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A letter from Chandpur


The 150m people of Bangladesh extend their sincere fraternal greetings to the people of New York and New Jersey in this time of great travail. It must be agonising to be unable to rely on Starbucks providing that vital half-caf skinny caramel macchiato grande, without which the morning has no meaning and life is just not worth living. It is impossible to contemplate the rigours of starting a gruelling day’s work in PR without the reliable comfort of an Egg McMuffin. Worse yet, we see that the mobile phone networks have been knocked out, so it has presumably been impossible to Tweet; how traumatic is that!

How dreadful that the unaccustomed stress might necessitate your spending $200 on an unscheduled emergency appointment with your therapist, to rationalise your feelings about Sandy’s medium-term impact on your relationships and self-esteem. How appalling that some of the subway lines are flooded and not working. We note with horror that the future of western capitalism is in danger, because the NYSE might not open for 2 successive days. We only had to manage for a week, or maybe it was 10 days, when the entire Shahid Muktijudda Road market was washed away one year, with the relatively trivial loss of only 70 or 80 lives.

It must be truly terrifying to face this level of destruction – a demonstration of Nature’s immense and indiscriminate power – in your concrete skyscrapers every hundred years or so, whereas we (in our picturesque shanty-towns) only have to put up with the trivial flash-floods of the Meghna River and the landslides annually. It broke our hearts to see a photograph of rows of countless yellow cabs flooded-out in Hoboken, because the drivers simply did not move them out of danger. Our feckless cousin Iftikhar lost his livelihood this summer, when his pedicab was washed away as he foolishly tried to save his children.

We will send money, food, drinking-water, clothing, blankets, tents, Médecins Sans Frontières.


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