Thursday, 6 November 2014

My recent visit to Sylhet & Sreemangal

Well this time I am not gonna write too much. I am just gonna give you an overview with lot of pictures that I have taken during my visit.

And the journey began from Grand Sultan Tea Resort
As said it was an official tour organized by my firm. I and one of my colleagues went to Sylhet with the aim of visiting some of our clients based in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Sylhet is the capital of Sylhet District and Sylhet Division in Bangladesh. It lies on the banks of the Surma River in north-east Bangladesh. The city has a population of over 500,000 people with 26.5 km² land area.

In front famous Jaflong Waterfall 
Original plan was to go to Tanguar Haor after completing our assignments but at the end decided to go to Sreemangal with the aim of seeing tea gardens and famous Jaflong Waterfall.

Greener Bangladesh. At Jaflong Eco-Park 
We completed our assignments by Thursday (23/10/2014) evening and went to Sreemangal. We stayed overnight at Sunny Vai and Tohidul Vai’s apartment. Rabbi Vai joined us from Sunamganj.
Next morning went to Jaflong and it took over three hours to go there. The best way to visit around in Sreemangal is by a car. We used CNG to go there from Sreemangal to Jaflong. It cost us around BDT 1,300 to go and come back.

Travel Partners, Sunny Vai (right), Mehedi Vai (middle) & Rabi Vai (left)

Mehadi Vai with his style
On our way back we also used Bangladesh Railway.

Mehedi Vai: Bangladeshi Shah Rukh Khan
Next day visited some tea garden and Madhobpur Lake (Best one I have seen so far) and came back to Dhaka in the evening.

Amara Koye Jon
Bus drivers in Bangladesh are reckless. They are responsible for most of the road accident happening in Bangladesh. My recommendation for whoever reading this is, use alternative means of transport system if possible. If not then try to use recognized transport company (i.e. Greenline, Shohag, Saoudia etc). Try to avoid Hanif, Shamoly and others (similar kind).

At the famous Ispahahi Tea Garden 

At Madhobpur Lake
Anyway it was a great tour at the end. I desperately needed something like that to refresh myself. Big thanks to Mehedi Vai for smoothly managing the tour.

7 Layer Tea at Lawachara National Park
Thank for reading guys. Stay tuned. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Bangladesh!! Are we in the right direction???

I would like to start by sharing an experience I had few hours (17/10/2014) ago at a restaurant in Mohammadpur. I was having some junk foods with my cousin. It’s an open BBQ restaurant with live music. While having our foods and listening live music we realized that there is a family in front of us. They were enjoying with us as well. After like 5-6 minutes I noticed that the women is smoking cigarette and the man is smoking and drinking something that I have never seen in Bangladesh. I was shocked when I saw the man taking a bottle of alcohol (something that I have never touched) from his bag and put it on the table in front of their children. They were drinking and dancing with their friends and family members.

Was he doing something wrong? Well it depends how you see it. Bangladesh is a capitalist country (or is it?). Under capitalism you have the right to maximize your wealth and spend them according to your wish. So they were not doing something wrong.

Bangladesh is also a democratic country (at least in paper) and democracy is a system of government by the whole population. Under democracy all people have the right to express their views and enjoy their life as long as they don’t disturb others. Where they disturbing?? Well I don’t know. There were other families with kids enjoying foods and music. No one even tried to stop them from drinking alcohol and smoking cigarette (not even me and my cousin). No one even left (well we left) the restaurant because of them.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s 3rd lows of motion). I am convinced that what I have seen today is the opposite reaction of having  uncontrolled economic development, our careless attitude towards our culture, values and religious ideology. Am I against economic development? Well certainly not? My concern is the consequences of having uncontrolled economic development and not knowing what to do with their wealth. We were happy when we had less. We respected our elders when we had less. We cared for each other when we had less. We abided by the laws when we had less. We did not have many conflicts when we had less. Now we have more!! But why do we have so many conflicts in our society?? Why alcoholism and cigarette smoking by man and women are normal?

Am I fundamentalist? well it depends on how you define fundamentalism!!! If you believe in a happy nation where there will be tolerance, respect for elders, no/less conflicts, caring for each  other and a sustainable economic development then I am not a fundamentalist. 

Am I scared? Yes!! Am I hopeless? Certainly not, because I have seen some amazing people working for change. I have seen people grew up/studied in developed countries, came back and trying to bring a positive change in our society.

Thank for reading guys. Stay tuned.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

And the real journey began….

Thirteen trainees, eight days, four trainers and two segments (SME & Corporate ratings), this is what we have done so far. We were supposed to have training on Project rating today but it was cancelled. Officially the training finished yesterday and today we have been allocated to different teams.

I was hoping that I will be allocated to Banks, NBFI & Insurance team but ended up becoming a team member of SME & Corporate. Am I disappointed??? Not really!!! Now I will have the opportunity to work with different industries from manufacturing to service, power sector to MNC.

I know it won’t be easy but I am ready to work hard and give my 100% to increase my expertise in different industries. Met my new team members and supervisor at the end of the team allocation meeting with Chief Rating Officer (CRO). Lovely people!

AND the struggle with Traffic in Dhaka continues. Average it takes over two hours from my office to home, sometimes more. Really disgusting!!!!!

Next one will be on Credit Rating!!!

My old desk. I was given a new one. 

< Stay Tuned >

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Training with CRAB

And the journey began from yesterday as CRAB started providing our training. In Bangladesh there are four different types of business for a credit rating firms to provide their rating services. These are:
  • Bnks and financial institutions rating
  • Corporate rating
  • Small and medium size (SME) organization rating
  • Project rating

It’s a 15 days nonstop training session on those four divisions. There will be 5 trainers from CRAB, who are expert on those areas.

We have just finished 2 days with the first trainer who is a SME expert at CRAB. There will be two more days for the same topic (SME) but with another expert from CRAB. Looking forward to meet him and gather more knowledge on SME.

It takes over two hours to reach home from my office. Unreliable!!! Really hate this traffic jam.

My firm

< Stay Tuned >

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

My Journey with Credit Rating Agency of Bangladesh Limited (CRAB)

After my first interview with Accenture Bangladesh they invited me for the final one with the HR director from Accenture India. It was a nice conversation with the guy from India. He asked me so many questions about my role as a President of the Student Association. I did not realize he is an Indian and he will never understand the value of leadership skill.

After that someone advised me that they are looking for a follower not a leader so I should not put my leadership roles in my CV if I want to be considered in Bangladesh.

Well you made some political comments during your second interview, the guy replied from Accenture Bangladesh when I asked him about the outcome of my application a few days later. Means I am not selected. I was really disappointed. They offered me BD TK 50,000 per month for the position. I heard that they are offering BD TK 20,000 for the same position, means they are getting 2 and a half man for BD TK 50,000.

Anyway I started applying again. I was randomly sending my CV to Credit Rating firms in Bangladesh for a Financial Analyst position. One of the firms named CRAB called me for a written test. Passed the test and selected for interview. Passed the interview with management and selected for the final test and presentation. Finally passed the final test and presentation as well and eventually received the offer.

Joined them on 25/08/2014. Have been reviewing some of the old reports since then. My training will start from next week. It takes over two and half hours to reach home from my new office. I don’t know how long I will survive if that happen every day.

My desk for the time being!!!!

< Stay Tuned >

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Last Part)

Time flies so fast especially when you are happy. I was so happy that I did not even realize I already spent 26 days in Russia and I will be leaving soon. I bought my return ticket to Istanbul on 21st March and all of my friends will leave by 20th. Means I have to stay there one more night alone.

Saying goodbye to Anna (Middle)

It was so emotional for all of us to say goodbye. Although we spent few days together but I felt like we were there for so long. Two of my Russian roommates left on 17th March and my Slovenian mate left on 19th.

Last day with Luka

Saying goodbye to Guzalia

After spending 26 days in Russian Federation I realized that whatever I have heard about Russia and Russian people are not true. I am glad that I went to Russia and did not listen to my well-wishers in London, UK.

Last Night at Omega

Probably the best winter so far. It was hard to say goodbye to my friends and colleagues. I enjoyed every single second of it.

Last day at the Guest Pass with my team.

Saying goodbye to our colleague Victor

Russia is an interesting country to explore and I recommend you all to visit Russia. Sochi is one of the best cities I have visited so far and I would love to visit Sochi again.

Saying Goodbye to Maria (Middle)

Saying goodbye to Rachel (Middle)

I just would like to share the status I wrote just before my departure. It summarizes an amazing journey.

Can't believe it's over and I am leaving Russian Federation in few hours’ time. Spent 25 days without realizing it. Still feeling like I just came and waiting for my friends (Anna, Maria, Maria, Alina, Lieana, Nadia, Rachel, Larisa, Andrey, Luka, Sveta, Olga and all other Guest Pass Team members) to join me. I don't want to say bye as I am sure I will see you guys somewhere in Russia, Bangladesh, Rio, Korea, London or Japan. Keep well and have a happy life. Will miss you all. Finally would like to thank all of you I met in Sochi for your help and love. You are part of my life now and I will never forget you. Stay tuned. Spasibo (Thank you) Russia. dosvidaniya (goodbye) until I see you next time.
Shared on VK (On 21st March, 19.55 Russian standard time)!!!

Saying goodbye to Rachel & Olga

Finally saying goodbye to Gregory (Village support manager)

Nothing happened with me in Russia!!! Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

< End >

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Part 7)

The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee organized a training session for international volunteers and as usual they have done it once we have done couple of shifts. Anyway I and my American friend Rachel went to the training with some other fellow international volunteers. The session was conducted by English First (EF). They explained the culture and work style of Russia and most importantly showed us the list of Don’ts and Dos that everyone should remember while staying in Russia. (Lists attached below)

Training for International Volunteers by EF: Dos in Russia!!! 

Training for International Volunteers by EF: Don'ts in Russia!!!

Training done, couple of shifts done and most importantly made lot of friends. So far have not met anyone who is considered to be rude or arrogant. Started to realize that all those complements (!!!!!!!!!) that I have heard before leaving UK about Russia and Russians are not true.

City of Sochi at night!!!

To be frank I have found Russia a very interesting place to visit where you can ride in a bus without paying, can make lot of friends, where people appreciate when they see a foreigner complementing their country. Russians love their country more than anything. They can give their life for their country and they (well most of them) believe their leaders are doing well for Russia.

This is what I have eaten during my 26 days stay in Sochi!!! 

Met with lot of Russians and discussed about the politics of Russia. Most of the people I met believe that Mr. Putin is the right person for Russia and whatever he is doing, he is doing for good. I explained why Putin is the right person for them and at the same time why it is dangerous to have only one strong leader rather than having some younger   leaders with the potentiality to lead Russia when Mr. Putin retires.

Sochi 2014 Cross country skiing!!!

Well one of my Russian Colleagues believes that having one man with all the powers is good for Russia. He also believes that the system will make a successor once Mr. Putin departs from the power. My only concern is not having a proper system that can make a dynamic leader for Russia when needed. But my lovely colleague believes that there is a proper system in place and Russia will rise again.

Sochi 2014 Mountain Village!!!

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Part 6)

Done with all the training and paper works and now it’s time to enjoy the lovely city and do some work. Next couple of day we hangout, visited different places, tasted some local foods and most importantly made some friends.

My Sochi 2014 Paralympic Team. Best team ever!!!

I did my first shift on 30th of March 2014, it was a 9-6 shift and we literally did not do anything. One or two guests came and we were over 10 people in there to serve 2/3 guests. Not a very good start as I was expecting more works.

Sochi 2014 Olympic Park!!!

And it continued until the games actually started. Not enough work to keep myself motivated but we enjoyed our time by playing different types of games throughout the time. Sometimes we went out to see some matches.

In front of Bolshoy Ice Dome. Sochi 2014!!!

I got my first free ticket for the Alpine Skiing at Sochi Biathlon Track. I and Sveta went to see the competition. It was an amazing experience and I had the first Russian snow experience. Great day out at the end!!!

Flags. Sochi 2014 Torch!!!

The opening ceremony for Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games was amazing and I enjoyed it on television at the dining hall with my colleagues. Good start though for the Games.

Sochi 2014 Flame!!!

My second free ticket was for the similar Game and gave it to one of my colleague. But third and final free ticket was for Curling and the stadium was not far from my workplace. Went and saw half of the Game as I was not enjoying!!!

Shayba Arena for Sochi 2014 Ice Hokey!!!

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >

Friday, 9 May 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Part 5)

Sochi is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen so far. Mountain, forests, sea, and beach!!! What else do you need!!! We went to the city center by Lastochka electric train. Lastochka trains was unveiled Russian Railways which has a capacity of 800 passengers and can run a maximum speed of 160KM/hour.

Alina, At Lastochka Train. On our way to Sochi City. 

Any way went to the city center with my colleagues. We had to take a local bus to get to a local supermarket. I was expecting to use any public transport without paying as I did in London. But unfortunately it was not the case. We had to pay for using local transport!!! But not every time. You have to carry cash if you want to use any public transport. Paying by bank cards/electronic card is not usual.

At Sochi Train station.

Anyway we went to a big market and had some food and came home late. Had an awesome day.

Sochi River. On our way to a shopping center at Sochi. 

Anna informed me that we will have our venue specific training on next morning. We decided to meet at the dining area next morning to have our breakfast and go from there.

Sochi 2014. 

Next morning after having breakfast we went to the Olympic Village for our training. First of all we had our venue specific training then functional training. At the venue specific training it was almost as identical as the one we had for London 2012 Olympic Games.

Main Press Center. On our way for training!!!

At the role specific training they showed us what we will be doing during the games. We had few international volunteers came from west. Have not seen anyone from East. They have tried their best to translate. It was a great day as well.

At Guest Pass Center after the Role specific training. 

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >

Monday, 5 May 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Part 4)

Internet facility at our hotel was limited and we had only one Wi-Fi router at the reception. I was staying at 1st floor and was getting some signals from the router. Anyway checked my email at night to see whether anyone from my team contacted me for the next step i.e. uniform collection. My team leader Anna sent me an email saying that I should meet them at the dining area next morning (26th February 2014). Was really excited.

And finally we are here to collect our uniforms and Accreditation 

Spent the rest of the day with my new roommate, took some pictures and had a detail chat about my favorite topic. My first day at Sochi was awesome. Went to bed early as I was really tired and did not want to be late for next morning.

With my team!!! After collecting our Accreditation.

Next morning!!! Big day!!! Woke up early and realized that I have lost my key for my main luggage. Sweet!!!

With my team!!! After collecting our Accreditation.

Anyway went to the dining room and met my team. Honestly my first impression about my team was really good. We introduced ourselves and decided to go and collect our uniforms and accreditation. Took WF8 and went to the UDAC (uniform distribution and accreditation center). It was not organized properly. There were too many lines in there and we were not sure about our one. We were confused. I asked one of my team mate and he replied because it’s Russia!!!

With Kristina from Sochi, Russia. Volunteered with transport.

Although it was a long process and we had to spend a lot of time in the queue, still it was the most memorable time of my Sochi 2014 journey. Met with lot of people from all over Russia, took lot of pictures and had a good time.

Collected our uniforms and accreditation cards and decided to go to the city center in the evening.

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Part 3)

Sochi International Airport is very small by size and I was expecting to spend a lot of time with the Immigration. It took only 5 minutes from immigration to baggage collection. Everything was so close. The immigration officer did not ask me any unnecessary question like other airports i.e. Heathrow. He just took my passport, stamped it, took a picture, gave me a piece of paper and that’s it. I was really surprised and certainly the best Airport experience so far. Very good second impression!!!

I was expecting someone from my team to meet me at the airport. Surprisingly no one was there to pick me up from the airport. Was feeling like I am in the middle of nowhere. Anyway asked at the Sochi 2014 help desk at the airport and explained my situation. They showed me how to get to my hotel Omega. I was told to take bus B6 from the airport to Olympic Park and change to WF8 (Work Force 8, Russians call it Wi-Fi 8). Took B6 to Olympic Park and had to walk 25 minutes to find WF 8. It was really difficult for me to walk with two luggages. Dropped my hand luggage twice and broke my laptop. Nice!!!

It was very early morning and very few people were in the bus. Bus driver dropped me at the last stop. I was really struggling to explain things in English because most of them were speaking Russian. Stupid me did not learn a single Russian word. Anyway had to spend nearly 40 minutes to find my hotel Omega. Checked in at the reception where they informed me that my roommate is at the room. My roommate was sleeping. 
He woke up and we introduced ourselves. Felt like I will have a good time in Sochi.

My roommate Luka, first morning after the breakfast

My roommate!!! His name is Luka Lampret and he is from Slovenia. We decided to go to the dining hall together to have our breakfast. Wanted to meet my colleagues asap but did not have their numbers so what I could do is??? Wait for them to contact me!!!

Very first Morning after the breakfast, 25/02/2014

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >

Monday, 21 April 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Part 2)

24/02/2014. And that’s it my five years and 2 months journey in UK has finished. What a journey it has been since January 2009. Worked and studied with some amazing people. Did not get the chance to say goodbye properly but I just want you to know that, you are part of my life and I will never forget you. Keep well and keep in touch.

Taken at Heathrow just before the final security check. 

It was a two part flight with two different airlines. First one was from London Heathrow to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines and the second one with Aeroflot from Istanbul to Sochi. Was really excited. Thanks to my friend Kawsar who was with me to say goodbye at the airport and surprisingly I was not sad. I had over 8 KG extra luggages but managed to send it without paying. Thanks to the power of smile.

And the journey began. Seriously I was feeling nervous about my upcoming journey. A journey to unknown. My plane took off from Heathrow at 16.10 (UK Standard time) and landed Istanbul at 22.00 (Istanbul local time). I had always been a good feeling about Istanbul and the people of Turkey until that day. No offence to my Turkish friends but I did not get a good hospitality from Istanbul Airport. I understand it was in the midnight and people were tired but smiling does not cost much.

At Istanbul Airport 24/02/2014

As I had to use two different airlines for my journey to Sochi, so I had to check in twice (one in Heathrow and other one is at Istanbul). I went to the Turkish Airlines counter to change the destination of my main luggage I felt like employees are there not to help customers but to spend time. They were talking to each other, checking facebook, talking over the phone etc. Anyway luckily I had enough time to sort that out as my second flight to Russia was at 1.05 AM.

Everything sorted and I was getting closer to be part of another history. It was announced that the boarding to flight SU 5339 will start from 12.15. We were waiting at the gate and nobody from the airline was there till 12.45. Then one man and a woman arrived at the desk. They did not say anything and no one was asking why the boarding has not started yet. I asked them at around 1.00 about the status of our flight and they replied that the plane has just arrived and it needs to refuel. Ops!!! Not a good start and definitely not a good first impression about Russia. Then they changed the gate and we had to walk over 15 minutes. I was really tired.

At around 1.45 the boarding started and we entered the plane. It was quick and the flight took off at 2.05 (One hour delay but no apology from the plane crews). We were scheduled to land at Sochi Internal Airport at 05.00 (Sochi local time) but because of the delay we were late for 15 minutes. Thanks to the Russian pilots. We landed at 05.15 Sochi local time. Arrived at the immigration in less than 10 minutes (I was really surprised). Went to the immigration and surprised.

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Story of an amazing winter (Part - 1)

 Ahamed don’t go to Russia. You will die. Russians are not good, they are rude and angry. They will kill you. It’s too cold in Russia, you won’t survive. Russians don’t like brownies. What else??

Well these are some interesting comments that I heard when I told my colleagues and friends in UK about my plan for Sochi 2014 Winter Games. Was I scared? Surprisingly NO. I was trying to find out why I was not scared about my visit to Sochi, Russia. Here are some reasons that I found:

  • ·         Russia helped Bangladesh during 1971 liberation war
  • ·         It’s an international games and Russia will be careful whit those negative feelings about them
  • ·         I have a Russian friend in London. We did MBA together at Heriot-Watt University and he was not scary
  • ·         What else??? I can’t think of anything else.

Well after hearing all those nice comments about Russia and Russians my wish to go to Russia and check out the situation increased. I was determined that I will go and see it through.

As I worked for London 2012 Olympic and Paralymic Games as a Games Maker, it was an easy process for me and was an easy decision for the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee to decide on my application. Surprisingly they have chosen me for the Paralympic Games only.

I was a bit confused about the Russian visa as I heard that they are very strict and refuse visa but like all international volunteers I was invited by the Russian foreign ministry. Applied at their visa application center in London on 14th of January 2014 and received it by 21st of January. Easy without any complication (those who applied for UK and US visa know what complication is all about).

I knew that my UK visa is going to run out by 28th of February (decided not to extend from London, I will apply from Bangladesh) and I have to leave UK before that. So I bought the ticket from London Heathrow to Istanbul on 24th of February > Istanbul to Sochi on 25th then stay there like 26 days for the games. Bought the return on 21st of March to Istanbul and stay there for 3 days before I fly to Bangladesh. That was the plan.

Sent all my stuffs to Bangladesh through cargo at the end of January as I will be travelling to different places. Was ready and waiting for the special day (24/02/2014) to come.
Fishing at Black see. About 1000 steps from my hotel OMEGA

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >