Archive for May 2nd, 2010

Omi Azad Writes About Bijoy

অন্য একটা বিষয়ে গুগুল করতে গিয়ে অমি আজাদের এই লেখাটি পেলাম। ২০০৪ সালে ভাচুয়ালি প্রকাশিত এই প্রতিবেদন আমাদের এই বুঝিয়ে দেয় যে আমাদের সংগ্রামের শুরু ঠিক কত দিন আগের থেকে। হয়তোবা এই লেখাটির কথা সবার জানা, তবুও আরেকবার পোস্ট করলাম…

Please download:

Omi Azad’s Protest Against Mustafa Jabbar

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Digital Darkness

Dhak kore ghum bhenge gelo. In his semi sleepless state, he fumbled under the pillows and found it. Its blue screen read 2343. In the fragment of an abrupt second, he found himself dragging a near fanatic self towards the restroom. His mind calculated a rough 15 minutes to her arrival. Squirting a forced spray of pale yellow, he zipped and hopped towards his desk. His trepid fingers slapped the computer into an unwanted boot. He muttered something impatiently under his breath and checked the time for the sixth time in the past five minutes. She was going to be here any moment! The desktop blinked into a blue pattern and he double clicked to Gmail. The simultaneous tab logged onto Facebook. He skimmed through the new mails (mostly notifications from his array of social networking accounts) and read through the status updates. Hitting a few ‘likes’, he kicked the machine into a sudden shutdown.

Another time check and he dashed towards the living room. Frenzied, he searched for old magazines in the dark and found something of the sort. Cursing himself for dozing off when she wasn’t here, he flung 120 pounds of his flesh and bones onto the crumpled pillows. His head knocked against the bedstead and landed on the side. At that very instant, she arrived. In the blink of a second, his fan creaked into a stop. Fanning himself with the magazine while rubbing the bump on his forehead, his lips curled into a victorious smile. He was ready to embrace her, embrace her insinuating darkness and humid temperament. Tonight, he was ready to embrace load shedding.

So be it. Surviving routine power losses (or 12 hours of darkness on a daily basis) has become part of our lives. We are more prepared than ever with our productivity and lifestyles reduced to half a day. WASA has little to worry about with forty degrees of humidity in the atmosphere endowing us with three sweaty showers a day. Yes, we are Bangalis – adaptable, adequate and advanced towards 22nd Century technology.

Of course, the joke had to be on. Ever since this whole deal about Digital Bangladesh begun with posters of people carrying transistors (?!), everyone knew we were in for a revolution this time. What better way than cutting down power supplies by 12 hours, eh? No one guessed that and it was the perfect surprise for 2010. Top that with excruciatingly painful traffic congestions and hiking prices of everyday commodities, and new rules suggesting we keep our air conditioners switched off during peak hours, shop only on certain days in certain areas and convert to solar energy. None of those measures would have gone underappreciated if our IPSes didn’t go onto becoming permanently interrupted power supplies (meaning, they don’t get charged enough to discharge adequately and have therefore, died).

But, if we were to take a truly empathetic insight into the scenario, we will realize that none of us are exactly certain about what the term ‘digital’ implies. It could mean one in a million things, such as driving more fuel consuming vehicles (?!), befriending top government officials on Facebook (!!!), changing our middle names online to suit the debated history of our nation in relevance to the ruling party, spending intoxicating amounts of cash to live the ‘advanced’ way only to realize we don’t know how it should be lived, carrying sunlight (Robi) phones and so on. Given none of us really know what we should be expecting; maybe the unprecedented load shedding is actually part of the bigger picture, a digital revolution unfathomable to our mere mortal intelligence.

Maybe, this is a calling for us to become less mechanized and start acting like human beings, not machines locked in a tiny cubicle. Now, who would have thought that, huh? Because we cannot be glued to ‘digital’ boxes otherwise known as computers, televisions and cellular phones, we are forced to interact within a more personal, physical proximity. We get out of our houses to breathe excessively carbonated air and meet our neighbours, people we didn’t even know existed until the day the lights went out… for good. We smack a punch at our friends and say, “LOL, poked!” We shake our worse halves vigorously and scream, “Reply koro na keno? I am nudging you!” We squeeze a stranger’s nose and announce, “iLike!” Truth is, we are being saved from a major phenomenon and when Google and Facebook take over the world to preach GooBookism, we will be the only lot to have conserved what Adam and Eve mistakenly gave us too much of.

Guess who has the last laugh then, huh?

No, seriously with a near 2000 megawatt of power deficit and an economy of approximately 160 million people to run, load shedding is more than just a problem. In 3rd grade science class (that’s way back in the ‘90s), we were often asked to imagine life without electricity and it seemed frightening. Suppose we all exaggerated – life without electricity is possible, not frightening and surprisingly (to date) sustainable. How our newly digitized economy is running is beyond the scope of our Business School professors in college. They say this is no ordinary darkness, this is advanced darkness. This is digital darkness.

Leave a comment

For the Love of God

with Kazim Ibn Sadique

Don’t add metal-esque distortions to a Sufi song! The raging controversies amongst the adrenaline pumping, hormone infatuated generation (otherwise known as ‘youth’) regarding Lalon’s (the band) recent release has already sparked occasional fist fights during discussions. On one hand, people applaud the rejuvenation of classics and a musical genius that ‘youth’ wouldn’t be naturally aware of; while the other remarks disdainfully on pushing experimentation to a level where it can no longer be related to the original composition.
That’s funny, considering Lalon is not the first band or artist who has done it. Bangla’s second album, Prottutponnomotitto – released in 2006 – did something similar on the backdrop of a country going frenzy with religious extremism. The group voiced ten Fakir Lalon classics fashioned with a combination of instruments such as tabla, ektara, bangle dhol, guitars, percussions and even a choir.  Lalon debuted in 2007 with Biprotip where they vocalized three Fakir Lalon numbers and caught up with a frantic crowd soaking in their music. Bappa Majumder brought Shah Abdul Karim numbers into the limelight and ‘Gari Chole Na’ is a favourite tune to hum along today.  When it was okay and perhaps commendable back then, why are frowns and fingers being raised now?
The problem lies in experimenting and commercializing. Bauls, being a community of their own, sing for the love of God. Whatever they write, it’s to that audience, for that supreme entity. There have been various issues with people accusing Bauls of being intoxicated. But anyone who has experienced an actual Baul ashor can testify that the need for intoxicants is not necessary; the music and environment is quite enough. When asked about it, one Baul said he doesn’t agree with the use of drugs and mentioned that the ecstasy and oneness that one feels with God/Universe cannot be compared. That is the ultimate goal of Bauls who follow Sufism, which suggests that the fate of everything is to be Fanaa, as in dissolve into the Nothingness that is Everything, i.e. God. As with the hippies of the west, the idea has been glossed over by focusing only on the negative sides.
One of the things Bauls are very possessive about is their music. The traditional method of learning the art of musicianship is very medieval in a sense. There is a rigorous apprenticeship system, which involves both spiritual and musical teachings. That does not mean that innovation is frowned upon. Bauls and other various kothok-kobi (that’s basically street poets) are famed for their witticisms. They are a dying breed one might liken to the rappers of today’s world.
The modern mixes or ‘revivals’ of traditional Baul numbers consume a change in tune and inane rap, which calls for disrespect. From our talks with a few Bauls, it was understood that most Bauls consider changing the tune an ignorant move and regard it as an affront. While some Bauls have no problems with musicians like Bappa Majumdar and bands like Bangla and Shironamhin – who keep the tune and lyrics true, but use different instruments – other musicians are met with shaking heads, snorts and annoyed comments such as, “they got the whole thing wrong.”
Also, it stems from a sense of copyright and ownership. This is where things get a bit complicated. Bauls are quite lenient about copying tunes among themselves. One can find quite a few songs sung to the same tune, using different lyrics of course. Within the Baul community, they know other Bauls understand the spirituality of it all. The lack of acknowledgement of that spirituality and of the personal prowess of the Baul involved is what’s causing the discontent. The misinterpretation of spiritual ecstasy into earthly love for the materialistic society creates a tension that removes the original score far from its source.
The picture, of course, has another dimension. Today’s mass generation will perhaps be less inclined towards listening to a core Baul song amongst all the electric metropolis vibe. Adding in frills might as well make the composition more acceptable.  The idea is to bring back a religious cultural concept amidst fast paced globalization, and commercialism becomes inevitable. In the more apparent world, Sufism with a dose of pop has become increasingly popular. Courtesy of artists like Khailash Kher, Rabbi Shergill and Junoon, the young crowd has made peace with the idea of Sufi-pop. Shah Abdul Karim and Kangalini Sufia have made prodigious contributions and earned recognition in the promotion of Baul scores, both locally and internationally.
The debate is endless, but in the end (because of column space), what is acknowledged is that experimentation has its limits. In all good intention, a perfectly well-done remix can become a disrespectful indication towards a classic. What was generally felt is the extent one goes with ‘reviving’ and ‘redoing’, where the emotion of the original is best to be left unkempt. Baul or Sufi music comes from within and removing that aspect of devotion for any audience is uncalled for. On that note, the authors of this article pay tribute to the beauty and depth of Sufi music and to the innumerable Bauls out there whose belief in music enthralls us everyday.
Disclaimer: This article does not intend to offend any particular individual. All information and opinions mentioned have been collected from a series of interviews, surveys and online research; and does not necessarily reflect upon the views of the authors.

References:

  • The Star Weekend Magazine
  • Wikipedia
  • Culturazzi.com
  • Bangladesh ShowBiz.com
  • Lifestyle (Vol 3, Issue 40)

Leave a comment