Sunday, December 18, 2016

Reviewing Burger King Bangladesh

Bangladesh, despite of being a small country, has enjoyed the presence of global fast food brands like KFC and Pizza Hut for quite some time. However, a large void existed when it came to burgers, which has been so far catered to by local brands like American Burger, Takeout, Burger'N Boost, Preetom and Madchef--each with their individual merits and demerits.

So when I first heard that Burger King is coming, I though this is it, the "one king to rule them all" will be here soon. But alas, I have been disappointed today.

Since opening, BK BD has managed to create unprecedented levels of excitement, and I also fed the hype by waiting in a long queue before finally managing to order my favorite whoppers.

I had my first BK burger in Kualalumpur, Malaysia some 7-8 years ago. I still remember the taste. It was the best burger I've ever had, and since then, I became a fan. Whenever I went abroad, I would not miss to find one BK branch and have them juicy burgers. I don't want to brag, but I have had the good fortune of tasting BK burgers in another 4-5 countries, and I was never, ever disappointed.

But the Double Whopper Cheese meal that I ordered today failed to impress me. Firstly, setting up a burger meal without having cheese in it is a crime. Secondly, the burger was damned dry.

There was no sauce, very little mayonnaise and veggies, and overall, the double whopper was very, very dry. I had to gulp generous portions of soft drink to merely swallow the big chunk of meat and the bun. There was no problem with the patty; it tasted very well. But the overall combination; the art of burger making is disappointingly absent from the overall process.

Even the disgustingly mayo infused Preetom burger goes easier inside the mouth.

I heard people who ordered single burgers had a better experience. But that is not an excuse--9 out of 10 times I've ordered a burger, it was a double, and I don't want to tone down my appetite just because someone doesn't know how to make good burgers.

I am still willing to believe that the problem is not with Burger King, it is with Burger King Bangladesh, who are not following the international standards set by the parent company.

I will keep listening to people's feedback, but is not very likely that I will go back there many times until this dryness issue is fixed.

By the way, the onion rings are a joke; they tasted awful. The french fries were awesome and the sundae wasn't that bad, either.

Just a little bit more juice on the burger and you have a winner.

Originally posted in Facebook:

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Hydrogen Sulfide

I am from Notre Dame College; 98 batch, group 2, Roll number 982140

Today suddenly I remembered the smell of the chemistry lab while attending a meeting with my colleagues.

While sitting in the class, our nostrils would often get invaded by the pungent smell of Hydrogen Sulphide, which was annoying and amusing at the same time. However, the situation inside the lab was much different.

Initially, I was very scared of whatever happened inside. I could not manage to identify any salt; I was terrible with all the gadgets inside and I was constantly intimidated by the bubbling bottles of acid. It didn't help my cause at all when one of my dear friends dropped a small test tube full of sulfuric acid on my precious bag. A hole was created instantly; and upon careful inspection, I realized that two notebooks also received similarly gaping holes.

Eventually, I started getting a hang out of the proceedings and got better and better in doing the tests required to identify the salts. As far as I remember, we were required to identify 10 salts, but I ended up doing more than 15 and I also helped many of my lab mates in identifying their own salts.

I started loving the smell of the different chemicals, apparatus and the overall ambiance.

I believe NDC had the best Chemistry teachers in the whole country. I still remember the kind voices of AC Das sir, Bidyashagor sir, Guho sir and Monoronjon sir.

Now the lab is situated in a different building, but while we were studying, it was still in the same building where we had our classes.

So NDC made me a real chemistry lab expert! Though I never studied chemistry after leaving college, I still miss the smell.

Just a quick reminiscence.

Monday, October 17, 2016

No Romon Given

একটি ছেলে বিন সোলায়মান এর বাসায় কাজ করে। ছেলেটির বয়স কত আর হবে, ৮ কিংবা ১০। অনাথ শিশুটির কোনো নাম ছিল না; এক সদাশয় লাল সালু ভক্ত তাকে মজিদ নামে ডাকা শুরু করে—মানুষটি নেই কিন্তু নামটি রয়ে গিয়েছে।

তাকে সে তেমন টাকা পয়সা দেয় না, পেটে ভাতে রেখেছে। ছেলেটি এম্নিতে খুবই ভদ্র ধরনের, যা বলা হয় তাই করে। তারপরেও বিন সোলায়মান তাকে সুযোগ পেলেই বকে; পেনকেক থেকে সিরাপ খসলে চড় থাপ্পড় ও দিতে ছাড়ে না!

বন্ধু মহলে তার সুনাম আছে ডাকসাইটে দাবাড়ু হিসেবে। অনেকেই তার সাথে বাজী ধরে খেলে টাকা ও অহঙ্কার দুইটাই হারিয়েছে।
এহেন অবস্থায় একদিন বিন সোলায়মান এর শখ হল সে মজিদ কে দাবা খেলা শেখাবে।

প্রথম প্রথম অবধারিত ভাবে সে মজিদ কে গো-হারা হারাতো। হঠাত কোনদিন করো কাছে হেরে গেলে বিন সোলায়মান তার নিস্ফল আস্ফালন প্রকাশ করতো মজিদ কে হারিয়ে।
কিন্তু একদিন ঘটে গেল অবধারিত দুরঘটনা!

মজিদ, বিন সোলায়মান কে “চেক মেট” করে দিল।
লাথি পড়লো প্রথমে দাবার বোরড এ। তারপর মজিদ এর কোমরে।
সেদিন রাতে ১০২ জর নিয়ে ভেগে গেল মজিদ।

২০ বছর পর। বিন সোলায়মান এর পরিচয় হল এক বড়লোক ব্যঙ্কার এর সাথে। উনিও দাবা খেলেন। শুরু হল খেলা।

খেলতে বসে একের পর এক হার।

হঠাত খেয়াল করলো বিন সোলায়মান!
“আরে, তুই না আমার বাসায় কাজ করতি? তোকে না আমি দাবা শিখালাম? যা বেটা তোর সাথে হাত মিলাবো না আজ!”
হাহা করে হাসতে হাসতে বেরিয়ে গেল মজিদ; বিন সোলায়মান কে একটাও “রমণ” না দিয়ে।

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

He Was a Boy, She Was a Girl

During his university years, he took a course on computers and the teacher taught him stuff like powerpoint, excel, word and a little bit of casual programming.

He was a proud guy. Since childhood, he had access to personal computers and was convinced that he knew the ins and outs of the devices that had "Intel Inside", but on the particularly painful occasion called final exam, the world crashed down on him.

It was a practical exam, and all of the people in their twenty's were required to perform certain tasks on a computer and answer questions asked by the self proclaimed computing guru.

He was asked to create an excel file with ten sheets, and had to create some equations where input had to be given in the first sheet and the results would be automatically pasted in the other cells; sequentially. It wasn't too tough, but it was a tedious job. He did it without much trouble.

But the teacher wasn't done with him. He asked to make something happen whereby he could write something on the first sheet but when printing all ten sheets, that same writing will appear on the other sheets automatically.

This, stumped him.

He couldn't do it, and was crestfallen.

The next student to take the test was the prettiest girl in the class. Everyone liked her because she was not only soft spoken, but also very friendly.

The teacher asked him "Do you have a computer at home?". With shining teeth and a beaming smile, she replied "Yes".

"Can you turn it on?"
"Okay, you may go now".

And the rest was history. He ended up with a B, she got an A.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Tourist

Banglay lekhar chorcha ta onekdin dhorei seeking forgiveness in advance.

A Tourist

This happened 4-5 years ago. I was coming back home after a hectic business trip. It was an Emirates flight, which meant that things were more comfortable at economy class than many other airline's business class.

I am not the kind of person who usually indulges in conversation with strangers. My way of spending long, lonely flights is through listening to music or watching a movie or two, and only taking a break when food arrives.

However, that day, I had to change my ways. The guy who sat beside me was exceptionally chatty. He inquired about my profession, background and what not! I found him quite intrusive and started judging him a bit.

But then he told me his story. He was a US citizen and was running his own, small business. He made a fortune and was having the time of his life in his mid 30s. When he thought things couldn't get any better, he met the girl of his dreams.

Both of them felt a connection unlike anything they felt before. Things started advancing like a movie. In no time, they had their fifty first dates, moved in together and within six months, they got engaged.

Unfortunately, just like the movie their life was, one fateful day he came back early to give the love of his life a surprise; only to discover her entwined with his best friend in a very compromising and improper position. She tried giving some lame excuses, that she was sad, drunk and he was only trying to console her. He really wanted to believe her, and he believed her, too.

I don't know why this stranger was sharing his story with me, but me being a good listener, did not interrupt.

I thought there was going to be a happy ending to this story, but I also knew there won't be.

He caught her having sex with that same person just a few days before they were "supposed" to get married, and that was a very traumatizing event for him. He cancelled the wedding, sold off his business and went in to recluse.

The next few months were a blur. He was spiraling down a path of no return. Drugs and alcohol became his best friends, and his bank balance kept on shrinking.

Until one day he just couldn't do this to himself anymore. He got up, checked his remaining bank balance, and went out on a world tour.

He deliberately choose the cheapest destinations, and also places where it was, as per his own words, "difficult to stay connected".

After hearing this, the mood of the conversation changed drastically. I converted myself from the passive listener to a very active participant. I told him everything I knew about Dhaka, and Bangladesh. Places to see, food to eat, people to meet, things to do, and what not? He was asking one question and I was answering five.

In no time, the flight was over and the jet was ready to disembark. I gave him my card and ask him to call me if he ever needed any help. He wanted to stay for a whole month. He told me that "If I am not staying for a month, I cannot live the life". He did the same thing in Nepal, Thailand and intended to follow his self made ritual in Bangladesh, too.

While giving him the business card, I saw his eyes making a specific motion, and I knew he will never "connect" with me, and this was going to be the last time I will talking to him.

I advertised my country to him with a lot of heart. I believe I managed to convert his skepticism to curiosity. I gave my two hundred percent to convince him that he made the right call to visit the country which boasts places like Coxsbazar, Sundarbans, Kuakata and St. Martins.

That was five years ago. If I had this trip right now, would I be able to endorse my country like that?

Not sure, not after what happened on 2nd July. I hope I will be able to change my stance soon.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Poked By The Ball

The door has a vivid poster on it. The top line is written in a font bigger than the rest. A nice, shiny "I", followed by the not so ceremonious and yet overused word "Shit" is written. Below the I'shit, we can see "ON PEOPLE" written in all caps; giving out an air of arrogance and pride. By now, it was clear to Steve that this ought to be the office of the head honcho. 

But I'shit was not the end of it. There was this interesting graphic image which is popular and well distributed via forwarded emails. There's a tall multi-branched tree in the poster. A big bird is sitting on the top branch, and all other birds are sitting in branches below him. Each bird below the big bird has their heads covered with "white stuff", which has striking resemblance with bird excreta. 

While he was taking a good look at the poster and wondering his next step, Steve heard a loud glass shattering noise and a yelp. Before he could react, a suit clad bulky guy shoved him aside and ran past him like a rocket gone haywire. 

He didn't get enough time to recover from this "heavy" interruption. He heard someone yelling "I am gonna kill that fucking faggot." Steve quickly redirected his vision towards the source of the cursing, and found an intimidating person holding an empty glass. He was wearing a polo t-shirt, which once was dry and ironed, but now it seemed completely wet. Beneath his legs, Steve saw a puddle of liquid substance and the remnants of a broken bottle. 

Steve, being the analytic he is, quickly added two plus two and inferred that the olympic runner is the  source of this carnage, and now the t-shirt guy wants to kill him. 

"What are you looking at you dumbshit?" Boomed the t-shirt guy.

Steve, despite of being a self conscious, confident and proud person, stammered back "I err, umm....I'm here to see Mr. Randy". 

"The hell you are. He's wasted. Don't bother knocking. Wait a while and you will be called", came the reply. 

Suddenly Steve felt a poking pain in his head, and saw a small plastic ball in front of him. Once again, his analytic mind told him that he has just been poked by the ball in the head. It is like having spider sense, thought Steve! Always being conscious about the surroundings. Dad said I'd be dumb if I don't take notice of the surroundings.

He looked around and found an extremely cute young girl smiling at him from a short distance. She was batting her eyelashes and looking at him intently through the pink spectacles she was wearing. The big glasses made her look a bit comical, but her revealing clothes, enticing smile and playful looks were distracting enough to kill any comedy element in the whole situation. 

What sounded like a barking dog with a distorted vocal chord came out as another yell from the t-shirt dude--"You fucking slut, what the fuck do you think you are doing? Get your ass back to work and leave that pussy alone"!

Steve was awestruck. He couldn't recall another half an hour where he was called dumbshit and pussy in quick succession. When he used to wear the sombrero and wield the dual beretta's, he would have blasted anyone who dared insult him in this manner. He put both of his hands inside his pockets and gave the guy a nasty glare.

Then he remembered. He only wore sombreros in his dreams. While awake, he finds them stupid and he also hates anyone Mexican, Spaniard or the whole lot of Latinos. He considers them lazy, pathetic lying cheating and stealing beings whom are infesting the united states of 'merica with their silly attires and retarded gestures. All of them should die the way Eddie got eaten up. 

He didn't realize it, but his hand-pocketing made an impression. The t-shirt guy looked concerned, and his right hand was moving towards a button on the wall. Steve's patience had worn out by then. Gone, exhausted, and not to be refilled anytime soon.

He shouted in his Bee Gees voice (yeah, the voice that was common for two of the brothers, the third one had a different one)-"You stupid cunt. Don't even dare touching that button!". 

The girl with next to no clothes had her mouth open; instantly. The gaping hole created a gap through which a piranha or a baby elephant could jump inside. Well, maybe not a real elephant, but a stuffed variant would easily go through. 

At that exact moment, Steve noticed that everyone in the room was looking at him intently, and there were actually 4-5 others in the room. Every eye was fixated upon his pocketed arms, with a look of fear and trepidation, and there was actually pin drop silence. 

Suddenly, heavy footsteps were heard. What seemed like an army entering ended with the loud door crashing entrance of the "fucking faggot", as termed by the t-shirt guy. He came in and was just going to say something, and then he saw our "arm-pocketed" hero. 

His open mouth stayed open, as his slow brain slowly processed the situation. It seemed to him that someone is here to rob the bank, and he amused the audience by making another quick exit. 

At that moment, Steve got deprived of the opportunity to take a look at the I'shit poster for the first time since he entered this "office". The door opened with a loud creaking noise, and a tiny man came out of the door. He was dressed in black; a black suit, a black tie, black shoes and a black hat. He even had a black mustache.  He looked surprisingly similar to John Larkin, but this guy, the "head honcho" seemed a lot smaller. 

He gave a questioning look at Steve, and instantly realized the tensed situation in the room. He was also going to open his mouth, but Steve interrupted.

"Don't bother opening that fucking hole. I've seen my share of open mouthed morons today". 

So he complied. Steve said "Are you Randy?"

"Umm no, but my name is. Who's asking?"
"I am Steve. I have an interview with you which was supposed to start 30 odd minutes ago. These moronic cohorts of yours held me up from getting in"

Randy smiled meekly. 

"Oh, hello Steve. When can you join?"
"What the fuck do you mean?"
"Yes, I am making you the boss of these assholes. They are now your moronic cohorts. You listen up buddy! They are now your problem, I will get back to sleep now."

Leaving Steve perplexed, Randy got back to his office leaving behind a loud bang and a tough job. 

"What are you looking at, you scums? Get your asses back to work and someone fetch that fat dumbfuck that ran away." shouted Steve, and there started a new era in stark naked industries....the world's weirdest office. 

"Sigh, and I didn't even talk about the paid vacations!"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Road To Utopia: The Peaceful One

Suddenly it started raining. Rainfall in a desert is rare, but not unheard of. As the afternoon was fading away slowly, the gas pump owner stretched his legs and yawned in his comfortable armchair. He looked at the wall clock and realized that within an hour or two, he will be surrounded by complete darkness. He knew he was supposed to get up, perform wudu and say his prayers. But for some reason, he decided to spend a bit more time listening to the drizzling rain. 

His assistant Alam did not show up this morning, which forced him to get up from his usual, comfortable seat and to go to the pump to refill the fuel tanks of peaceful and restless voyagers. But after the last restless one left, there hasn't been a vehicle for over an hour, and considering the usual trend, he doubted the arrival of any new cars. 

He closed his eyes, and peace surrounded him in all ways and means possible. To enhance the feel good factor, he extended his long arms and opened the drawer at the back of his seat. The drawer is part of a six storied archive cabinet. The ipod was not supposed to be stored in that cabinet, but he remembered putting it inside hastily when he was dozing off (just like now) yesterday and suddenly a peaceful customer arrived.

"Who am I judge whether a customer is peaceful or enraged?" He thought. 

The sweet sensation of holding the ipod touch and finding the earphones entangled with it compares to few good feelings on earth. He disentangled the entangled wire and instantly put the earphone in his ears. Years of encountering and practicing has made disentangling the entangled wires an easy task for him. He remembered spending difficult times and overusing the F word towards earphone makers during the times when he was younger and life was difficult because one had to carry walkmans and diskmans instead of ipod, zens and zunes. 

 "But then again, life never reached the zenith of difficulty where I was forced to carry a zune" 

 The sweet nylong stringed sound, coupled with the more contemporary steel string guitar playing sound filled his ear with peace, enjoyment and a nice loving feeling engulfed him within minutes. As he kept on listening to Roseland, a great, exhilarating song--he thought he'd drift off to sweet slumber. It was a sweet summer day.

Sweet summer day 
Talking about a sweet summer day
Take your troubles and let them fly away

Suddenly a whistling sound broke the trance. He was in a blissful state, the last minute before falling in peaceful sleep. His whole body jerked while he took out the ear phones and turned off the ipod. His body was mildly shaking, conscience still not clear and he was still in between the land of dreams and reality. As the whistling tune of Wind of Change kept playing, he remembered changing his ring tone last night. 

He hastily picked up the phone, and realized that the call was from Alam. He never calls from his home or his own cellphone. In fact, the gas pump owner doesn't even know whether Alam has a cellphone or not. He never saw him using one during work, and he only remember seeing his land phone number in the curriculum vitae that is stored in Alam's personnel file, which is securely stored in that same six storied cabinet. 

Even before Alam started speaking, he knew that he was going to deliver one of his famous cooked up excuses for leaving work.
"I must start paying him on a daily basis so that he can't take these casual leaves frequently"
Alam kept on speaking about the dead rattlesnake that was found in his bed this morning, and how his wife was traumatized. In his Arab like thick English accent, he kept on apologizing profusely, and let him know that only a dumb Arabian woman would confuse a loin clothe as a rattle snake and freak out. He said he can come now and make it a half day's work or give his wife company and apply for a non-paid leave tomorrow, although the major portion of the day has ended. 

"Now that's surprising", thought the owner. "Alam wants to consume one of his annual leaves. That's news to me"

 He granted his wish, and decided that he, too, should call it a day. After all, daylight will go away soon and leaving the gas pump open during sunless hours is not only pointless, but also scary. With Chris Rea singing in his ears, the pump owner proceeded to reverse the open/close signboard. As soon as he held the sign, he heard a loud, screeching noise....