Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Photo Meditation of the Month (December, 2010): ADDICTION


An alcoholic lost his way
and took to the sidewalk
on Bay and Elm streets, Toronto

Photo (Toronto: Sept. 24, 2010 ) © Jerome D'Costa


The above photo shows an alcoholic lying on a roadside. He was so much drunk that he was unable to walk and move anywhere. He was bound to take to the ground with his heavy head. The above picture, although not good to look at, is a stark reality. This picture applies to all countries where people drink and some of whom fall victim to alcoholism -- completely dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism is one of many addictions.

Everyone is addicted to something -- more or less. Some are addicted to alcohol, some to drugs, some to religious fanaticism, some to work (workaholism), some to shopping, some to food, some to sex, some to collecting items, and some to non-work (wasting time doing nothing) and others to something else. When addiction leaves its boundary, when the person is completely irresponsible and becomes dependent on it, it turns to be harmful to the person concerned and to others around him or her.

God has created us to love our neighbours and to love him. To do so, we require to lead a balanced life, a sacrificial life, a life that will bring good to self as well as to others. Addiction should not overtake our life. We should try hard (sacrificial life) to be a caring and responsible persons.

In spite of good lectures and good talks, there will be persons falling victim to different types of alcoholism. Although annoying, intolerable or outright revolting, we should not despise these persons, we should not reject them or we should not throw them away like garbage. If we do so, we become smaller or meaner than them. They are also our neighbours. That's why Jesus said: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Poem of the Month (December, 2010): THE CROSS

"The Cross", a mini poem of mine in Bangla (Bengali),
published in
(Dhaka: February 29, 1993),
jointly edited by Christopher Purification
and Amal Milton Rozario

The Cross

By Jerome D'Costa

Croosh, cross, crux, cruz,
Whatever we call it,
You're the sign of our salvation.
You are present everywhere --
In the East, West, North and South.

We see you in the church,
On the summit of a mountain,
And on a stony island of the sea.

We also view you,
In a variety of ornamentation,
You're present among mankind,
Even though you might be unwanted.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Bangla (Bengali) Calligraphy: "THE COCKATOO BIRD TALKS"


The above Bangla (Bengali) calligraphy says:
Kakatua pakhi kotha koy
(the cockatoo bird talks)

Calligraphy (Dhaka: September 29, 1994) © Jerome D'Costa

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pitha-Pulis Play a Great Role in Bangalis' Christmas

Kata kuli pitha

Chitoi pitha

Kolkol pitha

Pakon pitha

Fruit cake

The above pitha-pulis prepared by Mary D'Costa

Photo (Toronto: Dec. 25, 2010) © Ujjal Peter D'Costa

Wherever Bangalis (people of Bengal -- Bangladesh and West Bengal of India) go, pitha pulis (rice powder cakes and pastries) go there, too. From time immemorial, pitha pulis are part of the Bangali (Bengalee) culture.

Chaler guri (rice powder or flour), gur (molasses made from juice of date palm or sugar cane), khejur rosh (dark syrup from date palm juice), milk, shuji or suji (granulated wheat -- a kind of semolina), ground coconut and cooking oil are main ingredients of pitha pulis. These items came into being in the winter months when many of the ingredients are easily available and when the colder temperature is good for preservation and longevity of food items.

Girls and housewives take pride in demonstrating their ingenuity in creating dozens of pithas and pulis in a variety of shapes, sizes, contents and designs.

More than 400 years ago, when the Catholic Portuguese missionaries brought Christianity to Bengal, new local Christians naturally integrated many of their social and culinary customs with their new religious culture. Those customs are still continuing and they are spreading worldwide with increasing immigration of Bangali Christians. In addition, these Christians also accept the local customs (western foods including cakes and pastries) in their festivities.

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The Quotation of the Week (December 26, 2010 - January 1, 2011)


A Christmas tree in Toronto

Photo (December 19, 2010) © Jerome D'Costa

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Friday, December 24, 2010

The Meaning and Significance of Christmas

The Magi (three wise men from the East, on the left)
and a shepherd (right) paying homage to
new-born saviour Jesus Christ in Bethlehem

Painting (Toronto: December 24, 2010) © Joachim Romeo D'Costa

Today is December 25, the day of Christmas. Christmas conjures up an image of gaiety, fun, festivity, colourful costumes, exchange of gifts, and gastronomic feasting in our minds. It overshadows any speck of sorrow, pain and deprivation that we might experience in our day to day life.

The word 'Christmas' comes from two Old English words Cristes Maesse, which mean the "Mass of Christ" -- in other words, the liturgical service of Christ. These two words were first used publicly in 1038 A.D. The shorter written form of 'Christmas' is 'X-Mas.' In Greek language, 'X' stands for 'Christ' (although written with 'X', 'X-mas' in English should be pronounced as 'Christmas').

Christmas commemorates the incarnation of the second person of the Blessed Trinity at the birth of Jesus Christ. The Gospel (of the Bible) mentions that "the Word became flesh" (John 1:14). God became a human being to save men and women from sin and live among them. Without losing his divine nature Jesus assumed human nature. He is true God and true man. After the Easter or Resurrection of Christ, Christmas is the second most important celebration in the Christian Churches.

God's Promise of a Messiah

After their creation, the first man and woman -- Adam and Eve -- were told to enjoy everything in the Garden of Eden except the fruits of a particular tree, called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God had given the free will to Adam and his wife. Satan, one of the angels who were previously chased out of the heaven by God because of their extreme pride and free will, took the opportunity to tempt the newly-created human beings. Satan told them to eat the forbidden fruit and thereby be equal to God in power and wisdom. Due to their free will, Adam and Eve decided to defy God and listen to Satan's alluring advice. Ultimately, they ate the fruit and became awar of their disobedient behaviour against God. Thus, sin entered mankind for the first time. This sin is called the Original Sin, which automatically passes from one human generation to another.

Although God threw Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, he did not totally abandon them or their descendants. He promised to send a Messiah or Saviour to same mankind from sin. God told Satan: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel," (Genesis 4:15 of the Bible). Prophet Isiah also prophesied: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel [God with us]," (Isiah 7:14). This prophecy was fulfilled later and we find proof of that in Matthew 1: 20-24. About 800 years before the birth of Jesus, prophet Micah prophesied (Micah 5:1) that the Messiah the Messiah would be born in Jerusalem and it was ultimately realized (Matthew 3:1-3). There were other promises of God and prophecies of prophets regarding the Messiah and all of them were fulfilled with the birth and life of Jesus Christ. The word 'Christ' means 'anointed.' St. Peter says: "God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power," (Acts of the Apostles 10:38).

December 25 Assigned As Christ's Birthday

No one knows the exact day or date of Jesus' birth. There is no written record of it. The December 25 that we observe as the birthday of Jesus had been arbitrarily fixed by the authority of the Catholic Church. The early Christians and the Catholic Church did not bother to observe Jesus' birth. St. Mark's Gospel was the first book of the New Testament of the Bible written in about 65 A.D. The other Gospels and books were written later on. None of these books mentions of Christians observing Christmas.

The Romans were pagans, worshipping numerous gods and goddesses. Their empire comprised of countries (most of Europe, West Asia and North Africa) around the Mediterranean Sea. In Rome, these pagans observed the annual festival of the Roman god Saturn, called Saturnalia. This started on December 17 and culminated on December 25. In these days, the Romans were allowed to be rowdy indulging in unbridled behaviour of eating, drinking, and sexual activities. In 274 A.D., Roman emperor Aurelian designated December 25 as the birthday of the sun god, Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun). This day also fell on the winter solstice. When Romans became Christians, some of these cultural traditions, although inappropriate for Christianity, continued among them. To counter these pagan practices and divert the Christians' focus and attention to Christ, the Catholic Church in the early 4th century designated December 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ. From that time onwards Christmas is being celebrated on that date.

Numerous religious and social Christmas customs and traditions (such as Advent preparations, Christmas wreaths, Christmas trees, Christmas gifts, Christmas decorations, Santa Claus, Christmas carols, Christmas plays, and Christmas feastings) gradually developed in different parts of the world.

The Significance of Christmas

Christmas is important to the Christians, because:

  • With the birth of Christ, God's promise of a Saviour is fulfilled. The salvation history also comes to a full circle.
  • The prophecies of the Old Testament prophets and the announcement of St. John the Baptist regarding the birth and life of Jesus Christ are also fulfilled.
  • Jesus was born in a poor and humble environment. He did not come as a king or conqueror. His poverty and humility made him easily acceptable to the majority of the people who also live in poverty. They, therefore, could easily empathize with him. His lifelong example of neighbourly love makes a significant impression in the hearts of people.
  • After coming to the earth, Jesus preached the good news of salvation. Through his death he expiated for our sins and opened the door for the forgiveness of and reconciliation with God. Thus salvation became accessible to mankind.
Let us observe the Christmas in a befitting manner. Let Christ be the focus of Christmas. Let Christ be alive in our heart and soul. May the joy of Christmas fill our hearts.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Afghanistan War: To Be or Not To Be, That's the Question -- 3

US soldiers fighting in Mian Poshteh, Afghanistan

Photo courtesy:

Afghanistan Has a Mosaic of Races

Dozens of ethnic groups (tribals) live in Afghanistan with their own language and cultural diversities. Among these groups, some important ones are: Aimaqs (in the north-west and west of the country), Baluchis (in the south), Hazaras (in the middle of the country), Kirghizes (in the north), Kizilbashes or Qizilbashes (mainly in urban centres), Nuristanis (in the north-east), Pashtuns (in the east, south-east, and north-west), Tajiks (in the north-east, east, and south-west), Turkmens (in the north) and Uzbeks (in the north). To keep these ethnic groups together is a difficult task, too. Tribal chiefs and warlords have their own agenda and fealties.

To Be or Not To Be

Initially, the Afghanistan War was a necessity. It was a purposeful war, aiming at capturing the honchos of the terrorist organizations and root them out from Afghanistan. After the US invasion of Iraq in 1983, the purpose began to fade and its importance receded to the back burner. Now, in spite of fielding more troops, money and material, it is turning into a purposeless war because those honchos can be found nowhere and their suspected dens can't be attacked directly.

As we sit here, there are people dying or getting maimed for life on both sides of this war.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would withdraw the bulk of its military forces from Afghanistan in 2011, but it will keep about 950 soldiers there until 2014 as advisers and trainers in non-combat roles. They will train the Afghan forces so that they can function on their own.

The US and other NATO forces are supposed to leave Afghanistan in 2014.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post Poll shows that six in ten Americans say that Afghanistan War "is not worth fighting." The Angus Reid Poll of August 4-5, 2010 shows that 53% of the Canadians oppose Canada's participation in Afghanistan war.

There have been public protests against Afghanistan War in different parts of the world. Recently, there was a protest in London and another Washington, D.C., followed by arrests of many protesters.

The psychological cost of the war in Afghanistan is immense. The psychological effect on many of the soldiers last for years and, for some, for the rest of their life. The tax payers are the ones who would be bearing their treatment costs.

Many people in different NATO countries are asking whether it is worthwhile to continue the war in Afghanistan when the main purpose of finding and capturing the terrorist leaders has failed miserably, let alone eradicating the roots of terrorism based in that country.

Most importantly, billions of dollars are being spent in this unresolved war. Much of this money is being borrowed by governments involved in the war. Is it not wise to leave this war and concentrate on preventative action on homegrown terrorists and their breeding grounds in NATO and European countries?

It is to be or not to be, that's the question now.

(The End)

(To read the first page, click here)

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Afghanistan War: To Be or Not To Be, That's the Question -- 2

Map of Afghanistan with its neighbouring countries

Map courtesy:

Past Foreign Invasions in Afghanistan

Although a rugged, mountainous and land-locked country, Afghanistan had a strategic position. It is located in such a way that overland routes crisscross it from Persia (Iran), Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. As a result, it was victim to numerous foreign invasions.

Persian King Darius I conquered Afghanistan around 500 B.C. Greek ruler Alexander the Great, after a long fight, took over this place in 330 B.C., but he encountered repeated rebellions. According to the Wikipedia, Alexander is said to have commented that Afghanistan is "easy to march into, hard to march out of." Writing to his mother back home, he commented: "I am involved in the land of a 'Leonie' (lion-like) and brave people, where every Foot of the ground is like a well of steel, confronting my soldier. This is the land of the Afghans [in] which children are fighting valiantly against my steel forces. You have brought only one son into the world, but Everyone in this land can be called an Alexander."

In 667 A.D., Arab armies partially subdued some Afghans but faced many revolts. After several other Arab invasions, Islam took root in this country, where Zoroastrian (Parsi), Buddhist and Hindu faiths were prevalent earlier. In 122o, Mongol emperor's armies were in charge of this land.

In the 19th century, the British, who were ruling the Indian subcontinent, wanted to extend their influence and power in Afghanistan by supporting some tribes against others. Their goal was to secure this place against Russian aggression. The British fought three Afghan wars in 1838-1842, 1878-1880 and May-August 1919. In the first Afghan War, the British lost about 15,000 soldiers to snipers and guerrilla incursions during their retreat from Kabul.

In 1979, the Soviet Union, with the intention of helping the weak pro-Soviet communist government of Afghanistan against the Islamic militant groups, deployed its armed forces there. To end the Soviet influence in that country, USA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spent billions of dollars in helping, training and arming anti-communist mujahedeen (fighter in a jihad or holy war) guerrilla groups (see the map below) and succeeded in forcing the Soviets to leave Afghanistan in 1989. Osama bin Laden and his group also fought against the Soviet army alongside the local mujahedeens. This war resulted in more than five million Afghan refugees taking shelter in neighbouring Pakistan.

A map showing major anti-Soviet insurgent groups in Afghanistan

Map courtesy:

After the ouster of the Soviet army, some Afghan mujahedeen groups took over power, but bitter in-fighring weakened them. In this void, the Afghan Talibans and their supporter Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda became more powerful with backing and assistance from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In 1996, the fundamentalist and militant Talibans usurped power and introduced restrictions on education and women working outside their homes, made women's burqa (veil) use compulsory, and prohibited music and lifestyle considered un-Islamic by them.

When Osama bin Laden received an all-out support from the Taliban government, it began to provide training to foreign Muslim youths determined to wage jihad (holy war) on the infidels, mostly Americans, who had placed their armed forces in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. Osama bin Laden expressed his vow for driving out foreign forces from Saudi Arabia, considered as "the holy land" of the Muslims.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Afghanistan War: To Be or Not To Be, That's the Question -- 1

The above image shows the stakeholders in the Afghanistan War
(you may click on the above image to view an enlarged version of it)

Layout and design (Toronto: Dec. 16, 2010) © Jerome D'Costa

The present war in Afghanistan is running in its ninth year. After the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, the US with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies embarked on this war with the goal of eradicating the terrorist roots that took hold in the favourable climate of Afghanistan. The war is still being fought with no end in sight. It is like a bone stuck in the throat -- neither can it be swallowed nor can it be vomited out!

Background of the War

When Iraq, under President Saddam Hussain, attacked Kuwait in 1990 during the Persian Gulf War, the neighbouring Saudi Arabia, apprehending Iraqi attack on it soil, sought immediate succour of the USA. As a result, the US govenment deployed its troops in Saudi Arabia. This is how US troops started to be deployed in that country. During the US-Iraq war in 2003, there were upto 10,000 US troops in Saudi Arabia, considered a country of Islamic holy places by devout Muslims.

This very presence of foreign and "infidel" (not believing in Islam) troops of the USA, gave Al Qaeda chief Bin Laden a cause to oust them from the holy soil of Saudi Arabia. To realize this goal, Bin Laden and his followers began and extended their efforts in many different ways in different countries. Ultimately, on August 7, 1998, simultaneous car-bomb attacks on US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, hundreds of people were killed and several thousand wounded. In retaliation, US missile-bombed Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan adjacent to Pakistan border on August 20, 1998.

On September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda-influenced Muslim militants plane-attacked the Twin Towers of New York. The US took it as a war on soil and formed a coalition of allied countries and attacked Afghanistan in October, 2001 and drove out the pro-Al Qaeda Taliban government from power. Some of the top Taliban government leaders along with Osama bin Laden and his senior members are still in hiding.

Presently, armed forces from US, Britain, France, Canada and 38 other countries are involved in fighting the ousted Talibans and their supporters with heavy casualties. As of December 14, 2010, there were a total of 2,193 coalition soldier deaths in Afghanistan -- USA losing 1,361, UK 346 , France 52 and Canada 152 soldiers.

A Difficult War

The Afghanistan War, instead of being a face-to-face army war, turned into a guerrilla war. In a guerrilla war, regular troops face the invisible enemy who mingle with the common people without any battle dress and attack the troops and vanish and take shelter among general population. A guerrilla war cannot be won if the guerrillas get support of general population within the country and regular funding, arms supply and shelter from neighbouring countries. Such is the situation in Afghanistan now. This situation only prolongs the war without any positive outcome. For the regular troops, a guerrilla war is a waste of manpower, money and material.

The USA had faced similar situation in Vietnam War (1965-1975) and abandoned it. The Soviet army faced the same situation in Afghanistan in its ten-year war (1979-1989) there and gave it up, too.

The Stake Holders of the Afghanistan War

There are many stake holders of the Afghanistan War (please see the above image for details). Each stake holder is pulling the war in a different direction because of its different interest in the war. It is difficult to lead a war if one has to appease some stake holders, ingratiate some others, bribe some more and directly fight out others.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (December 19 - 25, 2010)


Digitally manipulated photo of an evening with a partial moon

Original photo (Toronto: August 12, 2010) © Mary D'Costa

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

John Bibhudan Ratna, A Renowned Bangladeshi Catechist, Eulogized


John Bibhudan Ratna in his active life
as a catechist in Bangladesh

Photo @ courtesy of Pintu Patrick Ratna, Toronto

John Bibhudhan Ratna, in his retired life, with one
of his grandchildren in Bangladesh

Photo @ courtesy of Pintu Patrick Ratna, Toronto

John Bibhudan Ratna, popularly known as Bibhudan Ratna, who died on November 3, 2010, at Narikelbari of Faridpur District in Bangladesh, was eulogized in a December 11 ceremony in Toronto.

Organized by his two sons -- Sylvester Ratna and Pintu Patrick Ratna -- the ceremony was attended by about 100 persons in the conference hall of the New Kabab House on Danforth Avenue. Bangladeshi Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, who knew this veteran catechist personally, gave their eulogistic testimonies. They highlighted his remarkable qualities of strong memory, ever-smiling face, helping attitude, simple lifestyle, humility, gregariousness and prayerfulness.

Humble Life

After passing his Matriculation Examlinations (Grade 10) from Padrishibpur High School in present Barisal District, Bibhudan Ratna joined the same school as a teacher in 1946. In 1951, he joined the Narikelbari Catholic Church parish in Faridpur District as a catechist. In 1952-1954, he worked in Dakatia sub-centre, near Jessore, under the Khulna Diocese. In 1954-1957, he served as a teacher at Mariam Ashram School at Diang near Chittagong. He was the first teacher of this school.

In 1958, Bishop Raymond Larose, CSC, of Chittagong, placed him as a catechist at Narikelbari parish. He served there for 47 years before his retirement.

A catechist (a lay man who mainly provides oral teaching of religion in remote rural areas), like school teachers, was a low-paid Church worker. He is the frontline worker dealing with people at the grassroots level. Besides being a religion teacher, he also has other duties as a sacristan (helper of a priest in holy Masses and other religious liturgies and ceremonies), keeper of Church records (of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths), counselor to parishioners and married couples, and visitor to parish sub-centres (outstations).

Bibhudan Ratna, at the time of his death, left his second wife (the first wife died in 1958), three sons and six daughters and a bundle of grandsons and granddaughters. Since his brain stroke in 2005, he broke his waist which did not heal after several operations. In the last five years of his life, he suffered much physically and mentally, being a wheelchair-bound and completely dependent on others. His funeral was attended by about 1,000 persons -- Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Hindus.

His middle name, Bibhudan, is a Bangla (Bengali) word for 'God's gift.' He was truly a gift of God among his people.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Today Is the Bangladesh Bijoy Dibosh (Victory Day)

A doodle on Jatiyo Smriti Shoudha (National War Memorial)
at Savar, Bangladesh

Doodle (Dhaka: September 22, 1989) © Jerome D'Costa

Today is the 40th Bijoy Dibosh (Victory Day) of Bangladesh. On this day, the nine-month War of Independence ended with the surrender of more than 90,000 West Pakistani forces.
Today we remember about three million people who were killed during the Bangladesh War of Independence. We also remember innumerable girls and women who had been raped, many of them killed by West Pakistani soldiers and their East Pakistani collaborators.

In this blog, we especially remember today many East Pakistani (Bangladeshi) Christians who were also killed in 1971. Among them, there were three Catholic priests (Father William P. Evans, CSC, Father Mario Veronesi, SX, and Father Lucas Marandi) as well as my father Dr. Peter D'Costa. Even Christian churches suffered desecration in the hands of the West Pakistani soldiers.

For a strong Bangladesh, the spirit (sacrifice, upholding of the truth, fighting for justice and human rights, and communal harmony) of the War of Independence needs to pervade in all sectors (politics, economy, education, and societal activities). Although late, justice needs to be meted out against certain Bangladesh people who are found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the liberation struggle in 1971.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today Is the 2nd Anniversary of My Blog

Layout and design (Toronto: 2010) © Jerome D'Costa

Today, December 15, is the second anniversary of my blog Bangladesh Canada and Beyond. Two years ago, I launched this blog to inform, instruct, and entertain readers of different continents.

It would be a blessing for me if I could touch a heart and benefit any reader in any way.

I wish that you revisit this blog frequently and, from time to time, leave your thoughtful and mature comments.

Wish you all the best.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Little Shouvik's Doodle

Two children

Doodle (Toronto: June 30, 1998) by Shouvik Mikhail D'Costa

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Let's Keep Christ in Christmas

A doodle on Christmas

Doodle (Dhaka: July 21, 1992) © Jerome D'Costa

Christians in the West are increasingly becoming victims of aggressive secularization. As a result, they are banishing Christian symbols and practices from their life. Pope Benedict has repeatedly warned Europeans of this dangerous trend and its adverse consequences.

Even there are intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office, recently denounced this trend, too.

In addition, atheists are openly ridiculing and denouncing religious beliefs of Christians. They are telling Christians not to say "Merry Christmas." Many Christians, being confused, are afraid of offending people by saying "Merry Christmas," but they do not realize that Christmas without Christ is no Christmas.

Keep Christ in Christmas

Those, who are Christians, should not be afraid of keeping Christ in Christmas. We should greet in a Christian way and use Christian symbols and practices during Christmas season. Christ is a part and parcel of our Christian identity. So why be afraid to have this identity? Other non-Christians have the right to keep their own identity.

There are websites and blogs that can help you plan your observance of Christmas in a Christian way. Some of these are:

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Monday, December 13, 2010

The Crowds in Bangladesh

A crowded bus on the highway near Chittagong

Photo (October 7, 1996) © Jerome D'Costa

Another crowded bus on the highway near Comilla

Photo (May 23, 1989) © Jerome D'Costa

Don't worry as long as there is some hanging space outside the bus!

Photo (1974) by Father Joseph S. Peixotto, CSC
(received @ courtesy of Jospeph Peixotto, Sr.)

A crowded ferry boat near the Mongla Port

Photo (1995) © Jerome D'Costa

A crowded motor launch on the Meghna River
near Daudkandi Ferry Terminal

Photo (May 23, 1989) © Jerome D'Costa

When I say 'crowd,' I mean a real crowd. I don't mean a rush-hour crowd. This normal crowd is a concentration of many people -- where you see only heads and heads -- at all times of the day and most of the night. You can witness such crowds in Bangladesh.

In normal times, the buses are crowded, the trains are crowded, the motor launches are crowded, and where else? If it were permitted, the domestic and international planes would be crowded. Why leave aisles empty in a plane? A lot of people could at least stand there!

If you want to see an abnormal crowding, just give a call for a hartal (all-out general strike) and a demonstration and picketing. Political parties in Bangladesh are quite adept at this. Another time of over-crowding is the Eid-ul Fitr (annual Islamic religious festival) time. At that time, millions of people from Dhaka leave for their family homes. The rooftop of a train has enough space to sit on, so why not use it? It is at least better than sitting or standing inside a train in suffocating and sweating situation.

In Toronto downtown, Canada, when I tell people that they would not find such uncrowded, sparsely-walked and almost empty streets in Dhaka, they cannot fathom it.

In Bangladesh, about 156,050,883 persons live in 143,998 square kilometres -- 1,083 persons per square kilometre area! The capital city of Dhaka, with an area of 360 square kilometres, can comfortably hold five million (5,000,000) people, but, in reality, 13, 000,000 people are vying for space there! In contrast, Canada, with its 9,984,670 sq. kilometre territory, has a population of 33,759,742 -- only 3.38 persons per square kilometre!

According to the recent Bangla Kagoj (a Bangla-language weekly) of Toronto, the National Institute for Population Research and Training in Dhaka reports that 2,136 newcomers from other towns and villages arrive daily in Dhaka to eke out a living, creating a tremendous pressure on water, electricity, gas, housing, transport and law-and-order situation. Specialists predict that if this trend continues unabated, the service situation would be such that Dhaka would need to be declared an abandoned city in next ten or so years.

The city authority has planned to increase the area of Dhaka to 590 sq. miles (1,528 sq. kilometres) for reducing the increasing pressure of population.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Quotation of the Week (December 12 - 18, 2010)

A dog at the Warden Subway Station in Toronto

Photo (November 24, 2010) © Jerome D'Costa

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010



A three-headed khejur (date palm) tree -- a freak of Nature --
in Jessore District, Bangladesh

Photo (1975) © Jerome D'Costa

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Doodle on Dhaka City


Dhaka City, Bangladesh, in one of my doodles
Doodle (Dhaka: May 22, 1994) © Jerome D'Costa

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Monday, December 6, 2010

My Photos for the Vatican English Weekly 'L'Osservatore Romano'


Two above photos of mine were published
in the English weekly -- L'Osservatore Romano --
of the Vatican, dated October 4, 1973

(You may click on the above image to see the enlarged version of it)

The upper photo shows the gorgeous sunset as seen from the Daudkandi Ferry Ghat (terminal) on the Meghna River in the then Comilla District of Bangladesh. A small boat with a sail against the backdrop enhances the beauty of the sunset.

The lower photo depicts an under-treatment boy of Santal ethnic group in Boldipukur, Rangpur District.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Signs of the Times

A poster in TTC trains requests commuters not to leave
chewing gums in the underground rail stations
and trains in Toronto

Photo (Toronto: Sept. 2, 2010) © Jerome D'Costa

Chewing gums are popular with some people. Some use them for the sheer pleasure of chewing, others do it to keep their breath fresh, and few others do it for the sole purpose of exercising their jaws!

As a responsible citizen, every one, after its use, is supposed to dispose of the used gum properly so that this may not cause any nuisance to others. Some chewers, instead of throwing gums in the garbage bins, throw them on the floor or stick them on station or train walls and seats. This irresponsible behaviour of some cause undue irritation, anger and inconvenience to others who get gums stuck under their shoes or on their clothes and belongings.

Some countries are extremely strict about this nuisance. They impose heavy fines if caught red-handed. I had gone to Singapore several times in the late 1980's and early 1990's. I saw signs in different places warning of fines, amounting to 500 Singapore dollars, for sticking or throwing gums anywhere instead of garbage bins. I heard that the law-enforcement authority there diligently punish the violators of this law. In that respect, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is just requesting its customers to keep the TTC gum-free.

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The Quotation of the Week (December 5-11, 2010)

Electric wire connection to a house

Photo (Toronto:2009) © Ujjal Peter D'Costa
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Friday, December 3, 2010

My Doodle on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh


A doodle on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
the Father of the Nation in Bangladesh
. The Bangla (Bengali) writing
above says Bangabandhu (The Friend of Bengal), the title
given to him by common people in appreciation of
his contribution towards the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

Doodle (Dhaka: October 26, 1994) © Jerome D'Costa

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


A hand protruding from a tree at the Green Gables Farm
in Cavendish of the Prince Edward Island, Canada!

(Photo (August 17, 2007) © Jerome D'Costa

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