From Bangladesh to Edinburgh Part II

by Muhammad Mustafa Monowar

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Unique architecture of Scottish Parliament seen from conference venue

Adventure Time
Breakfasts and dinners at the Pollock Hall’s canteen were getting a bit difficult for me. Not that they were not tasty or not well prepared; there were a variety of items ranging from different kinds of vegetables, mashed potatoes and hash potatoes, scrambled eggs, sausages, desserts, juices and cold drinks; and a lot of people seemed satisfied with them. But I just felt homesick because I missed the taste and smell of spicy chicken curry, dal and the touch of soft, warm white rice my mother would prepare for me and my sister back home.
Sue Turton’s presentation on the second day of conference was truly something that would inspire many would-be journalists. She showed us video clips of her work with Al Jazeera as a field correspondent in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Sue, who is currently on the run having been sentenced to 10 years of prison in Egypt for alleged involvement in terrorism, shared the amazing stories of working in hostile war-zones.

Edinburgh, Muhammad Ibrahim Mollik

Edinburgh, Muhammad Ibrahim Mollik

That evening, we – Kristina, Bryan, Glorimar and Scarlett (from Dominican Republic), Jomiro and Veronica (South Africa), Manisha (Mauritius), Bridgitta (Malawi), Isabela and Larissa (Brazil), Arifa and several others— headed for the City Center to find the Revolution Bar and buy some souvenirs. We walked our way through the Princes Street, passing by shops, banks, pubs, street performers, Statue of Adam Smith and Hume, Churches (I actually spotted a bride in white wedding dress) and lots of Gothic styled buildings.

On our way back, though, we got separated, and realised we were completely lost. It was 10:00pm and the streets were totally deserted; Arifa, Bridgitta and I were feeling a bit nervous. Luckily we met Celine and Chng Yan (Singapore) who knew the way and the five of us walked our way back to the Halls together.

All’s well that ends well
The best part of the conference was still waiting for us in the Scottish Parliament on the last day. Almost everyone was huddling in front of something in the opening before the conference hall. As I made through the crowd, I saw

Edinburgh, Muhammad Ibrahim Mollik

Edinburgh, Muhammad Ibrahim Mollik

Bridgitta sitting in front of a futuristic looking Desktop Computer, wearing a headset and screaming. I immediately recognised it— an Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Machine.
In turns everyone had their chance to try it; I’ve never worn anything like it before and it seemed pretty impressive to me. Next to Oculus Rift were two drones. Real ones. I operated one using a visual interface and control knobs. I have to admit, it was a unique experience. One of the speakers at the conference told me these would soon be a game-changer for journalism.

So what did I bring back from this trip?
A lot of things.
During our small walks in the city, I noticed several things that made me really like Edinburgh. One, there were no waste/litter lying on the streets. A dog pooped on the grass and the owner immediately took care of it. There were traffic lights in every turn, and no one violated the Red Signals. There were plenty of parking spots for the disabled.

Delegates from all over the world

Delegates from all over the world

Even if you are a foreigner, most people there will still smile back when you make eye contact. These are things one does not usually see in Dhaka. I hope Bangladesh becomes something like this one day.
The British Council has done a wonderful job, I must say. They have funded the whole trip and bringing youth from all over the world together is a remarkable initiative indeed.
As I sit in my bedroom and write down the sweet memories of my short visit to Edinburgh, all the faces that I have met during these five days keep coming back to my mind. Future News 2015 Conference might have ended, but the bonds that we developed, will, I am sure, last for a very, very long time.

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