Well, everyone loves a place. Everyone has a place in his/her heart.

What's yours? Are you there now? Are you away from it? Since when? Have you been back there since you first left there? Would you like to go back and live there again if you had the opportunity? Why? What's so special about it? Why are you then where you are?

The Places in our Hearts pages will feature news, views, homepages and goings-on in your beloved places. The place that you love most could be your hometown in Bengal or somewhere under the sun - be that Calcutta, Dhaka or any other place in rural West Bengal, Bangladesh or any other parts of the world.

Give us your feature articles, comments, criticisms and unreserved praise for and about your beloved place in Bengal. What is happening lately in your town or village? How does it compare to the past - how is it shaping up for the future? What changes are good? What's not a welcome change? Why did you think that? Let others share your experience. Remember, the topics need not be restricted to Calcutta or Dhaka alone.

What recent developments enhanced or defaced its past glory? What can be done to change all that. Don't allow unneccessary destruction of our past heritage for mindless economic progress. Protect it, preserve it for enjoyment of our future generations.

In addition to the above you may include chat topics such as the latest Bengali books, songs, films, theatre productions and even forbidden matters like politics.

Calcutta Chat
Calcutta, capital of the Indian state West Bengal, was a British imperial creation. Founded by Job Charnock in 1692 as a trading post for the East India Company, it was named after one of three villages it occupied at the time - Kalikata. It is the heart of the conurbation developed from port and industrial satellites on either side of the Hooghly river 193 km upstream now extending more than 100 km on the eastern bank and houses more than 11 million people. The Hooghly river, then an active distributary of the Ganges, provided cheap and easy access to economic and political heartland of India. The settlement expanded rather rapidly with brisk trading in opium, indigo, jute textiles and fine cotton. By 1921 Calcutta became the most dominant industrial city of the region and employed one-third of India's factory population

Fort William, which was built in 1696 to protect the trading post, became the focal point of English politics in India. Following the Battle of Plassey in June 1757 in which Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daula, was defeated by British troops under Clive, foundations of the present Fort William were laid in 1758 and completed in 1781. Calcutta soon became the seat of British imperial period. Warren Hastings became the first Governor General whose authority covered Bengal, Bombay (Mumbai) and Madras (Chennai). The Supreme Court of Judicature was established in Calcutta and the Governor General ruled India from here until 1912 when India's Capital was moved to Delhi.

Much like India herself, Calcutta is a city of contrasts. Skyscrapers and bustees (slums of shanti huts) co-exist. Disparity in wealth distribution is enormous in Calcutta. The rich and the famous have New York, London, Rome and Paris in their drawing rooms - the poor are incredibly poor. There are more than fifty thousand pavement dwellers. Calcutta embraces every one and rejects none. One can spend thousands of Rupees a day and derive excesses of life's all pleasures or one can live with a few Paises (loose change). Despite all that, Calcutta is Calcutta! The centre of the Universe for Bengalees - source of life, literature, art, music and culture. A city that loves life no matter what. A city of dream, a city of light (at the end of the tunnel) and a city of joy.

Send your articles, poems, comments, criticisms or praise for and about our beloved city of Calcutta. Maybe you live in this city or just returned from a recent visit.

Calcutta - the Heartbeat of Bengal
Dhaka Chat
Dhaka (previously Dacca) the twin metropolis of Bengal is now the capital of Bangladesh. Situated on the northern bank of the Buriganga (old Ganga) river - a tributary of the Meghna, 435 km north-east of Calcutta, Dhaka's history can be traced back to the first century AD. In the Hindu scriptures Dhaka has been referred to as Varga meaning - watch station along river.

The Moguls came to Dhaka in 1574. The city was known in India, for a time, as Jahangir Nagar (City of Jahangir) named after the Mogul emperor Jahangir (1569-1627) who succeeded his father Akbar in 1605 and reigned India until his death in 1627. During the Mogul period numerous mosques were built in the city. Apart from around 700 of these mosques, the main Muslim buildings are three forts and the three-domed mosque known as the Lal Bagh Mosque. Buddhist influence in architecture in Bengal has survived in the Dhakeshvari and Kalibari Hindu temples.

The East India Company came to Dhaka in 1765. Narayanganj on the southern fringe of the city, which supplied jute fibres to textile mills in Calcutta and Dundee (England) during the British period, is the country's main industrial centre. Dhaka became the capital of East Pakistan in 1956 and remained so until March 1971 when East Pakistan declared independence to become the sovereign Peoples Republic of Bangladesh under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The parliament house relocated in recent years on the northern spacious fringe of the city - away from the city centre. Baaitul-mukarram mosque, located near the Dhaka Stadium, is the most notable architectural addition during the Pakistani period.

Dhaka has been the centre of Bengali excellence for a long time. The Dhaka University, which was established in 1921, of which great Bengali historian Ramesh Chandra Majumdar was the Vice Chancellor for some time and whose staff included another revered Bengali educator Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sen (collector and preserver of folkloric resources), provided a fertile ground for literature, art and culture. Under the influence of Urdu language of the Pakistani rulers, and due to a degree of mindless Islamic fundamentalism of a powerful few, Dhaka drifted away from the mainstream of Bengali literary and artistic pursuits. This is gradually abating and Bengladesh is again finding its cultural roots and fast integrating itself with the greater body of Bengali identity.

As with Calcutta, if you live in Dhaka or recently travelled there, we would like you to write about this ancient City of Mosques.

Dhaka -the City of Thousand Mosques

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The major aim of this informal ActiveBengali Forum is to discuss ways and means of reforming and modernising Bengali script and to propose and provide a unified voice to submit a script reform agenda to the Indian and Bangladesh National Standards authorities and to the Unicode Consortium so that Bengali language can be computerised more uniformly and with general acceptance with sufficient 'encoding real estate' allocated to the 5th largest language of the world than is currently the case.

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