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<nettime> Sidr, American Generosity, & Sirocco (Modified by Geert Lovink
Naeem Mohaiemen on Wed, 21 Nov 2007 16:16:28 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Sidr, American Generosity, & Sirocco (Modified by Geert Lovink)

Bangladesh, the week after Cyclone Sidr. A bureaucrat told me today:
we were very lucky, this was the strongest cyclone to hit Bangladesh,
but water was at low tide, so many lives were saved because they were
not water-dragged away as in Sri Lanka. Official toll is "only" 3,000
(we are trained over decades to expect far worse), Red Crescent says
it will be 10,000. Numbers, #s, I am obtusely numb.

During Hurricane Katrina, Bangladesh (population: 140 million; size:
state of Wisconsin) offered to send $1 million to help New Orleans.
After Cyclone Sidr, USA (population: 300 million) offered to send
$2 million to help southern Bangladesh. Saudi Arabia offered $100
million. The city middle class wonders why the Saudis have so much
influence here. Happy thanksgiving.

Condoleeza Rice: "We extend our deepest sympathies to the people of
Bangladesh following this major natural disaster, and we stand ready
to assist further." Warm fuzzies.

A friend writes to me from Los Angeles, tongue_firmly_in_cheek: "You
callin' us cheapskates? We got a war goin' on that needs all the cash
we can muster, so spare your cyclone sob stories, baby"

I'm in Dhaka, which is inland. Most of the impact here is mild, and
on infrastructure -- relative to what the south has gone through,
we're on another planet. In the north, it was only initial outage of
electricity, running water, internet, and mobile networks.

Speaking of mobile phones, in the south they are being called
"lifelines" for the cyclone refugees. Some are powering up their
mobiles with solar panels. Ten years ago there was virtually no mobile
network in Bangladesh. A decade of explosive growth has reached 30
million customers, and VCs now call this country one of the "three
hottest" markets for telco. Grameenphone (owned by a subsidiary of
Grameen Bank and Norway's Telenor), which has 59% market share, plans
to go IPO next year and claims a market valuation of $3.5 billion.
Telenor's customer base in Bangladesh is 3 times Norway's total
population. Mobile networks are now the backbone of the country, and
sorely missed when they get snapped.


Somehow life went on, in the middle of it all. I went to an art
opening by candle light, soldiering on in the middle of a blackout.

The next night, there was an event in more questionable taste.
Sirocco, a club night at 5-star Hotel Sheraton ("Winter Garden &
Poolside") was the party that "survived Sidr". Cue angry posts about
the ridiculous sight of $15 tickets and $85/night hotel rooms the day
after the cyclone (the median national income by the way is about
$2 per day). But room rate includes extras: Buffet breakfast (extra
breakfast is $16 per person, that means ..umm... if you have any
guests), one hour Tennis lesson, half hour Squash lesson, Health Club,
and Swimming Pool. I skipped Sirocco, but I saved a copy of the flyer
(attached). For future generations.

In the south, a sign reprinted in the newspaper says "no food, no
home, no burial cloth (dafon kapor)"


khujeci_tomai (comment # 7) writes about Dhaka in the dark:
- the-day-after/

Drishtipat's ongoing coverage:

and...our friends & neighbors

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