded with laptop and study materials), a basketball, a guitar, or a DSLR.



4. You are eager to go home on vacations, but you particularly don’t do anything special there, except for sleep, eat, and repeat or having intellectual fights with your family members.



“I’m so excited, I forgot my ticket!”

5. Normally your weekends are packed up with assignments due next week, readings, club meetings, and a whole bunch of events happening in campus. 



“So you’re telling me it’s weekend and I should relax?”

6. Whatever you eat at home or anywhere, it tastes heavenly after eating dining hall food. 



“Let’s cook anything, it will surely taste good”

7. All those critical thinking classes make a lot of things around you illogical.



8. Gender roles, stereotypes, sexism, racism, discrimination; you cannot pass a day without encountering one of these terms.




9. You can’t wait to graduate and get out of this place, but you start getting emotional from the very beginning of your senior year.



10. And finally, after graduation, you have no idea what you gonna do with your life (because there are way too many options or the other way round)!






Words in Shape of a Poem

What is crush?

Temporary love, infatuation

I do have that a lot

Once or twice a month

Would you call it a crush

When I start dreaming you

(without even meeting you in person)

And wake up with a subtle smile on my face?

When I start copying your pictures from the internet

Even if the kilobytes cost me?

When I get upset to see

That your relationship status is blank?

When I start imagining that

Some day you will love me back? Even more?

I know it’s impossible,

But a stupid portion of my brain

Urges me to believe that.

Would you still call it a crush?

Maybe a longer crush?

Love? Oh god forbids!


People say love can make a poet out of you

So here I am writing a stupid poem.

Just writing down what I feel

In shape of a poem.

Would you ever know that?

Or have you already got the hint?

Stupid love, Stupid poem.


Well, don’t feel so honored

That I wrote a poem in your love.

I wrote it

Because I’ve nothing else to do.


6 January 2014, 12.26 am.

P.S. This is the first and probably the last attempt of writing a poem. Thankfully, the author is out of danger now.

From Ignorance to Empowerment: Case Study of Women Leaders of Grassroot Level

“I came to know what I didn’t use to know,” says Rokeya Begum, a member of Jatiyo Mohila Party. What she did not use to know is her responsibilities and rights of being a party member in the political arena. Bulbuli, Kohinoor, and Sadeka were also going through the same situation. They got over with this ignorance through round table meetings, workshops, and women dialogues arranged by Democracy International under the project of “Democratic Participation and Reform”.

Kohinoor Begum had joined politics in 2002. While being in Jatiyo Mohila Party, she only used to be active during elections when she used to campaign for the party candidates. Rest of the time, she would just sit home and take care of her tailoring business. Jatiyo Mohila Party is one of the many sectors of Jatiyo Party, consisting ­­­­almost 100 women in Meherpur. Members there, like Kohinoor Begum, knew little about their responsibilities and rights. Even if they had enough potentiality to work for the people and the party, they did not know how to approach. They had irregular meetings where they used to discuss how they can add more members in the party. While campaigning during elections, they could not do properly as they did not know how to mix up with people and speak in public. They never realized that they can go further from their position within the party.

Through different training programs and seminars by Democracy International they learned to raise their voice up. They started to claim equality and accountability in decision making. Sadeka claimed why the male party leaders always take decisions according to their will. Members of the mohila party have rights to take part in decision making too. Before, the party leader would only give assurance of their rights, but now their boldness forced them to give them what they want. After attending women dialogue by Democracy International, Meherpur Jatiyo Mohila Party members built up an advocacy group which would make a list of promising female members who are eligible enough to be added in the main committee list of Jatiyo Party. It also created a space where the advocacy group could negotiate with the leading members of Jatiyo Party about adding the female members in the committee list. As a result of the negotiation, about 90 party members from Jatiyo Mohila Party have been added in the main committee list of Jatiyo Party few months ago.

Rokeya, Bulbuli, Kohinoor, and Sadeka are four of those women who have been added in the main committee list. According to them, it would not have happened so early if they did not have the support of Democracy International. “DI has opened our eyes and mouth,” says Sadeka Khatun who learned how to work for the progress of the party and realizes the importance of nominating the right person for an election. The addition into the main committee list also helped in flourishing her NGO, Onirban Mohila Kollyan Songstha. Bulbuli Khatun, a homemaker in occupation, now has plans to serve the people and make progress in different party related issues. After learning about different policies and public speaking, now they can influence more people during election and attract more people in the party through their speeches. People in general have faith in them as well as the male leaders of Jatiyo Party. They are cooperating with them like they do with other members and inform them different party related matters, which they did not use to do before. 

Female grassroot leaders engaged in Women Dialogue arranged by Democracy International

Members of Jatiyo Mohila Party discovered their inner strength through different programs of Democracy International. They are willing to work for the general people and the party. Now, they are aiming to stand for elections while having the constant support of Democracy International.Leaders