Celebrating their women in sport

Dhaka gridlock… life in a city with a high density of population and traffic snarls can be tricky at times.-

The Bangladeshi women, good at cricket, also do well in athletics, swimming and gymnastics. However, the National cricket team captain, Salma Khatun, remains the most famous personality in women’s sport in the country, notes Y. B. Sarangi.

Chowdhury Jafarullah Sharafat is a prominent figure in all international cricket matches played in Bangladesh. He is one of the most sought after personalities by the local radio stations with commentary rights.

So, what is special about Sharafat?

He is an entertainer who provides offbeat flavour to cricket commentary.

“Is he like Navjot Singh Sidhu?” I ask a colleague working for a Bengali newspaper here.

“No, Sidhu is much more sensible. This man is beyond comprehension. He speaks some absolute nonsense in a very funny way and has a big fan following. You can go to Youtube and watch his blabbering,” he replies.

I get proof of this instantly. I see a couple of young men approach Sharafat, and he obliges the fans by posing for photographs with them.

15-06-15: Grameen is a very popular word in the city of Dhaka. It was popularised by Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus, the pioneer of micro-financing for the economically weaker sections in the country and the founder of Grameen Bank.

The headquarters of the bank is a stone’s throw away from the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur. It is one of the tallest buildings in the area, and perhaps one of the most iconic too. The influence of the bank is so much that, many of the innumerable shops selling readymade garments and other items on that road have prefixed ‘Grameen’ to their names. It is difficult to believe though that all these shops owe allegiance to the bank.

Grameen is a huge brand in the country, thanks to the diversification of the bank to other fields. The most famous is ‘Grameen Phone’, a world-class mobile service provider.

The rise of Grameen is a tale of the power of the Bangladeshi people.

16-05-15: Life in a city with a high density of population can be tricky sometimes. I along with a few colleagues from other newspapers experience it the hard way. Deciding to move to a hotel close to the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, we check out of our hotel in Dhaka at noon. In hot and humid conditions, we struggle to find a taxi or at least a couple of auto-rickshaws in order to move to our new destination, which is around eight kilometres from here. In the heavy flow of traffic, we finally get an empty auto-rickshaw with a mesh on both sides. We are left with no other choice but to shove ourselves along with our suitcases, handbags and laptop bags into that cramped space.

Sharing the seat with the auto-rickshaw driver, I feel like an animal that is being transported in a cage to perform at a circus!

17-05-15: ‘Bulu bhai’ is popular with the journalists covering cricket in Dhaka. The man, in his mid-50s and with a hearing impairment, has been working with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) for close to two decades (even before the country got its Test status in 2000). He is loved for the care and affection he shows for the journalists and his ‘rang cha’ (lemon tea). Thermos flasks are his proud possessions, and he draws immense satisfaction from serving tea to the media persons, who wait for hours at the ground, covering practice sessions of different teams. Bulu bhai then goes around asking everyone whether the tea is all right. A thumbs-up is all that is required to induce a smile from him.

A busy man in his own world, Bulu bhai in free time loves to interact with the reporters and share his experience of meeting international sporting icons.

18-05-15: Aggressive television advertisements, promoting one team in order to boost the viewership during a cricket series, can have its side effects too. The popular ‘mauka mauka’ series of ads backing the Indian team and making fun of its rivals, including Bangladesh, aired during the World Cup, might have become a big hit in India, but it has also triggered an ‘ad war.’

Prior to the India-Bangladesh ODI series, a ‘bamboo ad’, suggesting Bangladesh would take the Indians to task, is aired on Bangladesh TV channels and becomes the talk of the town. Expectedly, it creates ripples back home.

Following India’s thrashing by Bangladesh in the first one-dayer, the near capacity crowd at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium gets a chance to vent their ire and mock the Indian team, chanting ‘mauka mauka’.

19-05-15: In a country like Bangladesh, where Muslims form the majority, the holy month of Ramadan has to be a memorable time. With the most awaited month of piety beginning today, a Friday, it becomes even more special.

However, I am in for a surprise as I step out of my hotel in search of a good eating joint on the first day of Ramadan. Almost all the eateries around here are closed as people fast during the daytime. After hunting around for a while, I come back to my room with a packet of cake and have it for lunch.

`Bulu Bhai' (right) is popular with the journalists covering cricket in Dhaka. He is loved for the care and affection he shows for the journalists and his `RANG CHA' (lemon tea).-

The scenario in the evening is different — all the restaurants are open and doing brisk business. With shops giving discounts and stocking up with a variety of goods, it is a nice time for the local populace to roam around the market and enjoy their outing with family and friends.

20-05-15: In a country where women command a lot of respect but women’s sport is not very popular, any prominent achievement by the fair sex in the field of sport attracts attention. A wall adjacent to the main staircase of the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium proudly exhibits two pictures of Bangladeshi men’s and women’s cricket teams posing with their gold and silver medals respectively in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. This is a rare feat by the Bangladesh teams at an international sporting event, and it deserves to be highlighted.

However, someone points out that there was not much competition in women’s cricket at the Asian Games that year. But one cannot fault the team that won a medal with its efforts.

I learn that the Bangladeshi women also do well in athletics, swimming and gymnastics. However, the National cricket team captain, Salma Khatun, remains the most famous personality in women’s sport in the country.