About me

Nov 8, 2016

Women's rights are human rights: Hillary

" ... human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, once and for all ... "
Once upon a time someone said this in a speech and a sixth grader from Bangladesh read this in the newspaper (yeah, no internet back in those days) and thought why is this person just a first lady (and what the hell is a 'first lady', why is being someone's spouse is a position?)!
My dad showed me the headline as something very important, and at first I did not think of it as a big deal. I asked him, why was he so excited about this! Isn't that obvious? I mean, why did some 'first lady' have to announce that? like 'duh! what the fuss, everyone knows women are human, and therefore ... ' - but in a few days I saw a lot of conversation in the print media around this speech, op-eds in Bengali, that 'giving your wife the permission to work' is not 'women's right', that 'you are enjoying a lot of women's rights' is not a valid sentence, that there is no such thing as 'women rights' that is separate from basic human rights, once and for all.

Apr 11, 2014

On Communication

Don't be friends with only other Bangladeshis in your school, and have fun learning about the people and culture where you are, go hiking, go kayaking, celebrate Halloween,  and ask them to celebrate Pohela Baishakh with you. People sometimes ask me if English is the first language of Bangladesh since our English is much better than other Asian countries (we need to practice the pronunciation though, but over all we are good:)), and I proudly say that, "No, our language is Bangla and that's what we speak at home, English is like a second language".  I am proud that we have our awesome language and no matter how many other nations invaded us they could never destroy our linguistic heritage. And, while we are abroad, it is a great chance to practice the local language. If we just confine ourselves to our own little circle, we may struggle more in our professional level. Indian and Chinese people have many of them in every sector, sometimes I feel they don't need to care about their language proficiency anymore. In my office one floor is full of Chinese people and they do all the official works in Mandarin. But we are not in that position. You might sound unconfident just because of the language, may be you know everything about the topic, but just lacking words to express them, and during a presentation, that can affect the listeners' attention. Take your international friends to a Bangladeshi restaurant, and be a part of what they have to offer. They might not reach out to you initially, I mean, you are the foreign one here, You Need to explore the local scene, You Need to expand your reach, so you are the one who should be more proactive.

A few days back I was working with one of my colleagues from east-Asia, he is a good programmer, he finished his PhD from USA, living here for 7 years, and he was worried that his English needs to be improved because he only has Korean friends. So basically only time he speaks English is when he is with his advisor! I admire the Bangladeshi education system: we learn our own language properly and gradually learn English as a second language, finally in undergrad level our text books and exams are in English, too. But we also learn English from other Bangladeshis (our parents and teachers), so we try to approximate the English vowels to our vowels, and it is hard to unlearn our accents after years of practicing the wrong thing.

I am a very very bad story-teller, even when I am talking about something super exciting like space or black-holes, I sound morbid! No mater what language it is. If you ask me to tell the story about Cinderella, I will just say, "a poor girl married the prince. and oh, there was some magic stuffs, too". While I am in a meeting, no matter how inspired I actually am I sound totally uninspired, which makes my advisor think that I don't like my research, so now when I talk to him I try to be like "Wow! this is awesome! bla bla..", and shake my head unnecessarily like I got a sugar rush. I think for non-native speakers it is more important to emphasize and enunciate words, and be more enthusiastic while we speak. That compensates our accent and helps the listeners comprehend better.

While I am at the campus, dealing with professors, and other grad students, I feel super confident about my language, these people deal with tons of other accents and empathize on this, they understand my English most of the time. But then I talk to 'regular' people and they look confused! Then I realized how bad my accent is!  I used to say "beer","bare", "bear" all the same way! One time I was talking about the lake called "bear lake", and people are like "a lake full of beer!". Even watching 10 seasons of "FRIENDS" over and over couldn't help me, but having conversations with real people should work. I still cannot differentiate between "desert" and "dessert", but baby steps..

Sometimes I think of something, never tell my husband what I was thinking of, and the next day I ask him about that, and he is dumbfounded because he has no idea what I am talking about.  At least he is my husband, but imagine that sort of gap in communication with your manager or advisor. Sometimes I have to write three emails rather than just one, because I feel the first two emails missed a lot of information that I just assumed my advisor will just 'understand' or 'remember', while he is actually dealing with a few more projects.

My poor communication skill failed me so many times that now I force myself to be more communicative and express what is going inside my head. There is no 'System.out...' from my brain to other people's brains unless I speak it up.Since I am not a successful communicator, I thought I can at least write about my failures.

Oct 23, 2012

Autumn Wedding in NC

finally I attended a real American wedding ! another thing checked from my bucket list, and yes, it was very much like the ones in movies :)

the same day I checked another thing off : I tried shooting, yeah, never good at aiming, but I wasn't keeping count, none of the empty cans got any bullet from my pistol, and even though I got "a little bit" scared of the sound, it was fun, that rush of adrenaline never fails me.  

I appreciate how personal these weddings are and not a show off of how rich you are or how much gold you own ... 

Jul 28, 2012

Mount Kisco days

for a small town ( officially the village of mt kisco ) like this , the place has more variety than I expected. Two mexican, two indian restaurants, one etheopian restaurant, and some asian fusin places.. not bad. The small movie theatre, public library, post office all in one complex, you can basically walk the whole town in one day, and then can still enjoy another walk the next day. Life is not so fast paced here, sometimes it feels sort of suffocating, specially when it rains whole day and you are stuck inside your room, no real human interaction at all. Times like this make me wanna crave for khichuri and beef curry, accompanied by omelets and fried fish, but as for this summer I chose to stay in a hotel, those are not valid options for the time being.

But the rain indeed looks amazing from this place, the trees suddenly get greener and the air smells different.
I went to the pool near my room, thought of taking a walk in the rain, may be after I finish my work at hand..it is always so tempting when it rains and you are the only human being on the road...feels like I can just keep on walking and walking. Like the last time when I lost my way in the rain, and finally made it home but had to throw away my shoes, the rain and the muddy road were not very nice to them. But that was such a great day, I felt relieved after a long time.

I found a place near my office where I can hide for a while after lunch, the place is like a backyard to IBM office, but no one goes there, and when I am sitting there with my lunch coffee, I can feel energized to get back to work again. I wish I could find the place sooner. But at least I found it :) I can even sing and talk to myself and I know no one is watching me, isn't that great ? Then after a while I go back to the coding mood, type, type, type ...

I appreciate the hiking initiative by senior IBMers, but they go so hastily, I cannot enjoy the moment, it seems like running a race, not stopping for the moment, last time we hiked on the top of  Bear mountain, and then right after we got there, we had to start for the return, I wish I could savor the setting sun or at least the Hudson valley for a while. 

Jun 17, 2012

Starting my summer in New York with tasty delights

It's been three weeks since I started my summer internship in New York, not the city, but a remote corner in NY state from where it takes an hour and a half to get to Manhattan, but I can still enjoy NYC each weekend. And by enjoying the city, I mean enjoying the food there, New York probably has the best food in USA. Today we went to Chelsea to have brunch, the egg benedict was nice, but the loud music in that Italian place was annoying. After that we went to an Argentine pastry shop and I bought Conoes, it's a cream puff filled with dulce de leche. It was good too. And yesterday was the day of Korean lunch and Bangladeshi dinner. For lunch we went to a korean restaurant in White plains, it was quiet and friendly, the hostess was very nice with her cute smile. We had bibimbap and bulgogi, not spicy at all, rather sweet, but they tasted good, even though the lack of spice was unexpected. Bulgogi is a beef dish cooked with shredded beef and bibimbap is rice mixed with spice paste, vegetables and chopped beef. The side dishes were the main attraction for me, there were 7 or 8 kinds of side dishes, small portion of sauteed vegetables with mild spice paste.

For dinner we went to my friend's house near Queens, she prepared spinach+shrimp, egg curry, eggplant fry and daal. As usual I brought some food back from her home as I always do whenever I visit her :)
Last week I went with my co-interns to a Greek place and had Kataifi ( a Greek dessert made with lachchhi shemai/ vermicelli ) ,  to me it was a different presentation of the things that I already know, it tasted nice, even though my fellow Greek people said it was nothing like how they have kataifi in Greece. Hopefully I will find authentic kataifi in some other Greek place, but I liked that one anyway.

Also two Indian places in two weeks, and those were for lunch buffet, the place called Royal Palace near Hawthorne was better in variety and taste.  Usual menu with chicken tandoor, alu gobi, palak panir etc. for dessert they had jilapi, gulabjamun, rice pudding and malai cha, could not resist any one of those.

Now I have an awesome tasting flan in my fridge, probably I should wait till tomorrow. 

May 21, 2012

International Cuisine Tasting

As a part of our lab's "international cuisine tasting tradition" [ created and followed by some other fellow scientists in HCIL including myself ] , our last visit was to an Argentine restaurant, and mind was blown. From appetizers to the deserts including the main dishes.
Before that I went to a Szechuan  hot pot restaurant where you are served raw meat and boiling broth, and looking at the raw meat served at the table was shocking at the first site, but I took a moment to process the fact that it could be my kitchen where I could be cooking the meat, so why not cook it at the table ? The spicy broth was tasty and there were different varieties of sauces to mix with the broth.