The haze you are seeing today in Dhaka is not fog, it’s pollution smog

No the above ranking is not an average. It is the situation of a specific time, right now at 22:43, February 3rd, 2018.

But it is 492 in PM2.5 air quality index! It means you need industrial-grade mask to breath outdoor, anything else is doing serious harm to yourself. Don’t take this lightly. Check the latest details here.

The accepted safe range of PM 2.5 index is 50, up to 100 it is somewhat ‘ok.’ When it goes beyond 100 you should take action to avoid outdoor exposure.

In Dhaka, below 100 is a luxury, you can see two digit ratings only during the monsoon. I have set my personal limit at 200. If it is above 200, I wear a mask, and I specifically avoid riding Pathao/bikes. If I’m Ubering, the windows are locked and AC running.

Install the AirVisual app or visit this page regularly before you go out in this city!

Coffee 😌 and iPhone 8 Plus 🙄

Coffee bean and French Press

That’s my daily elixir of life and work. Coffee. I can’t live without. Ever since North End started roasting beans here in Dhaka, the whole coffee scene changed. Now if you look carefully, it’s whole beans from North End stored inside a blasphemous Nescafe jar! And right beside it the ubiquitous french-press.

Thank god, beans are slowly taking over the notorious Nescafe! Interestingly enough, when people think tea, they think of real tea-leaves here, they don’t think about some suspicious soluble substance like instant coffee! They know you need to brew it to get tea and throw away the leaves. But when you say ‘coffee’ in general terms in Bangladesh, people understand ‘instant coffee,’ they think coffee by default is supposed to be a soluble powder. All credit goes to Nestle and their marketing for this mess of course! People started to know coffee without knowing they are getting shit in the name of an elixir. So at office without compromising, even if it is expensive, I buy my own beans, grind them, and press them or brew them in a drip-machine. Yap, we’ve got a grinder too, just to make sure we get the freshest coffee from grinding it right before pouring water.

After experimenting with several different beans (single-origin and blends) from all over the world, I now have comfortably settled in North End’s regular Espresso blend, it’s the safest choice, readily available, never fails. Often-time I mix around 10% French Roast in it, to enhance the burnt smokey flavor. I can’t take French Roast on its own, it’s too roasty and loses the complex taste.

If you are wondering what is iPhone 8 Plus is doing in the title of this post, look at the photo again. You must have noticed that blurred stem of the press? That’s iPhone 8 Plus’s faulty ‘portrait mode’ that artificially creates a low depth-of-field effect. During the first few days of the phone I didn’t realize it’s artificial blurring; silly me, of course it is 🙄 But who cares, oftentimes, this phone takes remarkably good photos! Although the low-light performance of iPhone 8 Plus is nowhere near the mighty Pixel-2.

Day 1 of Dhaka Art Summit 2018

Dhaka Art Summit is one of the big events I look forward to! It’s one of those defining festivals of Dhaka that makes this city proud. I feel proud myself to be able to visit this show in my own town!

I like the fact that how they keep it completely open, no tickets, no registration, anyone can simply just walk in. This is exactly what I miss nowadays in most fancy places and events in Dhaka. That simply-walk-in comfort, without much of the annoying security protocols and nuisances, aha, no flinging of those useless, stupid metal detector wands.

Also the types of people who come in here is remarkable. I think brining in new people who would have never visited an art exhibition is a critical measuring point of a show like this. Which DAS2018 has ‘somewhat’ managed to do well. I saw people talking selfies (which is ok!) who I could tell from overheard mutters that they absolutely have no idea about what is going on here. Well, that’s the power and beauty of art, that it is just there, for literally anyone to see, hear, observe, experience and interpret the way they want.

And here comes the play of diversity! This year, DAS2018 is quit diverse! It’s a lovely set of curation, ranging from obvious to out-right daring. Here is the link to the programme brochure to give you some clue. Dhaka Art Summit aptly doesn’t confine itself in a traditional shell of what we used to know as ‘art.’ It embraces various media including music, video, architecture etc. although, I would not say it is something radical. DAS is still conservative at a global scale, but for Dhaka it is quite an eye-opener rebellion for local art scene.

Samdani Art Foundation deserves praise and thanks for creating, nurturing and funding such a remarkable show of an international significance.

New found chocolate love: Magnum Espresso

Dark chocolate + coffee, the combination couldn’t be any better! I never tried a Magnum chocolate before, they are not very popular/known here. The taste is very good! Although the texture is a little odd due to its 3% cocoa nibs content, I like smoother options. It’s a 50% cocoa solids bar, with 45g sugar per 100g bar.

Noticed that Equadorian cocoa thing, I’m a big fan of any chocolate coming out of that country!

But one fine-print made me think, the Magnum brand is owned by Unilever! Come on, leave at least a few things out of corporations!

A sneak-peek of Dhaka Art Summit 2018

I got lucky to have been introduced to the chief curator of the show Diana Campbell Betancourt, just a few days before the Dhaka Art Summit 2018 began. She gave us a generous tour and a prequel of the big event on January 31st evening that is about to start off from February 2nd at the Shilpokala National Art Gallery in Dhaka.

Highlights of the tour were the works by Raqib Shaw. Borrowed from the British Museum, two of his works worth one million pounds each is now hanging on the walls in Dhaka!

Bebgal Boi started selling Vas, the background story of the Bengal Institute’s newsletter magazine

Vas is the newsletter-magazine of Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements that I edit. Started off as a newsletter reporting different activities of the Institute, it is now gradually turning into a magazine focusing on various op-eds and reports on architecture, design, cities, environment, arts and humanities. Since last few days the 3rd issue of Vas is now being sold at Bengal Boi.

It all began when I decided to archive anything and everything that happens at Bengal Institute, an unlikely move in local culture. We Bengalis are not good at archiving, writing and publishing, it is not in our blood. I realized it even more, when I traveled to the United States quite a few times. Documentation, archiving, publishing, presenting and eventually promoting is an integrated multidisciplinary art, which Americans are masters at! A demonstration of five people in front of an establishment for a niche cause would already have a website, a name, a hashtag, accounts in all social medias, there will be dedicated people for media and public-relations, posting, photographing, videotaping and updating every tiny detail to make it look as if it is the biggest movement of our time. At the beginning I found it difficult to digest. It seemed like a over-selling, narcissistic mechanism of selling a cause, I frowned upon a little. But I also was a preacher of the phrase that “if it is not available in the internet search, then it doesn’t exist,” no matter what it may be!

I made it my mandate that I will photograph, note, record everything at Bengal Institute. BI has an amazing motto of working towards creating an informed conscious generation of thinkers and doers who would jump into the overarching mission of ‘Designing Bangladesh;’ with the leadership of Kazi Khaleed Ashraf and the Chairman of Bengal Foundation, Abul Khair. These two visionaries have been inspired by Muzharul Islam’s long lost dream of ‘designing every inch of Bangladesh,’ Bengal Institute literally have taken up that mission. With post-graduate, multidisciplinary, short-course academic programs and a thriving research and design program, BI is producing massive amount of contents, knowledge and ideas which we could share to the global bank of information, through as many media as possible.

I started documenting everything starting from 1st August 2015, the day our academic program launched. Google Doc being my favorite, most versatile tool, a single shared doc file became by note-taking and file archive platform. After the first semester, I shared it with Kazi Ashraf and Luva Nahid Choudhury. Both were excited and professor Ashraf came up with the idea to publish a printed newsletter, he said, why don’t you simply put these note up for designing it for print? I was a little startled, as those notes were just for my personal and internal record of the day-to-day activities of the institute, I didn’t write for publishing. I was taking notes just for archiving. Kazi Ashraf was convinced, that these notes are good enough for publishing, I was still hesitant. Then I started editing all those notes, and started compiling photos, videos and all other recorded materials. Faisal Huda, our then academic associate, helped me in many ways with the compilation of information. Imran Irteza Tonmoy and Rashed Chowdhury, jumped into designing the printed version of the newsletter based on the epic Google Doc. And they did a terrific job! Vas-1 was mostly reporting of events, and publication of works by our participants. I am still proud of our first semester at Bengal Institute for the quality of participants and their works, it is still the best one. Although Vas-1 was just a rudimentary compilation of small reports now, yet it is beautiful. Here is how it was

Our academic team grew a little bigger, Farhat Afzal and Muntakim Haque joined. Both of them became tremendously helpful in bringing out the second issue of Vas. Both joined ‘after’ the timeline of Vas-2, i.e: they had to write and compile information about the events and people they didn’t know anything about. It was a collossal work to collect and archive all the information and putting it into a magazine format. Again, Irteza Amin was to rescue us with yet another beautiful design. And this is how it was:

Vas-2 already began the quest for transitioning it into a magazine with op-eds, from a mere newsletter full of events reporting. Still the events at BI have their own charm, because of the people we feature. From Gary Hack to Balkrishna Doshi, Bengal Institute have been lucky to invite and host some of the biggest thought leaders of the world of deign, architecture and urbanism.

In the third issue, we pushed it even more towards turning most of the writings into articles. More, reading materials, than simple flip-through image-based reporting. Not sure how much we could do it, but I think it is going there. Check it out digitally here:


Now that it is available to purchase at Bengal Boi, go grab your copy!


This photo of me with a copy of Vas-3 is shot by my friend Farhana Psyche Sufi at Bengal Boi on 20th January, 2018.

Bringing back the blog for the sake of blog

It’s been really long since I shut down the first blog I created back in 2005. WordPress was running its 1.0.3 version I guess! I made this multi-author blog called ‘The Brain Witness,’ it became quite popular I’d say. One fundamental agenda of Brain Witness was, “It doesn’t have an agenda,” it is a multi-author personal blog simply just for the sake of personal writing; more like an open-diary, a collection of personal thoughts and experience shared with the world. Well that was technically the whole idea of any “blog” then it all began in the internet. Over the time, the definition, purpose, and nature of blogging have been changed and moved to many directions.

For long, I thought of creating a personal website. Making anything personal is very difficult. Writing a CV or making my portfolio is one of the most annoying, difficult tasks, so is making a personal website. I decided not to plan and design, and just launching it. So I did. This is just a simple WordPress theme found randomly, and everything in it is also just cobbled up without any plan. This website might become the one place for anyone who wants to learn more about my works, life and thoughts. Nothing extraordinary here.