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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Riding a CNG for better reasons: Part 2

Incase you haven’t read the Part 1, here it is.

The first idea that comes to my mind is regarding mobile top-ups. All our mobile operators have successfully managed to increase their retailer network by collaborating with small shop owners in urban and rural Bangladesh. That way the retailers have another way of increased income through flexiloads, i-topups etc. Why not include the CNG walas in this scheme? If you are having an important conversation while on the move in a CNG and suddenly run out of credit, you can simply get it flexi-loaded from an affiliated CNG wala. That way you don’t have to disrupt your journey, look for an approved retailer and then top up your credit. This will also create commission based income for the CNG walas. However one counter argument to this idea is that, first the traffic jams in Dhaka are so notorious and choked that you can easily decide to get out of the CNG, get a flexiload and come back to your vehicle still finding it to be inching amidst the mindless traffic in the city. Female passengers might not be very inclined to give their mobile numbers to flexi-loader CNG walas due to fear of mobile abuse. Nevertheless, its just an idea worth considering.

The second idea in this line is up for charities/NGOs. Say an NGO decides to partner with a CNG owners committee which has say 500 drivers. The NGOs will be allowed to put promotional/motivational advertisements inside the CNGs urging passengers to donate by sending text to a certain shortcode. Incase someone does donate, a portion of that could be shared with the prompting CNG wala. Assuming that they themselves comprise as an important target audience for delivering of any social message related with say maternal or child health, AIDS, primary education etc. they can become advocates for not only the cause, but can play a role in motivating, urging passengers to donate for the issue. Albeit they have their financial incentives embedded in this model, but atleast it will be meant to serve better purposes. The NGO will need to take service from an intermediary mobile service provider to take care of the mobile based donation, rules regulations etc. according to BTRC rules. More on mobile donations, mobile marketing in later posts.

The third idea relates to urban retailing powered with mobile technologies and the CNG walas. Consider the following scenarios.

1.You get into a CNG asking it to take you to Banani 11. The CNG wala agrees and also checks that he is affiliated with Rosh (Sweet shop) and also to ‘Shada Kalo’ (Clother retailer) in the same area.

2.CNG wala informs you that incase you want to make a purchase from Rosh or Shada Kalo, he can offer you 5% discount provided he sends you a text with the timestamp and his unique ID, and you have to make the purchase within 30 minutes and present the SMS at the counter to staff.

3.You agree to the offer and receive the text from him. So you have his phone number, the time stamp and his ID and your countdown to purchase starts!

4.You decide to make a purchase from Rosh (buy sweets) within 30 minutes of the validity of that token and present the SMS at the counter. You can forward the same SMS to 10 of your friends and if they make purchase within that timeframe from the same retailer in the same process, they get the same discounts or same special offers.

5.Staff at Rosh checks the timestamp, the ID and the number and offers you 10% discount.

6.Staff asks you to forward the SMS to their number and that information of purchase/discount gets stored into the service providers database. Rosh shares 5% of the purchase with the service provider who in turn gives 2.5% to the CNG wala. Either this can be credited as air time or the CNG wala may be allowed to redeem the accumulated commission from the service provider who may be managing more than one interested retailers.

Why would a passenger be interested?
Discounts. There is no question of lengthy loyalty to be shown to the retailer, its all based on the fact that a passenger just happens to be in the same location as the retailer, a good enough reason to turn into a consumer and make the purchase, may be an impulse one.

Why would a CNG wala be interested?
Commission. They will have one more reason to ferry passengers to their destinations, hoping that incase the passengers make any purchase from any of the subscribed retailers in that area, his chances of earning some commissions on the passengers purchase are kept alive.

Why would a retailer be interested?
The possibility of getting more footprints in the premises, more purchases from new and old customers with a ‘location and timestamp’ catch in-built. The fact that the SMS tokens will be short-lived will be re-assuring to the retailer that quick sales take place.

Certainly this is a very naïve attempt to conceptualise the idea of location based retail marketing involving the cabbies, in case of Bangladesh, who make a major portion of the urban poor. While the west is still playing with innovative location based loyalty services through mobile such as Foursquare, we can still attempt to bank on what already exists in the country, no matter how basic and simple it is, as sending and receiving SMS and facilitating sales. I have mentioned earlier about the possibility of introducing location based services which will be extremely important and revolutionary from a retail marketing perspective in Bangladesh. Until that gets materialized, we can still ride and drive a CNG for better reasons, while Liton can continue his amorous adventures and still make a discounted purchase, all by riding his favourite public transport in Dhaka city.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The future is Purple

We recently took a phone interview with Mishu Rahman, Editor, Purple Magazine, the increasingly popular Bangladeshi monthly. Please listen to the phonecast and read the supporting transcript below. You can join the Purple group in Facebook here.

1.What is the vision of Purple Magazine? Why do you think Purple is different?

PURPLE was started with a dire need to represent Bangladesh positively to a global audience in an exciting way. Most Magazines in Bangladesh are catalogues of lifestyle shopping and those which offer good reads are presented in a boring format, or else involves stale ideas and people repeating the same things across various media platforms.
PURPLE dared to take a non-political, social research based trend tracking approach which we call tracking “the Pulse of Bangladesh” The presentation in world class, language is international magazine standards and interaction with readers happen at state of the art platforms. PURPLE gives ample space to new and fresh ideas, avoids commercialization of issues and creates excitement about Bangladeshis and Bangladesh to a global audience. The vision is to bring in international recognition of PURPLE as a platform to initiate conversation on things affecting Bangladesh and the region. Already PURPLE has been distributed at a Cambridge Leadership summit as a Pre-reading for a session on Global environment to 110 young global leaders and our Agriculture Issue last November was distributed to all international dignitaries who joined the World Food Summit in Rome as a complete perspective of work being done on Agriculture in Bangladesh. These are small steps but we are getting there with each step.

2. How do you classify yourself i.e. lifestyle magazine, leisure, entertainment?
PURPLE’s mission is to enlighten, entertain, enrich inspire and interact and initiate. It celebrates the Bangladeshi Spirit. We call ourselves a Contemporary issues magazine and we have various segments catering to business, entertainment, lifestyle, culture and politics.

3. Who is your target audience? why do you target them? how do you target them?
Our target audience is anyone in Bangladesh who feel the need to be engaged with the times – and we believe everyone needs to be, so that we our cumulative contribution to the development of our country can be that much greater. We have seen that various cover stories of PURPLE appeal to different segments of the society. For example one cover two years ago on the brash lives of urban school and college students from wealthy backgrounds got a lot of urban parents writing to us asking for more details. On the other hand our issue on Agriculture generated interest of a lot researchers and analysts from across the region. Even Hugh Brammer from London who has worked in Bangladesh for over 35 years in agricultural development emailed us a writeup as a follow-up of that issue. Another Cover story on Looking at Bangladesh 30 years from now created a phenomenal participation of University students who will be middle aged citizens of Bangladesh after 3 decades to get together in workshops and send us their dreams and aspirations. Our Initiative in raising funds for the social victims raised a lot of interest among celebrities, artists and development workers. So through various features we try to engage with different parts of society which gives PURPLE an element of freshness and excitement

4. What is your opinion on the English publishing sector in Bangladesh and how PURPLE fits in there?
The English Publishing sector suffers from a dearth of readers. However, with a rising involvement of various institutions and Corporate houses, Universities and even the government in promoting the familiarity with the language, the scenario may not be the same 5 / 6 years down the line. Today we as editors suffer from a huge crisis of good writers/ reporters in English. And thus most magazines who look to become ‘English’ language magazines get away with mediocre articles, downloaded plegiarised materials and no one is the wiser.
On the brighter side, English publications with insightful articles and engaging presentations can attract a global conversation and has a wider appeal. PURPLE intends to lead in this arena over time. It has been in Publication only since July 2007, so this has been so far experimental learning. We are ready to take on bigger challenges in 2010.

5. Do you make use of internet, mobile phones, social media to promote, inform, communicate and mobilize your readers? How?
What are we today without social media? PURPLE’s facebook group gets a lot of our message across. The online version is a large platform for non-resident Bangladeshis to experience PURPLE. We are aware that as more Bangladeshis go online and use internet enabled phones, online and mobile versions will become more popular. However, the print version will never really go extinct. If this was to be, then when TV came in, the newspaper would have gone out of print!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

With love from St. Valentine

Dear Lovesumers in Bangladesh,

Hope you are all set to celebrate the global day of love. The more you share it, the more it grows, the more I become richer. Call it globalisation, call it cultural invasion, call it simple expression of love...Bangladesh is just one of the markets where I have successfully managed to own the day and date by branding it to be mine.

Although moral polices and CCTV parents, neighbours and big brothers are a threat to the spreading of love on this day and beyond, I really don't see any problem if some money is made in the process of expressing, sharing and preaching love with your beloved ones especially today. Other than making sure that some flowers are sold today, ensuring that restaurants do good business on this date, pushing up the sales of greeting cards and related merchandize, more importantly I make sure that you don't fall short of saying 'I love you'. There was a time when I wanted you to say it to your lover only, but now I would like you to say this magic three words to your parents, siblings, friends too. That way love will go in different directions, and sales related to my stuff will go only in one direction - up. There is no denying of the fact that festival marketing is nothing new and many non-sales events are also arranged around university campuses like debates on love-before-marriage or love-after-marriage etc. I appreciate all this you do to celebrate the spirit of pure love.

May I also take this opportunity to remind you that this very month also hosts two of your own festivals about which I am very curious about. One is the first day of spring, pahela falgun as you say, and the other is the 21 February, Shaheed Dibosh, also celebrated as the International Mother Language day, supposed to be celebrated all around the world...but I have my doubts. Just wondering if you ever thought of any things special or global related to festivals or days which are truly yours. Have you ever thought if anything exists in these festivals which you can claim to be so truly unique and so viral that you can export this across your borders too? Can you brand the principles of 21 February, the day we celebrate what we speak, how we speak...our that foreigners all around the world also find a good enough reason to have fun on this day? Can you make businesses in Jordan showcase and sell merchandize related to Arabic alphabets, literature, calligraphy, language on this day so that Arabs rejoice the fact that their mother-tongue is Arabic? You atleast need language to express love...I have no problem accepting that from a business sense, your 21 February holds more appeal than the day I own..14 February. Also, I am told that you are the only nation that has laid down supreme sacrifices for your language, I doubt how many outside your small borders know this fact. May be your brand ambassadors and businesses have a responsibility to uphold your heritage. I argue that there is no harm if they make some money out of the process, as long as they are doing it in the spirit of 'accessorizing Bangladeshi patriotism'.

I tell you what...don't listen to what Imam Shaheb is saying, there is nothing Christian about me anymore...I am everybody's. Last time I went to Malaysia and Indonesia during this time of the year and found out that I am everywhere there...from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta...I could see signs of my love and colors of my everywhere. I don't think their Muslim-ness was so weak that it would be challenged by this one day. Actually they were doing it strictly from a business sales and social festival perspective, rather than any religious one. Businesses were happy, so were the lovers of Indonesia. So you better not worry. But just imagine, your 21 February doesn't carry any background which can be solely tagged to any religion or any controversy. So may be if you put your heads together, you can make non-Bangla speakers around the world celebrate this day, exchange expressions (in writing, saying..through languages) of gratitude, love, thanks etc. So go ahead, brand the day, own the day, accessorize the day. Globalization is supposed to be from your end too, but you need to target the globe for that. Love.

St. Valentine.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to build confidence in an unconscious mind - Kabir Ahmed blogs from

Curiosity inevitably follows when you find something fascinating, does not it? For that reason, we begin puzzling due to lack of knowledge on a subject and then we start wondering, questioning, researching information that directs us to learning; such a practice in a real world and thrive in learning continuously lead us only to the level of understanding of the materials and extensive learning. (read more >>)

Some points later, through continuous learning and practicing the necessary steps we become a master of our own minds in making many good decisions from our personal life to business, and also our stock market investment decisions.

Learning is conceptual understanding in the process of grasping and comprehending something is an essential keeping oneself on the edge and making also sound decision; they can’t be apart from each other and neither in integral part of our lives. As decision making is perceived by having enough knowledge and careful consideration most likely the outcome would be good or at least less risky. That’s why people say to put more weight on the head than heart in a business decision because pragmatic thinking may secure a better financial advantage. It is true investing in the stock market – just because stock market investment is a business. Winning a stock market in every investment requires mental fitness with solid mental habits that will only practice rules of thumb or investment principles. It is no less than exercising and running every day for physical fitness to win a marathon. The exercise is one day for one thing at a time-- learn, practice and build mental habits

A habit is a learned response that has become automatic through repetition. One good decision based on mental habits can make you to get another higher rate of good decision as you continue to do so that will grow only the rate of compounding and leave you a financial success.

The key is here learning and how spontaneously making good judgment on a stock. Let me ask you a simple question if you are an experienced driver. Aren’t you expert on making instantaneous judgments — exactly when to slow down, speed up, turn right or left for avoiding a potential accident or running into a pothole on the road.

You can probably recall times when you have hit the brakes or swerved to avoid an accident — have you been aware of the complete driving movements? Probably not, rather you have been busy listening music and talking to friends while driving, all these pre-cautious actions and decisions made entirely at the subconscious level of your mind. Such pre-programmed automatic reactions come as the result of years of experience.

Think about it for a moment and you’ll realize that driving a car on a busy traffic road is quite a complicated activity. Think of all the things you’re monitoring at the same time:

• Is that kid going to run onto the road?
• Is that car behind me too close?
• Will that car stop at the corner although no signal light is given?
• Is there enough space between me and the car in front in case he brakes hard — unexpectedly?

Have you ever thought of multi-tasking activities you are involved in driving in unconscious mind? Even an apparently simple thing like changing lanes on the freeway is what’s called a multi-body problem in physics. You have to monitor your speed, the speed of the traffic, the speed of the cars behind you and in front of you on the lane you’re in and the lane you want to move into. And you do all these at the same time, almost instantaneously. In a state of unconscious competence, you solve the multi-body problem automatically — what to watch precisely are pre-programmed and ingrained into your brain by practice.

The Four Stages of Learning

Pro-Investors act apparently effortlessly and instantaneously in a way that they don’t even pause to think, screening a stock comes from built in mental habits like driving a car in a highway, but other inexperience investors seem find risky because of lack of knowledge and lack of competency. Investor saga “Warren Buffett” can decide to buy a multi-million dollar company in 10 minutes or less, doing all the calculations in his head. He doesn’t even go back his guidelines and spend night after night to evaluate a company. What’s more, most of the decisions he’s made so quickly have proven to be the right ones.

“That’s only possible for someone who has gone through the four stages of learning:

• Unconscious incompetence: in a state of mind he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. Little knowledge is dangerous…..
• Conscious incompetence: in a state of mind one knows that he doesn’t know. A person knows about confused with how to read balance-sheet and all the earning reports.
• Conscious competence: in state of mind knows what he knows and knows what he doesn’t know. A person has understood precisely the limitation of his knowledge and competency.
• Unconscious competence: knows that he knows in depth and has trained subconscious mind to take actions unconsciously.”
Unconscious incompetence is the state where you don’t even know that you don’t know: the state of mind so many young drivers are in when they begin to learn to drive. That’s why young drivers have many more accidents than older, they fail (or refuse) to recognize their limited knowledge, skill and experience.

People in this state are highly likely to take risks — expose themselves to danger or loss — for the simple reason they’re totally unaware that that’s what they’re doing. It is also the reason why the worst thing that can happen to a novice investor is to make a pile of money on his very first investment. His success leads him to believe that he’s found the secret of trading or investing and that he really knows what he’s doing. So he repeats whatever he did in the past — surprisingly he has lost everything.

Conscious incompetence is the first step to mastering any subject. It’s the conscious admission to yourself that you really don’t know what to do, and the full acceptance of your own ignorance.
This may result in feelings of despair or futility or hopelessness — which stops some people from investing entirely. But it’s the only way to realize that to master the subject requires a process of intensive learning.

Conscious competence is when you’re beginning to have mastery of a subject, but your actions have yet to become automatic, not complete yet. In this stage of mastery, you have to take every action at the conscious level. In this stage, your reactions are far slower than the expert’s.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do it: far from it. You could make the same investment decision as Warren Buffett. But what took Buffett 10 minutes to decide might take you 10 days...or even 10 months: you have to think through every single aspect of the investment.

An amazing number of investors believe they can skip this stage of learning entirely. One way they attempt to do it is to duplicate theory after reading about Dow Theory, or Technical analysis book or whatever, and follow the steps outlined, or who adopt someone else’s trading strategy, sooner or later find that it doesn’t work for them. There’s no short-cut to unconscious competence.
As your knowledge expands, as your skills develop, as you gain experience by applying them over and over again, they become more and more automated and move from your conscious mind into your subconscious.

Unconscious competence is the state of a Master, who just does it — and may not even know how, specifically, he does it.
When he acts from unconscious competence, the Master appears to make decisions effortlessly, and acts in ways that might scare you or me to death. He knows what he is doing. Similarly, there’s bound to be something you do in your life that, to an outsider, seems full of risk but to you is risk-free. That’s because you have built up experience and achieved unconscious competence in that activity over the years. You know what you’re doing — and you know what not to do. To someone who doesn’t have your knowledge and experience, what you do will seem full of risk. Many of us will find risk in sky diving, skiing, rock-climbing, scuba diving or car racing. For others, they are merely challenging games playing in almost every week.

Risk declines with experience: There is a risk in everything regardless of what you have in your mind. If you focus on how to reduce risk by following having extensive knowledge and experiences that will only leave you on hands of good investment stake.
When George Soros (another saga investor in our time) shorted the pound sterling with $10 billion dollars of leverage in 1992, was he taking a risk? To us, he was. But we tend to judge the level of risk by our own parameters; or to think that risk is somehow absolute. But Soros knew what he was doing. He was confident the level of risk was completely manageable. He’d calculated that the most he could lose was about 4%. “So there was really very little risk involved.” In Warren Buffett’s own words: “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.”

Narrated from a book named “the Winning Investment Habits of Warren Buffett and George Soros.”

-- Kabir Ahmed is a stock market specialist, runs

Monday, February 8, 2010

How to minimize risk : Kabir Ahmed from blogs

As you are new to investing and getting ready to invest in the stock market then keep in mind that there is a large element of risk involved unless you reduce risks and exposure with care. A significant part of the risk comes from not knowing—the necessary knowledge of stock market, and the experience in investing. A lack of knowledge and experience constitutes the greatest risk for new investors but that can be managed toward gradual diminishing with a power that comes from extensive knowledge, and understanding. The more familiar you are with stock market-how it works, factors that affect stock value, materials you need to read every day , understanding thoroughly the balance sheet, the better you can navigate and shoot close to investment goals- that will only be direction of profit maximizing. The same knowledge that enables you to grow your wealth also enables you to minimize your risk. Read more >>

Just think about for a second how a person in skydiving jumps out from an airplane over 3,000 feet high in the sky or a rock climber keeps his or her body hanging by fingers a hundred feet up a vertical cliff and pushing himself/herself to climb up much higher? How much risk is it for you? It must be close to risk of death. However, with enough experience, understanding of rock-climbing techniques and after a lot of training a person is able to build unconscious confidence, as a result skydiving or rock climbing is no longer risk rather fun games. Risk is related to knowledge, understanding, experience, and competence. Risk is contextual that is depending on the context.

Risk is an inherent part of investing in stocks. People always dream of making a fortune in the stock market, and many do it, but many other newbie investors have lost everything very quickly because of failing to minimize the risk involved with investing in the stock market.

Seeking Knowledge

Gaining knowledge is absolutely necessary before you do anything with your investment money, the foremost you can do is writing down lists of things on paper that such amount of time you are going to put aside for reading stock market articles, understanding the market system, browsing stock portfolio, reading market news. Then you create a few dummy portfolios just to watch and evaluate the shares you hold currently in the portfolios and also analyze them as a stock market analyst what has caused stocks gains or losses and these are results of what kind of investment strategy you have applied.

Pick a few stocks that you think will increase in value and then track them for a while probably 3 or 4 weeks and see how they perform; you can create multiple portfolios by using page. Begin to understand how the price of stocks go up and down, and watch what happen to the stocks you chose when various events take place. As you find out more and more about stock investing, you get better and better at picking individual stocks. In this process- you haven’t risked or lost yet since you have not bought or sold stocks in real stock market rather holding them in your dummy portfolios. You can design a stock portfolio and track its performance with thousands of other investors to see how well you have been doing. If you can achieve overall 15% or higher percentage of profit gains in a three-four months of period which will be a remarkable achievement for a new investor due to current market trend which is up-beat and also DGEN/DSE indexes stand over 40% higher comparing to a 150 days moving average that is a sign of bullish market (in case, you want to verify it that means market environment is on your favor and easier to make money than losing.

This entire topic here is to build a stock trading plan, strategies, trading objective, and involve in stock market education, and have enough experiences in order to reduce the risk and play as a master investor like George Soros/Warren Buffet. Have you seen an architect create a blue print who knows for sure a building will stand up for years, substance in the material and the infrastructure are so intact that will have strength to bear whole building? The quality of design and construction are measured perfectly while it is still on the paper as a blue print.
The bottom line is that you want to make sure that you are in control of your mind; you have learned enough, and gained experiences. Now, you are confident and able to analyze companies’ profiles, and follow the investment guidelines that you have created and experienced and detach your emotions from trading. If you are emotional with your losses or with your gains you are in for a roller coaster of a ride. You are either falling in love with stocks; hope shares will go up in the future without following investment guidelines.

Getting familiar with investing style

Investing usually falls into one of two strategies: defensive and offensive. A defensive investing strategy looks to avoid stock market risk as it uses long term investing to post steady, consistent gains. Over time, defensive investing is the most likely to achieve its long-term objectives because it strict with investment guidelines to seek to virtually eliminate the risk in the stock market.

The second strategy is quite different. It is offensive in nature, looking to capitalize on opportunities in bull market. Offensive investing ignores or minimizes stock market risk as it looks to make rapid gains, mostly follow day to day market trend without following guidelines.
Defensive investing doesn’t mean you won’t make money; defensive investing means you take calculated risk and typically lower gains to consistently make money. We all know who won the race in a “Turtle & Rabbit Story” and completed the race at the end although rabbit is a faster runner; it was obviously the result of turtle’s stunning faith, perseverance which kept her running same pace in the race. The consistent gaining even a little bit of accumulation in a long period of time can bring greater success and suppress the faster gaining in a short period of time.
There are many investing styles. Some people invest aggressively, preferring riskier stock that might give a larger and quicker reward which is very close to offensive investment, while others invest more conservatively. Conservative Investing focuses on preserving the investment and allowing it to grow naturally over time.

Conservative approach is the style for people who seek to minimize the risks using considerable fundamental analysis, usually investors prefer to invest in safe, well established companies’ stocks those companies have been around in the market for more than a few years with reputation, have shown increasing sales, increasing earnings per share over the years, have shown strong management skills by making new business deals, maintaining regular AGM and allocating constant dividend payments to investors. Conservative approach is a role that investors seed for long-term objective, are not playing the market for a quick buck rather traders focus on minimizing the risk by analyzing if these companies are seen as leader, playing a solid role as brand name and obviously these type of companies are not going anywhere because they are pillar of Bangladesh’s economy.

You may be thinking why I would spend so much time and effort understanding the process of analyzing shares and reducing risks when I can buy stocks with the help of other people suggestions, recommendations? No one would doubt about it, and neither do I, however, you will find different suggestions from different people and most of times they have no clue and are not expert on analyzing shares because they are new as much as you are in the stock market. Even you may make good money in a short period of time using those rumors, individual stock recommendation. But greater experiences come from failing a few times, but still striving to learn every aspect of investment methodology because a person knows I rather get experienced and expert on how to catch fish forever rest of my life rather given me big fish a few times.

Kabir Ahmed is a stock investment specialist at

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Riding a CNG for better reasons: Part 1

I am convinced that my Chhoto Chachchu, may be unknowingly, was one of the leading pioneers in promoting and practicing the concepts of ‘Liton er flat’ in Bangladesh since late eighties. When I look back now some 22 years ago, I realise that the frequenting of the Dhaka hotties (omuk apu, tomuk aunty) and the warm welcome by Chachchu in his mysterious, dodgy private room in the house was nothing but the budding concept of ‘Liton er flat’, the fact and phenomenon later exposed in the hit Bangla film ‘Bachelor’. I am even surprised and happy to discover that even a fan page on Facebook exists for ‘Liton er flat’ where they ask ‘what kind of services you wish for in Lit’s flat?’ (lol). We can discuss however about the concept, emergence, need, use, risks etc. of this innovative, productive (!) ‘flat’ in a later post.

What makes me look back to this is also the fact that Chachchu used to ask (or rather command) me from the realm of his own 'Liton er flat' sometimes to get him a ‘baby’ with ‘curtains’. Now don’t be mistaken by this ‘baby’, this ‘baby’ was not any of Chachchu’s ‘babies’ i.e. hot/spicy Dhaka drop-deads. Before the arrival of environment friendly green colored CNG auto-rickshaws, we used to call the three-wheelers ‘baby taxis’ or simply ‘baby’. So Chachchu used to yell for a ‘baby’ when his ‘baby’ needed to be dropped off ‘Shayer jao taratari ekta baby nie asho…porda wala anba!!’.

So that was my first orientation to the innovative usage of baby taxis in Dhaka, that other than carrying passengers around, they can be ideal places for last minute intimacy on the move between lovers of Dhaka...Liton er CNG??, as long as there are curtains and covers ofcourse. Although I remained intrigued for long time wondering how come Chachchu’s ravishing hot-heeled guests are so ‘parda-nasheen’ that they preferred ‘parda’ in baby-taxis too. Eventually I realised that this ‘parda’ was meant for other purposes which Chachchu knew and practiced better. So he kept on doing what he enjoyed doing best and I grew up to test it on my own too. I realised however that those were risky ventures if the ‘baby-wala’ happened to be a moral police and/or the time and fate was just perfect for getting mugged too. So after knowing three-wheelers as the passenger carrier and ‘vehicle of love’, I also realised that these can be used to be mugged or to mug unsuspecting innocent passengers too. Time went by, baby-taxis got replaced with CNG auto-rickshaws and we replaced ‘baby’ darling with an acronym…‘CNG’. And as Dhaka city got busier, traffic jams increased and kept on proving how horrible the urban planning in the city is and how much time, productivity, mood we keep wasting stuck inside environment friendly CNG auto-rickshaws. Sometimes I used to doze off in such situations, sometimes throw glances left and right to spot any potential Dhaka Eves in the air conditioned car stuck side by side, sometimes used to curse my fate and the system that how severely its choking people’s productivity, mood, time, etc. However if every (black) cloud has silver lining, was wondering if there is anything worthwhile doing while travelling in CNGs in Dhaka? Anything we could think of in terms of urban advertising on the go? Anything revenue generating involving the CNG owners or the drivers? (to be continued)