Welcome to USA

It’s half way around the world from Bangladesh, but it’s the ‘American Dream’ that was calling me

I was selected along with eight other media professionals (two ladies from the group are professors) on the State Department trip to US, coordinated and facilitated by University of Oklahoma. I applied for the fellowship back in November, 2012 after my Director of News nominated.

Glad that I got selected or else lot of fun would have been missed. Finally the day of departure came on the 4th of October, 2013. The flight time was weird. Let me introduce you with the Bangladeshi Media Professionals for the exchange programme. Mahin (Channel i), Julhaj (71 TV), Mashiur and Asma (Independent TV), Habiba (Dhaka University), Shabnam (BRAC University) and Jamsed from Jugantor (Reputed daily in Bangladesh). So, I was going to travel with these media professionals.

2:30 AM we reached the airport and checked in by 3:30. And, finally the plane left for Abu Dhabi at 05:30 AM. We reached Abu Dhabi and it was a very short transit there and we had to board on the plane for Chicago. It was really boring on the second flight because it was so long- 14 hrs 50 mins. Nothing to do, except watching films, listening to music- the same old thing on a long flight.

Reached Chicago at 06:20 PM. After the immigration we had little time again to get on the plane. Due to the flight delay we three (Julhaj, Mashiur and I) went out again after check-in for a smoke. And, it was good. Finally after a two-hour delay, we got on the plane and headed towards Oklahoma. I should say, Habiba had some difficulties passing the immigration at Chicago, but things were worked out at the end.

Boy, the flight was full of turbulence. Everybody was so tired and slept but I kept on praying so the flying thing doesn’t crash. I was seriously thinking about God and my dear wife.

After we reached Oklahoma, the wonderful host Elanie Steyn, reputed professor at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Oklahoma University, greeted us. Her husband, a wonderful gentleman, Mr. Derik and their daughter Elanderi were there too. I will tell you in detail in the upcoming blogs how beautiful these people really are.

So, after the baggage check we were heading out for dinner. The dinner was really cool. Finally, at around 12:30 AM (6th of October) we reached our hotel, Embassy Suites in Norman, Oklahoma.

The first night in USA started. I will follow up on the upcoming events and experiences I had in USA.  

Welcome to USA

Selina…the woman labourer

(First of all, I have to admit that I worked on some photos, taken by famous Bangladeshi photographer Sharmin Chowdhury. My job was to explain the photos…made them easy for people) So here goes the story Continue reading “Selina…the woman labourer”

Selina…the woman labourer

Bangladeshi farmers beat Aussies to promote cricket before world cup

Sweet sounds of the willow spread across the ground/Photo: Firoz Ahmed

World Cup Cricket 2011 is on the doorstep of Bangladesh, a country composed of 160 million people. This agrarian country is the co-host for the world cup. Before the final start, in a remote village of the country, farmers take part in a symbolic cricket match, playing in teams of symbolic Bangladesh and Australia.

Bangladesh can never be identified by its cities. The streets of the cities packed with cars…traffic is just insane. And, noises all around would suffocate a life. The urban life is full of complexities and anomalies where people are rushing towards nothing at all. People living here always try to find a recourse to their lives. Even in this disarray, Bangladesh is the proud co-host for the World Cup Cricket, 2011.

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh dressed up in festive colours as the world cup approaches. People are very eager to see Sakib Al Hasan bat through the innings and bring victory for Bangladesh. On the other part, very few people could actually buy a token for the ticket. Many miles yet to go. In all these despairing issues, history was written in Mymensingh district’s remote village, Charpuliamari.

Traditional tools

We drove to Mymensingh district and then to Shmabhuganj to finally reach the cricket ground in Charpuliamari. Around the field, there were mock advertisements, a podium for cheer-monkeys instead of girls, a replica for the world cup, placards for hits of boundaries and sixes. Also, a vuvuzela kind of horn for the gallery. Big screens were set around the field for the audience. The stadium was fully built on bamboos.  The talent of making this stadium was so indigenous and so traditional. A scoreboard on a tree and wickets made of bamboo-sticks were so eye-catchy. So very innovatively rural.

Agricultural development and media personality Shykh Seraj organized the event to boost up rural people as 110 million people live in the rural parts. At the media-box, we found journalists from home and abroad. They were taken to the spot by a special journalist bus from Channel i. Mr. Seraj, the director and presenter of agro-based TV show, Hridoye Mati O Manush (Soil & Men in Heart), briefed the journalists before the game actually started. “The event is to boost the rural farmers and promote the upcoming world cup cricket in Bangladesh”, said Mr. Seraj.

Staging of the original world cup

“We never thought this is actually taking place in Charpuliamari. We were just mere audience all these years. And now, we are playing with bat and ball”, Nurul Amin, the captain of Bangladesh farmers’ team, expressed his joy.

Farmers, mostly over sixties, came to the field in Bangladeshi and Australian aprons. So came the symbolic FCC (Farmers’ Cricket Council) President and the Shambhuganj Sports Minister. It was all staged like the original ICC world cup cricket. People enjoyed every bit of this making and so did we as a part of it.  Some farmers even appeared in bare feet.

It was 10-over-match. Bangladeshi farmers did a wonderful job getting 122 runs after 10 overs and losing only a wicket, their captain, Nurul Islam. Nurul Amin scored an unbeaten 80 with sixes and fours all around and the vuvuzela just went crazy. Meanwhile, we’ve noticed journalists are taking interviews, taking good shots for their story. They didn’t have any idea that the arrangement is just so huge. We couldn’t even accommodate people in the gallery and they started watching the game on the big screen. Nobody missed a single ball.

People of Charpuliamari were flying high as they saw the old-farmers hammering the ball all over the ground, for the very first time/ Photo: Firoz Ahmed

During the innings break, the drinks was sponsored by Talukdar’s Coconut Water and Matha (Local drink). It was all traditional fun and amusement that spread across the bamboo-stadium. Local organizer Kamrul Haque said, “Farmers never knew what’s a cricket bat or a ball. They never knew what’s a boundary or LBW. But, they’ve come up with great spirit and proved that they can bat and bowl and they are competitive.” Some farmers even said Australia is not far from their village and some wrongly uttered, ‘ticket’, instead of cricket.

Farmer of the match gets a goat

Australian farmers (symbolic) couldn’t give any strong reply and lost the game by 47 runs and losing all the overs in hand. However, the game stood as a great spirit for the Bangladeshi cricket. Right before 40 days from now, the world cup fever has gone seriously up. And, the good thing is it’s really gone up from the heart of Bangladesh…from the farmers, the real artists of this pastoral Bangladesh.

The winners were presented with some money and medals. The runner-up also got the same prices. But, the real charm still didn’t end when we saw the Farmer of the Match, Nurul Amin lifting a goat for his great knock of 80. Fireworks at the beginning and the end really made the crowd go simply mad.

They never knew what’s a cricket bat or a ball. They never knew what’s a boundary or LBW. But, they’ve come up with great spirit, Kamrul Haque, Local Organizer, Charpuliamari.

A mighty unbeaten knock of 80 runs from Nurul Amin brought Bangladesh the inevitable victory and him the price of a goat/ Photo: Firoz Ahmed

Peasants of Bangladesh were honoured and so was the inhabitants of Charpuliamari. Hridoye Mati O Manush has regularly been organizing Krishoker Eid Anondo (Farmers’ Eid Delight- traditional rural games) and Krishoker Boishakhi Anondo (Farmers’ Boishakhi Delight). But, this event came out to be just too good.

On 11th of February, 2011, Farmers’ World Cup Cricket 2011 will be aired on Channel i after 2:30 PM news.

Bangladeshi farmers beat Aussies to promote cricket before world cup

Saying ‘no’ to government hospital

   Doctors said you should leave that or get admitted again                     Photo: incurable_hippie/flickr

Becoming a patient is always so miserable. It’s even worse to stay idle on the bed at the hospital. Medical care in Bangladesh has developed, that’s what we hear from our republic’s publicity, however as a patient when I got admitted at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases & Hospital in Dhaka, I thought next time, I won’t go near a government hospital.

3rd of October, 2010, my boss went to India. I was feeling quite fine and relaxed as I was handling works in a more comfortable way , without any pressure at all. But, in reality, I was feeling some sort of pressure on the right side of my chest since the 4th.  I was feeling lost, weird and dizzy without actually comprehending what’s taking shape in my body.

It was 5 AM in the morning and 6th October it was. I felt like a shock. Kind of a body-quake. Wow! That was quite huge on both sides of my chest. Well, finally I thought of seeing a doctor. Went to a private clinic and did the ECG. Nothing miraculous happened! Doctor advised me to get admitted immediately, but concealed what was found on the ECG report! Only my family members got the ‘ugly truth’. I was actually making fun of the doctor, saying how can a skinny man like me would get a heart disease who plays 90 minutes of football everyday, after work?

On way to hell

It was quarter to eleven at night on the 6th. My relative, Monzur bhai who is the Special Correspondent for a very famous Bengali newspaper in Bangladesh, came to my home. I didn’t know he already talked with my father and my uncle that he’ll take me to a hospital. Also, I didn’t know what was about to happen. Monzur Bhai asked to pack my bags with necessary stuffs. I was thundered but had to agree as he was elder to me and my family pressed me like hell.

Mr. Taufique. Please have a good night sleep here at the hospital. We promise we’ll let you go tomorrow

Duty Doctor, Emergency Unit, NICVD

We went to National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases & Hospital, 10 minute drive from my residence. I was primarily taken to the emergency unit and once again my ECG report came bad, I mean it was lot worse than the previous one. A duty doctor, smilingly gave me the worst news of my life, ‘Mr. Taufique. Please have a good night sleep here at the hospital. We promise we’ll let you go tomorrow.’ I was so shocked, helplessly looking at my family members and requesting them not to admit me here.

Traumatic and social life

NICVD is full of shit. Well, sorry about the language. I’m writing my personal blog here. It’s a government hospital with prehistoric medical equipments. Most of the patients are from all parts of Bangladesh, very marginal and ultra poor (Not condemning patients at all). The first seat that they gave me was on the floor. And, I tell you I was never going to stay there. Then at 12:15 in the morning, I was shifted to a ward-bed.  I was mentally shocked and vomited four times with severe pain on the chest. Later, I passed the rest of the night at CCU with two bloody/painful injections over my belly.

I can’t remember the next two days clearly. I was in some sort of dilemma. I was becoming the absence in presence of mind. From 9th of October, I finally started realizing where I am and what actually happened to me. Sorry for not mentioning, I was shifted to a paying-bed on 7th of October, 2010. I could merely see any doctors coming to my bed trying to learn my whereabouts. In two days, one or two doctors used to come and they talked in a fashion that I’m Mr. Bean having a banana on the bed and doing messy stuffs with my next-bed patient/s!

My life with social media went pretty well from my mobile.  I gave the status messages on facebook from my cell phone. Internet was the only thing that entertained, that gave me a bit of company when I was staying at the hospital. I felt like I have so many people beside me.  Thanks to technology and thanks again that it’s now so easy to communicate the world…tell people how you are and from where you are actually posting your mental status.

Mockery…all around


                                       No young patients want to die at a young age                                   Photo: sluisga/flickr

I have seen many patients, below 25 years of age, having severe cardiovascular irregularities. I felt sorry for them. Then, I felt a bit shy that why am I getting so anxious about my health status? They’re in even worse situation. Right next to my bed, a boy was waiting to know what the doctors are going to do with him. He was always so very frustrated as he was in great indecision on what to do. His father was running here and there, but all his efforts went in vain.

I became an iconic hero of mockery. No doctors, no directions, no way out. Finally, I went through lots of medical tests on 11th of October, 2010. I was having a fever and doctors told me they need to do an angiogram to find what’s wrong with me and my dear heart. On the 13th, I went through that operation. And, it wasn’t bad at all. I mean the all the results came pretty well.

At the end of the war, I was liberated. I was free from the hospital. But, I saw many faces who are still waiting for their proper medication. I wonder whether they’ll ever get that! I saw many young-guns in gloomy face. I saw helpless women and children. I saw very unhygienic bathrooms. We, all the patients, were victims of sound pollution in a hospital. And, what not! All these are still engraved like a dark night inside my brain.

Now, my days are quite fine. After a good rest now I’m back at the office and steadily moving ahead with my work. I thought of writing this post many times but couldn’t actually come near to it. It’s a very subjective way that I expressed, not a journalistic way. I have become biased in writing this post. I know I shouldn’t be doing that in reality but that very reality made my life quite hapless at the hospital.  Still I can see the father running for his son in my dreams. I always pray for his son’s recovery from the bottom of my heart.

À Bientôt


Saying ‘no’ to government hospital