Happy Birthday Drik!

At 24 years Drik has grown up handsomely and I can well imagine the excitement, preparation going on at Drik now. So, here’s wishing the very best of times in the years ahead and some photo memories of the happy and unforgettable couple of years I spent among great friends at Drik. It’s a quicky A- Z romp through Drik during my time there.

A – is for Alam Bhai, the bearded, bicycle riding, founder Director of Drik — the creator, the innovator, his Amazing network of friends and his even more Aamazing & Awesome global fan club. Not to be forgotten A is also for the Audio Visual Department, where I spent many hours working with colleagues.

Shahidul Alam waits to be interviewed at Chobi Mela IV, Dhaka.  11 September 2006. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Shahidul Alam waits to be interviewed at Chobi Mela IV, Dhaka.
11 September 2006. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Shahidul Alam & David Burnett on the Drik Terrace after the launch of the Book and Film Birth Pangs of a Nation. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Shahidul Alam & David Burnett on the Drik Terrace after the launch of the Book and Film Birth Pangs of a Nation. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

B– is for the Banglarights website — I was a part of the team that set it up first in 2001 &  for Beards and moustaches that came in all sizes, shapes & shades at Drik.

Topu and Nipun in the Drik Publications Department. Chobi Mela IV visit to Drik, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15 Nov. 2006. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Topu and Nipun in the Drik Publications Department. Chobi Mela IV visit to Drik, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15 Nov. 2006. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

C  – is for Chobi Mela that gives everyone an  adrenalin high & of course the inimitable Drik Calendars

.On my visit to Chobi Mela IV. Photographer unknown

First visit to Chobi Mela IV, 2006. Photographer unknown

D – is for DPA – Drik Picture Agency — the first of its kind in Asia housing and archiving  incredible amount of valuable photographs. But what I remember is the team I worked with while I was there.

Joined in friendship at Drik Picture Agency (DPA) celebrating Valentine's Day.  Hands of Moinak, Tapu, Falan, Moly, Doli, Nargish,Shefali. February1 4, 2012. Drik, Dhaka, 2012. Photo Abul Kashem.

Joined in friendship at Drik Picture Agency (DPA) celebrating Valentine’s Day. Hands of Moinak, Tapu, Falan, Moly, Doli, Nargish,Shefali. February1 4, 2012. Drik, Dhaka, 2012. Photo Abul Kashem.

E – is for  Exhibitions — a continuous stream of exhibitions were on at the two galleries.

F –  is for Fine Art Prints Drik

G – is for Gallery

H – is for Hugs. Gosh! there were hugs, hugs & hugs at Drik. A very very huggable environment.

I – is for  Images there were plenty and sometimes we couldn’t remember who took them even! I is also for Interns — Anna, Bai Xi, Yan, Nabil, Barbara, Diya and all the other young ones I worked with at one time or another.

Happy days at Chobi Mela VI Secretariat with Left to Right  Anna Hofsäß, Mostafa Sorower, Adnan Wahid. 26 October 2010

Happy days at Chobi Mela VI Secretariat with Left to Right Anna Hofsäß, Mostafa Sorower, Adnan Wahid. 26 October 2010

J – is for Jokes and for Jingles of songs – everyone sang – romantic, heart rending beautiful songs  and some taught me the first few words “chokh khulle dekhi tomake. …”

K –  is for Karma, the unseen linking force that took me to Drik. …

L – is for lunch room the fun, joking and also the place  we groaned about work letting off steam and  L is also for unforgettable Lisa with that haunting smile.

M-  is for Manthan Award for RVJN and there is Majority World 

N –  is for National pride, never a shortage of it — you see it in the strong activists and the DNA Newsletters that were so fun to compile.

Bangladesh garment workers call for their rights on May Day 2011. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Bangladesh garment workers call for their rights on May Day 2011.
Photograph© Chulie de Silva

O –  is for Oops! for the mistakes we made trying to juggle too many tasks, but damage control kicked in fast with many supporters.

P – is for Photography, Publishing departments. And the much awaited Pay day. Fun was working with my colleague Mahbub in publishing putting designs together with the maestro on graphics Reza, giving us valuable points on fine tuning a design. The last design I think, that Mahbub and I worked on was this for the Jamini mag.

Drik Ad for JaminiB2Q – is for Queen’s Museum of Art in New York where the Crossfire exhibition was held in April 2012.

R –  is for RVJN,  the creative Rural Visual Journalism Network, the rooftop at Drik and the many Rickshaws and Rickshaw wallas who ferried me to and fro from Drik.

S —is for Shingara, and all the shingara and cake parties we had.

Lisa, Falan and I in happier times. 1 January 2012. Photograph Drik Photography Dept.

Lisa, Falan, Kashem and I in happier times. 1 January 2012. Photograph Drik Photography Dept.

T – is for Tea — Cha the ever favourite cuppa and of course for Terrace at Drik.

U – is for Unwavering, Unafraid, Unbowed all good words to describe Drik

V –  is for vision that Drik is.

W – is for World Press Photo – long time supporter of Drik

X – is for the  X factor of Drik — hard to understand at times, difficult to pin down but there it is — that’s what an X-factor is.

Y – is for You All of you at Drik, that I remember with affection.

Z –  is for Zippy even amidst all the hard work there is time to share a laugh and we were Zippy!

The terrace at Drik is the favourite place for photos. There's always someone with a camera. Not sure who took this photo but it was a good joke.

The terrace at Drik is the favourite place for photos. There’s always someone with a camera. Not sure who took this photo but it was a good joke.

Drik: Murder not tragedy / Tragedi Noi Hottakando

alalodulal

Murder not tragedy
A project at Drik Gallery

An exhibition of observations, both witnessed and imagined of the rana plaza collapse.

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The lamp is lit — am home

The lamp lit my house has come alive. Photo©Chulie de Silva

The flickering lamp light bathes the Buddha statue in a serene glow. 
Photo©Chulie de Silva

Just as soap operas often end on cliffhangers, which are almost magically resolved at the start of the next episode, a difficult drama of my last days in Dhaka has taken a surprising but pleasing turn for the better.

Working at Drik we were never short of excitement and laughter, however frustrating the work was at times. More so at Chobi Mela time. This year’s Chobi Mela VII was terrific – we were running on a high despite all the work.  However, the time was fast approaching for me to leave the second family of sons and daughters and even one self appointed grandson I had acquired in Dhaka.

Wahid Adnan and I . Drik Picture Agency, Drik, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photographer unknown.

Wahid Adnan, my Bangladesh grandson and I . Drik Picture Agency, Drik, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photographer unknown.

The jokes about the Secretariat being a sickie ward turned not so funny when my persistent annoying cough was diagnosed as pneumonia. I had missed out on the tail end of Chobi Mela events, then there were the hartals and Shahbagh Square and my own work visa expiring.  Yes, life had become a soap opera, with me ending up at Apollo hospital with midnight x-rays and ECG’s etc, etc. The big question was would I get better in time to get out of Dhaka before my visa expired?

The cleaner at my apartment in Lalmatia. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The cleaner at my apartment in Lalmatia. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

I didn’t make it but had to overstay 4 days. However, I had a benevolent angel who smoothed the way, and Bangladesh Immigration officials were so polite and courteous I breezed through immigration after paying a small fine.  Yes, the universe was kind and I was finally living my oft quoted “ Chole Jabbo Sri Lanka.” I had asked for an aisle seat on Mihin Air, but the two Indian gentlemen were already comfortably settled and had left me the window seat for me. Being a morning flight, I didn’t quibble, and was rewarded with a last view of Dhaka. Up in the air, it looked like a lego city shrouded in smog. The rows of apartment blocks in certain section even looked orderly.

Reminder of rickshaw rides in Dhaka now sits atop my bookshelf. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Reminder of rickshaw rides in Dhaka now sits atop my bookshelf. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The sight of Lanka, when I return from living abroad — whether it is flickering night-lights or the lush green of the tropical island by day — has always been a moving sight for me. The big treat came as we approached the island past the Indian shoreline. It was the sight of the legendary Adam’s Bridge  — the chain of limestone shoals, between mainland India, and Sri Lanka.  The sea separating India and Sri Lanka is called Sethusamudram meaning “Sea of the Bridge”. I could clearly see the chain of shoals and the tip of Mannar and the sea glistening in the bright sunlight.  I was seeing this Google map alive. The bridge was first mentioned in the Indian epic Ramayana by Valmiki and was apparently built by Rama and his army led by Hanuman to reach Sri Lanka to rescue Sita.

Adam's Bridge NASA image

Adam’s Bridge NASA image

Back home I am enveloped in the warmth of the house, friends and family. A house is not just bricks and mortar – there are the whispers, the voices of laughter, thousand memories. I wake up to the sound of squirrels outside my window and birds chirping away in the fruit trees. My barren avocado tree has flowers and bears a single tiny fruit.

Avocado flowers. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Avocado flowers. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The morning sunlight dapples my collection of Buddha’s and artifacts that I have arranged on the black and white runner that was Drik’s farewell present.

Sunlight dapples the old wooden

Sunlight dapples the old wooden “pettagama” which holds a collection of Buddha statues and artefacts. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Light symbolises the absence of darkness, grief and unhappiness. An oil lamp is lit to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms. As I watch the flickering flame I am filled with a warm content feeling. It’s great to be back in a house filled with light and my thoughts flit to a verse from the Bhaddekaratta Sutta:

Let one not trace back the past
Or yearn for the future-yet-to-come.
That which is past is left behind
Unattained is the “yet-to-come.”
But that which is present he discerns —
With insight as and when it comes.
The Immovable — the-non-irritable.
In that state should the wise one grow
Today itself should one bestir
Tomorrow death may come — who knows?
For no bargain can we strike
With Death who has his mighty hosts.
But one who dwells thus ardently
By day, by night, untiringly
Him the Tranquil Sage has called
The Ideal Lover of Solitude.

From the: “Bhaddekaratta Sutta: The Discourse on the Ideal Lover of Solitude” (MN 131), translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Ñanananda. Access to Insight, 19 September 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.131.nana.html . Retrieved on 2 March 2013.

Note: Not everyone agrees with the Indian version of Ramayana. See: Madhusudan’s subversive interpretation of the Ramayana story, with Meghnad, son of Ravana portrayed as a tragic hero https://chulie.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/painting-my-imagination-with-william-radice/

Chobi Mela VII International Photography Festival on NYT’s Lens blog

A Rohingya child in a camp in Bangladesh. Photo Saiful Huq Omi

A Rohingya child in a camp in Bangladesh. Photo Saiful Huq Omi

From Bangladesh, a Photo Festival Builds Bridges

JAMES ESTRIN of the Lens Blog featured Drik’s Chobi Mela International Festival and said:

There are well over a hundred photo festivals around the world, and new ones pop up almost daily. Many claim to be international, usually exhibiting a few local photographers alongside some international — read Western — photographic luminaries.

What sets apart the Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is that it is not only truly international, but is also perhaps the world’s most demographically inclusive festival. Running this year from Jan. 25 through Feb. 7, it will feature photographers from 23 countries and every continent except Antarctica. This year, separate programs, presentations and exhibits focus on photography from China, Russia, Nigeria, Latin America and the Middle East as well as Bangladesh.

He featured 2 of the artists at the festival.

One was Saiful Huq Omi  a renowned Bangladeshi photographer (Slides 8 to 12) who has been documenting the plight of the Rohingyas, a Burmese Muslim ethnic minority. Tens of thousands of them have fled oppression, human rights violations and violence in western Myanmar and now live as refugees in Bangladesh.

Photo Maïmouna Guerresi

Photo Maïmouna Guerresi

The other was  Maïmouna Guerresi who was raised a Catholic in Italy but converted to Islam after encountering an African Sufi community in Senegal. She is a sculptor, video artist and photographer who lives both in Italy and Senegal.

Read more at:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/from-bangladesh-a-photo-festival-builds-bridges/

Lens Blog on Rashid Talukder & the War of Independence

Never a day passes at the Drik Picture Agency where I work without a mention of Rashid Talukder’s name. He is our honoured and much loved photographer. A heroic and legendary, he documented the Bangladesh’s War of Independence.  I didn’t know him when he was alive but only found him in his images.  And so why do we talk about him daily – because we are trying to classify and catalogue his vast collection of over 100,000 images he trusted and left to Drik.

A young boy leads a procession during the mass uprising of 1969. in Dhaka,The boy was killed shortly after the photo was taken. Photo Rashid Talukder/Drik

A young boy leads a procession during the mass uprising of 1969. in Dhaka,The boy was killed shortly after the photo was taken. Photo Rashid Talukder/Drik

He pops up at various points – on a wall at Drik, a request for licensing an image, in “The Birth Pangs of a Nation,”; in the documentary on the Chobi Mela festival, in a Fine Art Print …  I cannot pass his photo of the young boy activist without saying “ am so sorry” to the little boy who was shot soon after the photo was taken.  I remember how nauseated I felt when I saw the gruesome image of the decapitated head. How much more awful would it have been to keep a steady hand ad stay focused on the photo documentation of the war.

Then there are the gentle fleeting moments of life in rural Bangla he captured. The young  boy and his goat; the teenage wives on a wooden grinding mill with their babes; the row of ducks that stopped a military truck dead in its track;  or the tortoise ambling along at his own speed..

I am sorry, I never got to know him, though I remember how he was feted when he received the Life Time achievement at the Chobi Mela festival in 2006.  Wish we could call him to ask more about the large number of photos he didn’t caption, but today in the Lens blog he speaks to us.

Thanks James for introducing him to the West and the rich legacy of his.

See a selection of photos and read more of what James Estrin has to say on the  “Images of Independence, Finally Free

Manthan Award for Drik’s Rural Visual Journalism Network

When Drik’s “Rural Visual Journalism Network” (RVJN) grabbed a Manthan Award in the “e-news and media” category, at a gala ceremony in the Habitat Centre in New Delhi, India on 1 December 2012, we were jumping for joy in Dhaka.

The RVJN Project Manager, Muhammad Aminuzzaman, accepts the award in the “e-news and media” category, Habitat Centre in New Delhi, 1 December 2012.

The RVJN Project Manager, Muhammad Aminuzzaman, accepts the award in the “e-news and media” category, Habitat Centre in New Delhi, 1 December 2012.

I-am-a-winnerblog

The citation on the award for RVJN said: “for publishing online the stories of locally based citizen journalists about human right violations, good governance and livelihood options.” Recognition gets the adrenalin flowing and confidence spikes. We hope it will boost sales of the multimedia stories and can boost the income levels of these hard working rural journalists.

cross banner2 blogPhoto©Chandan Robert Rebeiro/Drik

There was no doubt in our minds that this project was innovative. Last year we were taking off with our first training – we had a hard time selecting and bringing the rural journalists to Dhaka. None had seen an iPod, no one had ever handled a movie camera and they had no previous experience of making movies. As I sat listening to DJ Clark, our first trainer at and the brains behind the program, I picked up the tagline “Moving News to Digital Platforms.”

RVJN Manthan Award 2012blog

One year down the line RVJN has trained thirty journalists. They use the new technology  imaginatively to rewrite old issues faced by media and give voice to rural citizens of Bangladesh. The Network focuses on the disadvantaged representation of women and children in the media sector and generating employment for the district correspondence through sales of the multimedia stories. The topics currently covered include environmental issues, governance, gender issues, human rights, cultural and religious festivals, and livelihood. Over the next three years the trained correspondents are expected to produce multimedia (photography, video, text) stories from the 64 districts of Bangladesh. The stories are distributed by DrikNews .

The training course is an intensive, comprehensive multimedia workshop. The course includes an introduction to the iPod touch, the main device for producing and editing the multimedia visuals, basic video skills, basic audio skills combined with journalism, and news-reporting techniques.

RVJN is a component of the Press Freedom 2.0 programme in Bangladesh and is supported by the World Press Photo. http://www.worldpressphoto.org/news/rural-visual-journalism-network-launched-bangladesh

For Rural Stories from RVJN:  www.driknew.com/site/rvjn

 

Drik Wins Asia Publishing Award for “Birth Pangs of a Nation”

APA poster-1blog 2

Drik won the Asia Publishing Award for “Birth Pangs of a Nationin theBest Insights into Asian Societies (Non-Fiction) Category” at a Gala award ceremony in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, today, 30 November, 2012.

The book and the film “The Birth Pangs of a Nation” was produced in 2011 to celebrate 40 years of Bangladesh’s turbulent history and to present a visual map of the birth of a nation. The story poignantly unfolds through images by some of the finest photojournalists in the world and personal interviews of photographers, freedom fighters, refugees and care givers. Some of the photographers have long since passed away. Those who are alive recall events as each experienced it, from a particular vantage point. All this made it a unique compilation that adds to the rich fabric of the history of the country.

 Drik in accepting the award dedicated it to the “the brave and courageous people portrayed in this book and the twenty photographers from Bangladesh, France, India, UK and USA who themselves took risks to document the events.”

The Bangladeshi War of Liberation, like all other wars, has a contested history,”  said Shahidul Alam, editor of the book. “The number killed, the number raped, the number displaced, are all figures that change depending upon who tells the story. But the visual record is a testament to the resilience, the powerful spirit and dignity of the people who were caught in this.”

It is our wish that the younger generation will be inspired by the powerful spirit and courage of the people of Bangladesh,” Alam said.

Coming after 40 years, we remember them today, with both a tear and a smile.

Drik thanks the Asia Publishing Committee for the recognition;  UNHCR Bangladesh for their support in this endeavor aand the core team and many others who contributed to the production of this book.

For more about the book and a selection of images : http://drik.net/the-birth-pangs-of-a-nation/

See also: http://drik.net/

DrikDNA Newsletter August-September 2012

This is a newsletter I write for Drik, Bangladesh. In a way, it is a part of my Drik Diary. Captured in it are many memories of my colleagues and friends here. The night before Drik Day the place was a hive of activity. The excitement was palpable. I hope it gives you a glimpse of my life@Drik and this exciting one stop shop for visual solutions.

For past newsletters see: http://drik.net/activities/newsletter/

For more on Drik: www.drik.net

Picturing the world with aday.org

Today,15 May is the day we were supposed to join thousands around the world to use the power of photography to create, share and compare perspectives on daily life. I had been following intermittently www.aday.org and knew it was today but other than charging the battery hastily in the morning there was little chance to pick up a camera and go wandering on a heavy work day.

Just after 5pm I made my escape – but by then chances of catching something new was slim — where and what to photograph. What should I remember of this day?

There were the visitors to the World Press Photo 2012 exhibition:

Visitors at the World Press Photo exhibition at Drik Gallery 2. Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15 May 2012. Photograph Chulie de Silva

Then the street outside the Drik office and my oft used environmentally friendly transport – the rickshaws;

Colourful rickshaws add to traffic woes on the street outside Drik office. Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15 May 2012. Photograph Chulie de Silva

I also met the talented duo of photographers just outside the gate at Drik. They were more than amused that I was even thinking of submitting photos to the aday.org.

Photographer friends Sayed Asif Mahmud and Arifur Rahman just outside the Drik Office. Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15 May, 2012. Photograph Chulie de Silva

The man at my favourite corner shop didn’t want to be photographed and as I walked past the new Apple computer shop, I saw this little girl so engrossed in her computer.

4 year old Rabita engrossed in her computer game at a her father’s shop. Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15 May, 2012. Photograph Chulie de Silva

As I looked at her through the glass door, she raised her head, winked at me and smiled. I met her Mum inside and asked for permission to take her photo. She politely greeted me, when requested by her Mum. But having done that, 4-year old Rabita was back at her computer in a jiffy. She completely immersed herself in her computer game, and scarcely gave me a glance as I struggled to catch a good shot of her. This was a truly a born into the techie world digital citizen, like my own granddaughter Tara. Well, the photos today will preserve the day in my memory.

Thanks aday.org for prodding us out with our cameras. Good memories to hold on to.

join thousands around the world in using the power of photography to create, share and compare perspectives on daily life! Don’t miss it! You can upload your

World Press Photo12 at Drik, Bangladesh

Photo Samuel Aranda, Spain for New York Times

Drik where I work is a happening place.  As one of my young colleagues said we breath, dream and live on photographs.  Famous photographers, curators, videographers, budding artists, poets, authors wander in and out of the ever open doors of Drik. In the past year or so I have seen exhibitions that have ranged from miniatures painted on grains of rice to major work by celebrated artists and photographers. This April 26th Drik Gallery doors will open for the World Press Photo 12 exhibition.  Do join us for this rare visual treat.

Drik in cooperation with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dhaka, have pleasure in inviting you to the opening of the World Press Photo 12 exhibition at Drik Gallery, on Thursday, 26 April 2012, 5.30 pm.

Watch the inauguration ceremony live at www.drik.tv

The exhibition honours the prizewinners of World Press Photo’s 55th Photo Contest.

The exhibition will be on at Drik Gallery till 18 May 2012, everyday from 3-8 pm.

 Drik Gallery

House 58, Road 15A (New)

Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1209, Bangladesh

Tel: 880-2-9120125, 8112954, 8123412

Email: office@drik.net

Programme

5:30        Welcome Address by Shahidul Alam, Managing Director, Drik

5:40        Address by H.M. Ambassador Alphons Hennekens, Kingdom of the Netherlands

5:50        Address by Femke van der Valk, Coordinator Exhibitions, World Press Photo

6:00        Address by Nurul Kabir, Editor, New Age, Guest of Honour

6:10        Vote of Thanks by Abir Abdullah, The Jury Member, World Press Photo 2011

About World Press Photo

World Press Photo is an independent, nonprofit organisation based in Amsterdam, committed to supporting and advancing high standards in photojournalism and documentary photography worldwide.

Each year, an independent international jury, consisting of nineteen members, judges the entries in nine different categories, submitted by photojournalists, agencies, newspapers and magazines from all corners of the world. This year’s competition attracted 5,247 photographers from 124 countries. In total 101,254 images were entered in the contest.

The annual exhibition is shown this year at about 100 venues all over the world. This year’s exhibition contains over 160 photographs. It is an annual public showcase for photojournalism comprising the year’s winning photo, together with award-winning images from each of the nine contest categories.

About Drik

Opening Ceremony of Chobi Mela VI International Festival of Photography, Dhaka Bangladesh. 21 January, 2011. Photo Saikat Mojumder

Drik, Bangladesh is a distinctive multimedia organisation that has made challenging social inequality its central driving force.  Established in 1989, Drik has successfully partnered with national and international organisations using the power of the visual medium to educate, inform and draw powerful emotional responses to influence public opinion. The Drik Picture Library, the Photography, Publications, Audio-Visual and Gallery departments work in synergy to carry out the work of the company.  It’s ability and influence is strengthened by its initiatives, the Pathshala South Asian Media Academy, DrikICT, Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography and the Majority World Photo Agency.

About Drik Gallery

Drik Gallery, Drik, Bangladesh. 2 March, 2011. Photo Mahbub Alam Khan

Drik Gallery holding David Burnett's 44 Days -Iran and the Remaking of the World Exhibition, January, 2011. Photo Mahbub Alam Khan

Drik Gallery was opened in August 1993 with the first showing of World Press Photo in Bangladesh, there is a story behind the scenes. Bangladesh was in the midst of a massive democratic movement in the late eighties. On the streets, through curfews and through tear gas, Drik was documenting events in their entirety. Throughout this period, the major galleries, either state owned or belonging to foreign embassies, were not prepared to exhibit Drik’s work, since it was ‘political’. Drik knew it had to build its own gallery. The first ever staging of World Press provided the perfect opportunity. Drik gathered our resources and built what is now, one of the finest galleries in South Asia and the largest private gallery in Bangladesh.