Reflections on the death of a Dokholer*

Tormentor of my family,
Dementer of a vision,
Devourer of institution,
Repeller of religion.

Now that you've gone to meet your Lord,
The problems are not solved,
The twisted knots, the muddied name,
Even standards have been floored.

You hired men to kill my bro,
because he would not bend.
To your bribery, skullduggery,
and dumb Bengali men.

Even in your death you faked your grave,
To advance deluded interest,
What faulty, skewed, shrewd lovepump,
Did you carry in your chest?

You were no holy man to me,
You soiled a cute tariqa**,
The ronin*** you hegemonised,
Should really have fought better.

Beard, syedness**** and cool brothers,
Are all you ever had,
Living in their shadow,
Like a corrupting bearded hag.

He has infinite mercy,
I pray He'll give to you,
I wish He'd shine some on the mess,
You turned the dream into.

* Dokhol is a Bengali term denoting the unlawful/forced/violent occupation of a property or institution. Commonly perpetrated by individuals, families, political parties and governments. Dokhology, the science of illegal occupation is a craft that the society has nurtured very well. Even nuclear bombs have a thicker silver lining than the institutional occupation culture of Bangladesh.

** Tariqa is any sufi order.

*** Ronin is the term for Samurai who lost their leader and drifted around feudal Japan.

**** Syed-ness denotes an ancestry that connects to the Prophet of Islam in some way. It is a status symbol subject to a lot of exploitation and abuse.


Old School English Islamic Economics?

King Offa was the King of Mercia (south of England) from 757 till 796 of the christian era.

He minted some coins with the first kalima engraved on them

Was he a bro, a broad hearted man, or was he doing islamic finance 'british style'? ... by making money off (andalusian) arabs by playing language tricks.

I shall eventually post a picture here of a replica.


The Browning of the Green, Another anoying thing about this financial mayhem

As times get tougher I am afraid that I expect a sidelining of the green agenda in favour of something else. There is something wrong with the system of valuing non-material matters when bankers usually accorded a high social status cause such harm to the public interest as they have done. And to top it all offer themselves up to solve the mess they created in the first place. Old school and false logics about growth seem to be dominating the headlines now. Its really sad. Even if people did suspect greenwash before, we may see how shallow things can get in the next few months. On a hopeful note, I do expect Out Twin Gandalfs: of Vince Cable and Archbishop Rowan Williams to keep their heads and pronounce wise things.
The UK government is very proud, and shadily and boastfully so, of its international climate change credentials. CC has become an effective 'scientific' diplomatic tool. For instance, it 'Climate Proofs' its 'International Development' interventions. They are making huge claims of 80% reductions in Co2 by 2050, a political economic commitment that is so far on the political horizon that the electoral cycle (which operates at 0.0000000317 Hertz assuming maximal 5 year intervals) seems hopelessly inadequate. George Monbiot explains it well. The spatio-temporal commitment and continuity suggested is hard to fathom. For this and many other reasons, we really do need to value and nurture Foresight and Tawhesion.
preachy preach preach preach.


Bold Calling

Stick a technology in a society and strange things can happen.
Im not preaching gradualism and a l inear trajectory to technologisation, I am just gobsmacked.
Let me tell you what happened. But you need to remember that I have only recently rediscovered 'call waiting'. I'm on the phone to somebody and I get a call from a random number in Bangladesh.
I fear it is bad/happy/hopefull news, so bid by caller temporarily farewell and answer the bugger. Its a female voice, not particularly recognisable but it might have been someone I knew so I listened attentively. She went on boringly, and established what country I was in by which time I figured out what was going on. So I get on with my life and I shortly find myself in reception of an equally presumptuous, falsely familiar romanised bengali sms. This begum was playing with a stranger thosands of miles away at big expense to herself.
It is commonplace in Bangladesh for young people to use mobile phones is strange ways. Calling people they do not know, picking up numbers that they are tenuously linked to and trying to procure some kind of action from said activity. Let us call it 'Bold Calling', as it adds a cheesy sense of empowerment to the activity., before some lamo NGO actually writes a crappy report on it linking crank calling to the acheivement of some millenium development (own)goal. I've been around it and found it sad/amusing/interesting/random/scary if not just plain rude.

Ok so I guess the mobile sales industry is big in bangladesh. No brainer, them folks love to talk, they can consume you with talk. I'm interested to know who has studied the sociological stuff around this enabling device, which essentially enables you negotiating quite powerfully with your instinct, its own embedded values and the situation around you.

Theres probably a 'gender' aspect too. I remember whilst staying in dhaka the ISPwallah used to turn of the internet (LAN through your window anyone?) when there was thunder lest his gear be fried by a freak lightening bolt. He would regularly get an earful from local ladies who had become increasingly drawn into 'electronic relations management applications'.

How has social spastication evolved with technology?
How do our values express themselves through our visible/invisible behaviours in particular everyday communication practise?
Focussing on erm... 'love culture', whats going on? who is exploiting who? how have men and women been able to be more evil to eachother?
What kinds of dignified technological interventions can be produced in this space?
If we are going to delve into this remote technological sexualisation stuff, what other social forces need to be considered?


Article - Are we black fools or do we need black schools?

Lee Jasper got a lot of stick in the dying hours of Ken Livingstone's London Administration. As the Neocons, the black cabbies, the smellier think tanks and parochial interests stood firmly behind Boris the attack dogs of the Evening Standard took bites out of Ken's political allies at every opportunity they took.

I was all for giving Boris a go, after ungrateful Londoners foolishly elected him in. Scolded mean hearted Labour people. Yet he has politicised the Police force in a a new way and destroyed a lot of Ken's institutional innovations particularly by shutting down elegant Climate Change activity in London.

Anyway, so Lee Jasper is having a play with a much deeper issue, of appropriate pedagogy and explores the potentials of Afroconcious black male schooling.
I wish the idea and its translation luck, irrespective of the people involved. A dignifying construction of pride can't be bad right?

Too many people in this country over estimate the role of an imagined monolithic schooling system in ensuring cohesion and social integration. Its the default option and stifling of the imagination. It has generated a culture of cloning.

education is cultural and social reproduction. The right to reproduce your values and experience institutionally is a fundamentalt one to stress in these deculturing and homogenising times.


Joint Symbolic Suicide

The Committee for the Waste of Energy, Distraction and Ultimate Naffness have been at it again.

Yes this is another remote and squinty eyed report on a symbolic dispute in Bangladesh. A statue was commissioned and set up of a famous baul (quirky multi layered philosophical folk muso) called Lalon. If you are into folk spiritual stuff that is slightly loopy, do check out the genre with a Bengali speaker to translate nuances for you. The site was outside the main International airport, which was the scene of another rather lame symbolic battle (to do with Arabic script) a while back. 

What transpired seems to be that a local staunch initiative was taken to get the statue of Lalon removed. The key players are known to be unrelenting on generally no brainer issues like  ' No, you folks (Ahmedis) aren't technically Muslim. We really wish you were our brothers, but youve got some cultish exclusivity going on. You do not submit to the basic consensus guys. You've got something else going on. We are not going to let you propagate your creed as Islam here, or call your prayer halls mosques.'

Their methods are rustic and have gotten out of hand on occasions, coming across as really quite cruel. This character of activism is not 'good', but is also not an unusual phenomenon amongst social movements and political businesses of all stripes in Bangladesh. Compared to the gleeful jumping on the dead bodies of out of line rabid Awamis of a few years ago, their beyadobi  looks pasty. 

But that would be really squinty. The reasons for the 'grace gap' and 'brain gap' of Bangladeshi 'Islamic' Rainbow Coalition are many. We have been working on it for over a century out of a smaller and smaller playpen, all the time though somebody keeps throwing out the toys and a lot of the guys are crying for dudu.

Allahumma ansuril ikhwanan al muslimina fi kulli makan, fi kulli zaman

Anyway, the Secular Evangelical Bloc are very upset that 'bigots' are asserting themselves and that the government relented to the removal movement. When south-asians-with-religion-issues use the word bigot something fishy is probably going on. 

They have thrown the symbolic kitchen sink and then some at it. Its really quite funny and sad. From razakars and unrestituted beastly transgressions during the '71 fitna, to Talibans and the Bamiyan issue, to the 'culture of our forefathers' and something about the soil. If you look at the 'related groups' column in the Facebook group it is very revealing ('Ban Jamaaaat' etc). Gotta love FB and marvel at the tight looping, circular angst of the Dafter Elements of the Moribund Awami Complex.

Trad Muslims, especially Sunni ones are never really going to like statues shoved up their noses, especially in a highly visible area just outside the airport that every visitor on a plane will see. I feel that if public beauty was the aim, something better could have been created, rather than a piece more suited to a museum of a statue more fitting with the Dhaka University area where there are loads of modern arty statues of humans standing confidently all over the place. 

The Removal Initiative clearly has political capitalisation associated with it, but the vulgarity issue remains. For me anyway. Human statues aren't really in my habitus. Then there's the issue of symbolic injustice the the content material.  Baul is a fluid, dynamic thing that eludes singular static representation and orchestration. Rendering the Late Lalon into concrete really misses the point. It is like codifying the Laws of Punk Rock.

The UnRemoval Initiative seeks to 're-instate' said statue. As if to prove themselves to be a bunch of Pak!s (sorry shak, but you probably stopped reading a while ago, its not to do with race but sucking on essentially white nipples of kudos, virtue, nationalism and communication)  some have launched a protest through the medium of the Gamcha. The Gamcha is a multipurpose local cotton towel sometimes worn over the heads of men who did not go to English medium schools. 

Its an attempt at Artificial Self-Ganjification. But its not very real, see the implementers are essentially alien and alienating. They will not address the Removal Initiative or the socio-spiritual vernacular but seek to make maximum noise to rally their friends at home and abroad. The same sort of thing happens every couple of months. I wonder who really pulls the triggers and why people don't instinctively dampen the gun powder (or at least store it elsewhere). It is so easy to get the worst out of everybody with a spot of identity entrenchment.

There are a lot of axes to be ground on this issue, which i feel is better to examine through the clear lens of spatial decorum rather than: Lalon; syncretic vs synthetic local religious culture; or  'freedom' of 'expression'. We grind our axes indirectly on periphery issues because there is no real space for cultural negotiation. We inbreed in intellectual ghettos, lack constructive imagination and require cohesive leadership.

Spatial decorum is not dancing around like a ninny in a pinny in a Royal Society lecture on Interplanetary Dust. Cow slaughter in front of a Mandir. Preaching 'universal' human rights to badgers and owls in Antarctic. Calling for Khilafa at a press conference in Whitehall. Sailing a boat on a Oxford Street in rush hour.

The troubled place needs Tawhesion, and I think its going to be some time. Bangladeshi election observers report that past elections have been socially corrupting of existing stocks of Tawhesion.



When I found you lurking on the Guardian website
Who would have guessed you'd set my world alight?
How can such a space exist?
in a scene jammed shut with lies and mist
It was young lust, alas unrequinted
as i tapped my keyboard my heart it pounded.

Humanising craponomic decision making
to dignify our heedless baking
Your reports actually cause me grating
Buzz words abound the world you're shaping.
I searched my soul and wrote some tat
how I'm so awesome and enthiusiastic and crap.

As I clicked send i felt a fade,
at a futile gesture or history I'd made
Would you read my application?
would someone else fulfill your station?
How many more times must I submit?
to other patrons who's taste is sh!t.


Standard Disease

In Bangladeshi hoity-hoity parlance, Dhaka University, the East Bengal extension of the Alighar project, is referred to as 'once being known as the Oxford of the East'. WITH NO SENSE OF IRONY. It takes a few pills to explain why this amuses. Think of,
  • Oxbridge as a reproductive engine of coloniality, training administrators for the empire.
  • The Alighar project as a post 1857-uprising Muslim initiative to change educative tack.
  • Alighar's modernist and attempted knowledge culture synthesis's.
  • Its graduates association with the Muslim League.
  • Bangladesh as a step away from the Muslim League's Pakistan.
  • The illusion that Dhaka University was ever of significant to anyone other than the communities it promoted up the local social ladder.
  • The self conception of 'East', considering that Bangladesh is in the middle of Asia.