The Rent Spiral
Photo: Amirul Rajiv
I really enjoyed this week's cover story, “Home Getting Out Of Reach”, because I could relate to it. My husband and I are both journalists and don't have a large income. We live at his parents' house and have been trying to move out for about a year now, but cannot find a suitable, safe place which we can afford. We want to live in Dhanmondi which is close to work for both of us, but the rent for every half decent apartment we have seen is set over Tk 30,000. We hope to have children some day but I cannot see how we can afford to do so because more than half our monthly incomes (combined) will have to go into paying rent. The apartment we live in right now is a small two-bedroom place and we pay Tk 40,000 for it. We share this with my husband's parents and two younger siblings. I really believe that there should be laws against setting unreasonably high rent and a limit should be set as to the maximum amount that can be charged. I also agree with the writer that contracts need to be signed by both parties when renting an apartment to protect everyone's interest. I hope the authorities come up with a solution because people like us, with small incomes, just cannot afford to part with such large amounts each month and maintain a modest lifestyle.
As a child I used to stare with astonishment at them, bugging my mother with questions about those strange women in brightly-coloured clothes and heavy make-up, walking and talking in strange ways. As I grew up, society taught me to sneer at them and I began to avert my eyes from them whenever I came across them in roads or shops. They were always 'they', never one of 'us'. ‘Tarak’, staged in the Shilpakala, changed that for me. Kabir could easily have been my sibling. I could have been the sister, whose wedding became so important that one of her siblings had to be sent away and made victim of society's injustice. I wish I could have taken my entire family, especially my mother, who had initially taught me to consider transgender people as the other, to watch the play. I came to know the name of only one performer through the Star's review but all of them did an excellent job. Thanks to the Star for highlighting such important plays and events that work towards changing our perception of the society.
Photo: Amirul Rajiv
The article on sustainable energy published last Friday highlighted an important issue for Bangladesh's growth and development. While it's commendable that international leaders and development agencies are putting energy on the agenda, is it so wise to consider new development goals when we have barely tackled the Millennium Development Goals? Maybe it's the sceptic in me, but I wonder if these agendas will ever really be translated into reality or will we come up with new schedules and fancy campaigns every 10-15 years?
It's great that the government wants to take an authoritative role in the global arena on sustainable development but will these pledges be taken up by the next government, if a different party comes to power? The real question we should be asking ourselves is – how will we ensure sustainable interest in sustainable development and energy?
Outside the Cube
I appreciate the fact that the Star is a diverse magazine and caters to the interests of a wide variety of people, but I just do not see the point of a cartoon strip that takes up two of its pages. The strip has been going on for months, if not a year, and is very difficult to follow. I realise that Raju, the cartoon character, is very popular, but it begs the question: are the regular Star readers the best audience for the cartoon series? Cartoons are often welcome respite from the form and content of newspapers; so topical or satiric cartoons would be more enjoyable. I would also recommend that the strips be short and pithy so as to engage new readers rather than alienate those who have not been following. It's impossible for someone who has not read the strip from the beginning to grasp what is happening or who the characters are.
Taking Bangladesh Beyond
I was really encouraged to read about the young people featured in “Taking Bangladesh Beyond” last week. Young people across the globe are facing challenges finding a job, what with a recession in many countries, so I was impressed to see a team of young people commandeering a consultancy firm of their own. I am particularly proud and impressed that they are effectively making Bangladesh more known abroad. It is only with big ideas and a global attitude that fresh graduates will find roles for themselves in the working world. e-Gen is just one example and I hope more young people will be inspired to carve opportunities out of the challenges that they are faced with.
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