Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Photo Meditation of the Month (November, 2009): CHILDREN: A SYMBOL OF INNOCENCE

Children: A Symbol of Innocence

A girl child from near Tuital in Bangladesh
Photo (Oct. 14, 1995) © Jerome D'Costa

Renowned Bangali poet and 1913 Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote: "Every child comes with the message that God is not yet tired of man." Children are a wonderful gift of the Creator. Children bring hope, happiness and vitality. Children are the future parents, leaders and dynamism of the society.

Children bring about smile, happiness and empathy in others by their giggling, guileless smile, playfulness and their naivete. They act as a bonding gum between parents, siblings and other people.

Children are innocents. Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, placed a special emphasis on children. He said: "See that you never despise one of these little ones. I assure you, their angels in heaven constantly behold my heavenly Father's face," (The Bible: Matthew 18: 10-12). Once, when Jesus was preaching, a number of people brought their babies to be touched by him. His disciples, however, scolded the adults and were not allowing their babies near him. When Jesus saw this, he called for the children, saying: "Let the little children come to me. Do not shut them off. The reign of God belongs to such as these. Trust me when I tell you that whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a child will not enter into it," (The Bible: Luke 18: 15-17).

The most unfortunate and sad thing is, the innocence of uncountable number of children is robbed daily by unscrupulous people -- both men and women. These are child nappers, child traffickers, child pornographers, child abusers, child pimps and the like. Sometimes parents and close relatives are also unpardonable enemies of children.

What children receive in their childhood, always give it back to the society later in their life. If they are treated well, they will treat others well, too. If they are treated badly, they will later do the same to others.

Let's not destroy the innocence of children. Let them grow up normally with proper love, care and upbringing. They, then, will brighten the future of a family, society, country and the world.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Poem of the Month (November, 2009): THE POPE IN DHAKA


A copy of my poem written in Bengali on the visit of Pope John Paul II to Bangladesh on November 19, 1986. It was published in Doel, a collection of mini-poems, edited by Aldrick Biswas and published on December 25, 1986, from Dhaka.

I present below the English rendition of this poem.

The Pope in Dhaka

By Jerome D'Costa

You had come

You returned home,

But you left behind
A bundle of love.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Tareq and Michaelle Salahi Breach the White House Security

(L-R) Tareq Salahi, US Vice President Joe Biden and Michaelle
Salahi at the White House state dinner honouring Indian
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Photo courtesy: Michaelle Salahi Facebook page

The world media are abuzz with the news of Tareq and Michaelle Salahi who breached the White House security posing as invited guests at the President Obama's White House state dinner on November 24. The dinner was in honour of the visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

This is the rare and deepest penetration of the security in the house of the President of the world's most powerful nation where the Prime Minister of another powerful nation was present. This could have been the most devastating disaster of the century if these two uninvited guests were real terrorists bent on doing harms.

This breach of security came to the attention of the news media and authorities when Michaelle Salahi in her Facebook posting boasted of being "Honored to be at the White House" with accompanying photos showing herself with the US Vice President Joe Biden, Washington D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, CBS news anchor Katie Couric, three US marines, and some other celebrities. Another photo depicts Tareq and Michaelle Salahi with Vice President Joe Biden.

The US Secret Service honchos are scratching their heads and trying to find out exactly how this couple breached layers of security measures in the White House. They are also going to lay charges against them.

Tareq and Michaelle Salahi are married couples who live in neighbouring state of Virginia. They are aspiring reality-TV stars and polo-playing socialites. From the Facebook postings it is clear that they are attracted to mingle with the famous and celebrities.

Narcissistic and Fame-Driven Life

If the whole situation is analyzed, the following come to light:

  • The couple suffers from narcissism and compulsively runs after acceptance, recognition and fame.
  • They get a kick from violating the norms and rules. They immaturely thought it was funny to hoodwink the Secret Service and security measures in the White House.
  • To them, the end justifies the means.
  • It was a serious lie to present themselves as invited guests. It was tantamount to stealing the invitation to the state dinner. Impersonation is a serious wrongdoing.
  • It was a total disrespect to the dignity of the President of USA and the Prime Minister of India and it was the showing of the middle finger to these two countries.
  • Their conscience is dulled, they do not know where to draw the line between the good and the evil.
  • It also shows from what background and formation they come from.
  • Can you imagine what apprehension, chaos and confusion it would create among the American and Indian guests and the hosts if the couple was caught at the gate or in the dinner venue as being uninvited?
  • By their presence they lied to each of the invited guests and celebrities they mingled and took photographs with.
  • They wanted to steal the limelight that other invited guests and celebrities enjoy.
  • They are the true children of the instant-satisfaction and cheap thrill-seeking consumer society. That's why they are eager to be like the personalities of the Reality TV programmes with dehumanizing enactments that get praise, ranks and money.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Catholic Mother Forgives Her Son's Alleged Killers in Bangladesh

Sumoti Costa, an ordinary village housewife, belonging to the Mathurapur Catholic Church in Pabna District, forgave her son's alleged murderers by dropping charges against them.

Eight years ago, her 22-year-old son Sujon was stabbed to death when he refused to hand over a large amount of money demanded by local non-Christian extortionists. He had just returned from work in the Middle East to visit his sick grandmother. After six months of Sujon's death, his father Sontosh died from being distressed by his death.

Although the family of Sumoti did not file any charges against the culprits, the police brought charges of murder against several people. When the trial was about to begin recently, Sumoti announced her forgiveness of the perpetrators and the court dismissed the case upon her official plea.

Father Patrick Gomes, the parish priest of Mathurapur, mentioned that Sumoti's action was "a shining example of Christian forgiveness for people of all religions," reports UCANews.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flirting with the Past: Pope John Paul II Visits Bangladesh on Nov. 19, 1986

It was 23 years ago today. Pope John Paul II visited Bangladesh on November 19, 1986. It seems as if only in recent past did we have his mesmerizing visit. His visit is still vivid in our memories.

I had the occasion of covering his visit to Dhaka photographically. It was quite a thrilling and awe-inspiring experience for me.

I present below some of the photos of the visit of this holy and personable pope. Please let me know your reaction to this historic visit.

Bangladesh President H. M. Ershad welcomes
Pope John Paul II at the Zia International Airport in Dhaka

President H. M. Ershad (left) introduces Pope John Paul II (right)
to international and Bangladeshi journalists at a press conference
in the VVIP room at the airport

The red-carpet welcome for the pope at the airport. Christians,
mostly Catholics, are waiting for the papal plane to arrive in Dhaka

Pope John Paul II ordains 19 Bangladeshi seminarians
to priesthood in the solemn Mass offered at the Ershad Army
Stadium in Dhaka Cantonment

Girls are offering the aroti (fire offering to God)
during the papal Mass

Pope John Paul II is offering the solemn Mass

Pope John Paul II is blessing the participants after the Mass

A section of the 50,000 participants in the papal Mass

The Pope is paying his tribute to the Jatiyo Smriti Shoudha
(National War Memorial) at Savar, a suburb of Dhaka

Pope John Paul II is praying at the National War Memorial

Pope John Paul II is writing his message on the
Celebrity Visitors' Book at the Jatiyo Smriti Shoudha
(National War Memorial) at Savar

Dancers demonstrating their respect for the Pope at the solemn
reception accorded to him on the grounds of the
Archbishop's House at Ramna, Dhaka

Photos (Dhaka: November 19, 1986) © Jerome D'Costa

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some Show Interest in Knowing About the Catholic Church


St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican (Rome, Italy)
is the symbol of the Roman Catholic Church

In the recent past, we gave a coverage of Bishop Raymond J. Lahey of the Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada, and his downfall. In spite of this and other priestly scandals and indiscretions, some non-Catholics expressed their interest in learning more of the Roman Catholic Church.

There are numerous useful Catholic websites and blogs available on the subject of Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. I mention below some of them:

Catholic Catechism:

Compendium (Summary) of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Catholic Bible:

Daily Bible Readings:

Catholic Bible Commentary:

Catholic Encyclopedias:

Catholic Dictionaries:

Code of Canon Law
(Catholic Church Law):

Catholic News:

Catholic Websites:

Catholic Blogs:

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today is the Remembrance Day in Canada


Canada observes the Remembrance Day every year on November 11. On this day, the Canadians commemorate the valiant sacrifices made by Canadian armed forces and civilians during times of war -- the First World War (1914-1918), Second World War (1939-1945), Korean War (1950-1953) and, lately, Afghanistan War.

It is observed on November 11, in memory of the signing of the Armistice (truce) between the Allies of the First World War and Germany at Rethondes, France, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. This armistice brought about the end of hostility on the Western Front.

In the week leading to the Remembrance Day, people wear poppy flower on their lapels. This flower symbolizes the sacrifices made by soldiers, especially on the Western Front, where this flower grew aplenty.

The Governor General and the Federal Government ministers participate in an impressive ceremony at the National War Memorial in the Confederation Square of downtown Ottawa to observe the Remembrance Day. Originally designed to honour 60,000 Canadians who died in the First World War, the National War Memorial now honours all of Canada's war dead.

Designed by Vernon March of England, the Memorial has a 21-metre high arch (with winged figures symbolizing Peace and Liberty) and 23 bronze figures (representing people who fought the First World War). These figures are moving from war to peace. The designer chose "The Great Response of Canada" as the theme of this National War Memorial.

The National War Memorial also houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was originally sited at the Canadian Memorial on Vimy Ridge, France. On May 25, 2000, the remains of this unknown Canadian soldier was brought to Canada and, after display of due respect in the Parliament Building, were laid to rest in the specially constructed tomb at the National War Memorial on May 28.

The following "Ode of Remembrance" is recited at the memorial services held on the Day of Remembrance. Laurence Binyon was the writer of the Ode of Remembrance, a poem published in the Times of London in September, 1914:

The Ode of Remembrance

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

On my visit to Ottawa on July 27, 2009, I had taken some photos of the National War Memorial. You may view these photos below:

The National War Memorial, Ottawa (July 27, 2009)
Photos © Jerome D'Costa

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Elena Desserich Is An Angel: She's Touching Thousand Hearts After Her Death


Six-year-old Elena Desserich
Photo courtesy: The Toronto Star

One of Elena's drawings with a loving note to her parents and sister
Photo courtesy: The Daily Mail (London)

I first came to know of the powerful story of little Elena Desserich from a feature published in the The Toronto Star. I was moved by the amazing gifts that Elena had before her death from brain cancer in August, 2007. I like to share this story with you.

Keith and Brooke Desserich are originally from Wyoming, USA. Later they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. They had two little daughters -- Elena and Grace (also called Gracie). In 2006, at the age of five, Elena was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Although the doctor gave her four-and-a-half months to live, she actually lived nine months.

The parents did not want to let Elena know of her serious condition and impending death. Mr. Desserich said: "We didn't want to focus on the cancer, we wanted to focus on being a family and doing all the things that Elena wanted to do."

Somehow Elena came to know of her coming death. Or, it may be that due to her health condition and extra attention and care that she received from all, she herself came to the realization that she would not survive long. There came a time when the cancer spread further and she was unable to talk. After this she furiously wrote small notes, now called love notes, with her beautiful childlike drawings and hid them all from her parents and sister. She sequestered these notes and drawings in nooks and corners, in between pages of books in the house, in bags, clothes, drawers and cupboards. Her parents estimate the number of notes and drawings surpassing 300!

She was beyond her age. She loved her parents, sister, grandparents, and the family dog very much. She wanted to give a surprise to them after her death. She knew that her notes and drawings would surface later one by one and tell them again and again that she loved them so much!

After her death, parents gradually began to find Elena's notes and drawings one by one. By this time, they published a book, Notes Left Behind, with Elena's notes, drawings and a journal that parents were keeping during Elena's last months. The parents also started a foundation in honour of Elena for funding cancer research. The proceeds from the sale of the book as well as other donations will be used by this foundation, named 'The Cure Starts Now Foundation'.

Two examples of her notes are: "I love you mom, dad." "I love you mom, dad, Grace."

What can we learn from the short life of little Elena? Quite a bit! We can learn that --

  • Every life is precious, however little it is. Everyone has a potential to contribute something in his or her own way.
  • A little one also can teach us a lesson or two.
  • Having a purpose (goal) + striving with determination = Success.
  • Love conquers all.
We wish that little Elena Desserich's legacy live long and let her moving example continue to inspire millions of people.

For more photos of Elena, you may visit The Daily Mail article.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Parliament of Canada at a Glance

The Parliament of Canada is in Ottawa, the capital city with a population of a little less than a million. The Parliament consists of three buildings or blocks -- the East Block, the Middle or Centre Block, and the West Block. These blocks were built between 1859 and 1866.

For our purpose, we will deal with the Middle or Centre Block here. It is located on the Parliament Hill on the southern bank of the Ottawa River. This building, excepting the section having the library, was heavily damaged by fire on February 3, 1916. The present impressive building was constructed in its place.

The Middle Block contains the Senate (Upper House) and Commons (Lower House) chambers with an impressive Peace Tower reaching, the height of 92.2 metres (302 ft. 6 inches). The Peace Tower, having bells and clock, represents Canada's commitment to peace. Offices of Federal Ministers and Senators as well as meeting and adminstrative rooms are housed in the East and West Blocks.

On my visit to Ottawa on July 27, 2009, I took photos of the Parliament buildings. I present below some photos of the Middle Block.

The Middle Block of the Parliament of Canada as seen from the street level

The entire Middle Block as seen from the north side

The Middle Block from another angle

The Middle Block with the library as viewed from the Ottawa River

Another view of the Middle Block

Visitors are near the Eternal Flame. The Middle Block on the background.

The Middle Block as seen through the closed gate

A stone-carved mythological figure used as a decorative piece
in the Middle Block

Another carved figure
Photos (Ottawa: July 27, 2009) © Jerome D'Costa

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Bangladesh Bows to Chinese Pressure and Bans Photo Exhibit on Tibetan Exiles

"INTO EXILE: TIBET 1949 - 2009" is the title of the photo exhibition that was supposed to be held at the Drik Photo Gallery in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from November 1 to 7, 2009. The government of Bangladesh, bowing to the Chinese pressure, banned the photo exhibit and locked the gates of the Drik Gallery. Thus goes the freedom of expression down the drain.

China is a friend of Bangladesh and one of its largest donors and financial aid givers. China is in a position now to impose its own will on others.

The People's Republic of China considers Tibet as a part and parcel of China and does not tolerate any independence aspirations of the Tibetans. China also does not recognize Dalai Lama, the Buddhist religious head of the Tibetans, as the leader of the Tibetans.

China is extremely sensitive about Tibetan affairs. It tries to stifle any discussion of the freedom and independence of the Tibetans.

For details of the background and present situation of the banning of the photo exhibit, you may read the following:

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