Hamza Choudhury, the Bengali starlet of Leicester City

Bangladesh is home to a huge number of football lovers. Football mania goes into full swing during the world cup season. And we all know how crazy the supporters can get.

There’s a huge portion of football fanatics who follow the clubs of their choice week-in-week-out. The English Premier League is arguably the best league for any professional footballer to play. And it is here we find a certain young English-Bengali starlet by the name of Hamza Choudhury. 

This is the story of Hamza Dewan Choudhury’s.

Origin and profile

Hamza Chowdhury, the Bengali starlet of Leicester City

Hamza Dewan Choudhury is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Leicester City. He was born on the 1st of October 1997, to a Grenadian father and a Bengali mother.

“Both my parents are Bangladeshi and I have been brought up in an Asian family. But I have Caribbean blood in me as my dad is from Grenada”.

Hamza stated regarding is ethnicity

Hamza began his career at the Leicester City Academy and was reportedly monitored by a number of European clubs. After a two-season loan spell with Burton Albion, he has broken into the Leicester City team in the 2018-19 seasons.

Read more: The story of one Jamal Bhuyan of Bangladesh

Next-Gen English talent?

Hamza Chowdhury, the Bengali starlet of Leicester City

Apart from his iconic hairdo and distinct ethnicity; he stands out amongst his Leicester teammates as part of England’s crop of exciting young footballers.

Only 21, he is part England’s new generation of footballing superstars; alongside Dortmund superstar Jaden Sancho, Chelsea’s Cullum Hudson Odoi and Manchester United recent summer signing Aaron Wan-Basaka.

Although currently playing for Leicester, he is constantly in the sight of premier league heavy-weights Chelsea and Man United.

If Hamza hones his skills and continues to improve his fitness and performance, it is likely he will be appearing for a top-flight club. He is currently playing for England U-21 team and hasn’t made his international debut yet.

Role model for the subcontinental diaspora in England

Hamza Chowdhury, the Bengali starlet of Leicester City

The sub-continental community of England and Greater Britain is one of its biggest, in term of both population and diversity.

Immigrants from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka among other communities have gradually seeped into most aspects of British life. Professional football is one of the few aspects British citizen originating from the Sub-Continent have failed to break through significantly. Some players of subcontinental origin have featured in the lower leagues and even Premier League; although the numbers are still far and few in between.

Though it is too early to predict the future of young Hamza Chowdhury’s football career, he’s certainly on the right track in representing the Sub-continent, especially Bangladesh in arguably the most competitive league in the world. 

So as the new season of the English Premier League is waiting to explode onto the footballing landscape, do keep an eye on the prodigious talent of our very own Hamza Chowdhury and his exploits with Leicester City.

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The story of one Jamal Bhuyan of Bangladesh

2019 is an exciting time to be a football fan in Bangladesh. Bangladesh made it to the second round of qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification. This tremendous feat came after winning the two-legged tie against Laos at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on the 13th of June, spearheaded by our talismanic captain Jamal Bhuyan.

Although Bangladesh is still a long way from securing their place for Qatar 2022, the Danish-born midfielder has been a revelation for team Bangladesh and Bangladesh football as a whole since his debut in 2013. And it’s time we finally give this man the limelight he deserves.

Not your average Bangladeshi upbringing

The story of our captain begins in the Danish town of Glostrup where he was born to Bangladeshi immigrant parents. He was involved in football from a very young age. At the age of 15, Jamal was playing for the Danish outfit Brøndby IF. After scoring against Denmark’s most prestigious club, F.C. Copenhagen (FCK), he was offered a place in the FCK’s youth academy.

After playing for a number of Danish sides, he moved to play in Philippines and China, before finally signing for Sheik Jamal in 2014, becoming the highest paid footballer in the country. As of 2017, he is playing for the Bangladeshi club Saif Sporting Club.

Leaving Denmark to represent Bangladesh

Being eligible to play for Denmark and Bangladesh, Jamal ended up choosing Bangladesh out of love for his father’s country. A country where he’s never been to. Jamal Bhuyan had a tough choice ahead of him. Keep playing for Denmark and F.C. Copenhagen where he would be catapulted into footballing glory. Or, come to Bangladesh and try to revive its bleak footballing scenario from dust and ashes. Jamal chose the latter.

Jamal Bhuyan chose country over personal glory.

He debuted for the Bangladesh national team, leaving the Danish luxury behind, in 2013 against Nepal in the 2013 SAF games. He became the first non-resident player to represent the national side.

Jamal Bhuyan was named the best defensive midfielder in South Asia in 2018 and remains so till this day, arguably.

He was also part of the commentary team as a guest commentator for Barcelona’s last La Liga match against Eibar last May. All in all, it’s safe to say that Jamal is truly making a mark in world football in our colours.

Future of Bangladesh football  

It is quite disappointing to admit that football in Bangladesh has been brushed aside with the rise of cricket. Gone are the days when Dhaka would split down the middle whenever there was an Abahani vs. Mohammedan match. Match attendance in stadiums are dwindling and lack of proper funding, talent scouting and football academies have been weighing down the progress of Bangladesh football.  

The story of one Jamal Bhuyan 2

But with the recent upturn in form, football in the country has been promising lately. With team Bangladesh going through to the second round of WC qualifier, the overall ranking has also gone up from 188th to 183rd.

Our love for cricket overshadows our footballing heroes

Cricketers are our superstars. We idolize the likes of Mashrafe, Shakib-Al-Hasan and Tamim Iqbal. And they deserve every last bit of our love and respect. But on a different frontline, a whole different bunch of heroes are fighting with blood, sweat and dedication to uphold Bangladesh’s name in the world stage. And if nothing else, they at least deserve our love and support as much as our cricketers.

Bangladesh has never lacked football fans and it’s quite evident with the huge fan following of numerous European clubs all over the country and whenever the World Cup rolls around the corner. So it’s time we develop and support our domestic football scene. And with Jamal Bhuyan at the helm, it seems like the time is now.       

Here’s to Jamal and the boys, for the next match and all the matches to come, we’ll roar with you.

Visa Application 101: applying for a Thai Visa 

The demand for a Thai Visa in the recent times has been skyrocketing. Thailand has long been a dream travel destination for people all around the world. Growing up as a Bangladeshi, we all heard stories of shopping in Bangkok, partying in Pattaya and the pristine beauty of Phuket’s beaches.

At this point, most of the kids growing up on stories of Thailand are now young adults looking to go out into the world for their next great escape. But before anyone can do any of that, we need to get our hands on a valid Thai Visa first and foremost. Here’s a quick rundown as to what one will need and do to apply for a Thai Visa.

Read more: An Account of my Adventure through Bhutan

Essentials:

A Thai Visa applicant will require a number of documents depending on the type of visa he/she is applying for, but for simplicity’s sake, we point out the bare essentials one must have to apply for a tourist visa:

  1. Valid Passport of the applicant with at least 6 months validity
  2. Photocopies of the passport (at least the first five pages)
  3. Properly filled Visa Application Letter
  4. Photo with all the required criteria (size, background, etc) for a Thai Visa
  5. Bank Statement of the last six months and solvency certificate
  6. Cover letter or a travel letter
  7. Testimonial or a letter from the applicants’ workplace or the institution he/she is studying in
  8. Photocopy of work ID or school/university ID
  9. Photocopy of the national ID of the person sponsoring the trip.
  10. Photocopy of National ID/Birth certificate
  11. Letter of a parent or legal guardian’s approval in case of a minor i.e. anyone under 18.  

These are the essential document the applicant will definitely need to have in order to apply for the visa. We also encourage providing documents for a booked airplane ticket and/or hotel booking and will help with the application process.

How to apply:

Now depending on whether the applicant is applying for the visa through a travel agency or individually, there are two paths to take. If the applicant chooses to go through an agency, merely providing the aforementioned document to the agency should suffice. Although you should consider that applying via an agency will increase the costs due to service charges and fee and these fees are non-refundable, even in the scenario where the embassy rejects your visa application. If an applicant wishes to apply for the visa on his own, it will bring down the cost to a certain extent.

To apply for the visa, Bangladeshi applicants need to apply via the organization VFS Global which handles all Thai Visa matters in Bangladesh. They provide options for both online application as well as manual application process. The applicant can download the visa application form from their official webpage.  After collecting all the required documents and filling out the form, the applicant has to go to VFS Global’s office. The office is situated at North Badda, just past Gulshan 1(Check the webpage for exact address). Although they are open from 9am to 5pm, it’s wise to get there as early as possible. Once there, the security will issue the applicant a token. When called upon the token number the applicant has to head to the assigned desk where a VFS employee will check and verify the applicant’s documents.

Fees?

Once verified, the applicant should go to the bank counter where he/she is to pay the application fee. You can pay the Visa fees in cash at the Standard Chartered Bank counter located at the premises. This will be converted into a bank draft against which for every applicant the bank will charge a fee of 40BDT. Or, the applicant may bring a bank draft with him/her issued from any bank drawn in the name of ‘The Royal Thai Embassy’, payable at Dhaka. In addition to the visa fee and bank draft, the applicant will need to pay five hundred for service charge. In total, for a single entry tourist visa the costing would add up to around 3740bdt where the visa fee is 2900tk.

What’s next?

After making the cash deposit and submitting his/her documents, the applicant will receive a receipt. In it the time and date of passport collection will be given. Generally, it takes around 7 to 10 working day to issue the visa and doesn’t require an interview. But in some cases, the applicant shouldn’t be surprised if an official calls to cross-check the information in his/her form. The applicant can also track their application online through VFS Global’s website.

The passport collection process is almost exactly the same as submissions. The applicant will need to go to VFS Globals office to collect his/her passport. And by the end, the applicant will have his/her desired visa and ready to embark on their Thai journey.   

Liverpool vs. Barcelona: Magical night at Anfield 

What a night for European football!

The stage was set. FC Barcelona was 3-0 up from the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semis, thrashing a formidable Liverpool. Liverpool was to miss out on key players the likes of Mohammad Salah and Roberto Firmino in the 2nd leg of the tie against an in-form Messi and Barcelona at Anfield.

To say that Liverpool faced a steep uphill battle was an understatement. Liverpool needed to score a minimum of 4 goals. Where just one goal from Barcelona would see them almost surely through to the UCL finals. Liverpool made one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League till date winning 4-0 at Anfield.

Overcoming the favorites in the tournament

Liverpool scored two goals each from Divok Origi and substitute Georginio Wijnaldum. And a solid performance from the Liverpool midfield and backline organized by Virgil Van Dijk has seen them through to back to back Champions League finals.

Barcelona was the favorites for this seasons Champion’s league title. And with Messi having one of his best seasons, it seemed like a matter of time before Barcelona would score in the first half at Anfield to launch them into their first Champions League Final since the 2014-15 season.

The Anfield factor

Leading up to the 2nd leg, Liverpool were on the back foot owing to two of their key forwards; Mo Salah and Firmino. Both being ruled out due to injuries. Some of the pressure was released when Origi had them one goal up in the first ten minutes of the game.

By the end of the first half, Liverpool had lost their left-back Andy Robertson, through another injury. The second half of the game had seen Anfield coming back to life as the crowd chants and cheers erupted with Gini Wijnaldum coming on for the injured Robertson to score two quick goals in succession. Origi scored his second through a cheeky corner to make it 4-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate which eventually sealed their way to the finals yet again.

The scenes at Anfield by the end were absolutely incredible. Liverpool won their semi-finals tie and are now touted to be the favorites for the Champions League trophy.            

Live From Dhaka: A man’s journey through the bleak underbelly of Dhaka

As a young adult who’s been born and brought up in Dhaka, much of our generation view the city in rose-tinted glasses online or in media. In the age of social media, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t familiar with aesthetic photos of Dhaka from numerous Instagram posts or through popular song lyrics. #JadhurShohor. But the stark reality is that living in this city is much grimmer than it might seem. The dog eat dog nature of Dhaka has been beautifully portrayed in the recently released film “Live from Dhaka.

Nothing but the truth

Written and Directed by Abdullah Mohammad Saad, “Live from Dhaka”, chronicles the days of Sazzad, the protagonist played by Mostafa Monwar, and his miserable state of life in the city of Dhaka. Sazzad being unemployed and partially handicapped is seen as a guy down on his luck after losing most of his money when the Dhaka Stock Exchange crashes.  In addition to his own physical and economic woes, he is being hounded by loan sharks and has to deal with his younger brother who’s plagued by addiction. Although receiving some support and solace within his girlfriend Rehana, played by Tasnova Tamanna, Sazzad decides to cut all his losses and permanently move to Russia.

A grim depiction of Dhaka

But as events transpire, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to escape the gritty reality of Dhaka. The harsh bleakness of his situations was beautifully portrayed in black and white throughout the movie before some very beautiful backdrops of Dhaka.

The film also didn’t shy away from showing the darker underbelly of Dhaka.

By the end of the film, you really start feeling for the protagonist but also reminded of how he is isn’t that different from everyone else.

The verdict

The acclaimed independent film has been gaining much hype among Bangladeshi film enthusiast back since 2016. It had premiered in a number of International Film festivals around the world and winning Best Actor and Best Director awards at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) in 2016. The Film was finally released in Dhaka, Bangladesh in Bashundhara City Star Cineplex, on March 29. With stunning visuals, gripping story and comfortable runtime of 1hr and 31mins, you should definitely catch this tale about our beloved Dhaka.

Get your tickets from here

Russian Doll: The Perfect Weekend Binge

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A cynical person is compelled to relive a certain day in repeat, over and over again and stuck in a time loop.

Of course, you have. Because this is the exact same premise for a whole host of movies and TV series episodes. For example, Groundhog Day, Source Code, Edge of tomorrow and even recent Black Mirror event, Bandersnatch to a certain degree.

So can the same plot, that’s been done so many times over be any good or entertaining? In the case of Netflix’s new comedy-drama “Russian Doll” very much so.

Produced and co-written by Amy Poehler of “Parks and Recreations”, Russian Doll, as the show itself describes itself, “a long story involving multiple deaths.”

Minor Spoilers for the 1st and 2nd episode.

It starts off with Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne), a cynical New Yorker who is seen at her 36th birthday party thrown by two of her closest friend at their apartment.

Nadia happens to be a chain-smoking, alcoholic, video game programmer with a self-destructive nature and pretty bleak outlook on life. After an accident involving a local deli cat, Nadia is run over by a speeding taxi and is killed on the spot on the night of her birthday.

Russian Doll a bingeworthy netflix show

But surprising enough she’s transported back to the where the episode started off. At birthday party her friend threw for her, giving her the worst case of Déjà vu. Although writing it off as her imagination and side-effects of the narcotics she took at the party, she realized that the loop she’s in is very real after she ends up dying a few more times. Nadia is left to figure out how to free herself from this never-ending loop or if it’s even possible to free herself at all.

What makes it binge-worthy

Even with the worn out plot, Russian Doll has a lot going for it in term of making it one the most binge-worthy shows out there. For one, with having just eight episodes and a runtime less than 4 hours, it hits the sweet spot in terms of keeping the audience glued to their screens as the show keeps peeling off its different layers.

On the topic of different layers, the show is very smart right down to its characters. Dark humor and how it portrays it and handles heavy subject matter and even the theory of relativity at one point. The title of the show itself is a reference to depression and mental health which gets more prominent as the story progresses.

Russian Doll a bingeworthy netflix show.

The protagonist Nadia Vulvokov is a great reason to watch Russian doll in itself. The deaths were comically hilarious and some hilariously dark but the drama of the show was very genuine and heartfelt. Being funny, brash, cynical, and hedonistic from the beginning to the revelation of her troubled back-story and characters growth, she is the life of the show. Although the show can get a bit confusing and disjointed at times, everything comes together beautifully by the end of the final episode.

Verdict

Overall, Russian Doll is a solid show to watch with enough twists and turns and character development to keep the audience hooked. Although its overused plotline might turn away some initially, you could do much worse than giving it’s a shot and hopefully love it by the end.