Our second home 

As New Age office has moved to a new location from its earlier address at Holiday Building 30 Tejgaon Industrial Area, Muhammad Ibrahim Ibne Towhid asked present and former members of the New Age family about their fondest memories in the former building

_DSC9417

Photo- Sourav Laskar

It was during my early school years when I saw a new English newspaper being read by my friends and some teachers of my school. The logo attracted me with no known specific reason. Later on, anytime I saw the logo on any billboard, while roaming through the streets of Dhaka, my face often lit up with a smile.

After some years of working in the news section of an FM radio channel, I became a part of Trends, the lifestyle magazine of New Age. I can still remember that day as this was the daily whose logo I always loved.

On my first day, I had slowly entered the third floor of the building located at ‘30 Tejgaon Industrial Area’. Inside, I saw an informal sitting arrangement. The very next day, I got an assignment to report on the health condition of female garments workers. The top floor of the building was conquered by all the weekly magazines and all the members were easy-going and jovial.

Apart from the routine work, office seemed to be a place of learning through adda. I was just an undergraduate university student in 2012 and was constantly looking for opportunities of meals that was brought by Konka Karim, feature editor at New Age.

There was a small roof and some of us puffed smoke there in secret. The roof presented a splendid view of the Hatirjheel project and I often sat on the roof to unclog my mind. Later on, we moved to a bigger room on the first floor.

Around a year back, I was moved to New Age Xtra where investigative journalism and features were the focus. I still remember the surprise on the faces of my friends who visited me late one night in the office as I sat comfortably on one chair and had my legs resting on another. No one else was in the room and I had to work till late at night.

One day, I ended up cutting both my hands on the fan while stretching, thanks to my 6 feet 2 inches height. The rooms of the editor and a deputy editor used to be right by us. We could always walk in for suggestions.

Other members of New Age have sweeter memories of the building due to the duration they had spent there.

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury, the editor of New Age Xtra, ‘I still remember the day I had started my career at New Age. It was April 16, 2006, a Sunday.’

‘Just the previous week, I had resigned from my previous employer, which was another English daily. I remember being taken aback by the knowledge base and down-to-earth demeanor of the relatively young group of journalists in New Age, at the time,’ he adds.

He says ‘Initially, I was sceptical about the four-storied building, which seemed to be comfortably hidden from the hustle of Tejgaon and a few auto workshops surrounding it. But over the next few months, it gradually grew on me,’ he adds.

‘Soon, the building became like a home away from home for some of us, including me. We looked forward to going to office, away from our personal and academic problems. I will especially miss the lunch at Mahajan’s, the addas on the rooftop and the spiral stairs from the first floor to the ground floor of the building,’ says Chowdhury.

Saad Hammadi, the bureau chief of WION, is the former Editor of New Age Youth. He recalls, ‘Thursdays were the busiest for the Friday weekly Xtra and as one of the lead writers of this segment, I gathered some of the heavyweight stories from real bank jobs of the likes of Ocean’s eleven to intelligence leaks about child trafficking. I enjoyed being part of a team that consisted of the chosen few to carry out stories that would have both the crafts of language and substance.’

‘Everyday, I learnt something new about the art of writing and structures of long form. The hands on training from my chief at the time Mahtab Haider inspired me to do better. Years later being told by my boss that I became an indispensable part of the team is a fond memory,’ adds Hammadi.

He says, ‘While my memories date back from circa 2006, my time at New Age has more fond memories than I can probably share here. Having my best friend join the same workplace made work even more fun than it was alone. Incidentally, he’s now the editor of the same weekly New Age Xtra we worked together.’

Md Shafiqul Islam is currently the Assistant General Manager of Production at New Age. Islam had started working at the Holiday Building from 1986, nearly 1.5 decades before New Age was launched.

‘I began working in that building from July 28, 1986. When I had joined, the building was just three storeys with no stairs. I had to construct the stairs under my supervision,’ says Islam.

He recalls that during the 1998 flood, the adjacent road of the building was submerged under water. ‘We had to come to office by boat. During the first three days of the flood, the entire first floor was water logged. The then-Editor Enayatullah Khan could not enter the office for those three days,’ says Islam.

‘One day while crossing in the boat, all the lead plates used for printing slipped from the boat and we had to make new plates. The building had even caught fire around Ershad’s regime. Around 1991, a group of armed miscreants had even tried to encroach the building but could not do so later due to the efforts of the law enforcing agencies,’ says Islam.

‘I can still remember how a worker had an accident while constructing the fourth floor of the building and I had rushed him to the then PG hospital (BSMMU). As we shifted from that building as it was being dismantled last week, I could not hold back my tears. I cried aloud as bulldozers started to crush the building whose walls and pillars had become a part of my life,’ says Islam.

Regardless of the duration that most people had been with the old office building of New Age, undoubtedly we will all miss Holiday Building at 30 Tejgaon Industrial area.