Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blog Day

Thanks to Rezwan, I found out that 31/08 is officially described as Blog Day.

31/08 = 3 1 o 8 = Blog

The idea is simple, promote 5 different blogs, to help in spreading new ideas, cultures and opinions. So without further ado, here’s five blogs I regularly read, and can recommend:

  • 3rd World View: Posted by a Bangladeshi from Dhaka, this blog deals with Bangladesh related matters. The postings are intelligent, articulate, and often contains lots of links and references.

    How I discovered it: I was googling for fishing, and found out that he has linked to my blog on my thoughts about cruel fishing.

  • Dear Leader's Daily Thoughts: George Bush’s Blog. Enough said already.

  • Daily Dose Of Imagery: A photoblog of (mostly) Toronto. I never knew everyday mundane Toronto could be so photographically interesting. All those whose hobbies include photography will enjoy this site - it’s strictly for shutterbugs.

  • I Would Rather Be A Kitty: Blog by the wife of an American soldier. Contains interesting viewpoints of American life from her viewpoint. Her article dealing with Cindy Sheehan, entitled Homefront Warriors, is one of the best I have read on this topic.

  • A Big Stick And A Small Carrot: A British political blogger, with witty and insightful opposition to many of Blair's misguided politics in the Middle East, and an ardent critic of the Iraq War.

There's lots of other blogs and links I regularly visit, will post links some other time.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The 'Immoral' West?

The BBC article on China banning sexual harassment got me thinking. Gender equality, safe from workplace harassment, etc. are all legislated in the supposedly 'immoral' and 'infidel' west, yet is common back home (Bangladesh, Middle East, and other so-called Islamic countries). Why?

Everyone knows we supposedly value our 'honour' and our 'honour' is in our women. Here in Canada, a boss (especially in a white collar environment) will think twice about propositioning a woman employee under him. But it seems, from newspaper stories and general accounts I hear from friends back, and from movies, sexual harassment is common in Asia.

In the Middle East, guys hang out at malls with Bluetooth enabled cellphones ready to 'ping' other cellphones of ladies nearby with their contact info. Testosterone filled teenagers think nothing of yelling out to women pedestrians, particularly white (visiting) women. In Bangladesh it is common for a rich factory owner to try and take advantage of his poor employee. The law and the police are helpless.

But we are supposedly more 'moral'.

Yet another myth shattered.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Last Supper At Innis

Ether cooked (allegedly) for us on his last night at Innis.

Ether's Food

Kamal and Tong

UNO - No! I still have 2 cards! Ha!

Is That Cafe Swearing?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Day After Tomorrow ... Yesterday

Well I had to type yesterday that I liked rain. And boy - did it rain!

When I drove out from the underground parking yard beneath our office, it was 3.45 pm but felt like 10 pm at night. It was pitch dark. A huge, and I mean huge, ominous, black cloud had swirled above downtown. It was swirling. It was low. Very low.

As I drove down towards the Lakeshore on Spadina, it felt like a scene out of the movie Day After Tomorrow, when twisters hit LA. There were huge traffic jams, I was watching the clouds move to and fro over Lake Ontario, it was windy, raining intermittently. The radio dial was set to 680, where they were announcing tornado warnings with drumbeats and a dramatic background music score.

"This is Harold Hossain at 680. A tornado warning has now been issued for the area of Ajax, Pickering, Scarborough, Richmond Hill, Markham. If you are in that area you are urged to seek shelter IMMEDIATELY. If you are at your home please make your way to the basement NOW. We repeat, a TORNADO warning ..."

And all the while I was like - what - tornado - here! This is Toronto. The most frightening thing we had was a huge dump of snow (30 cm!) that made the mayor call in the army. The scariest thing to visit this city this summer was Stephen Harper. And now we are having a tornado. Or a couple of them.

I was glad to get away from the lake and onto Kingston Road. And another surprise. The signal lights were out. ALL OF THEM. ALL THE WAY HOME. And instead of treating them like all-way-stops, some clowns were treating the jam packed road as the 401.

Home Sweet Home at last.

The last time I had such a crazy drive home was the black out, two years ago, almost to the day (August 13, 2003).

Maybe I should change my Bengali song to:

"Allah megh de pani de, chaimuna to aar ..."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Thoughts On A Rainy Friday

I love when it rains in the week*. The rain reminds me of my childhood vacation days in Bangladesh. Our school vacations coincided with the summer/rainy season there, and many a callous day would be spent sitting on the front porch of my mama's house listening to the pitter-patter of the rain, without a single worry on the mind. Ah - the late 80s!

As I sat at work, programming a trending application on a Friday afternoon, my winamp playlist suddenly started to play:

'Ei meghla dine ekla, ghore thake na go mon

Kache jaabo, kobe paabo, ogo tomar nimontron ...'

and I thought, what an appropriate song for the day! It is funny how our minds develop - as a kid I would never listen to Bengali songs that my parents used to listen to, but now as a young adult, I find many of these songs have deeper meanings. No wonder they appear timeless.

"Elo Barosha je shoho ..."

* (as long as it's not a weekend and I don't have anything planned, besides, don't have to water the lawn)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A-Levels In Danger?

The Guardian has a piece on how A-Levels could be made redundant. Apparently too many people are doing well, which for some reason is bad. Me thinks they haven't met the high school system in North America yet.

I don't think I can explain to any Canadian/American high school goer what A-Levels are like. First of all, you are not in high school, you are in what is called a 'college'. You are sitting for board exams. The person who will mark your papers is unknown to you, as you are to him/her. It's not your teacher who knows you for five years and will cut you some slack (or, if you've ticked him off - give you a hard time). The markers therefore can maintain strict impartiality. You will get exactly what you deserve based on how you did your exams on that day.

I think anyone who did A-Levels can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first got their results. Once you have written the exams it is out of your hands. You may have studied the subject well, may have gotten good marks throughout the school year, but it's what you do on the day that counts. Some people say it's unfair - others say it's life.

Exams are like that.

And that result, that little piece of paper with your marks, determines your future. University admissions are conditional on the A-Level grades you achieve.

A-Levels are also widely respected. Which is why I cringe when they mention one of the pressures placed on the Brits is to issue a 'North American style diploma'! Due to my A-Level grades, I got half a year's worth of credits (3.5 out of 5) in first year of university (at UofT). They don't respect their own school system graduates that much. I have seen people here go to high school, do well, and be classic know-nothings. They have no basic knowledge of trigonometry, algebra, calculus (p1-p2 anyone?), physics (string tension), and so on. All of which were almost a given when you passed these subjects in A-Levels.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

BBC's Picture Competition

The BBC has picked the 12 finalists for the first round of its picture contest. Click on the "Open (in pictures)" link to view the photographs. I like the 4rth picture of the guy raking leaves. Reminds me of Fall. I gotta do a picture like that this October.

Accidents Help Traffic?

Weird phenomenon on DVP today. There was an accident just north of York Mills on the southbound DVP today, just a fender bender between two cars. Coming off the 401, I had to navigate bumper-to-bumper for 2 minutes, and then surprise! As we passed the scene of the 'accident', the traffic was really flying! I was doing 120 km per hour in morning rush hour on the DVP - yes on the DVP - listening to 'Billoni Tera Laal Ghangra' and coming to work early.

So here's my theory. You block the traffic just north of York Mills everyday. So cars that would normally be elsewhere on DVP is stuck between 401 and DVP. But it's only few minutes, and once they pass the 'blockage' it's zoom-zoom.

Wonder how the folks coming on 404 south from Markham would think of this idea.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Is It Racism?

With the recent spike in gun violence in Toronto, where innocent bystanders are getting killed, this is what made news.

"A Toronto city councilor is floating a controversial idea on curbing gun violence in the city. Michael Thompson, who is black, says police should be allowed to "target" young black men at random as part of a crackdown on guns. Deputy police chief Keith Forde, who is also black, says chief Bill Blair would 'never, ever agree to that.' "

The most telling part of the news article was that the perpetrator of the suggestion was black, a point not missed by the Star. As if that proves anything.

This was my post on the Star's "Have Your Say" page:

"Just because he is black does not give him the right to be a racist, even if its against his own people. Police should stop people at a scene who fit the description of a suspect they are looking for when a crime is committed. Randomly stopping people of a certain race is profiling and criminal and has no place in a Canadian society. "

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Touring Toronto

On Deep Space Nine

Bad Boyz

Need to educate someone on the 'zoom' function

Red and Pink, somewhere on Church St.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Can You Believe These Gas Prices?

Never thought gas would cross a buck per litre. When I bought my first car 5 years ago I filled up at 45c/litre.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Techno Mullah

Sharif, he of the 'Quran-in-the-server-room' fame, is in Toronto.

The self-proclaimed 'techno-mullah'

It's raining men

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Toronto's Planners Should Be Fired

I wonder who issues permits for all the condos that are springing up around Toronto. They seem to be issued without any thought. Recently on a trip to Centre Island I was struck at how bad the situation is. You know the famous view of Toronto, the skyline with the Skydome (now Rogers Centre) and CN Tower? Well, the condos obstruct that view now.

Condos rise around CN Tower

Sky Dome cannot be clearly seen from the lake anymore.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Shaan's Birthday

Shaan blowing Attended Shaan's birthday today. I got him one of those guns that shoots foam darts from a rotating barrel. And forgot to take into account that he may not be strong enough to push back the reloading clip. Of course his sisters had no such problems. Now their parents have to keep the kids from fighting over the gun. Uncle placed a fair judgement by "borrowing" the gun. When I left, he was still trying to get the bulls-eye.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Why Cricket Is No.1

This picture for me will be the photo of the match. Yes, cricket is played hard, in a competitive fashion, but at the end of the day all the competitiveness and aggression is left on the pitch.

After his team won, Flintoff did the sporting thing and went to console Lee, as well as applaud his heroics.

This is why cricket heads the list of sports in my table. Cricket teaches you all the lessons of life, of teamwork, of partnerships, of taking responsibility - moreover, it's the only sport with SPIRIT. This is why when something unfair or unsporting happens, people say, "That's not cricket".

England win epic

Sunday I again woke up around 6. That's the second day of the weekend I woke up earlier than I do during the week. The first day was for fishing. But today, for cricket? Surely, not on a Sunday, I hear you scoff.

Well, just some time before, Bonty messaged me what was probably the best message he has ever messaged to me: "Eng win by 2 wkts". That was the message I was hoping to hear from him.

Both of us had been following the Ashes in England, and communicating via MSN as the match progressed. I was on CricInfo, which seemed to have an over delay, while he was watching it on TV, so could often update me before CricInfo.

I logged on, and it had 'Warne and Lee delay England'. And I was like - oh s*** - here we go again. Thoughts went back to that Champions Trophy game, last year, as England snatched defeat from jaws of victory to Windies' last two wickets.

Yet soon the message popped up, "Warne gone." But even as I waited for that other message, the end seemed inevitable. Slowly, run by run, Australia chipped away at the target. With finally 3 remaining to be had, and all Aussie supporters on the MSN chirping away, CricInfo frozen, the refresh button looking weary, and the TV blaring out the IND - WI game to an empty audience, the Ashes came alive.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Sad About August

I am always a bit sad when August rolls in. It reminds me that summer is slowly ending. The long Canadian winter beckons on the horizon. No more BBQ, crickets, picnics, or just sitting on the patio with friends past 2 am. No more cooling off by gulping ice-cold Fruitopia from the fridge. No more summer time (getting out from work half hour early). No more driving down the highway with windows rolled down. No more deciding to talk a midnight walk on impulse with the neighbors. No more late night movies. No more.....

Whew! I got myself so down I could almost write a poem! Maybe tomorrow.

BTW It's 32 degrees C now. At 1.18 am.

No more late night blogging.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pearson Crash Coverage Continued

More on the Pearson coverage. CNN seems to have reverted back to showing astronauts deliver boxes in space, completely disregarding the huge event from the morning news. They can cover it extensively at midnight when everyone is either sleeping or trying to, but ignores it in the morning.

BBC lets users rant here. One guy called GCM from Toronto writes:

"I live downtown and I was telling my wife that there is a smell of rubber or fuel - she said it was probably my BBQ. I heard that one of the passengers walked away from the crash and thumbed a ride on the 401! Just last month a huge ferry crashed in North Vancouver and nobody was injured either. Classic - only in Canada!"

Umm... ok. I will let you live in the dreamworld that only good things happen in Canada.

Still no fatalities. But Pearson is a mess. And knowing the inept Air Canada officials, no one is helping out the passengers, nor talking to them about the status of flights, besides giving a few foams. When I got stuck while returning last winter from abroad on Pearson, when one of their luggage delivery systems broke down, we had to wait 4 hours for our luggage, and the only official from Air Canada came down 3 hours in that time, to give out bottled mineral water! At first the announcer on the speaker system said 20 minutes, then 40, and then stopped updating us! And we landed at midnight, so had to wait till 4 AM morning for our luggage.

Was Weather A Factor?

I believe so. It was raining like crazy yesterday (on the flip side my lawn never looked greener this summer). When I was driving back from work on the DVP I could not see two cars ahead, it was that bad. Visibility was very close to zero. Every car on the highway had slowed down due to the conditions. I heard of flights diverted to other airports due to bad weather. Certainly the pilot should have asked for the same. The weather on the west end of the city (where the airport is) was worse.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Toronto Pearson Air France Crash Miracle

Just learnt of an Air France plane crash at Pearson Airport. Will be blogging about this.

What happened: An Air France plane bound for Toronto from Paris has crashed while landing in Pearson Airport. It skidded off the runway and burst into flames, but everyone on board survived. This happened near highway 401, Canada's busiest motorway.

Fatality Watch: At first they were saying 200 deaths but then learnt that there were NO fatalities, everyone got out unscratched. Then learnt that there were 301 on board and all were safe (BBC), with only 14 minor injuries. Later the number of passengers was reported on CNN to be 297.

UPDATE (8.56 pm) on CBC: The number of injuries has grown to 43. I will be surprised if the count of fatalities remains at 0 (I hope it does). The total number of passengers has gone up to 309.

News Watch: BBC's headline at this moment is "Passengers survive plane inferno". CNN has "All 309 survive fiery crash landing", while Fox says it best (I never thought I would be praising Fox) - "Miracle in Toronto". While I am sorry for the crash, Toronto seems to be the top news on every news network at the moment, and words like miracle, efficient, circumspect, early Christmas are all making the rounds.

Links: BBC, CNN, Fox, CBC.

When Did I Hear About It: I must have been one of the last Torontonians to hear about it. I was listening to 680 news at 4:01 pm (traffic report). Then I switched to my music CD all the way to the gym. Crash happened at 4:03 pm. Was in the gym till 6. While on the treadmill I did see some news on a TV about some flames beside a highway. But the audio wasn't on, and I didn't have my glasses, and I thought it was about some automobile crash on 401 and thanked my luck that I was already out of the roads. At around 8 I checked the news and got the shock of my life.

News Watch 2: As usual the Canadian news networks were pointing out how efficient the emergency crews were, how ordinary Canadians rose to help, how other passengers in other airports were not bothered by the delays. Americans were more into the 'miracle' thing, as well as talking about airport procedures in the States and what were differences with Canadians. Also, they took pains to point out where Toronto was, and where, I kid you not, Canada was relative to the US. It was left to the BBC to be the professional, giving out facts, figures. It was also funny to hear from the eye witnesses, who seemed to have different accounts of the crash (understandable). One guy said the plane bumped up and down and it was the 'worst roller coaster ever'.

UPDATE (10.39 pm): It's now getting late and it does seem there really are no fatalities, which is an excellent news. The number of injured remain at 43. Aaron Brown on CNN has an in-depth look at this news. CNN really is overkill.

A Town Like Mezba

With a little bit of time on my hands at lunch, I googled for Mezba. It's something most of us have done from time to time, googled ourselves. The results were a mix of dark humorous and interesting.

There's apparently a town called Mezba in Eritrea. Wow, that's so cool - a town named after me! Well not after me, with my luck probably after some wanted warlord, given the recent civil war history in that place. Someone even wrote a book about it! One more thing on life's todo list - visit Mezba, Eritrea!

Another result was funny in a dark way. The caption on google went like this:

"For instance, it is physically impossible for Asif to kill Mezba if Asif (assassin) and Mezba (victim) remains in different countries"

I was like wtf - (esp as one of my friends is called Asif) - anyways, here's the page.