the water has ears
10,000 leagues under the sea the world does seem different.
In case you think I have selfishly turned myself into fish because
nowadays a fish in the market is more pricey than a human being,
let me assure you that my loyalty towards the humankind is beyond
question. Moreover, I love fish.
the contrary, I am on a submarine holiday. This is a tourist
submarine open to all who want to experience the water world.
The sub has been put into operation by a country (Name withheld
for security reasons. In fact, you can withhold anything for
security reasons, which in other words mean 'I will not tell
you and you can do nothing about it').
unnamed country had bought the submarine with a fortune (one-third
of its budget) a decade back but got tired of waiting for an
underwater war. They were so busy fighting on land and on air
(they meant television) that water was a very poor third option.
They however expect to raise the money from the tourism industry
in about 65 years; more positively said, in less than 70 years.
I look out the left side porthole, (all of us were not lucky
to have a periscope) we could see schools of fish lined up waving
small colourful herbs held on coral sticks. In enthusiasm I
rush to the starboard side and lo! There they are! More school
fish. We make big eyes. But our guide insists that the schools
of fish are in fact having a good time because there was no
hot sun down there and that every time they opened their mouth
they got something to eat. That is the telesmati of
underwater living. Humans however are warned not to rush there
because you need fins and gills and broad lips. No! Only broad
lips will not do.
all this excitement, there was this announcement from the guide:
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you will now look to your left
you will see a submarine cable under construction." You
mean THE submarine cable? Wow! We could imagine information
whizzing past us @ 62,500 written pages per second.
guide explains. I believe he copied it from some encyclopaedia:
"The fastest way to transmit information between continents
is through undersea fibre-optic cables. Some of these cables
can transmit the equivalent of 62,500 written pages per second.
told you, but you always believe the official guide", one
gentleman was overheard telling his wife.
guide went on with the wife's eyes unblinking, "About a
little more than one and a half inch in diameter, they consist
of optical fibres (usually of glass) that are reinforced and
protected by steel wires and a waterproofing coating. Because
they rest on the ocean floor, cables must be installed and repaired
by special ships."
could also see some guy huddled close to the cable. Was he a
terrorist? Was he going to blow it up? But our guide assured
us that he was a water-proof sign painter and was writing Bangladesh's
name on the cable signboard since we have just signed a pact
after a long time with more than a dozen other countries. On
closer look we saw 'Bangladesh' was looking real bright on the
board as the names of all the other 13 member-countries had
faded over time. Makes you feel proud but somewhat stupid.
closer look, not so! Those who delayed signing the IT pact are
in fact desho-premee. All they tried to do was stop
the rest of the world knowing the bad things about Bangladesh
a thousand times faster. Now the adage 'bad news travels faster'
would be given a new meaning.
kept on cruising. Hello hello hello... What was this? On both
sides were hundreds of posters. They were all four-colour prints
and laminated. They had to be, we were underwater, remember!
The posters had pictures of different people, some with broad
smiles fit for toothpaste ads, others the 'before' image of
a hojmi. They all wanted to become Mps.
is yet another of our unique characteristics. For every seat
in some schools you have five hundred candidates, for every
government job you have thousands of applicants, for every government
plot.... Now for one parliament seat from Dhaka there are over
a dozen candidates and one broken head. One had no idea that
there were so many suitable boys. I am sure before the deadline
ends some girls will also make to the walls.
the sub was one ageing politician in pyjama and <>punjabee,
himself now reduced to national functions and days, but perennially
a candidate for the annual EkusheyPadak. He looked right and
left, up and down, before whispering to me: "They are all
disqualified". In response to my raised eyebrows and drooping
lips, he added: "Election Commission does not allow coloured
posters", and then wiping his forehead added: 'What the
dozog are they doing wearing complete suit and tie,
and in this weather too? Whose votes do they want? Whom are
they trying to impress? Have their voters -- the source of power
-- ever touched a suit piece or a tie..."
do you whisper, sir?" I queried.
Even the water has ears...", saying which he guffawed and
mingled into the crowd.
was a pleasant trip except for some disturbing sign boards stuck
in the seabed. Every few hundred yards they read: This jomi's
on earth will the truly landless go?