(Un)Availability of Desh Patrika in USA

I have been an ardent reader of “Desh”, the premier Bengali literary magazine since my childhood days. As I moved to the US, I continued my subscription through the “House of Ananda”, a New York based agency of ABP (Ananda Bazar Publications). I could pay my subscription dues using a credit card or via Paypal through their website. I used to get the magazine regularly and in time. However, recently due to some mysterious reasons, the US based distribution ceased to exist and the magazine is now mailed directly from Kolkata. This resulted in two issues.  First, the magazine delivery became irregular and I missed few issues which I guess was lost in the mail. The delivery is also delayed. Secondly, the subscription process has become really complicated and ABP now demands the payment to be sent to their Kolkata office in the form of DD. This is totally unacceptable in current times. Technology has evolved and the days of demand drafts and money orders are long gone in the global market. I recently purchased a book from an Indian distributor who accepted credit card payment through their website and mailed me the book in less than two weeks.  Why can’t a huge publication house like ABP do this? Bengalis now live all over the world, and publishers and book sellers like ABP should cater to their international clientele using modern technology.  An email sent to the ABP office had no positive effect.   Publishers like ABP should learn a lesson or two from their international counter parts. Magazine publishers in USA use all kinds of methods to hold on to their subscribers. They try to make the subscription renewal  process as painless as possible. Where as, publishers like ABP seem to be happy to lose a few customers. To manage the loss of readership, all they can do is reduce the frequency of publication to monthly and then maybe to quarterly. That’s what they did when the reduced the frequency from weekly to fortnightly.

I hope, ABP comes to their senses and reinstates their foreign distribution centers and try to expand their business to the Bengalis living abroad.

Community News Bites: Banaprastha and Urhalpool

ECTA’s latest production “Banaprastha” premiered at the Edison Valley Playhouse on May 16th in front of a full house. The play was very well received by the audience as you can see in the accompanying video.  The second show was held on May 17th. Besides the video comments, here are some of the comments sent over the email.

We thoroughly enjoyed Banaprasta. This is a very timely production. I wish this drama can be viewed by millions Indians in India in view of the fact that India is crazy about Bollywood. Once again congratulations for presenting a great drama.” – Aurobindo Mukherjee

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ETV Bangla New Schedule for USA

ETV BanglaETV Bangla has changed its broadcast schedule in USA. They claim that the schedule is now follows the current Kolkata broadcast schedule only with the time shifted. In other words a show at 8.00pm in Kolkata will be broadcast at 8.00pm Eastern in USA. Although, now we have the privilge of watching the current shows instead of  a huge lag, the popular serials have now fast forwarded quite a bit with lot of story being lost in the process. The scheduling also doesn’t seem to be stabilzed – we often have to experience erratic programming.

The second issue is that the advertisements seem to have increased quite a bit. A short segment of broadcast is followed by a prolonged advertisement most of which are irrelevant for US market (I don’t think we are interested in Baygon Spray or Glucon-D).

The third issue is that ETV does not bother to update their listings with Direct-TV database and hence it makes DVR (aka Tivo, PVR) recording a major problem. I had once sent an email to ETV, and they did update it once. But that’s it.

Let’s hope ETV gets their act together soon and make our subscription worth it.

Goodbye 2008 – Welcome 2009

Year 2008 is finally over, and what a year it has been. I am sure this year will go down in history as one of the most significant year of this century. If we look back to this year, the two events that stand out the most are – the global economic meltdown and the historic presidential election.
The economic meltdown of the 2008 will go down in history possibly as the darkest economic times of the twenty-first century just as the great depression of 1929. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, the credit crisis, the crash of the Wall street giants, the market crash created a snow ball effect of financial disasters which still remains to be contained. This crisis also proved once again how tightly the global markets are connected these days when it spread from its epicenter in USA to all parts of the developed and developing world.
The second most significant event was the US presidential election. The election of Barack Obama, the first African American to grace the White House as the president of the United States is an event that will be recorded in history in golden letters. Barack Obama brings with him the hopes for a positive change not only in USA but also the whole world. The worldwide celebrations at the election win of Obama is a testament to how the world looks forward to this new leader.

India too has seen some good and bad days during the last year. The dastardly attack on Mumbai by the terrorists has caused the world community to refocus their attention to deal with global terrorism. Terrorism still continues to plague the world and keeps on challenging our defenses in any way they can.
On the positive side, the Indian technological and economic prowess showed off with the successful launch of Chandrayaan I and then with the successful implant of the lunar probes on the surface of the moon. This has been a significant achievement for a country that is relatively young to the space race.

Another 2008 global event that I will remember for a while is the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The Olympic games demonstrated how human beings like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt can become super humans. This Olympics was also especially favorable to the Indian athletes with its first individual gold and if I am not incorrect, the highest medal tally at the games.

I hope 2009 comes to us with the promise to fulfill our hopes and dreams. Let’s hope that from January 20th, the new President brings in the change he promised and helps herald in the peace and prosperity that we all have been looking forward to. Let’s hope that evil in all forms, from terrorists to the financial swindlers, all are defeated and good prevails for all in the world.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year.

Sudipta Bhawmik