Published in the Forum (Feb 2008)
The sound of my pager breaks the silence. A text message flashes in my pager: “Mr. John Doe is now a donor.” An attempt by the resident doctor to keep me informed of my patients. This text would seem meaningless to anybody, but these words may potentially bring back a meaningful life for half a dozen souls.
Let me give a little background. Mr. John Doe was in the neurosurgical intensive care unit with head injury in a high-speed motor vehicle crash. His brain injury was extensive and the hope of a recovery was fading rapidly. In the morning I had a long conversation with the family that included the parents and the siblings. The family was in agreement that if there was no hope, the doctors might withdraw life support. They also inquired whether their son could donate his organs; those may save the lives of others. Continue reading
Published in the Forum (December 2007)
I am told that it costs about Tk 1,500 to move one’s land-line to a new address in Dhaka. To most people who can afford a phone, this is not a large sum. However, in the pre-1/11 era, not many people used to pay this amount when moving.
Why? Because, to move your land-line to a new address, in addition to the connection fee, one needs to provide the original letter of issuance of the line to them.
Think about it for a minute.
Someone moved into a government quarter in the early 1980s when he was a young man with a new family. 25 years on, he’s retiring and moving off to his small flat, and he wants to take the land-line with him. He is happy to pay the Tk 1,500 fee, and he has the receipts for the last 6 months’ bill to prove that he indeed has the legal rights to the line.
But no, they want the original letter that was issued when Zia-ur-Rahman was the president. Continue reading
Published in the Forum (November 2007)
Two bedroom flat. Father, mother, four siblings, and an uncle; all live together in the 500 sq. foot residential unit. Father, mother, and the youngest of the kids live in one bedroom. Another room is shared by the two sisters, one goes to college and one is in high school. The other brother, also in high school, and the uncle, who is struggling with his small business after graduation, share the bed which occupies a part of the living room. There is a small balcony, which is occupied with household items like an extra chair, a broken table, a shelf.
If you somehow manage to stand in the balcony and try to look out through the clothes hung for drying, your vision will be obstructed at two feet distance by another multistory building that houses 24 more families. Continue reading