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Advancement

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“Telephone, also called telephone set. an electrical device for transmitting speech, consisting of a microphone and receiver mounted on a handset” Source: Dictionary.Com

The Telephone – Robert Frost

‘When I was just as far as I could walk From here today, There was an hour All still
When leaningwith my head again a flower I heard you talk.
Don’t say I didn’t, for I heard you say—
You spoke from that flower on the window sill-
Do you remember what it was you said?’ ‘First tell me what it was you thought you heard.’ ‘Having found the flower and driven a bee away, I leaned on my head
And holding by the stalk, I listened and I thought I caught the word—
What was it? Did you call me by my name?
Or did you say– Someone said “Come” —
I heard it as I bowed.’ ‘I may have thought as much, but not aloud.’ “Well, so I came.’

Source: PoemHunter

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When I was young the telephone we had looked much like this one with a round, rotary dial. It required electricity and was constantly struck by lightning when it stormed. No one worried much if we missed a call. Grandma often said, “If it was important, they’ll call back.” Later came the pushbutton phone and then the ones with Caller ID.

A landline telephone is connected by a pair of wires to the telephone network, while a mobile phone, such as a cellular phone, is portable and communicates with the telephone network by radio transmissions. The public switched telephone network, consisting of telephone lines, fiberoptic cables, microwave transmission, cellular networks, communications satellites, and undersea telephone cables connected by switching centers, allows telephones around the world to communicate with each other. Each telephone line has an identifying telephone number. To initiate a telephone call the user enters the other telephone’s number into a numeric keypad on the phone. Graphic symbols used to designate telephone service or phone-related information in print, signage, and other media include ℡ (U+2121), ☎ (U+260E), ☏ (U+260F), ✆ (U+2706), and ⌕ (U+2315).

Although originally designed for simple voice communications, most modern telephones have many additional capabilities. They may be able to record spoken messages, send and receive text messages, take and display photographs or video, play music, and surf the Internet. A current trend is phones that integrate all mobile communication and computing needs; these are called smartphones.  Source: Wikipedia

As progress has come, much has changed. In the 80s the answering arrived to record the messages of calls when we weren’t home. Then arrived call screening, we no longer had to speak to those we didn’t want. Today’s answering machines are digital or built into our phone sets. The first ones were tape based like this one.

The next advancement was the Carphone. Now we could get and make calls from our car. Some lives were saved in some cases due to these phones and others lost. My husband was one of those who had one in his car that looked something like this.

The next great advance came in the Mobile or Cellular phone. Tying us to our offices, friendsand family no matter where we were. In fact, it sometimes feel our phones are our masters. Missing a call often signals your caller to assume you are avoiding them or irresponsible in not answering your phone.

We have become a society tied to our gadgets. Family time that used to be spent enjoying each other’s conversation; watching television or a movie together or some other family fun is seemly spent together texting, Face-booking or otherwise engaged with our devices. Gone is the day of families spending uninterrupted time together as a family just enjoying each other. So, advancement at what cost?

 

 

We Can Say Beautiful Bangladesh

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Yesterday, I took my first “Walking Tour” of Puran Dhaka. It was organized through Urban Study Group. I have always loved the old ancient structures even when I lived in the U.S., so no surprise that I was totally up for this and my legs currently tell the tale of how much and how far we walked.

One of the most interesting, though sad majestic structures that we visited was the Boro Katra which was constructed at the same time as the Taj Mahal in India. Bara Katra was built between 1644 and 1646 CE to be the official residence of Mughal prince Shah Shuja, the second son of emperor Shah Jahan. The prince endowed it to his diwan and the builder of the serai, Abul Qasim. The word Katra may have originated from Arabic word Katara which means colonnaded building.
Bara Katra originally enclosed a quadrangular courtyard with 22 rooms on all of its four sides. The ruins consist of an edifice having a river frontage. The southern wing of the structure was planned on a grand scale and was marked with an elaborate three-storeyed gate containing an octagonal central chamber. The remaining portion was two-storeyed and encased by projected octagonal towers.
       

The gateway structure is lofty in height and projected towards the river. A tall alcove rising to the second storey reduces the mass of this projection. The wall surface is relieved with panels that are square as well as rectangular and that contain a variety of decorations of four-centred, cusped, horseshoe and flat arches. Above the apex of the alcove open the windows of the third storey. Under the alcove is the main arched entrance which leads to the guardroom. Passing through the two successive archways come an octagonal domed hall, the ceiling of which is plastered and bears various net-patterns and foliaged designs. The two-storeyed structure resolves on both sides of the central entrance into a row of five vaulted rooms in the ground floor and living rooms with a continuous corridor on the upper one. The three-storeyed corner towers are hollow and can be approached from the subsidiary structures.

More than half of the Katra building was destroyed over time owing to neglect. The building remains in a dilapidated condition. The Bangladeshi government has been unable to take charge of the monument owing to litigation and resistance from its present owners. The owners have made several alterations to the original character of the building and have also started construction of a new multi-storeyed building in the area. Urban encroachment and shanty constructions envelop the palace today.
You can see the architectural similarities just by looking at the photos, but where the Taj Mahal has been meticulously maintained, Boro Katara has fallen into decay. These structures in Dhaka could draw tourists in the same way the Taj Mahal draws tourists to India, except that they have not been maintained and at one time there was even a discussion about destroying them. How sad!
Urban Study Group which was formed in 2004, by Taimur Islam and his wife. He requests all who attend his tour to request the government to restore these wonderful historic structures that are merely in need of restoration and TLC. He has wonderful ideas with photos of what these building could look like restored. Let’s rebuild Bangladesh to make it truly beautiful and grand. To write to the Prime Minister please email info [at] pmo.gov.bd.  Thank you Taimur for showing us what Beautiful Bangladesh could really be like.
To contact Urban Study Group to arrange a tour email usg.dhaka [at] gmail.com. Truly a worthwhile activity for your family, school or group.

Donations To The Poor

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wpid-PastedGraphic-2014-11-22-13-17.pngMany of us who live in Bangladesh see the sweet faces pressed up against our car windows asking us to buy their stickers or just to give them money. We are sad to see the suffering of the children, the mother’s carrying drugged sleeping infants and children meandering car to car seeking financial assistance. The elderly, handicapped and maimed all come one by one. The question is if passing notes to them is the best way to help them. I personally believe it isn’t, it just enables this system – a network of beggars to continue to exist.

If you really want to help the unfortunate, find an organization or group to give your money to that you trust to make sure the money reaches the people you really want to help.

I am a member of Dhaka American Women’s Club (DAWC), every year we hold fundraisers (two large renown ones are the Christmas Bazaar and the Hollywood Ball) that help us to give to needy organizations who apply for assistance. Our process includes a visit to the organization, so that we are satisfied the money is going to the right place. The DAWC focuses on organizations assisting women and children in Bangladesh. Membership is open to U.S and Canadian passport holders and their spouses. We also reach out to the local community to help us pay for the costs of arrangements and decor through sponsorship of our events. Sponsorship is a great way to help us give the maximum to those in need.

Another organization I am a part of is Dhaka Expat Club (DEC). Dhaka Expat Club focuses on Street Children’s schools and organization. We hold small events to raise funds for activities that we host for Street Kids. This year we have organized a small trip to Shilpakala Academy and a larger trip to Nandan Water Park. Membership is open to all foreign passport holders.

There also many other organizations in Dhaka doing wonderful work, Blankadesh is one. This time of year the weather is cooling, so buy a fleece blanket and Blankadesh will donate another to someone in need.

Another great non profit to give to is Streetwise. Streetwise works to assist & educate Street Kids. There is also the British Women’s Association (BWA) and the Women’s Volunteer Association (WVA)  in addition to what I am sure are many others.

We all want to help those in need, but let’s not continue to enable a system of thug bosses who keep most of the money while the needy kids, women, elderly, handicapped, and maimed work all day for a small percentage of what they are given. Just my two cents today. If you know of good organization supporting other groups besides women and children, let me know and I’ll add them to my list.

It All Began With “A”

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Android is beginning to release Android 5.0 called Lollipop. Every Android version is named after a sweet — a desert or candy. So, this morning I was wondering, why? Well, Google won’t say is what CNN was told when Honeycomb was released in 2011. It’s an internal secret (shhhh).  So, now we wait in anticipation as to what letter “M” may bring as they all are alphabetical and they won’t say what A or B were called. The earliest publically announced was Cupcake. Suggestions for the letter M and remember it must be a desert or candy. Marshmallow, anyone? 

Blackout – the good, the bad and the ugly

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In Bangladesh, news is everywhere. Though it is usually unclear in the details. What I mean by that is it is rare we really know the whole story or even if the story is fact or fiction. The stories we read are often slanted to present political views, favoritism or to cover up the sins of near and dear ones who have made gross errors in judgement. Money is also a key factor.

Live news has been coming to the foray in recent times, but not always in print media.  There is a ticker on most of the news media’s website, but I don’t know why it really isn’t updated as much as it could be. This became painfully apparent during the blackout we experienced over a week ago. I am thankful that reality TV hasn’t yet hit Bangladesh in its worst forms.

As for me, I spent what little electricity we had keeping my phone charged and checking for updates as to when the power would be back. Call the local Dhaka Electric Suppy Association (DESA) was pointless as the line was continually busy.

After looking at The Daily Star and BDNews24 mostly, I found that the Dhaka Tribune kept the most updated coverage. Way to go Dhaka Tribune! Keep up the good work! Just needed to give a shoutout to them as I think they are awesome.

History and Hartels vs Education

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I don’t pretend to be an expert in Bangladesh history, but the birth of any nation never comes easily. There will always be two sides to statehood, those who want it and those who don’t. The difference lies in the actions of those who don’t. In general, I don’t support capital punishment, not saying that everyone can be reformed or deserves that option. Usually, I stay out of Politics all-together.

I imagine when there is a hartel/shut-down/strike after a long period the kids take just like a snow day in the northeast of the USA. It’s an unexpected break from school. However, when you have day after day hartels happening regularly it is a whole other situation. As an educator and a parent I feel outraged that these shutdowns are allowed to continue. I do understand protest, but where and when will the government and law enforcement draw the line.

Schools have now adopted different policies to ensure the students complete the school year with the adequate number of school days, but there are still interruptions depending on the severity of the hartel.

Of course, more important is the effect on the the economy of the country and the impact on the livelihood of businesses.

Zoho Apps for Business

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PastedGraphic-2014-09-20-13-12.pngRecently, when I was looking for a email host (personally I have always found hosting email on your domain host rife with issues), I found that Google now charges for hosting email. Shame, shame #Google. It seems to be the way, first #Microsoft and now #Google. The only good thing about this is if you already have your email hosted with them for free, they will not charge you. However, they will charge for new signups. :(

PastedGraphic1-2014-09-20-13-12.pngIt is becoming increasingly difficult to find options for free email hosting, but one really good one that I have turned to is #Zoho. It is similar to #Google, but you get folders instead of labels and they have active sync for devices like #Microsoft exchange. There are many great things about Zoho, but I mainly came to it for the mail hosting. #TechRepublic has written a nice blog post on some of the great apps for businesses fro #Zoho that is worth a read if you are looking for more than just email hosting.

Gaza: 72 Hour Truce, Is There an End?

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There is no one in the world today that hasn’t heard or seen the story of the Israel attack on #Gaza uhfolding. The world seems to have gone crazy and watched nearly silently as hundreds of Palestinian children were killed. The Muslim world has been the loudest voice, but the people dying are of all faiths. The problem seems to be between the truth and what Israel and it’s supporters want us all to believe. 

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Social networks are on fire, but it is really hard to tell if we are making a dent in opinions of world leaders who are in a position to impose sanctions (and this what really needs to happen) against Israel. I really don’t understand why no country has done this yet. The U.S. imposed sanction against Russia recently for much less than this, but with what seems to be a genocide campaign raging all we here is that Israel an ally of the U.S. from President Barack Obama and that Congress made sure that $225 billion funding bill for Israel’s defense misiles was approved before they want on vacation. AID to a country that is bombing SCHOOLS and killing CHILDREN! 

Israel LiesIs it that too many people are believing in Israel’s propaganda or are they just remaining quiet out of fear of the repercussions? Understand that if you are silent it means you see no problem with what Israel is doing. For me, it’s difficult to watch all the images of children becoming orphans and parents becomes childless and not FEEL SOMETHING. A friend recently put this up as her status, “I’ll admit I have stopped and thought about how my criticism of the Israeli genocide would affect me professionally. I’m reading a ton of articles about how people lost jobs or were ostracized for stating their views. But I cannot stay silent. And if things fall through because of it, so be it. I’d rather children stop being killed than my getting ahead. I could not live with it. I’ll manage. So don’t be afraid, please. Speak out. If you remain silent, you are complicit.” I agree, so I am speaking out. Let the killing stop and let it be soon. #SupportGaza #Humanists4Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

Gaza: 72 Hour Truce, Is There an End?

Posted on Updated on

There is no one in the world today that hasn’t heard or seen the story of the Israel attack on #Gaza uhfolding. The world seems to have gone crazy and watched nearly silently as hundreds of Palestinian children were killed. The Muslim world has been the loudest voice, but the people dying are of all faiths. The problem seems to be between the truth and what Israel and it’s supporters want us all to believe. 

10427285 10154430840730099 7422392973177991864 n

Social networks are on fire, but it is really hard to tell if we are making a dent in opinions of world leaders who are in a position to impose sanctions (and this what really needs to happen) against Israel. I really don’t understand why no country has done this yet. The U.S. imposed sanction against Russia recently for much less than this, but with what seems to be a genocide campaign raging all we here is that Israel an ally of the U.S. from President Barack Obama and that Congress made sure that $225 billion funding bill for Israel’s defense misiles was approved before they want on vacation. AID to a country that is bombing SCHOOLS and killing CHILDREN! 

Israel LiesIs it that too many people are believing in Israel’s propaganda or are they just remaining quiet out of fear of the repercussions? Understand that if you are silent it means you see no problem with what Israel is doing. For me, it’s difficult to watch all the images of children becoming orphans and parents becomes childless and not FEEL SOMETHING. A friend recently put this up as her status, “I’ll admit I have stopped and thought about how my criticism of the Israeli genocide would affect me professionally. I’m reading a ton of articles about how people lost jobs or were ostracized for stating their views. But I cannot stay silent. And if things fall through because of it, so be it. I’d rather children stop being killed than my getting ahead. I could not live with it. I’ll manage. So don’t be afraid, please. Speak out. If you remain silent, you are complicit.” I agree, so I am speaking out. Let the killing stop and let it be soon. #SupportGaza #Humanists4Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

What’s the Point: Ramadan Fasting

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It’s been many years now that I reverted to Islam. Muslims believe that all people are born with a natural faith in God and according to Islam, children are born with an innate sense of God, which is called the fitrah. Therefore, conversion to Islam as a “return” back to this original, pure faith. For this reason, many Muslims prefer to say that they have “reverted,” rather than converted to Islam. A common definition of the word “revert” is to “return to a former condition or belief.” Since I reverted I have fasted every year trying my best to follow all the customs, practices and rules of Islam and Ramadan. My people only think that Ramadan means you don’t eat. As I tell my children, that is not the case. In fact, there is a lot more to Ramadan than not eating. It is a time we pray 5 times everyday (if you don’t already), read the Quran and overall become closer to Allah. 

Fasting begins before sunrise and Muslims across the world wake in the wee hours of the night to eat their last meal before sunrise and then pray the Fajr prayer. Often, following Fajr they will read the Quran because it is believe the angels are listening especially at the time and therefore there extra blessing if you read at the time. Following the we return back to our beds for some time. 

The rest of the day we go about our day as usual taking care to offer prayers at Dhur (just after midday) and Asr (afternoon). At the timing of Maghrib (evening prayer) we break our fast with dates (as this is what the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) did) and water or juice. In some families this meal (Iftar) is elaborate with many dishes, but I prefer it to be a simple table. We are not supposed to over eat during Ramadan anyway. Following the meal, we pray the Maghrib prayer. Some families have dinner after this, but our family prefers Iftar to be the evening meal as well. 

After Isha prayer (night prayer) there are special prayers called Taraweeh that are held either at home or at the local mosque.  These are not obligatory prayers, so not everyone does them. This is mainly because they take a long time and many have early office hours. 

Ramadan is the month that the Quran was received by our Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and is the month we seek forgiveness for our sins, the sins of our near ones and pray for those who are no longer in this world. Muslims celebrate the arrival of Ramadan for many reasons. One is the extra time we get to spend with our family, but a big part of it is the opportunity to seek forgiveness. Ramadan is basically the month of forgiveness and all Muslims celebrate this month and the opportunities to commune with Allah for a clean slate. 
I know a few people who are married to people of the book (Christians) who sometimes fast along with the rest of the family. In some ways to be a part, to make the family members happy and in other ways to experience what the disadvantaged go through everyday. While it’s great for them to feel included in the celebration of the month, they are not really experiencing all the reasons Ramadan is such a great part of Islam and being a Muslim. 
The end of Ramadan culminates in the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr. This is traditionally a 3 day long holiday, though depending on where you live it may only be a day for you.  Eid Mubarak.