Help Holey Artisan

When most of us who live in Dhaka, Bangladesh think of Holey Artisan Bakery, we think of the peaceful Fridays spent on their lawn. We remember the employees who remembered us each time we visited and maybe even what our “regular’ order was. Everything changed for each of us on July 1st, but most especially for the employees of Holey. Three of them died leaving family behind. Some were held hostage for hours and some have been left without jobs. Dhaka International Women’s Association (formerly known at Dhaka Expat Club) wants to help those left behind – without
jobs, without support or affected by this horrible incident. Holey is trying to recover and has begun a delivery only service for now. Some of the staff are still working and Holey is still paying their staff. However, this is a huge financial burden. This is why we have begun a GoFund Me for Holey. We need everyone to pitch in! Contact your friends, your College Alums, your Family and send them the link I’ve provided
below. If you’ve wanted to do something for them, this is how. Let us all not only remember the 20 who left us that day, but those that survived. If you’d like to give locally in Dhaka instead, please email dhakaexpatclub@gmail.com. Thank you for your support.

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July 15, 2016 at 12:53 PM Leave a comment

Night of Terror in Dhaka

20150124_113906Over the past few days, I have been asked what was Holey Artisan Bakery, what kind of place it was. I don’t know if anyone recalls the show Cheers that was centered around a bar that was the hub of their community. Holey was sort of like that. Most of the time, it was not a formal restaurant. It was a place people would take their children and chat with friends while eating delicious sandwiches, pizza, cheese cake and didn’t worry while their kids played on the grass. Holey is in an area of Dhaka, Bangladesh called Gulshan. Gulshan is part of the greater Diplomatic Enclave which includes Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara. Often this is referred to fondly as the “Tri-State Area’. Gulshan, Baridhara and Banani are the well-to-do areas of Dhaka. Most Expatriates and Diplomats also live in these areas as well. I live only a block and half away from Holey and that night was one of the scariest nights I have lived through since my family moved here.

This attack has left the vast majority of us reeling in shock. Mourning the deaths of friends of friends, friends and loved ones. Distrustful of every news. Analyzing every piece of information. Very much raped of our sense of security, our belief in the system and the belief that sending our children to good schools meant they would become good people.

I’ve begun a system of withdrawal. It’s my coping mechanism. When information and social sharing become burdensome, I shut down. I look at the faces of these victims of terrorism and I cry. Friends tell me not to comment of statuses, not to talk about it. How can anyone keep silent at this heinous attack?

Friends whose statuses are usually jovially humorous quips and jokes have become sad. Those who are usually silent have become vocal. Politics sits at the crux of many statuses. I can’t help but feel if we turn this attack of terror political we will all be losers. This is not the time to divide, but to unite by any means possible. If we can do that we might have a chance against whoever or whatever has begun this war of terror on our city and our country.

Bangladesh is my country. I may not have been born here, but it has been a part of my life for many years now. I live to see it succeed as do many friends who may not be from here, but have given birth to their children here, have witnessed Bangladesh emerge from a 3rd world country to an emerging middle-income nation. Let us not allow these attacks and the people behind them to win. Let us all join together and defeat these groups who seek to topple us.
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July 5, 2016 at 12:17 PM Leave a comment

The Time is Now

Villagers in the Cold in BangladeshNot many will have traveled to the villages that are found everywhere in Bangladesh to see how they live, as I have. Some villagers are lucky and live in clay buildings. They are lucky because clay at least blocks some of the cold winds during winter, but it’s still cold. Most live in homes made of corrugated tin. The walls are very nearly paper thin and have no insulation from the winds at all. At night they wrap themselves head to toe in blankets and huddle together for extra warmth. Winter does not last long in Bangladesh, but for the poor they wait for the warmth of spring and summer to return — those who survive. 

The air is beginning to cool now, cold winter days are not very far away. They have already begun in some villages around Bangladesh. Yet, there are many who wait until the cold has settled in and the news reports begin to show those who have died due to exposure to the cold and then seek to help those in need. That is when it’s already too late. The time is now to get warm clothes and blankets to those poor in the villages in the colder areas of Bangladesh. 

Many Clubs and organizations seek to do this, so if you can’t do much yourself align with one of these organizations. Dhaka Club, Gulshan Club, International Club, Dhaka American Women’s Club, Dhaka Expat Club, British Women’s Association, Blankadesh, are just a few who work to assist families in need. Most of these organizations have pages on Facebook, so look them up and find out what you can do to donate or help – before it’s too late. 

November 20, 2014 at 11:29 AM Leave a comment

Beautiful Bangladesh – The Land of Stories

 While the country has recently been rebranded as Beautiful Bangladesh, truly the country is know by the happy faces in the face of all odds and catastrophes. The resilience of the people, the “never give up” mentality that exists in the hearts of all Bangalees. One of the challenges that Bangladesh should take on is removing the panhandlers from the streets, but most especially those with drugged, sleeping children and babies on their hip that travel from car to car begging for money. My heart cries out to those children, but I won’t give into their stories and offer money. Supporting a wrong, is wrong and that is why I won’t do it. 
Recently, an ad has been shown for Beautiful Bangladesh the ends with “The Land of Stories”. Why not depict some of Bangladesh’s stories? 
    • Sonargaon as its original capital due to trade and how the capital was moved to Dhaka.
    • The time of the Mughals in Bangladesh – would be another great story. 
    • Gandhi’s stay in Noakhali – historic moment of glory
    • 1952 – The Language Movement
    • 1971 – The Road to Independence
    It is true there are great stories in Bangladesh, but they are not the ones shown in the ads.However, we need to clean the streets of the panhandlers to makeBangladesh more attractive to tourists. No one likes to constantly be giving money to all of those asking for it. Secondly, the vendors trying to sell the goods (over priced) to car passengers should also  be taking off the street. They are just another annoyance when you are caught in traffic. These are not the stories we want tourists to experience. When tourists come we want them to have the most positive experience so they will come again and again. 

    November 15, 2014 at 3:10 PM 3 comments

    Bangladesh Changing Immigration Laws

    Yesterday, AmaderShomoy.com published an article on their site informing of reforms to Bangladesh’s immigration laws. This is GREAT news for many, including foreigners who have made Bangladesh their home. 

    The good news is that when approved next month these reforms will make investing in Bangladesh easier. This will hopefully lead to new new sources for FDI and NRB Investments. Also, foreigners living in Bangladesh will now be able to apply for Permanent Residency without surrendering their own citizenship. Permanent Residency will allow for inheritance, land ownership, government jobs and military service. 

    The immigration laws have been long overdue for reform so these changes are another step forward for Bangladesh. 

    If you’d like to read the article for more information (in Bangla) please click here. I have also provided clips of the article above. Would love to see more reforms coming down the pipe!

    November 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM Leave a comment

    Grameenphone & Robi Indifference

    Customer service, especially good customer service is an unknown concept in Bangladesh. Most companies do not provide customer service training to their employees or it appears that they haven’t been trained which is why customer service, at least at the level that most westerners expect, does not exist. Sadly, this leaves Bangladesh far behind in the global scene. However, today I wish to enlighten the public about a case that goes beyond bad customer service. In light of cyber stalking, gang rape incidents that have occurred in India in addition to the many cases of acid throwing that have occurred in Bangladesh, I am a bit appalled at the indifference wireless carriers like Grameenphone and Robi show handling harassment cases. 

    Recently, I had been harassed by a Robi customer on my Grameenphone mobile number for nearly a week. This person had been sending me messages daily and I was at a loss as to how to make it stop. I didn’t know the number this person was sending me messages from and the mere inquiry of “who is this” led to a series of cryptic responses. First, I thought I could simply block the number through Grameenphone’s blocking service only to find that this service is completely inadequate and does not cover sms issues. It only blocks phone calls. Then I contact Grameenphone in writing to solve the issue. They advise me to contact Robi Customer Care. Robi, after attempting to sell me their service as they do have sms blocking,  told me they can’t do anything unless I file a General Diary (an incident report) with the Bangladesh Police.  At this point, I am extremely frustrated. I am an expatriate living in Bangladesh. I have no desire to visit a police station to file a General Diary (Police Report) or for any other reason either.  Honestly, I feel I shouldn’t have to do so. 

    Once again, I write to Grameenphone and even suggest the easiest solution, “Change my number”. However, they didn’t see it as a solution apparently and request me to write a letter to them detailing the issue so that it can be escalated. I again comply thinking I am making progress. The next reply nearly knocks me off my chair. They apologize for requesting me to write a letter and tell me AGAIN to contact #Robi or to contact law enforcement. 

    I waited all day, but then finally replied to them. CLOSE MY ACCOUNT. 

    This type of bad customer service is not only just bad or negligent; it endangers their female subscribers and subjects them to harassment, abuse and possibly more; depending on whether the harasser actually knows them or not. 

    I come from a country where when you report this type of case to your wireless company it is taken seriously and they have no problem changing your number on the spot (with or without a police report). Even if Grameenphone’s system would require me to come into their office in word to change my Sim Card to change the number, I wouldn’t have minded. It was the indifference and the fact that the responsibility for solving the problem was put on me. They would not help me in any way. So, I’ve decided to share my story in hopes that the public will make some noise so that companies like Grameenphone and Robi will start taking these kinds of complaints or issues seriously to the point of solving the problem immediately with the least amount of stress put on the customer.  So long as customers accept the dangerous, inept, and indifferent behavior or the companies paid to provide not only the service, but quality customer support these practices will continue. 

    Harassment is a serious issue, just as is Cyber Stalking. If you are a victim, let your service provider know and make sure they understand it is a serious issue. When more people speak out about this, service providers like Grameenphone and Robi will change their procedures and train their employees to take every report seriously. Thank you. 

    November 7, 2014 at 2:24 PM Leave a comment

    Morning Must Reads: July 25

    TIME

    • “Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a two-stage plan to halt the fighting in the Gaza Strip that would first impose a weeklong truce starting Sunday…” [NYT]
      • “Gaza officials said Israeli strikes killed 27 people on Friday, including the head of media operations for Hamas ally Islamic Jihad and his son. They put the number of Palestinian deaths in 18 days of conflict at 819, most of them civilians.” [Reuters]
    • “U.S. defense and diplomatic officials said Thursday that Russia is firing artillery across its border at Ukrainian military positions, an assertion that Moscow now is directly engaging in hostilities against Ukrainian government forces.” [WSJ]
    • “When President Obama issues executive orders on immigration in coming weeks, pro-reform activists are expecting something dramatic: temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for perhaps several million undocumented immigrants. If the activists are right, the sweeping move would…

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    July 25, 2014 at 8:02 PM Leave a comment

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