Sunday, April 14, 2024

A Sheikh Hasina, some memories, new hopes, new dreams..

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Biman Bangladesh operates two flights from Toronto to Dhaka every week on Saturday and Tuesday It was a dream come true for Canadians

Biman Bangladesh operates two flights from Toronto to Dhaka every week on Saturday and Tuesday. It was a dream come true for Canadians. There were not as many options to go to Bangladesh from Canada as there are options from America. It is always quite expensive to visit the country. Only two or three airlines had direct flights with Dhaka. What was once a dream for us is now a reality. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made this impossible possible. I hope more flights will operate on this route in future. Now many Bangladeshis live in Toronto. I listen to Bengali in the streets, markets, fields, ghats, shops, shopping malls, elevators wherever I go. If you see breaking the rules or crossing the road at red light or standing blocking the road, it can be understood that the newcomer has arrived. Those coming as visitors and making refugee claims need more grooming. It is the responsibility of the agents who are arranging their visas in exchange of lakhs of rupees. If you learn the rules of the country you have come to, you will gain the reputation of Bangladesh. If you know enough English, it will help you from getting a job to renting a house.

Biman Toronto-Dhaka-Toronto route is now profitable. Aviation authorities are always showing this route as an example now. It is very happy news that Biman is gaining. Biman is our national flag carrier airline. our pride Once upon a time I did not know what it was to get a plane. When I was working in Bichitra in the eighties, there was a cover story in Bichitra about corruption in Biman. Biman is eating with a spoon. I still remember that famous cartoon of Rafiqunnabi. The cover was done by the famous journalist Kazi Jawad. Since then, I have been hearing many thrilling stories of airplanes. The most interesting thing is that the flight ticket is never available but the seat is empty when boarding the flight. This mystery was not easily solved. A lot of water has flown through the Atlantic since then. Not all is settled yet. Many routes are not profitable. But Dhaka-Toronto-Dhaka route is mostly full flight. Not only Bangladeshi passengers are going, but foreign transit passengers are also going. Among them Nepali and Indian passengers are more. Indian students in particular chose Biman.

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I used to travel on Emirates or Etihad. I go to the country once or twice every year. But from the day Biman started direct flight I became a regular passenger of Biman. Not only me but many like me. Direct flights are very convenient for the elderly. I always prefer to fly on my own flag airlines. Even when I go to the country, I travel by plane wherever I go. When I got down to Toronto Pearson Airport and saw the word “Airman” written outside the terminal, a good feeling rose up inside. The same feeling goes inside the terminal. Biman’s name adorns with all other reputed airlines. Couldn’t be happier to be able to fly with the new generation Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Biman’s local office officials and those in customer service are showing great professionalism. Aircraft hospitality in the sky is admirable. Airplane pilots are always skilled. A journey of 18/20 hours straight never feels boring. I would request Biman to take initiative so that passengers from other provinces of Canada can also go to the country through connecting flights with Air Canada. Then airplanes will be more popular. Airplanes can turn on inflight WiFi. Although the amount of food is sufficient, I would request the authorities to increase the range of entertainment and variety in catering.

Everything has become possible because of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s bold decision and foresight. Hasina’s government wants to tie the whole world together. Direct flights have already started with Japan, Chennai or China. Efforts are also underway with Sydney, more European destinations and New York. There are talks of buying at least ten more Airbus or Boeing. Sheikh Hasina has focused on building an integrated network not only in the field of airlines but also within the country. Padma Bridge is proof of that. Padma Bridge has already revolutionized the field of communication. Metrarail in Dhaka, elevated expressway, train service from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar, tunnel under Kornphuli river are all like a dream. Many more mega projects are ongoing.

It will be possible to take them forward by forming a new government. The third terminal in Dhaka is another unique example. Who does not know that the development or economic driving force of a country depends a lot on the sound communication system of that country. Therefore, the first focus of developed countries is on communication. Countries like America, Canada build roads keeping in mind the next hundred years. Canada is the second largest country in the world but has only 40 million people. But the network is like a thread across the country. It is said that if you put all the roads in Canada together, you can go to the moon. People are getting the benefits of Awami League government being in power for several periods. Its best example is Padma Bridge. The Padma Bridge has become a reality today because of Sheikh Hasina’s determination.

Once upon a time, it was difficult to go to Barisal. It was 1994. Once I left for Barisal with my two small children on Eid. As soon as you reach Sadarghat, there is kerosene. There were two stroke auto rickshaws then. The orc vomits and rests with its bhat bhat noise and heavy smoke. It took three hours to reach the launch ghat from Mahakhali that day. When I reached Sadarghat, I saw a terrible situation. Orkar was then three years old, Aritri one. Nothing can be seen except the human head. Meanwhile, the launches anchored in the middle of the river to avoid the pressure of people. Getting there is also a big risk.

I said, Jasmine, let’s go back.

Jasmine said, I came back with so much trouble! Eid will not be held in Barisal! See if anything can be done.

We finally boarded a small dinghy. A few more people got up. In the middle of the Buriganga, the boat sways with the push of people. Any time will sink! It seemed that Salil Samadhi would happen today. Jasmine screams in fear. Meanwhile, a box was opened and clothes were rolling on the street, dragged by coolies at the port. Everything has been multiplied. When the boat sank in it, a young coast guard officer saw our danger and came running with an engine boat. That day he saved us and put us on the launch. I will never forget that officer.

Since then I always started going to Barisal by rocket steamer. At one time there was a daily steamer service. That journey was wonderful. It left Sadarghat at 11 in the morning and reached Barisal at 6 in the evening. Then the day service became night. Who knows why. It left Dhaka at 6 in the evening and reached Barisal at 6 in the morning. Twelve hours journey. There is a risk of reaching Sadarghat. Again leaving Barisal at 6 in the evening and reaching Dhaka at 6 in the morning. Going to Dhaka Barisal is like a battle and expensive. Not only that, but for those who wish to travel in first class, getting a ticket is like winning the lotto. BIWTC had its office in Motijheel. First class kit had to be bought from there.

Let me tell you a story. It was 1996.

There was a ticket clerk named Alauddin. I went to him one day and said, brother, I need a ticket. A double cabin with return.

There is no ticket bro.

Why not!

As you can see, there is a crisis during Eid.

But I want my ticket.

can’t give

Everyone knows that I am a bit stubborn. Obstinate about legal matters.

I came at the beginning of fasting, even saying that there is no ticket!

You know the various quotas. Quota of the Army, Minister, MP, DC Mr. Quota!

I said angrily, hang your minister!

What did he say!

Give the ticket.

You should go to the chairman instead. told him If I pay the ticket I will lose my job.

I went to the chairman’s room on the fourth floor. At first I didn’t care about his PA. Until you look at me. Typing on a typewriter and talking.

Sir BG is busy, will not see you.

I have to meet him.

About what?

You can’t be told.

Then we will not meet.

I looked the guy in the eye and said you go in and say that a journalist wants to meet. Give me my visiting card.

It was beneficial. After a while the chairman called me to his room. He asked to sit. Offered tea, had some small talk and called Alauddin on the intercom asking him to give the ticket. Never had a ticket problem since then. I sometimes helped Alauddin with money. His wife was chronically ill. I would pay for his treatment. Getting tickets for the launch was also a difficult task. even today VIP cabins are reserved for all big sirs. Quota here too. I don’t know any of the launch owners. I am going from Dhaka to Barisal by plane. The son of the owner of Survi Launch is sitting on the seat next to me. He said, he will call whenever the cabin is needed. Of course I didn’t need to. After that launch experience I don’t make much journey to launch. Sometimes my friends in Barisal arrange tickets. Even after coming to Canada, I go to Barisal once or twice every year. Most go by plane.

But now is a new time. New hopes, new dreams, new excitement, new emotions. No need to go to steamer or launch. Gone are the days of launch owner quirks. No one has to picket for tickets. The Chairman of BIWTC does not have to tolerate the PA’s neglect or patronize the clerk like Alauddin. I don’t care how many happy quotas the Ministers, MPs, DCs enjoy. I went to Barisal via Padma Bridge. I can even drive myself if I want. I will take expressway from Postgola crossing Mayor Hanif flyover. Then I will go through Padmasetu till it breaks. Barisal can be reached in three and a half hours through the excellent four-lane expressway. Imagine driving a convertible with my boyfriend sitting next to me. His hair is blowing in the wind. I am fascinated. This scene is no longer a fantasy. Meanwhile, the four-lane road from Mawa end to Kuakata via Barisal has been side by side long ago. One day the train will definitely go to Barisal! Jasmine and I will reminisce as we travel in the luxury coach of the train. I will tell the story that I once took a baby to drown in Buriganga.

Toronto, Canada

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