A 40-mm Bofors shell made in Thailand and measuring 7 inches in length and 1.5 inches in circumference with the marks "HET BPD dated 1-4-78 40/70" was found on a beach on Salon island. "Moreover, a pagoda on the Salon island was hit at the second band from the lower base of the pagodas bell shape structure, causing damage measuring 21 inches in length, 5 inches in width and 3 inches in depth." Since I have already spent 703 characters, 149 words and five sentences on this item, it is time to move on.

JUST THOUGHT you would want to know, the internet country codes for the Subcontinental countries. Regard it as a service. Afghanistan af, Bangladesh bg, Bhutan bt, India in, Maldives mv, Myanmar mm, Nepal np, Pakistan pk, Sri Lanka sl.

ON A Patna thoroughfare, there is this Air India billboard announcing the flight to Los Angeles. Does the target audience really understand what the Maharaja is doing putting his imprint on cement? Is Hollywood lore really that well known in the Hindi heartland? Kooka, where are you?

TYPICAL STORY which explains very little, in The Times of India: "Jaipur: A falcon, bearing a transmitter in its wing, which strayed into Indian territory from Pakistan, is now in the custody of Jaisalmer police." Who says that it was a Pakistani falcon? Could it have been an Indian one? What was that transmitter up to? How did it come into the custody of the Jaisalmer police? Did it fall out of the sky? Does the Jaisalmer police have a transmitter-falcon-locating unit? If so, was the falcon brought down with anti-aircraft fire or escorted to the ground by an Indian rapid-response falcon flying force?

THE TOBACCO Institute of India is up to something deep and insidious, teaching etiquette to smokers so that they do not raise the hackles of non-smokers, and asking smokers to stick up for their rights. Now, why would the cigarette peddlers who fund the TII be suddenly so concerned about "promoting courtesy and mutual accommodation"? Of course, they want smoking to be seen in a more kindly and gentler light, which would in a back-door way continue to increase the pool of smokers. It is all part of the plan to sell those packs. I would much rather if they came directly out and told children not to smoke. Would they dare do that?

ON 1 December, Colonel Suraiya Rahman was promoted to the rank of Brigadier in the Bangla army. She was born 1944, and is into gynaecology and obstetrics at the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka. Congratulations to the Brigadier, but what a comedown for Bangladeshi womanhood that it was not a member of the erstwhile Mukti Bahini that made the grade.

IT HAPPENS to the best of sub-editors, but not twice on the same page! Directions to the computer in-putter get carried as headline or words are missed out. Feel sorry for the sub, then, more than for the reader, when on the front page of The Indian Express of 10 January (city edition, New Delhi) one headline states, "kotla pitch story 34 pt bold head", and another says, "No one came when Dangs burnt but for PM, the". Huh? And then to cap it all off, there was another shoddy one across the bottom: "Dravid passes Test after Test but why his selectors keep flunking". Huh? Huh?

WHILE WE are all taken aback, and very pleasantly so, with the Nepali government's order banning cigarette and liquor advertising in electronic media (the bulk of them, mind you, government-owned) with effect from 19 February, I will be even more pleasantly surprised if the "total ban on pan masala" comes through, as has been recommended by the Central Committee for Food Standards to the Indian government. Where would we all be without chewing tobacco? Somewhere nice.

BANGLADESH AND India have 4000 kilometres of land border between them, and the latter plans to complete fencing this border by March 2001. So says Indian Home Secretary B.P Singh, and the Bangladeshis are none too happy. Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad complains that this would be an unfriendly act, and would affect the creation of SAPTA. I think Bangladesh should let the Indians pay for the fencing, for there is a time not too far off when the flow of economic migrants will begin to go the other way. Bangladesh will not forever be a basket case, and is already in the process of climbing out.

THE ANTI-REGIONAL of the month is Bal Thackeray of Boombai, for this about Yusuf Khan, the Indian actor otherwise known as Dilip Kumar: "I have not been in the mood to keep friendship with Dilip ever since he accepted the award Nishan-e-Pakistan."

BRAVO, PHARMACEUTICAL professionals of Bangladesh, for at long last organising a topical seminar on a matter of great interest for South Asians everywhere. Poet Sufia Kamal Auditorium (at the ground floor of the National Museum auditorium in Dhaka), on 1 December 1998, saw the organisation of a seminar titled "Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas No Hartal Announcement and Its Positive Impact on the Health Sector" The seminar was organised by the Bangladesh Pharmaceutical Society, and a large number of pharmacists from different parts of the country attended it.

I DID not know that women's physiques differed that much from Latin America to "Asia" (read China). The AFP story on the Chinese volleyball team's reluctance to don "leotard-like one-pieces" reports head coach Lang Ping as saying, "It's good for Cubans, whose bodies look pretty, but not for Asian teams because the shape of the body is different." Ahem, now let's take a look at this. Cubans are supposed to look pretty, but Asian women are supposed to look fat and lumpy in leotard like one-pieces? Which Asians are we talking about?

IF YOU are from these here parts, seeking asylum in a European country makes your motives suspect, according to the executive director of the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, Sonam Tshong. The head of the lhotsham (Nepali language) section of the radio station, Nandalal Gautam, apparently, "absconded" while on a radio training course in the Netherlands and applied for asylum. Mr Tshong was "surprised and perplexed" by the development as Gautam's "request for asylum" did not make any sense, reports Kuensel: "The Royal government and BBS provided every opportunity for Gautam to develop as a person." Said Mr Tshong, "The fact that he chose to seek asylum in the Netherlands makes his real motives obvious. If he really felt the need for asylum he could have done so either in India or in any country in the region." What I say is that thank the lord for an authentic Bhutanese applying for political asylum in The Netherlands, for the immigration rosters in North America and Europe are full of Nepalis of Nepal and Nepalis of India masquerading as Bhutanese Lhotsham-pas and applying for asylum. Given that their applications are being rejected, much better for these same fake Bhutanese to apply as fake Nepali Maoist insurgents.

CHRISTINA HYLINERandher daughters, Lotta and Jennie, of Sweden has decided to embark on a 4500-km camel-back journey through Pakistan and India to commemorate the saga of Alexander of Macedonia. They do not look too happy. 1 would not either, if I had those many kms to look forward to on humpback.

THIS STORY should not have been buried in the inside pages of The Asian Age, for its economic implication as far as Bangladesh and the Indian Northeast are concerned. If the Tripura Chief Secretary V. Thulasidas is to be believed, when he returned from a Indo-Bangla trade review meeting in Dhaka in mid-December, the Bangladesh government has agreed to extend use of its port and rail facilities to allow transport of goods and passengers between the land-locked northeastern Indian states and the Bay of Bengal. The commerce, tourism and transport secretaries from Dhaka would soon be visiting the Northeast to explore the potential of economic   linkages  between   the   Northeast  and Bangladesh, Thulasidas said. I am just waiting for the Bangla papers to confirm this before becoming too ecstatic.

I shall repeat this story from The Asian Age without a word of commentary:

According to the FIR lodged at the Najajgarh police station, Dharamvar, a resident of Roshanpura, went to stay at Randhir Singh's house on the night of October 26. The complainant lives with his family. Dharamvir approached Randhir Singh to ask him for a room to spend the night. As the accused was Randhir Singh's friend, the latter allowed him to stay overnight in his house. According to sources, when Dharamvir and his family were asleep during the night, at around 10:30 pm, Dharamvir got up from his bed and made a sexual assault on Randhir Singh's buffalo. Randhir Singh woke up in the night and caught Dharamvir red-handed during the act. He raised an alarm and called his neighbours to show them what Dharamvir was up to. His neighbours caught Dharamvir and after beating him up handed him over to the Najafgarh police station. A case under Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered at the Najafgarh police station. Section 377 states whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman and animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. The buffalo has been sent for medical examination, the reports of the test are still awaited.   – Chhetria Patrakar

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