Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Embracing Oldeness

People celebrate birthdays. Why do they? Don't they actually celebrate their age? People in general hide their wrinkles, blacken their grey, tighten their paunch - yet tend to celebrate their anniversaries on earth. That's kind of controversial, isn't it?

I am stepping on my 40th year today. I am immensely thankful to Allah that my life has been full. Full of happiness and sorrow, good days and hard days, hope and desperation, determination and despair -- the way a life should be. I am grateful that I could hold my composure in the days those were not easy on me.

Now I've just stepped on my 40th. I have a male-type baldness, one can spot a few gray hair on my long-grown beard, I got my first hyperopic glasses a couple of months back, I need to exercise to stay fit, I got rid of sugar from my cups of tea and I received the first handmade birthday card from my younger offspring. Hey, I am getting old!

I've started to realize that my options are limited now. Many things I wanted to be, and spent time trying to be, are not options anymore. My time is limited, more than ever before. I can't possibly be a guitarist (I tried and failed) -- I don't have much time left to restart. I can't possibly be a percussionist -- I tried that too -- and half-succeeded. Becoming director of a great movie isn't possibly an option anymore. I have only two children, I wish I had 15, but that possibly isn't going to happen. I wanted to learn a couple of more languages -- Arabic and French. And Spanish. I wanted to write a novel, a script of a TV drama, and screenplay of a Canne-winning film -- those are possibly options no more. I have limited time, I'll have to prioritize my bucket list.

I have to focus on what I think are the most important for me. My three children -- two biological and one legal (that's Nascenia, my company!) are on my priority. I need to ensure I play good roles as a son and a husband and a neighbor and a citizen and a Muslim. Those are already too much to deal with. One lifetime is hardly enough to meet everyone's expectation, and I have spent more than half of it, statistically speaking.

Resolution on my 40th year on this planet is to focus and jettison some of the items in my bucket. Understand that I have less time than I ever had. Celebrate my elderliness. I am not young anymore. I can't dream of many things with a hope that on someday everything will fall into place. Time to be realistic and dream only those I can possibly achieve.  No more time to fool around, tasting waters -- time to apply the learning and give back!

I thank all of my friends, colleagues, family-members and acquaintances who wished me in person, over phone, through SMS, email and the great invention of this time -- Facebook. (I think wishing a happy birthday is kind of lame though. Why wish for the day to be happy only; why not the whole year or the lifetime ahead? I am sure you love me enough to wish me a year-full-off happiness :))

Postscript: Google search engine appeared on my browser with a bunch of cakes and candles. That's a surprise, but kind of non-humane -- cybertronic. Last thing I wish on my birthday that someone would write a program which I can configure so that it wishes me back automatically.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What good is (conventional) media doing to me?

When I was a child my parents and teachers used to censor information flow that I used to consume. I wasn't suppose to mix with bad people, wasn't suppose to read news and books those talk about violence and evil things. I wasn't suppose to watch movies those might scare me or influence me to things like smoking, drug addiction, violence, suicide, swearing and corruption. Now that I I am grown up, nobody is filtering my consumption of information. However, I do the similar things to my children. They aren't allowed be exposed to evil things, I want them to grow up as good persons. Every parent does.

Now let's get to the point what is happening to me now. I wake up everyday and read newspaper. Newspaper scours through the world to pick the shocking news for me. They prioritize them. The most shocking mind-blowing bad news is over-blown to 32-point font size, colored in a vivid color, and carefully put on the front page. Sell fear. I am going to shock you, give you an adrenaline rush. Buy me!

The less shocking news are sized according to their shock-level. Hey! the news isn't going to shock the reader that much, let's put it on inner page.

The conventional media is not representative to the country or the world. It is only a collection of shocking news. On a daily on the other day news of wrong treatment by a doctor was boxed on the front-page. I am sure the said doctor treats right tens of patients everyday. He treated thousands in his medical career. I have seen my father's medical consultant kept awoke till 4 am by my father to see his BP get down. We dozed outside the OT. He came back from his house at 7 am again. We surprised to see him agin! Showered and shaven, clean and fresh. I was still dozing off. Nobody talks about millions of successful operations the doctors did and doing. Only bad acts get priority. Only mistakes catches news. But unfortunately looking at the newspaper everyday we think that that represents the day. Which absolutely doesn't. I only represent the evil's empire of the world. The better and million times larger empire of God isn't represented by the, shall I dare call it, The Daily Graphical Collection of Evil's World!    

You might say that newspaper and TV and all other media update us about the world with the important information to plan and process our actions. Yeah, yeah, I heard that before. My father used to tell me that I must stay updated with current-affairs. In many exams including many job interviews incumbents are asked about the current affairs.  

My father, for example, is a news-freak. He watches all the TV news. About ten news-serving channels. Two times a day. He reads two newspapers. In his heydays he used to visit one of his journalist friends' place and read myriad of dailies, and compare them, and talk about them, and contemplate where the county and the world is moving toward.

Only recently I managed to gather my guts to ask him what good it did bring to him. He is suffering from many of the degenerative diseases. He was not aware of those; the tips and ways of stay healthy, and his options of different treatments and therapies. Often the dailies publish health tips. Besides he could find them in abundance on internet and in books. Why didn't he read them? He actually carefully ignored them as those didn't look as glamorous as the front-page and back-page shocking stories. Or, those health tips actually called for actions. The shocking news didn't. What on earth I am supposed to if some princess is caught on camera nude? Or, if for example building a major bridge in Bangladesh is delayed for alleged corruption by the involved ministries. Hey! I only vote each five years. I asked my father what he did by learning all those detailed about politics and corruption and accidents and problems of the wold. Did he do any thing about them? Did he take any initiative to ease problems of people in the world as mentioned on the daily newspapers or TVs? I mean he is a good soul, an honest and good citizen. But I can't find what good The Daily Graphical Collection of World's Sufferings did to him.

Well, I would read about problems and suffering of a particular area if I am responsible for that area, or, if I am willing to take action in that area. For example everyone in the transport ministry and the decision makers in transport industry should read the problems of that industry. For others it is just a time waster. Oh! Did I just call it time waster? I am wrong. It is worse than that.

Get back to the issue of information filtering for children. We do that to keep our children focused, unspoiled, uncontaminated. So, now that we are exposed to everything, and not only that, everyday we are exposing ourselves only to bad things -- are we not being contaminated, spoiled and evil-infulenced?

In any social gathering if you talk about honesty, integrity and good days forward, people will call you child-like, naive or even fool.

The Bangladeshi people in general developed a perception that in here a very few honest people are left. Almost all people of the country are corrupted, dishonest, fraud and evil. How did we develop that perception? Media helped us in that. There was one time when we were aware of the problem of our village only. The problem of the area which matters to us most, and which we can do something about. Now problems of the whole country and the whole world is delivered in my breakfast, and rewinded before I sleep. We develop a wariness, and often apathy about those. More poisonously we develop a negative idea about the world we are living in. Negative perceptions lead to negative acts. During many of my transactions with my shopkeepers or banks or even colleagues, when I talk about good acts and righteousness, they complain nobody in Bangladesh is thinking like me. I am thinking naive. I don't believe that. The guy I talk to is still honest, but he developed the perception that the world is already corrupted. So, he is planning to get corrupted too. This is what media is doing to him!

I've read Malcom Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference recently. He showed in 1980s how the perception of anarchy and crime led to more crime and literally led to anarchy. Later just by wiping off the graffiti in the subway and arresting the window-breakers instilled the sense of lawfulness among all. Eventually the environment was tipped to lawful again!

Perception of evil environment makes you evil. Perception of righteous environment makes you right. 

The people from the top-ranked corrupt country are ranked as one of the best citizens in a developed country. Talking about Bangladeshi people in USA.

So, what good the conventional media serving to me?

I seriously doubt its goodness. I stopped watching TV news long before. I only subscribe The Daily Star, which is less negative; I try to self-censor the news items. I've unsubscribed the bloggers who are cynical and mostly talk about evil things, they call it journalism. I unsubscribed my friends on Facebook who disseminate negative news and talk negative. 

You can say that I am living in fool's paradise. I don't mind that. I would love to stay naive, unspoiled, child-like, and if you like -- fool. Only if I could!

Life is too short for worrying about things I can't do anything about.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Entrepreneur takes a leap of faith

A lot of my friends come to me. They want to be entrepreneurs. They are otherwise working for somebody. They want to break the shackle and unleash their possibilities. Pursue their own dreams.

We meet, we exchange ideas, we analyze feasibility, we figure out financial details, and touch almost all aspects of a business plan. They listen, they show interest, they ask questions, they doubt and they dwindle.

They often look for security. Guarantee, or some kind of assurance that their invested time and money would pay off.

They fail to take the leap of faith. There is no guarantee of anything in this imperfect world, my friend! To be an entrepreneur, more than any thing else, you need to take a leap of faith.

Are you ready for this?

Note: Inspired by a talk of Rubana Huq titled: "Perceptions and Realities of a Garment Wallah" at ULAB

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Understanding the heart of USA

It's a land of wealth, innovation, teamwork, freedom and individuality. It's hard to understand how they work in a team, and still retain their personal space and enormous individual freedom.

Life, liberty and in pursuit of happiness -- that's what USA stands for. USA do not guarantee happiness, with the race of super-materialistic life very few should be happy here. I can imagine people in Bhutan are happier than people in USA. What USA guarantee is, you can really pursuit happiness, however flawed your recipe of happiness is.

Times Square, NYC

My friend, Ashfaq, flew to USA 18 years back. He was broke, didn't have money to bear tuition fee, pay rent and even to pay for food. Uncle Sam wouldn't allow him to work legally. His monthly food cost was 15 dollars. It's hard to imagine for both of us while we are talking about this sitting in a fine suburb restaurant, sipping in home brewed beer, each of us haggling to pay the check, which came around $50 -- only for we two.

Mountain Rainier, Washington

USA offered him a lot. Offered him enough to live a decent life, chase the girls of her choice, drive a 5,000 cc truck capable to haul a yacht, own most of the gadgets and tools an American adult can think of but a Bangladeshi person would never imagine of -- buy stuff like steam mop and inflatable bed, upgrade home theater for his bedroom and living room every five years, and plan for early retirement.

He is pursuing happiness, however flawed the recipe is.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Focus, or Not

I have been working and studying in USA for a couple of weeks now. I revisited USA after a decade. I am looking at the country with more experienced and educated eyes now.

At CCEW, Oklahoma University, Norman, USA

I don’t see these guys are genius. They are not more hard working either. But each individual here does very good at what he does. They focus on a single area, and be expert of that. When you have a working system based on trust, when components add up to form synergy, you are better off focusing on your niche.

In a developing economy where almost nothing is built you need to build everything from the scratch. You almost end up building every component of the system to reach to a sustainable model. Is this efficient? Surely not. But you have no other choice. That is why Muhammad Yunus, starting with micro credit, ended up founding so many businesses, and now talking about even more. That is why great entrepreneurs like Sir Abed, Akij and Samson H Choudhury built so many businesses. That is why Henry Ford ended up integrating from mining to retailing.

Now that they have other pieces of the system working, they can really focus on a single piece. Keep doing whatever they are good at. Excel on that.

We, on the other hand, are still at the Henry Ford phase. We got to be generalist, keep integrating forward and backward. You can’t imagine the first human being on earth, Adam, was a specialist, can you? He was a generalist!

When no working system exists you need a good number of generalists to build one.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

বেঁচে থাকার আনন্দ

নব্বই-এর কোনো এক বিকেল। আমি বিমানের আভ্যান্তরীণ ফ্লাইটে উঠে বসেছি। আইলের পাশে সিট আমার। বিমান রানওয়ে ছেড়ে ওঠার পরে তখন ধূমপান করা যেত।

হঠাৎ দেখি পরিচিত মুখ ওপাশ থেকে হেঁটে আসছে। স্যান্ডেল পরা, ছেড়ে দেওয়া সাদা সার্ট, হাতা কনুই পর্যন্ত গোটানো। বিমানে সচারচর এরকম সাধারণ পোষাকে সেইসময়ে মানুষ চড়ত না। কিন্তু মানুষটা সাধারণ নন। হুমায়ূন ফরিদী।

আইলের ওধারে এসে সে বসল। একটা সিগারেট ধরালো। সহযাত্রী, তার পরিচিত, ধূমপান বিষয়ে কিছু বলল। “ডাক্তার বলেছে, সিগারেট না ছাড়লে বাঁচব না”, ফরিদী বললেন, “আমি বলেছি, সিগারেট ছাড়লে বেঁচে কী লাভ?”

কুড়ি বছর আগের ঘটনা। ফরিদীকে অবশেষে সিগারেট ছাড়তে হল। সেই সাথে বাঁচাটাও।

তাঁর মত অসাধারণ এদেশে বেঁচে থেকেই বা কী লাভ করত? হয় প্যাকেজ নাটক বানাও, সোপ অপেরা, নয়ত বিজ্ঞাপন বানাও। পেটে ক্ষুধা নিয়ে সংস্কৃতির গুষ্টি উদ্ধার কর, অথবা অপসংস্কৃতির দাসত্ব কর। ফরিদী শেষেরটা বেছে নিয়েছিলেন। কিন্তু সেটা করতে গিয়ে হয়তো তিনি বেঁচে থাকার আনন্দটাই হারিয়ে ফেলেছিলেন

আমি অভিনয় বিশেষজ্ঞ নই। তবে ফরিদীকে কেন জানি আমার ডাস্টিন হফম্যানের মত মনে হয়। জায়গা মত জন্মালে নির্ঘাৎ এক জোড়া অস্কার জিতে নিতেন।

আল্লাহ তাঁর আত্মাকে শান্তি দিক।

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What happened is happened, why can’t we move forward?

Couple of weeks ago I met one of my relatives who was actively involved in Chhatro Shibir, a student politics wing of Jamaat-e-Islam. Many of the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islam supported West Pakistan during 1971 liberation war in Bangladesh.

My relative was born after 1971, same like me. He showed his frustration of recent war crime trial and oppression of ruling party on Islamic activists and madrasah students. “What happened 40 years back, is happened. Why can’t we move forward?”

I thought he was a good guy in heart, but had a different view. I thought it was easy to comment, “ What happened is happened,” while you or any of your family was not directly affected. I thought if I killed your family and after 40 years ask you to forget and move ahead, you can’t. I thought if someone’s entire family except him is murdered, you can’t expect him to think rationally. I thought we can’t go ahead unless we resolve old issues. I thought precedence of justice is necessary to build an atmosphere of trust and brotherhood. I thought righteousness, law and order is a prerequisite for business and prosperity.

A killing ground in Dhaka during 1971 genocide, that  killed 300,000 or more. 

Recently I read an article where Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan voiced a similar concern. Past unresolved issue hinders future progress. It is true for Pakistan. It is true for Bangladesh. It is true for individuals.

You can’t live, love and move ahead with hatred in your heart.