Sunday, May 29, 2005

An ephemeral flash back

The tranquil 'main beach' (name of the locality) area took me nine years back as the memories of the ferocious Bay of Bengal at Konark in Orissa flashed by...from left to right, Unmukt (cousin), Myself, Tanmay (cousin) and Sudhanshu (bro)...Tanmay, who had just appeared for his 12th Board Exams then, has a job in Texas today...Unmukt and Sudhanshu are in Pune gearing up for probable management/media careers (God willing)...That kid in the background was a 'footwear fetcher'.Actually, the sea there is quite violent and if one is not careful enough, footwear is the first thing he or she looses. And these kids charged Rs.10 for getting it back!

I was conscious of the job at hand and headed back soon to get organized for the competition.

Friday, May 27, 2005

There it is...Goodness me!!!

Words ceased to come out as I gawked at the Pacific for more than twenty minutes...
There were hardly any people around...Let the pictures speak for themselves...

The Competition starts on 21st March.So, I still have some time before the exchange of briefs scheduled for the 20th evening. I come out of the apartment and venture out on the roads...a very strong breeze is up against me as I move up on the steep road...I still can't see any water, but I can hear a constant roar...

I reached Gold Coast in the afternoon of 19th March and checked into the huge apartment at Chidori Court which was originally for the Indian team but now belonged to Hidayatullah (Since the moot court competition was held in association with LAWASIA Downunder Conference 2005, the organizers were paying for the accommodation). The beautiful little place was now all mine...I had my own room with an attached bathtub...sorry...bathroom.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

First HNLUite on the Island Continent...Certainly not the last...

The Nerang Train...

I got up around 5:00 AM (still Hong Kong time) and was glad to see the Australian Map on my monitor. We were still somewhere near the Gulf of Carpentaria as per the map. As we closed in on Brisbane and the aircraft started to descend, I was astonished by the extraordinary greenery on the ground below. From the aircraft, the outskirts of Brisbane appeared like a well maintained 'flowerless garden' wherein the houses were the empty flower pots, the water bodies, the tanks and the dense network of roads, the creepers. We touched down around 9:00 AM (Brisbane time is four and a half hours ahead of Delhi ) and I was convinced that Brisbane was certainly not a very busy International Airport as there were very few people around and every thing seemed to be moving at its own pace.

Australia has very strict quarantine rules. One is barred from carrying a legion of things (any kind of food, certain medicines, and the usual stuff like firearms, etc.) inside. Now, I was carrying certain medicines along. The immigration form asks you to "tick on the box if you are carrying explosives, firearms or prohibited medicines". I didn't know whether the medicines I was carrying were prohibited or not and hence ticked on the box to avoid any possible problem. After being through the immigration, one cop came to me and asked my about my purpose of visit...what was interesting to note here was that no other passenger had been subjected to such 'interrogation'. Had he not said, "have a nice stay mate!", I would have imputed certain offensive epithets to him right here on the blog. Anyways...I moved to the next counter...A lady cop checked my embarkation card and referred me to another cop who was supposed to scan my bags for any signs of prohibited medicines. The cop cheekily asked, "No firearms today. Right (today sounds like todaii in Australia)?" which I told him, "Not todaii" and moved on.

After using the 'washroom facilities' at the airport (did I tell you about that incident at the Hong Kong Airport washroom...well, this information is classified and people who can meet me in person can know about it), I took the lift to the next floor which had an exit leading to the Airport Train Station (the organizers had already informed us about the train to catch and the place to get down at).The platform was deserted but immaculately clean. I hopped on to the next train...the compartment was near it traveled, my eyes feasted on the outskirts of Brisbane, the farmlands and the cricket field (where a bunch of kids dressed up in impeccable whites chased a red cherry) which flashed by. The Nerang Station (Gold Coast) was still seventy five minutes away...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Eight hours in transit...

It wasn't a very nice feeling to know that my co-counsel for the competition (a student of National Law University, Jodhpur) would not be accompanying as she had some problem with her passport and could not apply for the visa on time...After getting selected, I had left no stones unturned to make sure that we go for the competition and this was a huge disappointment.Now, the question looming large on my mind was whether the organizers would allow me to moot alone...

So, as I went through the briefs sitting in the waiting lounge of one of the departure terminals, I had more than a few things to worry about.

However, the state of the art Hong Kong airport was vibrant enough to help keep my spirits high as I dug into the briefs. My connecting flight to Brisbane was scheduled to take off from HK around 11 in the night (HK time is two and a half hours ahead of Delhi). In between the preparations, I did find some time to check out the amazing shopping arcades. A 200 ml bottle of water cost me 15 Hong Kong Dollars (around Rs.105)...the City of Life as it is known as is one of the most expensive cities in the world and I was at its airport...for dinner, I had the cheapest meal available in the cafeteria (Chicken Curry and Rice...was very non-Indian in taste and quantity, in spite of the name) and it cost me 55 HK$ (around Rs.380)...Of course, I didn't have water.

Thankfully, the 15 HK$ phone card was a value for money purchase as I made a few phone calls back home and was still left with few minutes worth of balance. I boarded the flight around 10:45 PM and was tired enough to fall into a slumber as soon as the flight reached a designated altitude. The Chinese fellow, sitting next to me was certainly not as engaging as the Sardarji on the previous flight (read the previous post).I got up only around 1:00 AM when the dinner was served to have a 'Chinese main dish along with a continental dessert'. Being too tired for any kind of 'in-flight entertainment' I resumed my sleep after spending few minutes in admiration of the left wing which dazzled like an enormous sword in the moon lit night against a pitch dark sky...

On the wing to Hong Kong

It takes around five hours to Hong Kong from Delhi and this information was communicated by the small monitor embedded in the seat of the passenger sitting in front of me. The Sardarji (followers of Sikhism who wear a turban) sitting next to me was a British citizen and was too big for his economy class seat. The air hostess had to vex him twice to make sure that he puts on his seat belt. As we waited for the takeoff, the captain announced that the flight would be delayed by few minutes as a passenger required some medical attention. At this, Sardarji got quite perturbed and after few authentically Indian vituperative epithets in British accent, narrated an incident:

"They would have thrown him out in US. Once, I had this swelling in my toe, and requested for some medical attention only to have been given the option of going out."

The 'take off experience' wasn't as religious as the one on my last international flight (read Bangladesh in Retrospective-I).However, I was edgy enough to concentrate on the monitor which displayed the route map and also informed about the altitude, tail wind speed, etc. while the other passengers nonchalantly watched the umpteen channels available on their respective monitors. A confabulation with Sardarji ensued soon:

S-So, where're you going?

D- I 'm a law student. Am going to participate in a moot court competition to be held in Australia.

S- Where in Australia?

D-Gold Coast

S-Why do you want to study law? (Then followed certain imputations on our system)

D-(Trying to defend myself)...Well, you cannot debase the entire profession just because of a handful of miscreants. (And in an extra-defensive move)In any case, I want to become a law teacher (thinking that it would be too much for Sardarji)

S-(Even before a second had elapsed) How will you have the conscious to teach something you know wouldn't be realized?

D-(Taken aback...with that sinking feeling) Well, not see...

S-(Cuts me short) How long will you be there?

D-(with that 'just got screwed feeling) A Week.

A long silence follows as Sardarji dozes off and lies like a mountain between my window seat and the loo where I needed to go for quite some time now. I gather the courage to wake him up and squeeze my way into the aisle. I come back in roughly five minutes only to find him lying like a log on his seat. The lady standing in queue for the loo cannot hold back her smile as she watches my emphatic efforts to awaken Sardarji go up in smoke. He finally allows me to squeeze my way back.

The captain suddenly interrupts the passengers' in their in-flight entertainment and a thousand things cross my mind before he finally speaks, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain. Sorry to disturb you in your in-flight entertainment. If you could look to your left, we have a beautiful sight...the Himalaya Mountains...and we’ll be flying past the Mt. Everest in about five minutes...enjoy your flight. Thank you for flying with Cathay Pacific."

I immediately glance to my left and mutter God knows what all words to some distance, the snow laden peaks emerge out of an even cloud cover that stretches below on both sides of the aircraft and brightly shine in the afternoon sunlight against a spotless blue sky...I am left pondering on my providence.

After some time, as the aircraft starts to descend, I check my laptop bag to make sure that my passport and tickets are in place. The aircraft touches down on a landing strip few meters away from the South China Sea while I am left wondering as to how could the sea which was visible till the last moment, suddenly vanish. The sea green coloured water reappears as I look beyond the airport compound through my window. As I get ready to disembark from the aircraft, I hear the chief air hostess say, "Thank you for flying with Cathay Pacific. Have a nice stay at Hong Kong."

Friday, May 20, 2005

After 15 years...

My cousin is the daughter of one the elder brothers of my father. She is now a final year student at the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. I had last met her around four years back in Calcutta when she was there for her interview at the Law School. And it was a very formal meeting, perhaps even more formal than a meeting with a stranger. We were quite informal early on when she was around 3 feet and I was around 3 and a half or may be vice-versa. That was 15 years ago. So now when I got this opportunity to see her at the Khan Market (she had called me there, it being close to the place I was staying...after all she is elder to me...), I was reminded of the story 'After Twenty Years' in which two friends Bob and Jimmy had parted ways with the resolve of meeting at the same place after twenty years. Bob went on to earn a lot of money through illegal means in Chicago and Jimmy went on become a cop. Both of them kept their promises and reached the agreed place after twenty years. But both did not know as to how the other would appear. Jimmy recognised Bob as a man wanted by the police and got him arrested. Only later did he realize that he was his friend…But it was too late…thankfully, my cousin was not Bob and I was certainly not Jimmy. But even we didn’t know as to how to find each other out. After reaching the Khan Market, and getting several instructions of the nature, "Where are you? OK. Stay there, I'll come", I finally found her...yes, I found her.

Hats off to her for coming there all the way from the law firm (Amarchand) she was interning was quite a distance from there and moreover it was around 8:30 in the evening and she was all alone. She took me to a restaurant and I managed to convince her that I would be footing the bill as a treat for my Australian visit. In the thirty minutes that followed, we exchanged our stories and were soon joined by one of her friends who lived very near by…was also a student of NUJS.I must say that the food was not all that good but the 'chocolate truffle' at Barista for which she paid certainly compensated for that. We parted ways after sometime and her friend was kind enough to see both of us off in different Auto Rickshaws. It was 11 already and I had a flight to catch at 7:40 in the morning.

Uday Shankar (taught us Constitutional Law in the 2nd semester…was now working in the Delhi University ) was at the ILI (Indian Law Institute) hostel when I reached there. We had a long walk before I retired to bed around 12. I had to get up at 3 in the morning (if you can call it morning) and leave for the airport by 4 for what would be my first flight to Hong Kong, Chinese Special Administrative Region and former British dependency in eastern Asia, on the South China Sea on my way to Brisbane.

In-flight Lectures

Mr.Diwedi, the Law School Head, the man who was known for his sternness, had an altogether different side as well and I had just discovered it. He asked me questions ranging from life at the law school, why did I take up law, what did I want to become and so on. He told me about his story which goes as: He was a child prodigy and had done his Master of Science in Physics by the time he was nineteen. He could not write the civil services exam(which his father wanted him to write) till he was twenty one as the rules required him to attain that age. He cracked the exam in the very first attempt and joined the services at the age of twenty two. He has never visited a foreign country in his life in spite of a legion of opportunities. He says that he never felt the urge for that. I asked him questions on surnames people have and how can the lineages be traced from them. He had all the answers. He then gave a long lecture on Indian Philosophy, much of which ceased to make much sense to me...on Shankaracharya, etc. He gave an illustration to show how Maya (knowledge) removes Fear:

A's friend enters his room (which does not have any light) with a rope in his hand and tells A that he is carrying a snake. He drops the rope down and goes out of the room.A trembles in fear believing the rope to be a snake. After sometime, the friend re-enters the room and puts on the light. A sees the rope and all his fear goes away. Light helped A to augment his knowledge and thereby remove his fear........was it too much?

As the flight touched down at the Delhi Airport, I realized that I had just received around seventy minutes of in-flight education and my fear for flying had not bothered me much. There ended my rendezvous with a great man and after getting my note pad autographed by Md.Azharuddin, I headed for the Indian Law Institute hostel.


I got up early that morning, got ready, visited the Pujo Ghor (Bengali for a small room/place designated for God which every Hindu family has) and left for the Raipur Airport with Dad. Some ex Indian and Pakistani cricketers had come down to Korba for some 'show match' and were on their way back to Delhi. I could recognize Vijay Yadav (ex wicket keeper) and Venakatpaty Raju and had seen some of the other faces before but couldn’t recall their names, especially the Pakistanis. Md.Azharuddin(ex Indian Captain), being a business class traveler was seated somewhere else and I could see him only after boarding the aircraft. Those of you, who have read 'Bangladesh in Retrospective-I', are aware of my love for flying. Walking through the alley, looking for my seat, I discerned a known face. The Administrator, who is currently the head of our Law School was on board and as luck would have it, my boarding pass had a seat number which happened to be next to his.

The Wobbly Days

A lot of things have taken place in HNLU (Hidayatullah National Law University-my Law School) during my absence. Two of the faculty members are leaving and we face a serious crunch of teachers. After the party gets over, students realize the gravity of the situation. My class is at the helm of affairs as we plead for new teachers. Interviews are conducted but no one gets recruited. The IAS (bureaucrat) officer addresses the students and tells them that every thing is under control-the campus construction would be underway very soon- and informs that Prof. Jaffar Hussein(an alumni of the Harvard Law School who taught us Family Law in the I Semester) would be coming back. Most of the students come out convinced.

It’s February and we still don’t have a teacher for CPC (Civil Procedure Code).Meanwhile, Prof. Ajjappa is more than happy to take two Jurisprudence classes a day and given the quality of his lectures students seem to have forgotten about CPC.

Meanwhile our students are not giving anything away at the various Moot Court Competitions in the face of limited resources. We reach the semi-finals of the Jessup’s (Delhi Round), of KLE Society, Bangalore (Best Memorial as well), of Amity (Best Speaker too), of Manfred Lachs (Bangalore Round) and finish runners up at the Client Counseling Competition held at Delhi University. Prof. S. Shanthakumar (without doubt the best teacher on campus) has devoted a lot of his time for all the teams.

On the personal front, I come to know from the President of the Commonwealth Legal Education, Asia-India Chapter that the essay competition on the basis of which I went to Bangladesh would be the basis for selecting a team that would represent India at the LAWASIA moot at Gold Coast, Australia. I am informed about my selection along with a student each from National Law University, Jodhpur and National Law Institute University, Bhopal respectively. It takes few days to realize what has happened as I start slogging for the memorials. It is a windfall but why on earth should I complain? It’s a cyber law problem and nobody in the campus can help. Westlaw and the Library are the only available resources. I slog and slog hard. Memorial gets completed few hours before the deadline on 7th March 2005 with a bit of help from the NLIU student. The NLIU student informs about his unavailability just as the state government sanctions the amount for the air tickets. The accommodation would be taken care of by the organizers.

I apply for the Australia visa. It gets rejected the first time as my teammates have not yet applied. Then several emails to the organizers later, and after a second application, I get my visa. It’s a multiple entry one valid for three months. I receive it on 16th evening (16-03-2005) and am leaving for Delhi on 17th morning by flight (was it tight…?).Tanveer, the photocopy shop owner at our Law School, slogs to make sure that my briefs are ready by 7:00 PM. Both the applicant’s and respondent’s briefs run into a hundred pages (roughly) each and I needed five copies of each. My flight leaves for Delhi the next morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I'll be back...

Am currently working on "The Australian Crusade " and " The Mumbai Magic"...both should be ready for publication by the end of this month.Till then, may all your ends be met!

Leaving the Summer School (from right to left.Reza, Tariq, Myself, Al-Amin, Haq, Sadhna, Mahumudul, Cant recall, Tariq)

I had made a lot of wonderful friends there. I was still thinking about the speech I gave last evening on behalf of the Indian contingent and was feeling a sense of fulfillment creeping inside...a line in my speech said, "After our experience here, we shall be ashamed to die until we have done something for the victory of humanity"...It seems a bit too flashy but God willing, I'll work towards it. However, I must confess, in spite of the legion of things I had learnt at the Summer School, I was desperate to go back home (for all the reasons I had). We left BARD around nine in the morning and reached Dhaka in the afternoon. After getting off at the Dhaka University (Law Faculty), the participants exchanged best wishes with the hope that they would meet again. We (I and Amit) then got our luggage sent to Dr.Mizan's place and went for some shopping. We were to have our dinner at a Thai Restaurant along with the organizers in the evening. We directly went to Dr.Mizan's place from the mall and he was kind enough to take us to the restaurant in his Toyota Corolla. I was to realize very soon that I would not be a keen lover of Thai food in the rest of my life. However, the warmth with which we were treated compensated for all that. Tapas da (da is Benagali for elder brother and a way addressing a friend too "I had myself become known as Debu da) was kind enough to drop us at the Bus Station after a very dramatic 'see off' outside the restaurant. We were on our way back... May be, I'll go again someday...May be...

The Defeat

As luck would have it, the Indian Cricket team happened to be in Bangladesh during the summer school. They had consistently beaten the Bangladeshi team till the fateful day and nobody in BARD ever talked to us about it. However, on this particular day, we (myself and Amit) noticed a good number of people gathered around the television set in the dining hall. As we sat down on a table, and started to have the famous Comilla dessert (Ros Malai…Bengali for Cheese Balls dipped in a very sweet creamy sauce), we found out that India was on the verge of a certain defeat at the hands of Bangladesh. For the first time, I realized that I was very far away from home…India lost and celebrations continued through the night. I came back to my room …heart broken…This defeat would not have mattered much to me back home…But I was not at home and the people around me had just made me realize that.

The Participants

It would be unfair to deduce any commonalities from a handful of girls who had come to attend the summer school. However, extensive use of cosmetics was definitely the most general feature. They were certainly not as orthodox as I had envisioned before (there were few very conventional types as well albeit).But they were all wonderful people. We had a session on arbitration wherein the participants had to act out certain situations. The acting skills of some of these girls were truly fascinating. However, Al-Amin was again in a different league. He is without doubt a star material. Acting and singing seems to be part and parcel of a Bangladeshi’s natural instinct. The enthusiasm with which they sang many of the Hindi songs(on the sightseeing bus and the cultural night) goes to say about the ‘deep impact’, Indian movies (Hindi and Bengali) have had on their culture.
The War Memorial

Friday (a national holiday…same as our Sunday), being a holiday, we were taken for sightseeing and finally ended up at the WW-II memorial. Many Indian soldiers who lost their lives on the Burma front are laid here. It was beautifully maintained and the tranquility of the place refreshed all of us.

From left to right.Tuhin, Mohamudul, Rakesh, Myself, and well I cant recall this guy's name.We are sitting outside a very hospiatble Muslim family's house.

Having Fun

We saw these kids catching small fish as the muddy water passed through the tunnel beneath the road and into the fields.

First steps on the field

I sincerely thank Dr.Mizan for introducing me to the field…We were taken to a village which comprised of both Hindus and Muslims and were made to extricate some information concerning the Human Rights situation there. All seemed to be hunky dory. But interacting with ‘real people’ on a legion of issues was a very rewarding experience. I would never forget the interview with one Hindu family in particular. Being close to the border, many of the marriages in this family had taken place in families in Tripura, India.
The field research methods learnt there proved to be of immense help when I undertook a project on the Bengali Refugees in Chhattisgarh…I am still working on that.

The Moot Court Competition

I have never been admonished so much in my life, as I was on the fateful day of the moot court competition. One judge in particular was hell bent on ripping me apart. However, I survived the onslaught. The problem was heavily loaded against us and my stylish approach didn’t seem to fancy the judges. I learnt few lessons.

Prof. Nasarullah

He had come over from Rajshahi University, Bangladesh to aid Dr.Mizan and as Reza bhai put it, "another masterpiece who had graduated from Dhaka University". He was a wonderful human being and did not loose any opportunity to make people laugh. His performances on one of the cultural nights led to a 'laughter riot'...Sang two of his original compositions...Ami to beeay kori nee, beeay amake koreche ( I did not do anything to marriage, it has done few things to me) and Manush ek din bandor chilo, jodi bishas na hoi to aamake dakho( Man was once a monkey, look at me if you have doubts)...And all this together with some phenomenal dancing. Truly a masterpiece...

Bangladesh in Retrospective-III

Prof. David

He had been adjudged the best Human Rights Educator by the United Nations and his sessions generated a tremendous response every time. His session on ‘Mediation’ was extremely interesting. No participant can ever forget his “WOZA WOZA HUMAN RIGHTS…WOZA HUMAN RIGHTS…WOZA!!!”(WOZA means ‘Come Alive’ in Zulu).

The Food

We were served Puri (Deep fried, round, pancake like, made purely out of fine wheat), sautéed vegetables, and eggs (poached or omelette) for breakfast on most of the days. For lunch, we had Rice, Dal, and Salad along with Fish Curry, Chicken Curry or Mutton Curry on all the days. Dinner was never starkly different from the Lunch. However, there was not much variation in the taste through out our stay and for me the final days were lackluster as far as food was concerned. We had a snack break two hours before the lunch and a tea break after the day’s session got over.

My Roommate

Al-Amin Bhai seemed to be one of those serious kinds on first appearance. However, in days to come, I realized that he was one helluva character. His sense of humour was unparallel and as Reza Bhai later told me, he was “one of the most interesting people from Dhaka University”. His critique on the Bangladeshi movies on one of the nights sent roars of laughter through the hostel corridors. In Reza bhai’s words he was “a masterpiece of Dhaka University”.

Bangladesh in Retrospective-II

The Entry

When I reached Barrister Amir-ul-Islam’s place along with Ashraf Bhai, it was already dark. His office was a reflection of the opulent life style he pursued. I started to figure out his stature as I gazed at his larger than life portrait (a painting) which overlooked the office. Very soon, he came out of his office and I got introduced to him as “Debanshu from India”. Before I could ‘accept’ my all new International status, he greeted me saying, “Welcome to Dhaka” and in no uncertain terms, my feet lost all contacts with the Earth for few seconds. It took us roughly two hours to travel from Dhaka to Comilla, a ‘road trip’ through an extremely crowded city (I have been to Banaras in UP which is designated as the most crowded city in India and I thought that driving a car there would be the ultimate test for any driver. But after having seen the traffic in Dhaka, I was convinced that the destination for that test needed to be shifted there) and through a vacant highway which was good enough for our car to speed over 100 k’s an hour (in patches).We finally reached BARD (Bangladesh Academy of Rural Development), the venue for the Summer School around 9:00 PM. I was the last participant to reach the venue and had missed the ceremony wherein all the participants were introduced to each other and the resource persons. However, I was quite hungry by now and was more than happy to share the table with Mr. Islam and hog on Bhat, Dal and Macher Jhol (Bengali for Rice, Lentil Soup, and Fish Curry) in the BARD Dinning Hall.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bangladesh in Retrospective-I

Sometimes, or perhaps more often than not, things happen in our lives, which betray all capabilities of foresight one can have. In October of 2004, while writing an essay for a national competition, never did it occur to me that these efforts would be bringing me transnational dividends in colossal proportions in days to come. Six winners were announced and I could not have been happier. The prize for the competition was an opportunity to go to Bangladesh for attending a Human Rights Summer School in December. This was October and I had already started conceptualizing Dhaka as my first ‘foreign destination’. After all the bedlam that took place in our University in November (even Hans Kelsen would have had a tough time if he ventured into the nuances of the ‘regime change’- a State sponsored bloodless coup in which our VC was replaced by an IAS officer for whatever reasons - we witnessed), I was not very sure about the new regime’s cooperation when it came to granting permission for the visit. However, as it turned out, the old rules for project exemption and attendance were not to be changed. So I did not have many things at the back of my head as I sat in the waiting lounge of the Kolkata Airport waiting for what would be my first flight in nine years. When you have boarded a flight after nine long years and have watched programs showing flight accidents on Discovery Channel through out this time with sadistic enthusiasm, then butterflies would inevitably find their place in your stomach as the pilot asks you fasten your seat belt. This together with the rusted screw on the left wing, which I could see from my window, made the take off a highly religious experience. I stopped praying only after the flight had reached the designated altitude. The only thing that caught my attention in this short flight of forty minutes was the nonchalance with which the old gentleman, sitting last in the row was reading his newspaper. There should have been nothing conspicuous about this for a ‘normal’ flier, but I being an ‘abnormal’ first timer (not literally), marveled at his level of comfort.
Dhaka was very comfortable in December and much to my happiness Ashraf Bhai had been waiting for me at the Zia International Airport. He was supposed to take me to Comilla, the venue for the Summer School by a bus which would take us there in two hours. He was kind enough to show me the Parliament building on our way. Vanity overtook his modesty as he showed me this magnificent building dazzling with lights. Meanwhile, Dr.Mizanur Rahman, the Director of the Summer School had called Ashraf Bhai and briefed him about the new plan. Ashraf Bhai was asked to stay back in Dhaka and drop me at Barrister Amir-ul-Islam’s place (one of the framers of the Bangladeshi Constitution and an advisor to the Awami League President, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, and the former PM, Sheikh Hasina).As luck would have it, I was traveling to Comilla in a ‘Mistubishi Pajero’ owned by this living history of Bangladesh. After expressing his ignorance about my law school, he told me about his visit to NLS,Bangalore in Mr.Mitra’s time and his experience with a student from NUJS,Kolkata who did his internship under him. In between the several phone calls he received (confabulated in sublime Bengali), he made sure I was comfortable in the front seat. He invited me to do my internship in Dhaka next time, a move which propelled me in to the world of the ‘vanity struck’ for sometime.

The Summer School was a very academic exercise which made us work at least ten hours a day. However, after two weeks of brain storming sessions stimulated by intellectual giants from Bangladesh, Nepal and South Africa, I felt contended after standing fifth in the test conducted. More importantly, interacting with students hailing from diverse nationalities was a very enriching experience.

I was more than happy to return by bus- it goes on to a ferry in between to cross a river- and reached the border in the early hours of 30th December. We had to wait till the border gates opened. The ‘customs checking’ at the border seemed to be an exercise in cosmetics as people mechanically passed through this dilapidated house where the office functioned. The sense of happiness I got after walking into my country was unprecedented. The new bus would take me to Kolkata in four hours and I would be catching my train to Raipur, the same evening to make sure that I am with my friends for the ‘New Year Bash’…

Details of the Bangladesh Experience coming soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Finally...I have my own blog and more importantly some free time.I'll be narrating all the significant happenings of my life in the days to come...