Posts Tagged ‘Diaspora


Let’s Get Political – call to diaspora


Published in the Forum (August 2007)

It is time for the NRB community to flex its political muscle, argues the writer.

“Dear Asif Bhai, after careful consideration, I am sorry to let you know that I cannot be part of your organisation as my parents think that it is too political. My parents are not comfortable with the fact that your organisation talked about minority rights and other controversial issues. Although, I care deeply about these issues, I have to respect their decisions, and join an organisation which is not too politically controversial.”

This was the letter sent to me from one of my most hard working volunteers in Boston in my organisation. That got me to think and re-evaluate what I was doing with our human rights organisation. I thought long and hard about what was deemed political and what was non-political in Bangladeshi and to the Non-Resident Bangladeshi (NRB) context.

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Much Ado About Adda

Iffat brings the definition of Adda perfectly — “sense of lightness, of wholehearted laughs and clever jokes, of juicy gossips and inactiveness, sitting pretty with a moving mouth-Bengalis definition of a perfectly wonderful time, doing Adda.” Too bad she contradicts herself later saying “Addas aren’t meant for criticizing absent individuals”. But an integral part of adda is gossiping — and is gossiping about someone really possible with the person being present? Last time I checked, it caused fistfights.

Jokes aside, I have often thought about why we so rarely have quality addas here (in foreign land) like good old days in Bangladesh. Yes, as Iffat states, there are high-minded know-it-alls which kill the spirit of addas. But putting everyone in that same bracket and blaming individuals as the reason for the demise of adda in the foreign land would be a little to simplistic. Did the addabajes from Bangladesh suddenly lose their appetite for adda when they moved here? Not really. Its just that they haven’t found each other.

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The American Deshis

So when are you coming to see us?”, said my sister anxiously. Why not celebrate Anahita’s (my daughter) first birthday over here in North Carolina?” I replied reluctantly in the negative, “I have made other plans”. “What plans?”, she asked. I said with more hesitation, “We are going to Florida for a vacation. We need a break.” My sister replied with surprise, “Coming to our place is not a break?” Detecting the disappointment in her tone, I did not say that going to meet family has its own charm but it is not really a vacation. I calmed her down by saying that we would come soon. She hung up by saying “Khub Americander moto kotha bolo ajkal”(talking like a true American these days).

That made me wonder, when did we stop being Bangladeshi and start becoming Americans (hint: note the negative connotation of the last word)?

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