Online etiquette for the Bangladeshi professional: The basics

More and more of our professional interactions are happening online. The global norm and preferred medium for professional interactions are on email or Slack; in Bangladesh, a lot of work is done on Facebook. 

This connectivity is usually a good thing; increasingly, people are leveraging their network, seeing how they can help each other and buying more stuff. However, this calls for a refresher (or an introduction) to the rules of maintaining professionalism online. Here are some mistakes you can avoid, so you can make better impressions and be professional where you need to be.

Don’t just message strangers saying ‘Hi apu/ bhaiya’

Most managers and established professionals are readily available via email or Linkedin. This is one of the main purposes of a network like LinkedIn and many folks will appreciate the effort. See if you can reach them through those channels first. Try the organization’s official Facebook page before you reach out to someone on their personal Facebook profile. Careful not to spam. 

In whatever way you choose to connect, make sure you introduce yourself.

Do not just say ‘Hi apu or bhaiya’ and leave it at that to someone you have never met or someone who may not remember you.

Start with a one-liner about who you are, add context and outline the purpose of the message. If you two know each other through a mutual connection who gave you contact information, add that. Then include why you want to connect. Keep it brief so that you can avoid wasting anyone’s time.

It can look something like–

“Hi Mr.Rahman. I am Solaiman, a marketing executive at Bangu Digital. We met briefly at the Chittagong Marketing Forum. Mr. Fahim, your head of programs, told me that you would be the right person to ask about this matter. I would like to discuss a potential collaboration with you and Bangu Digital for our next event. If you are interested, please let me know a time we can chat at your convenience.

Do not ask personal questions

You need to be clear if you are reaching out to someone for professional reasons or for friendship. If you are reaching out to someone for work purposes, do not ask about their personal life. There are other ways to build rapport and find out about work interests or potential collaborations without being invasive. Avoid inappropriate memes, questions about their family, relationship status, etc. 

Never say ‘kotha ase’ or ‘ki koren’ as your first line.

In fact, it is inappropriate to ask a professional acquaintance, ever. 

The better and preferred alternative is for a mutual friend or colleague to make the introduction in a group message, group chat or email. 

Don’t message at odd hours

If you must reach out to someone you have not met through a more personal medium like a Facebook profile or through WhatsApp, message during working hours. Most people have their notifications on and do not want to hear from strangers or acquaintances, especially about work, after 6pm. Messages late at night may ruin that important first impression. Late-night messages are also more likely to go ignored.

This applies to messaging anyone about work, not just new contacts. Of course, exceptions are made for urgent situations. That fantastic opportunity can wait for the morning. Be patient.

Do not be rude

All conversations– online and offline– should be civil and respectful.  You may officially ‘outrank’ the person you are speaking to, or you are reaching out with an offer for the recipient. Neither situation allows for rudeness or condescension. Professionalism requires you to maintain proper decorum at all times. 

How you are as a human- your attitude, your interpersonal skills, how you treat others– matter in your professional growth. In fact, these mistakes may be holding you back from launching into the next step in your career.

This was inspired by recent posts on Facebook from other professionals. Thank you to those who share tips and give feedback so that others can grow. Have a topic that you think should be shared with your peers? Let us know!


11 co-working spaces in Dhaka

Co-working spaces are now an option considered by many entrepreneurs and businesses. For many, it is a great way to cut costs and avoid the hassle of renting a full office. Buying furniture, decorating, hiring support staff can become expensive for a startup. Many startups just need a desk and some wifi for their operations; small teams need affordable spaces with a meeting room.

Some freelancers, designers or members of remote teams want to leave the isolation of home offices, but avoid the distraction of cafes. Shared offices also give the opportunity for many to network, to share resources and contacts. 

How to decide on a space?

Location: Take into account the reality of Dhaka traffic, and consider the location when picking a co-working space. Proximity to home can save you many productive hours wasted on the road. 

Cost: Cost is a huge factor, compare different packages before deciding. Packages include space for daily, weekly, hourly, monthly use. Most co-working spaces in Dhaka offer Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, emergency backup power, an in-house multimedia system, office equipment, and kitchen facilities. The spaces significantly vary in price which affects the quality of each of these facilities.  

Does your business need a place to meet for weekly meetings? Will a desk in an open office be sufficient, or do you need to make a lot of phone calls, so a more private room is a priority? 

Decide which features are important to you and are essential for your work–do you need a projector, a studio or a training area? Make sure you choose spaces accordingly. When you decide on a package that is best suited for you, make sure you understand what exactly is included in it.  

Work Environment: Another essential part of work-life is the environment. In your first visit, check for the behaviour of the staff and of others who will share the space. You want to decide on a place where you can work comfortably and effectively. If your budget allows, look for places that are spacious, clean and well lit for maximum ease and therefore, maximum productivity.

Co+Lab Dhaka, Baridhara

Moar, Banani 11 & Dhanmondi 27

  • Address 1: Ventura Iconia, Level 3, H. 37, Road 11, Block H Banani, Dhaka, Bangladesh, +880 1733 711 297,
  • Address 2: Moar Dhanmondi 27, MIDAS Center, Level 3 Holding 05, Road 16 (New, Dhaka 1209, Bangladesh)
  • Phone: +880 1714-116110
  • e-Mail: [email protected]
  • Website: http://www.moarbd.com

Bonik coworking, Badda

  • Address: Arma Majeda Malik Tower, House No# 215 (3rd floor), Merul Badda Bir Uttam Rafiqul Islam Ave, Dhaka -1212.
  • Phone: 01811480832
  • Email: [email protected]

Shuru Campus, Badda

Regus, Crystal Palace Gulshan and UTC Centre, Panthapath

  • Address 1: Crystal Palace, Gulshan 2, Dhaka
  • Address 2: UTC Centre, Panthapath, Dhaka
  • Phone: 09611886795
  • regus.com.bd

The Business Center, Gulshan 1

Locus BD, Banani 11

  • Address: Tower 52, Level 6, Road 11, Banani, Block C (8,672.10 mi) Dhaka, Bangladesh 1213
  • Phone: +880 1701-005480
  • Website: www.locusbd.com

Hubdhaka, Mirpur 11

  • Address: Building #7, Road #3, Section #7, Mirpur 11, Dhaka 1216 close to the Dhaka Zoo.
  • Website: http://www.hubdhaka.com/

Open Co-working, Bashundhara

  • Address: Advance Glory, 2nd Floor (South Side), Plot-15, Block-A, Bashundhara Main Road, Bashundhara R/Dhaka, Bangladesh 1229
  • +880 1716-873660
  • www.workatopen.com

JMC Shared Office, Banani 11

Toru Chayya, Banani 11

13 Co-Working Spaces in Dhaka 6

Toru Institute of Innovation has opened up their space for co-working.
Location: House-2 Road-4 Block-F, Banani 11 Dhaka, 1213
Contact [email protected] for more details!

Software Engineer, Michael Peres, battled ADHD to success

A software engineer and successful entrepreneur are defying the struggles of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by doing the things he loves and earning from it.

Twenty-nine-year-old Michael Peres, also a mathematician and travel entrepreneur, is looking at ADHD as an asset rather than a liability.

Peres was able to transform his hyperactivity disorder into an energy source that fuels his mind and body to create successful businesses – the Hecto Fox and Hexa Tiger, web hosting and web development companies that are getting popular at present, now reaching over 400 clienteles in just a span of 3 years.

Michael Peres speaking in Seattle, Washington
Michael Peres speaking in Seattle, Washington

Peres was diagnosed with ADHD and other learning disorders at 9 years old. His mother was so concerned with his condition that she made sure he consistently take his prescribed medication Ritalin, an extended-release stimulant. 

ADHD can be a serious condition that when left untreated, can lead to frustrations and further psychological problems throughout a person’s life.

Although Peres’ complains about the side effects of the drug, the times when Ritalin works made him unstoppable. These are the times when his creative ideas come out, providing him with an avenue to channel the negative energies of ADHD into something worthwhile. 

Michael Peres speaking in Carlsbad, California
Michael Peres speaking in Carlsbad, California

As a child, Peres suffered the stigma of ADHD. He was always labelled as having learning disabilities. He needed to have a separate learning environment as secular education was difficult for his condition. Socially, he could not also relate with peers so he devised ways in order to accommodate his needs. 

Peres found his passion for computers. Because he could not connect with other peers, he would lock himself in a room, learning about technology. His knowledge about computers also helped him earn at a young age as his high school and the community where he lived would ask for him to solve their computer problems.

Peres, who hails from a Jewish community in Montreal, Quebec Canada, completed his bachelor degree in Computer Science in the same city. 

He had challenges while in college, but with a positive mindset, he engineered solutions to address the difficulty of learning in a regular class by going to the library and educating himself. He would only come to class during exams, which proved effective as he was able to complete courses related to Calculus, Linear Algebra, Physics, and Java Programming. Later, he finished a degree in Mathematics from Yeshiva University in New York City doing the same technique.

According to Peres, it is up to the person with ADHD to learn to deal with the disability and make the challenging situation into a manageable one, engineering solutions to fit one’s dreams or ambition.

Today, Peres made a vow to help other people with a similar condition as his. He created a program called Breaking 9 to 5, Breaking 9 to 5, which introduces a 10 step program designed to help entrepreneurs like him to watch over their businesses while enjoying the benefits of travelling.

Michael Peres
Michael Peres

Understanding cybersecurity in a more connected Bangladesh

Cyber threats are an inevitable issue in an era of new technologies and continuous innovation. Recent bank incidents, reports of hacking, ATM fraud and reports of privacy issues in mobile applications are in the news. What follows are a series of seminars and conversations about cybersecurity. However, most conversations about security threats remain one dimensional and reactionary. People do not look at the larger problem and limit the issue to short term fixes like focusing on firewalls and other easy solutions.

Threats also lie in something good– in the quick adaptation of new technology that is transforming Bangladeshi businesses and the economy. However, if we are not careful about product security, our acceptance of new technology may end up costing more than its benefits.

To put things into perspective, hackers stole a staggering $172 Billion worldwide, just in 2017 alone. 

How do we prepare ourselves for the upcoming technologies?

TechCom aims to fill in that gap– raise awareness about these issues, connect the right stakeholders and provide services to improve cybersecurity. In an event called ThinkTech by TechCom, held at Amari Hotel on July 2019, Techcom brought together global and local tech leaders to discuss different facets of Cybersecurity, Automation & AI and how each issue will affect and change Bangladesh.

At the event, the Managing Director of Secunet International, a German IT and Security company; Syed Almas Kabir, the Chairman of BASIS, representatives from UI Path, the largest automation platform in the region; representatives from FernTech a tech startup concentrating on AI, cybersecurity representatives from BRAC and other government agencies talked about the barriers and solutions. Attendees brought forth their expertise in the local scenario of private and public cybersecurity.

Poor Practices 

In Bangladesh, the ignorance towards the importance of cybersecurity is unusually high. There is a clear lack of realization and urgency in building systems that are secure from the start. Cybersecurity is often misunderstood with one dimensional lens. It is thought to be as simple as installing an antivirus software. A very poor habit of cyber hygiene persists.

Common malpractices are embedded in our official cultures where we still use Gmail to send confidential emails.

Important documents containing sensitive information are sold to paper recyclers. Far from the option of shredding financial details, meeting minutes can easily be found in the hands of the neighbourhood jhalmuri wala. A simple survey at Banani supermarket will reveal that almost 50% of the daily internet users in public computers do not log out of their emails when leaving; leaving all their personal data and communication vulnerable. All of these are alarming, to say the least. 

Getting in the way of growing abroad

Products that Bangladeshi software companies make, reflect this poor cyber hygiene. Bangladesh lags behind in the IT sector is that even though we have major software firms who can make beautiful looking, efficient software. One of the reasons is they tend to overlook the security issue, leaving us vulnerable. This diminishes our reputation which is essential to take off as a global destination and marketplace for IT solutions. 

Preparing for Today

Before starting to talk about all solutions available out there, Bangladesh needs to be aware of cybersecurity threats. Where do these threats come from and in which ways they could affect us. 

Decision-makers do not always know why cybersecurity is essential and the different ways they can protect their organisations. ThinkTech by Techcom aimed to make them more aware of the pressing need for cyber hygiene. They also discussed the urgency of keeping up with the latest trends in cybersecurity. At the event, there was an emphasis on a holistic approach to security.

Following the discussions on awareness, TechCom Ltd. and its partners were able to discuss different solutions, products and certifications that are steps towards more cybersecurity.

Techcom and Secunet urged for a deeper analysis of present malpractices. Organisations need to be secure in every step of their processes. Actions need to be taken so that there are security systems in an application layer. With each new device and new connection, there needs to be sufficient defense so that people cannot hack into the software or devices. 

Closing Backdoors for Hackers 

Among the many steps that software companies can take to improve is to dedicate personnel for a DevOps team. Techcom emphasized on the need for an IT team dedicated to overseeing the security side of the developer team. The team needs to make sure that everyone adheres to proper cybersecurity protocols. Software companies can increase documentation and check for flaws before releasing their products. Moreover, before products need to go through intense VAPT (Vulnerability And Penetration Testing) before being deployed. 

Hopefully, we will slowly understand the importance of secure technology. As our country leaps forward towards being more digitally inclusive, it’s time both public and private sectors invest in implementing the right, secure and certified technology.

This article was written from a conversation with Nibras Abdullah Karim, CTO of Techcom Ltd, the organizer of ThinkTech 2019.

Question about bride’s virginity removed from Bangladesh’s marriage contract

Previously the word ‘কুমারী’ (virgin) was part of question 5 of Bangladesh’s standardised Muslim marriage contract. The question asked whether the bride is a virgin, divorcee or widow. The high court directed the government to remove the word and use the word ‘অবিবাহিত’, unmarried, instead.

Previous Muslim marriage contract

The first question of the marriage contract or nikka form is about the address and the name of the ward in which the marriage is taking place. The second question and third question are about the name of the groom and groom’s parents and his age. The fourth line is to fill in the bride’s name and parental details. The fifth asks “konna kumari, bidhoba, othoba talak prapto ki na?” Then, one notes the brides age.

Some English versions of the marriage contract would translate kumari to maiden instead of virgin. Unmarried will now be the accurate translation.

Steps towards equality

This change came about as part of a joint effort between BLAST, Naripokkho and Mohila Porishod. They had filed the writ petition with the High Court in 2014 challenging the legality of number five column in the marriage contract or Kabinnama.

This is a step towards bringing equality into our law and life. This is also a move away from the culture of misogyny that permeates society.

The court did not make any directives towards the usage of the words ‘divorcee’ and ‘widower’ from the form. These words are unnecessarily discriminatory and cause privacy concerns. However, the ruling included a new item so that the groom is asked whether he is unmarried, divorced or a widower.

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Watch a Bangladeshi filmmaker’s award-winning movie, “Life in Other Words”

“Witness an ordinary family having an extraordinary day,” is how we are invited to watch this short film which premiered in Bangladesh on the 11th, on Youtube. The film was previously available on Amazon Prime.

The short film includes the trials and tribulations in the lives of the Kabir family– from a son’s academic struggles to a hard-working woman’s tested patience in dealing with men harassing her during her commute. However, it is the themes of hope and joy, found in what brings families together and brightens an awful day, that will resonate among many.

Read more: French movie “Fahim” to portray the story of Bangladeshi chess prodigy

International recognition

‘Life in Other Words’ has received various nominations, including a nomination for Best Short Foreign Film, Comedy at NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) – Best of NFMLA Awards. The film received an honourable mention for comedy at San Jose International Short Film Festival and was a nominee for Best Short Film Award at the Bahamas International Film Festival in December 2017. In 2017, the film won Best Short Film and Best original screenplay at the Gold Movie Awards. The film was a nominee at the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema, London in 2018 for best comedy, best short foreign language film and best original screenplay for foreign language film.

“Great comedy filmmakers are hard to come by and Athar will certainly be one to watch. His timing is excellent, as is his mise en scène, and the variety of filmmaking devices he shows he can utilise well is impressive. What I am trying to say, I guess, is that this is Great in Other Words”

Chris Olson, UK Film Review, said about the film and its director, Abrar Athar

Watch now

Your guide to asking your koshai for different cuts of beef for steak

Eid al Adha, the festival of sacrifice, is about communities coming together, about solidarity with those in Hajj, about charity and so much more for Muslims around the world. The day commemorates the story of Ibrahim and his test of faith. For many, an integral part of the festivities is to cut meat, distribute some, prepare some and share meals. In that process, many families work with butchers or koshais. Practice is for the butcher to cut the meat into cubes. One can have an understanding of some of the different cuts of meat and guide the butcher into cutting out the pieces in specific ways for different preparations.

There are different cuts

The cow is initially divided into its big parts or primal cuts. Your butcher already has a system, so to avoid overwhelming yourself or him, choose the one cut that you want to work with and show that part. The degree of success will depend on the expertise of the butcher. This is also very difficult to explain in one go and there are many religious traditions mixed into the process.

However, if you want to take on the challenge, one of the better cuts of meat for steak to refer to, is tenderloin.

The loin is located at the top of the steer directly behind the rib, and since it’s not a heavily used muscle, it’s very tender.

Some Bangladeshi professional koshais refer to tenderloin meat as undercut. This is the portion under the spine or merudondo. The sirloin cuts are leaner cuts and best for grilling, skillet and stir fry. In general, the center has more tender cuts. because beef gets more tender as the distance from horn and hoof increases.
Another cut that is easier to access but is diverse in taste and texture is from under the shoulder of the cow. This area is referred to as the chuck in the chart below. The chuck is rich and flavorful and good for ground beef. The ribs are fatty and tender and harder to cut out in the first try.

2. Use the chart of cuts

A way to gain familiarity on the different cuts is to study the butcher’s chart.

3. Learn and explain using a video

Sometimes things are best explained by video. This video does an excellent job of going through each cut. It is not for the squeamish, but you can pick exactly which cut you want for your cooking needs and show only that part to your butcher.

Enjoy learning more about the process, the different ways to prepare and share the abundances. Remember to count your blessings and reflect on the day. Have a blessed Eid.

Bangladeshi Photojournalist KM Asad’s photo on the cover of National Geographic magazine

Bangladeshis continue to make us proud on an international level. KM Asad, a renowned photojournalist, took the photo of a Rohingya women and her child, which is on the cover of the August issue of National Geographic.

KM Asad said “Today is one of the greatest days of my life! I feel so blessed to share you that my picture of a Rohingya mother and child, is confirmed to be published as a cover photo of National Geographic on it’s August 2019 Issue! Since I’ve started pursuing photography as a medium of telling stories on 2005, it has always been one of my biggest dreams! I’m so glad that it came true and all the hard works finally started to pay off. It is also a great honor for me to have industry leaders like Sarah Leen recognizing my works! My heartiest gratitude to all the members of National Geographic who’ve supported me a lot. Also grateful to my friends and followers who believe on me and my work.

KM Asad is a independent documentary professional who works for Zuma agency and is a contributor photographer at Getty images.

The August issue, A World On the Move, is about migration, displacement, the causes and effects of leaving everything. According to National Geographic, “by the end of 2017, more people have been forcibly displaced than at any other time since World War II—68.5 million by the UN’s latest count”.

This issue can be accessed from here.

An account of my adventure through Bhutan

Bhutan is the land of the flying dragon, chili cheese and Gross National Happiness. The country is also one of the few countries that are visa free entry for Bangladeshis.

Tourism in Bhutan

Bhutan believes in high impact tourism, choosing the quality of tourists over the quantity. They charge a non-negotiable US$200 per day cost of entering the country; this applies to all visitors, expect Bangladeshis or Indians. This $200 is an all-inclusive charge, covering the guide, accommodation, transport, meals, taxes and trekking. This policy has resulted in a low volume of well-heeled visitors and avoided the tourist trample that destroys the natural beauty that attracted visitors in the first place (read, Thailand).

Read more: 5 countries you can travel to without a visa if you’re Bangladeshi

An account of my adventure through Bhutan

This is one of the rare instances when being Bangladeshi is advantageous. Bangladeshis are free to spend as much (or as little) as they want during their trip. Bangladeshis can also form their own itinerary and can travel without a tour operator. While guides are convenient, they are not a requirement.

Read more: 10 cities to visit under budget

Getting There

Druk Air has multiple flights to Thimpu airport each week. It is the only airline that flies that route and there are only a few flights each week, so plan ahead! You arrive at a super small and cute airport. There are no lines for immigration or the long wait for bags.

Thimpu

On the drive from Paro to Thimpu.

Thimpu is a short 1.5 hr drive from Paro airport. Our pre-booked driver was happy to be a guide and singer of Bollywood music (especially Govinda) of this week-long trip. Our first stop on the way from Paro to Thimpu was at Thamchog Lhakhang. We went for a short walk across the traditional iron link bridge built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the extraordinary 15th-century Tibetan engineer and all-over Renaissance man who opened travel routes all over the Himalaya.

Things to do in Bhutan

An account of my adventure through Bhutan 1

Hang out at Mojopark

We arrived past sundown, met up with a friend and he took us to this bar/lounge– great vibes, music and great company. We met farmers, entrepreneurs and farmer-entrepreneurs for riveting conversations and a peek into the Bhutanese way of philosophizing. Mojo Park is a live music lounge that has bands playing every Friday and Saturday. Lounge is open every night– Wednesday being the non weekend night that was lit.
Opens at 7pm. Chang Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan

Breakfast and views at Tiji Cafe

The next morning, we needed coffee to recover from the many, uhm, enthusiastic conversations at Mojocafe. Tiji cafe served continental breakfast and a had a little sitting area on the porch. The cafe was right at the center plaza; on the pricier side but I appreciated the location, good coffee and better views. Then we went to the immigration office to go to Punakha. The permit was ready by lunch time. Carry a passport photo, just in case.

Visit Buddha Dordenma

We went on a scenic drive to go up to this statue for some classic site seeing. The gigantic statue, stands at 57 ft and is very impressive. The statue commemorates the centennial of the Bhutanese monarchy,  celebrates the 60th anniversary of the fourth king and fulfills a prophecy.  It looks super old, but its not, it was completed in 2016 (just saying).
Open hours are 9am-5pm.

Others and lodging

Other things to do include visiting the Tashichho Dzong , the National Folk Heritage Museum and doing archery. We only had a day and wanted to get out of the city so we were already on the move.

Bhutan Suites is the best option. The hotel is close to Changangka Lhakhang and value for money. Each room had a kitchenette, small living room, balcony and mountain views. Clean. A short car ride from the center.

Punakha: Activities and Places

An account of my adventure through Bhutan 2

Dochala Pass

On the drive from Thimpu to Punakha, the pass is a short drive beyond Thimpu. Just take a moment to pause and stare at the Himalayas in the horizon.

Go white water rafting

The river in Punakha is a section of the Mo Chhu, which start high in the Himalayas and meets the Pho Chhu at the Punakha Dzong. “Mo” means female and “Chhu” means water or river, so this is the “Female River.” This section of river has easy Class I and II rapids combined with beautiful scenery, making it the most rafted section of river in Bhutan. We went in the last week of October, and the it may be called white water rafting but the water was relatively calm and felt more like a row-your-boat -down-the-river situation.

The overall experience included great guides who were super cognizant of the fact that it was my first time white water rafting, who were aware, who were acting upon safety procedures and had overall homie vibes.
Hiring rafts and guides 6000 Nu.-8000 Nu.

Walk up to the fertility temple Chinu Llakhang

So, this was a village nearby with a 15th-century Chimi fertility temple. That is what it is. It is also a chance for many visitors to be in shock and then snigger like 8 year olds at all the PHALLUS’ EVERYWHERE. Traditionally, Bhutanese believe that these phallic symbols help to dispel evil and to drive malicious gossip away. The Saint Drukpa certainly achieved his objective of showing us that the truth is uncomfortable.

Other things to do include visiting the Tashichho Dzong , the National Folk Heritage Museum and doing archery. We only had a day and wanted to get out of the city so we were already on the move.

Lodging and Food

Hotel Vara has good rooms with high ceilings and above the terraced rice paddy fields of the region. That being said, we had solid butter tea and breakfast at Hotel Lobesa, which will be our pick for next time. They had great service and some rooms that had direct entrance to a balcony overlooking the valley. Babee restaurant for lunch cravings.
St Wifi Restaurant for amazing dried pork and pea paneer.

Paro: Things to do

An account of my adventure through Bhutan 3

Hiking up the Tigers Nest

Up in the mountains is the famous Paro Taktsang, often referred to as The Tiger’s Nest monastery. Built in 1692, this sacred Buddhist site sits at 3,120 metres above sea level and 900 metres above the Paro valley. We went to some bland Indian restaurant the night before, played with the puppies on the farm and woke up on time for this hike. I strongly recommend good quality walking boots for the walk itself. I had ACL surgery a couple of months before this trip so I gave my knees a break (and basically cheated) and hired a small horse to take me up to the cafeteria for 800 Nu. Even if you take the horse, you have to walk up from the cafeteria which is about half way or 1.5 hrs of brisk walking.
The way down from the monastery is picturesque and really, really worth the walk. Take you time as you take each stair through the valley.
Entrance fee is 500 Nu. Try paying the amount and getting your ticket before you start the trek.

Taking a hot stone bath after the hike

A hot stone bath is the most ideal way to deal with the inevitable muscle aches after that hike. We were staying on a farmhouse and had give the staff a few hours’ notice to draw the bath. They build a fire, heat the river stones for 4-5 hours and draw the bath with soothing Artemisia leaves.

Sunset at Namgay Artisinal Brewery

Go to karaoke: Karaoke seemed to be a part of nightlife at Paro. Our driver took us to a bar with old men, teenagers, confused tourists belting out local hits, Backstreet boys and Kal Ho Na Ho.

Lodging in Paro

We split our nights in between a homestay/ farm house experience and a night in a resort. It was the perfect balance between enjoying comfort and the luxuries of a resort and hanging out with locals and experiencing the simplicity at the farmhouse.
Navana Homestay delivered in its promise of clean rooms with high cielings.
We stayed at Udumwara  Resort. It is next to a flowing river and there are pleasant cottages, but the rooms were run down. Dechawara Resort came with better reviews and recommendations but was sold out.

Food in Paro

Our food journey in Bhutan was not one with variety, but lots of comfort. Bhutanese meals are primarily five items and a combination of chili, cheese, potatoes and lots and lots of comfort. I have never done this, but I ate at the same restaurant for every single meal in Paro. Kuzu Resturaunt is homely with the nicest chef whose motherly/sisterly presence was all I needed. She piled on rice, managed the boys’ multiple requests for more pork cheese and whiskey and gave me the recipe for my favorite dish (Sikkim Pa, beef jerky in cheese) by the end of the trip.

Staying Connected

Bought a sim at the airport, right before the exit. 600 Nu. Country code: 00 975.

Getting around

Our driver was dope. 14000 Nu for 6 days

Want to become a beatboxer? Moktadir Dewan, co-founder of Beatbox Bangladesh shares valuable advice

We spoke to the Co-founder of Beatbox Bangladesh, Moktadir Dewan. He shares an overview of the scene, their future plans and gives valuable advice to anyone new to beatboxing or someone wanting to get better.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is the most common style that is being explored by local artists?

The common styles would be trap, dubstep, techno, and house. But the core styles are old school beats. Depending on the beatboxer’s knowledge he/she can fuse multiple genres. There are over a 1000 beatboxers of different calibres in Bangladesh (as opposed to maybe a handful or less just 8 years ago).

How many shows has Beatbox Bangladesh had since their inception in 2014?

Since then, Beatbox Bangladesh has organized several events and workshops in Dhaka and Chittagong. The two main events are the national beatbox championships that took place in December 2017 and November 2018. We plan to hold various beatbox meets, friendly battles and other events.

When you are searching for beatboxers for the competition, what is the biggest challenge in finding talent?

The biggest challenge is to find beatboxers with a clean flow. One common habit that sadly exists in all genres and communities in Bangladesh (and perhaps in many countries), is that individuals believe that they can skip to advanced techniques, without mastering the basics. Beatboxers need to remember the importance of having a proper sense of rhythm and composition.

Fortunately, we found over 40 beatboxers who knew that, for each competition. 16 competed at each battle. We are hoping as the community grows and with each year, the talent will be more formidable. Beatboxers from previous events are also trying to help others grow and support each other. Some are learning through more research.  We also hold workshops and live video tutorials along in addition to the tutorials on our youtube channel.

How does the local community support you?

Locally, we received help from LMG Beats, Glitch, Ujjiban, ABC Radio, The Mothership, Jadughor, ShopHobe, BeatsBangla, Desi Hip Hop and many others. Tilok Adnan and Shafiq Alam of The Pod helped us build the Beatbox Bangladesh logo and the brand identity of “Battle Box BD”. The brand identity was even nominated at the Spikes Asia 2018

Battlebox BD also got international support. What kind of support was that and how was that?

It was overwhelming. We received support from two major hubs of the beatboxing community: Swissbeatbox and Humanbeatbox.com. Both Pepouni and Kazu from the respective communities have been supportive. They announced our work on their social media platforms and websites. Human beatbox followed both the battles; the breakdown was highlighted on their website. 

Other communities and crews have helped as well, namely Beatbox Australia, Beatbox France, Portuguese Beatbox and The Beatbox House. Professional beatboxers Napom (USA), Gene (USA), Amit (USA), Kenny Urban (USA), Chris Celiz (USA), Ibarra (Netherlands), Ettoman (Japan), D-koy (USA) and Tioneb (France), gave shout-outs or video messages on our Facebook page and Youtube page.

The local beatboxers get personal advice from beatboxers abroad. Amit (from the USA) was a judge at our first Battle Box BD in 2017. He also facilitated a workshop at the EMK Center in Dhanmondi. Soulrock from Germany is one of the first beatboxers to personally come and teach the local community.

Want to become a beatboxer? Moktadir Dewan, co-founder of Beatbox Bangladesh shares valuable advice
Scenes from Battle Box BD 2017

Any advice for someone who is interested in starting beatboxing?

Well, he or she has to be extremely patient. Initially, it might seem tough to make the distinctive sounds with your mouth. But, when it is done properly it becomes easy and quite fun. Beatboxers need to practice daily with a metronome no matter how good they may think they already are. We encourage the beatboxers to abstain from smoking or doing drugs. They must have good stamina and healthy lungs.

Any beatboxer needs to do research on the background of beatboxing and the origin of the sounds. She needs to learn about the instruments we mimic and try new sounds. Youtube and the internet exists, which means there is absolutely no excuses and plenty of resources to learn from.

Gather knowledge, stay humble. Teach what you know and learn what you don’t know. Bangladesh isn’t a place where one can chase fame just by beatboxing. But, things can and will happen if a beatboxer builds himself or herself, beat by beat, from the ground up.

What is next for Ronesh Biswas and Moktadir Dewan Shanto?

We will be busy with doing activities to help spread and build the beatboxing community around the country. We have found beatboxers in Bogura, Sylhet, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Cox’s Bazaar and are hoping to meet more in Barishal, Khulna, Rajshahi, and other places.

We will be uploading original compositions and shout-outs from participants of the battle, to our youtube channel. We hope to organize more beatboxer meet-ups, a 7toSmoke battle, friendly battles, open mic showcases, crew/tag-team performance, etc.