Tuesday, February 02, 1999

Bibhuti/Mac/Udayan on 2 BENGAL debate

Subject: Bibhuti/Maq/Udayan on 2 BENGAL debate
Newsgroups: soc.culture.bangladesh, soc.culture.bengali
Date: 1999/02/19

Following are from an interesting e-mail exchange on the topic of Bangladesh's recent participation at Calcutta Book fair and subsequent controversy in Bangladesh over alleged mistreatment, disrespect shown to the delegation.

Dear Uncle,

[Bibhuti] A few comments on the book fair, which I hope, you will pass on to your Bangladeshi friends:

[Mac] Thank you for your kindness!

[Bibhuti] The book fair is now the largest and most popular event in Calcutta, second only to Durga Puja.

[Mac] So what?

[Bibhuti] It is certainly the biggest and best secular festival we have.

[Mac] if this festival is 'secular' does it also mean you have 'Muslim book fairs' or a 'Hindu book fairs' - please be so kind enough as to educate me?

[Bibhuti] This year there we had over 12 lakh visitors. If you consider how many middle class Bengalis there are in Calcutta you will see that an overwhelming majority visit the fair, or at least one member from each family.

[Mac] 1.2 million doesn't sound to me quite a lot - we do not keep such useless counts - but the Dhaka book fair perhaps attract 2 million people who are not necessarily from the 'middle class'.

[Bibhuti] I cannot think of a single family I know who has not visited the fair this year. Given that so many people from Calcutta this year are visiting the book fair and seeing Bangladeshi books and the general programme, I think it was very good for Bangladesh.

[Mac] The very idea that Bangladesh an independent country took part in a fair in one of 'provincial capital' of India cannot be good for Bangladesh. I'm sorry.

[Bibhuti] The Parjatan Company of Bangladesh (a tourist organization) was handing out free magazines and pictures of Bangladesh and many people I know are now interested to visit Bangladesh. With the new bus service and the cheap air tickets on the airlines, I think there will be more people from India visiting Bangladesh, and this will be good for their economy.

[Mac] Our people have 'fed' the Indian economy by buying all kind of garbage and ideas coming from your country. Your coming to Bangladesh is of no economic significance to us till such time you have allowed us 'unrestricted, unhindered access' to your market.

The zero tariff proposal failed because 'middle class' Calcuttan got shit scared seeing our possibilities - whether that be our smuggled VCP, melamine crockery's, music, and garbage like 'Beder Meye Jyotsna'. Bangladesh today is a sleek horse that can steer and maneuver anywhere - Calcutta is unfortunately a heavy elephant - and really cant move its back. Bad luck uncle.

[Bibhuti] And it will increase the good feelings of Indians for Bangladesh.

[Mac] Animosity to India does not exist in Bangladesh. What exists is a complete lack of consideration on your part for our 'bangal' innocence and simplicity period

[Bibhuti] The Bangladesh pavilion was amazing, beautiful and serene. There were many stalls and books of every subject to arouse interest. You would have liked the history and politics books. I myself availed of the opportunity to purchase several poetry and literature books by authors such as Imadul Hoq and Humayun Ahmed whose works I read critical reviews about but have not the opportunity to usually buy here in Calcutta.

[Mac] My apologies dear uncle, you see what you have purchased is some garbage from Bangladesh which has been promoted by some so called intellectuals of Calcutta together with their cohorts and collaborators. Imdadul and Humayun represents the poorest quality of writing from Bangladesh - and the only reason you purchased their work is because you read 'critical reviews' about them. Critical reviews dear uncle, (you will agree with me) in Calcutta can be purchased.... and those things that you have purchased are used as toilet paper in Bangladesh! Have you heard of any other poets or writers from Bangladesh? Can I have a list?

[Bibhuti] There were also audiocassettes of popular artistes who frequently visit Calcutta for functions but not sell their cassette in the shops.

[Mac] Uncle, why don't you try and find out why Bangladeshi artist audio cassettes are not available in Calcutta - while each and every Calcutta artist are hugely represented in Bangladesh through smuggled and pirated channels?

[Bibhuti] I saw the opening ceremony on ATN Bangla. I did not think there was any problem when I saw it, but I read in the Anandabazar and from the e-mails you sent that many Bangladeshis were offended. If there were mispronunciations of names and absence of protocol (which I did not realize when I saw it first) then it is obviously an error, which we have to apologize for. But I do not think there was any intentional slight for Bangladesh on part of West Bengal. We are not used to organizing reception for international dignitaries.

[Mac] Uncle, you are not 'used to' organizing anything - so why the hell are you organizing them again and again - when you have to apologize again and again? When will you learn anything at all? Unintentional or whatever, i think an apology is due for irresponsibility - and it wont suffice if it comes from a private citizen of Calcutta such as yourself. It must come from Jyoti Bosu period

[Bibhuti] It is also to be remembered when so many I did not find that odd, but then I do not know how the rules work. I thought "Begum" is like "Srimoti" in India, and many Muslims also use it. If the announcer had said "Srimoti Hasina" perhaps they would have also been offended. Ideally it would have been best if they had asked and checked what form of address should have been used.

[Mac] In the secular and politically correct Bangladesh the rules works this way. we in no way want to add an honorific or title that has an implication of ones religion or religious beliefs. Therefore 'begum' and 'srimoti' are both objectionable. It cannot and should not be used. Sheikh Hasina is good enough - and it would have been betterif she was also called the 'prodhan montri' of Bangladesh.

I hope you know that, because it seems your petty announcers don't, and your petty people do not seem to even 'understand' the great wrong that has been done! Caution: if you call Vajpayee a 'mukhyo montri' your heads will be on the chopper blocks!

[Bibhuti] There are many examples of when Indian or Hindu names have been mis-written or wrongly pronounced in Bangladesh. When I saw TV coverage of Jyoti Basus visit in Bangladesh I heard the mayor talk of him as "Juti Baa-shu". I read a newspaper from Bangladesh recently called Ittephak.

[Mac] There you are - the mispronunciation is not only in the name of humans it is also in the names of newspapers. It is ittefaq not 'ittephak' uncle, nor ittefuck..if you know what that means ! How could you have made such a glaring mistake when you have read it yourself? The problem with Calcutta is they have a 'national eye disorder'. They pronounce Muslim names wrong because they cannot read them right. Your case is a glaring example. Time to change your eyeglass uncle!!

[Bibhuti] In an article on Calcutta, it was full of spelling mistakes of some Hindu names, like Mukhopadhyay, Subhash, which I thought was strange, because there are many Hindus living in Bangladesh also.

[Mac] If you can be kind enough to send me the date this newspaper was printed. i really doubt 'ittephak' could be so wrong - I'll speak to the editor. it is time we 'phak ed' them before they do more damage to our relationship. Apologies to Calcutta ... in order. marjona.

[Bibhuti] But then we have many Muslims living in India also, so if we are making mistakes (even if they are not deliberate) it is our shame as well. This can only be solved when we are interacting together more closely.

[Mac] Great idea uncle, ...how do you plan on doing it? How about unleashing this incumbent 'interaction' to the public of Bangladesh. Making grandiose suggestions is a Bengali virus. We do not have the balls to see them executed. Shame on us Bengalis.

[Bibhuti] Fundamentally, I do not hope that the Bangladesh people will remember these small unintentional slights. The important things are that this type of interaction is happening when a couple of years ago it was unthinkable.

[Mac] Whose fault was it - we have never shied of interaction? We have allowed Calcutta to come in an invade our country with open arms because we are not afraid and because we genuinely adore the people of Calcutta. Our adoration should not be misconstrued as our weakness.

[Bibhuti] I want more Bangladeshi books to come to Calcutta, more artistes, more writers, more cassettes, etc. I also want our people to go to Dhaka. They should develop friendships. There is a talk of a Calcutta-Dhaka bus. I want also Calcutta-Joshor, Agartala-Chittagong, etc I want more interaction and trade. I think trade and interaction amongst the common people will help us forget the differences between politicians.

[Mac] Thank you for suggestions for the bus fair - unbelievable that this is happening with a province of India with whom we share a common border after 28 years of our independence. sob...sob.

Wouldn't come to Bangladesh if there were no 'cheap' bus service. Why do you have fixations for anything 'cheap' we don't?

Look after yourself
Your loving nephew from Bangladesh (not opar bangla)