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In times when I begin to lose all hope and despair engulfs me, I desperately search around for any glimpse of optimism for my own sanity. Living in Bangladesh is an everyday adventure in itself, and when on a regular basis there is news of extortion, corruption, unsolved murders, mysterious disappearances and many more such atrocities, one is bound to feel lost and helpless wondering whether he or she will survive the very next moment.

But just the other day, I found my ray of hope. It was right there, I just never happened to look properly. As a part of field trip organized from my current work station at BRAC centre, I visit the nearby Korail slum (which is one of the most populated slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh) with a small delegation of foreign consultants. What more was I to expect other than some usual slum scenarios that we see in pictures and videos; dirty, swampy, raggedly dressed men and women and bare bodied soiled children with runny noses. I admit I was ignorant because reality was a little different.

As I walked down the cemented roads, I could see that the slum in itself was a self supported organism. It has everything in it to support the minimum requirements of any marginalized person. If I had time to venture, then I probably would have discovered  a lot more but within that short period of time, I was exposed to some important elements of living that was being taken care of effectively by BRAC’s programs  to ensure a certain level of quality living.

Slums are not recognized by the state and hence its people are automatically deprived of the basic needs and rights. Out of the various initiatives of BRAC’s health programs, Manoshi project deals with maternal health and care. I felt proud when I learned that because of such country wide initiatives; Bangladesh has not only achieved but gone way below the marginal line of MDG for reducing the maternal deaths by half.

“Banglar maati Banglar Jol”{The soil of Bengal,the waters of Bengal}

Looking at the smiling and potential faces of children at the BRAC’s pre-primary school program in the slum, somehow I knew that the future of Bangladesh is not completely bleak. These were children who will one day rise with their heads held high to support the country on their capable shoulders. Their current backgrounds or living conditions have nothing to do with their future potentials in life.

Bangladesh is a country with immense potential, in terms of its resources and people. We just need to realize the most effective way to utilize all the elements and bring out the best solutions. I may have been disheartened for a little while, but I woke up once again feeling fresh and hopeful about the country that fought for its language and freedom, and surely will rise with confidence beating all odds.

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SD Burman, the famous music director of India is also known for adapting the tunes of his songs. This song is an adaptation of a very well known song of Rabindranath Tagore, “jodi tare nai chini go sheki”

The lyrics of this song translates to express the thoughts of an uncertain mind wondering about his or her  soul mate. How would the person be? What would bring him into my life? If I don’t, would he recognize me? Would he be someone who’s already around me but I’m unable to recognize him?

Beautiful as it may seem. Even though SD Burman has adapted the tune but he hasn’t really met up to the feel of the song with the lyrics. There are many more examples of Hindi songs, some even recent, adapted from Rabindrasangeet. Although the original’s are ever so incomparable.

\”jodi tare nai chini go sheki\”{waiting for the unknown}

I came across this music video which is a remix of one of the most beautiful songs by Rabithakur “Paagla haoar baadol dine”{on the days of wilder winds}. I ask the readers of this post, was such remix really necessary? Was it worthed? Did it make sense at all?

Frankly, I felt the entire essence of the song was lost. We have Shahana Bajpai singing Rabindrasangeet in a very modern and ‘not boring’ manner.But she never spoiled the actual feel of the original. I really hope such sort of distortion of legendary works are not continued further. It’s simply not fair.

I have given along the unremixed version of the song for a better comparison.

\”paagla haoar badol dine\”{on the days of wilder winds}

\”Tomar khola hawa\”{The winds of love}

The song reminds me of someone who was truly in love. Even though short lived, it was magical. I could see the twinkle of happiness in her eyes, feel the joy of a happy person she had become. She was in every way above all.
The words of this song defines the very essence of being in love. How willing one becomes to do anything and everything for the person they love. Ready to face the world and tackle all hardships. Where does all the strength come from? Even death seems to be as simple as candy.

Windy, cool and rainy evenings always get me thinking. Random thoughts about my life. Silent soliloquies are normal for such a day. Todays thoughts were ones which probably every ‘single’  ponders in solitude.

‘Being single’ was a personal choice but that doesnt stop me from wondering who and how ‘the person’ would be!! How do I want him to be? What would I be to him? Would it be a fairy tale love story?!!….wait…..I am dreaming too much…

\”Tumi shondharo meghomala\”{You are the person of my dreams}

It’s the song. This always happens to me and I start asking sensible, insensible questions. Robithakur uses such beautiful phrases to describe ones soul mate, that for once it makes you wish your beloved would sing this song for you.

The song makes you feel as if  you’re the most important person in the world for your better half. Someone, he or she cant live without. A precious possession, who becomes the power of your prayers.

\”Oi je jhorer o meghe\”{The storms are here}

Pahela Boishakh is gone, but the air of jubilence still lingers. Despite the smothering heat and scortching sun, not many people stayed back indoors. I can still see people walking around in red and white dresses.

The Dhaka residents have been craving for a few drops of rain for a while now. Every evening, the gloomy sky and a rush of cool air lifts up our hope of rain, but alas!! Although it is the time for storms. And already other parts of the country are getting hit by rough storms.

When storms hit Dhaka, I enjoy it the most. Just like the song explains, I too can feel the wilderness of the storm. Standing in the veranda, open hair blowing wildly with the wind, splatter of rain on the face. How can anyone miss so much of life!!

\”Esho hey Boishakh esho esho\”{Welcome new year}

The song has become an anthem for the first day of the new year. The day begins with this song, continues through out and ends with it too.
Why shouldn’t it! Robithakur explicitly defines all that can be possibly imagined to be done on such a festive day.

Women dressed in ‘laal paar shada shari’ (white saari with red border) and men in punjabi.’Paanta eilish'(soaked rice with fried Hilsha). Rally with colorful festoons and models. Streets flushed with color and happiness.

Just like me, many around Dhaka woke up before the sun to be all set to welcome the new year. It feels incomplete without attending the “Mongol Shovajatra” at 6 am in Dhaka University area.

“Mongol Shovajatra” is a traditional rally which the students of Dhaka University organize religiously every year. The students of Charukala creat colorful and different kinds of masks and creatures. Each creature sybolizes a certain cultural myth and belief. From the making of these artifacts to seeing them being appreciated on the day, every step is full of fun and enthusiasm.

All radio stations and cable channels play Robindrosangeet throughout the day making each moment more memorable. Personally I feel, no other nation can celebrate the welcome of a new year with so much jest and enthusiam as we Bangalee’s do.

I went for my ‘pahela boishakh’ shopping today to almost all the popular boutique and shopping complexes around Dhaka. I am not a big fan of shopping in this irritating humid hot weather. But I couldn’t help but enjoy the jubeelence that was spread in the air among the crazy shoppers.

Tomorrow is the big day and it seems everyone is getting ready to welcome the new year with lots of colors and falvors.
What was most exciting for me was the fact that every where I went, all I heard was Rabindrasangeet. It felt like the day was meant to be welcomed and celebrated only by his music.

Every collection of clothes and jewelery looked lucrative to me. It was a nerve racking decission to select the one that I would finally settle into. Then another mind boggling decission to match the jeweleries with the sari I bought. If  I had the ability, guess I would have bought every piece I loved. And trust me, the numbers wouldn’t be small!!!

The culture driven people of Bangladesh know where to run to for quenching their thirst. I’m talking about Chayanot undoubtedly.
It is the center of all the traditional, folk and contemporary music and dance. Every year a remarkable number of candidates apply to be accepted in Chayanot. But only the ones recognized by the ‘gurus’ as having the passion for pursuing their gift, is selected.
In almost every national occasions, Chayanot arranges cultural programes which last the entire day. The most important and elaborate of them all is Pahela Boishakh, the first day of Bengali calendar. Chayanot is acknowledged as to do the official inauguration of the day.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Amar nishito Raater o Badolo Dhara”{The Solitary Nights}. The video shows Shahana singing and her husband, Arnob playing the guiter.

This song is a soothing expression of all those lonely nights when one tries to understand one’s own self. Such sort of habit is common amongst the Bengali youth. Staying wide awake through the silent nights, a light breeze and a melodious song. Mixed feelings of sadness, euphoria, nostalgia and undefined self questioning.

Sahana Bajpai, the Santiniketan girl is known for her love for Rabindra Sangeet and her melodious voice. Married to her childhood sweetheart and very popular singer Arnob in 2000, she moved to Bangladesh in 2004.

Arnob has managed to create mesmerizing background score for all the tracks.
The originality of the songs have not been hampered and so no objections from the seniors!! On the other hand the music is very upbeat and so the hip generation will be able to accept a classic form of music with full zest.

Only then would classical music revive and stabilize its existence in our country. Rabindranath Tagore marked the existence of the Bengal Nation through his incomparable creation. To forget or to ignore his songs would be to demoralize our existence. If adding a new flavor to his songs makes it attractive in today’s fast pace world, then qoudos to Sahana and Arnob for their wonderful work.

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