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Photon Learning

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This blog is designed as a library of 'thoughts' and concepts for the students of Excel@Learning. It tries to speed up and simplify learning about core subjects including English, Maths and Sciences (Natural, Applied and Islamic) by breaking up topics into independent 'thoughts' or 'photons' of learning. You can contact us at admin@excelatlearning.com . You can click www.excelatlearning.com to return to the Main Web Site.

Abu Ali at the Bullfight

English Posted on Tue, June 04, 2019 02:33:27

Abu Ali the Bangaali at the Bullfight

by Mohammed Mominur Rahman.

{This is based on a true story; only the names have been changed.}

It was the day before the Mela (Fair) which Abu Ali the Bangaali was going to visit with his uncles and his teenage cousin Brook. Abu Ali stood inside the cow shed as he watched his uncle Hark sharpening the horns of his prize bull with a broken bottle top. He felt a little scared watching the sharp edges of the glass scrape along the bull’s horns. He was also afraid of the sharp points of the horns. Despite this, he stood still, bravely watching Hark repeatedly scrape the horns till they were as sharp as drawing pins.

“Where are you Abu Ali?” shouted his mother, “it is time to wash your feet and go to bed!”

“Coming, mum!” Abu Ali called out to his mother, “I will see you tomorrow.” he said to Hark as he ran towards his house.

“Make sure you wake up with the early birds!” Hark reminded Abu Ali loudly as he tidied up the cow shed.

The next morning, the sky was overcast with occasional drizzle making the road to the Mela muddy and slippery. Abu Ali was so eager to see the Mela he moved his little legs fast so he could keep up with the teenagers.

“Abu Ali’s legs are moving so fast it’s hard to see them!” said Hart, who was Hark’s older brother.

“Yeah” agreed Nayek, “it’s like when the fan is spinning and it becomes see-through!” They all laughed as they carefully navigated the thin, winding, slippery mud-track to the field by the market where the Mela was buzzing with the excited voices of the people from the ten villages around the Guptapur Market.

When they arrived, the six boys split up into two teams. Nayek’s younger brother Noir and Brook were given the task of looking after Abu Ali, who was only seven years old. This was the first time he had come to see a bullfight; this was the first time he had come to the Guptapur Mela. Nayek and his two cousins took Hark’s bull to get it ready for the fight.

Abu Ali’s cousin Brook was older than Hark, but younger than the other three, who were over sixteen. Nayek was in charge; he was the oldest. He had to take his cousin Hark’s bull to the officials, so it can take part in the competition. He also had to make sure everyone returned home safely. If anyone gets hurt it would be his job to find a doctor or get medicine from the pharmacy at Guptapur Market. Nayek felt confident; he felt like an adult. He had seen the bullfight at Guptapur Mela a dozen times; he was nineteen.

The field was muddy. Short fat grass blades grew thinly throughout the meadow. Here and there, weeds like the ‘twisted flute’ or the ‘elephant’s trunk’ poked out of the wet ground. The Mela was a maze of colourful stalls and exciting and addictively interesting games. Some people were selling popcorn, poprice and candy floss. Others were selling boiled sweets, rasugullas, jilabi, nimki, finger sweets, nakuldana and seasonal fruits. There were long sticks of sugar cane and bamboo staffs for fighting and herding cows. They looked so similar that Abu Ali wondered if anyone tried to bite the bamboo staff by mistake. He laughed quietly to himself as he pictured this in his mind. Abu Ali was good at picturing imaginary things; he was always playing back movie clips in his mind in full colour. Some stalls had card games and dice games. His father had told him that people used these things to do gambling. Gambling was forbidden by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Abu Ali remembered that when he had asked his father for some money to go to the Mela, Abu Ali’s father gave him a green paper note with a picture of jute farming on it.

“Make sure you don’t lose it on one of the gambling games!” Abu Ali’s father had warned sternly,“ don’t forget to bring something home for your little brother Abu Mali and your little sister Kotola”.

“Yes Abba.” Abu Ali had replied respectfully.

Abu Ali walked past the dice and card stalls. He saw people throwing rings at a wooden board with money and prizes arranged on it. Another stall had people throwing coconuts and one of them had air guns! Other stalls were selling tiny kitchen pots and pans or small clay figures of people and animals decorated by hand with brightly coloured paint. There were plastic dolls of fat, light-skinned women wearing red saris and red bindis on the foreheads. He smiled when he saw the stall selling cork-stopped rifles and small kerosene-powered boats. He wanted his cousin Brook to ask the man how many takas they cost.

“Bhaisaab!” he called. But before he could say any more there was a loud shout followed by more shouts and people started running. Noir and Brook also ran. Abu Ali watched the tall men and tall teenagers run towards the bullfight arena. The competition had started! He also wanted to see the fight but he could not see anyone he knew. People were pushing and a circle of tall people surrounded the bullfight arena. He could not see the bulls; he just heard a lot of shouting.

Abu Ali was frightened. He was small, alone and lost in the middle of the Mela surrounded by strangers. He looked around silently, scared and sad.

“How much money have you got?” a small boy startled Abu Ali, who turned to face him. He did not know this boy, who was wearing a pair of shorts and a dirty white vest. He looked a little older than Abu Ali, maybe nine or ten years old.

“How much money have you got in your hand?” the boy asked again. Abu Ali did not reply. He held his green paper note tightly in his hand. He knew it was twenty taka, but he did not want to tell the boy. He did not trust him. He did not know what to say and he did not know what to do. Everywhere he looked he could see strangers and most of them were bigger than this boy. He did not know which way was home or which way were his lost teenage relatives or which way he would be able to run away from the boy.

“How much money have you got?” the boy asked again, a little louder this time.

“I don’t know?” Abu Ali lied in fear. He didn’t think he would win if he wrestled with the boy and he hadn’t even heard of Kung Fu, Karate or Judo!

“Show me and I will count it for you.” offered the boy. Abu Ali knew this was not a good idea. He did not want to show the boy his money. He did not trust him. Like a zombie robot puppet he was helpless as he felt himself hand the twenty taka note to the boy. The boy pulled the money from Abu Ali’s hand and ran away into the crowd. Abu Ali could not see him anywhere. Abu Ali felt sad and ashamed at how easily he was tricked. Or was he mugged? The boy did not threaten him; why did he give him the money? Why did he not just say, ‘No!’ Abu Ali repeatedly told himself off in his mind and at the same time wondered what he would say to the others.

After a very distressing half hour, which felt like half a day to Abu Ali, Brook and Noir reappeared as if they had materialised through a portal from another dimension. Abu Ali said nothing; he just looked sad all the time. He did not want to eat anything and he did not want to buy anything and he did not want to talk. His father’s four cousins and Brook asked each other what was wrong with Abu Ali. He was not normally so quiet nor so sombre. They expected him to be enjoying the Mela, laughing, talking, eating and buying presents; he had enough money, thrice what other children his age take to the Mela!

On the way home, Abu Ali walked slowly, his feet felt heavy as they trudged behind the bleeding bull along the winding, wet slippery road home. Abu Ali was hungry. The only thing he had to eat all day was one samosa that his cousin Brook had given him. Everyone wondered why Abu Ali did not buy anything from the Mela. Abu Ali’s lips were sealed.

When he arrived home, Abu Ali’s mother washed all the mud away from his feet and gave him some sandals to wear.

“What did you get for your brother and sister from the Mela Abu Ali?” his father enquired. Abu Ali was silent. After repeating the question twice more, his father was annoyed; he scolded loudly,

“You didn’t get anything from the Mela? No toys for yourself, no toys for your brother, no toys for your sister? No food for your younger brother or your baby sister? Did you eat twenty taka all by yourself Abu Ali? I didn’t realise how selfish you are!”

Abu Ali’s eyes filled with salt water and tears rolled down both cheeks and he sobbed. His mother heard him and came and gave him a cuddle and asked softly, “What happened? Abu Ali, why are you so sad?” Abu Ali started crying loudly now. His mother hugged him tightly to her chest and wiped the tears from his cheeks with a corner of her green cotton sari.

“Don’t cry Abu Ali.” she said, “have some rice with an egg I just fried for you. We can talk about this when you finish eating.”

At bedtime, Abu Ali the Bangaali told his mother and father the whole story; Abu Mali and Kotola were already fast asleep. Abu Ali’s father felt sorry for shouting at him so he said consolingly,

“Don’t be sad Abu Ali, I will give you another twenty taka note so you can go to the Nasni Mela next week and it’s on your eighth birthday!”



Instagram

General Learning Posted on Tue, April 18, 2017 11:22:20

I have been learning to use Instagram recently. It allows you to share photos and videos up to one minute with friends or to the world (if you choose public). It does not allow you to download photos and print them unlike FaceBook. It is more convenient to use on a Smartphone than FaceBook is. Facebook is better if you want to publish larger amounts of text or share longer videos.



Key Lessons in Political Leadership

Leadership & Organising Posted on Mon, February 18, 2013 09:57:25

I have recently been listening to an audiobook of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s autobiography called ‘A Journey’. By writing this book he has followed in the footsteps of leaders like the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar and the Emperor Claudius in putting his version of the story in the public arena to counter what his enemies may say about him. He portrays himself as someone who truly cares about both rich and poor people in the uk, sympathises with the Israeli governments’ heavy handed response to Palestinian attacks, ideologically opposed to Shariah Law being implemented anywhere in the world and as a result supportive of state sponsored terrorism against any Muslims who want this and being very anti Gordon Brown.

On the other hand, he has an excellent mastery over the use of words, is eloquent and persuasive, even slippery in his speech and has a positive manner in criticising and crediting his friends, team members and acquaintances. The exception being his description of Gordon Brown, which stands out as a charachter assassination with repeated doses of feint praise and heavy attacks akin to the Israeli governments’ against Hamas.

Dispersed throughout his book he mentions five key lessons of political leadership which he has learned and by mentioning in his book he is teaching, perhaps for the benefit of New Labour allies, but open to anyone, even Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg etc. These key lessons are as follows:

1. ‘The Ability to think anew’.

2. To be able to take decisions without dithering too long.

3. To take the ‘calculated risk’.

4. To take the ‘uncalculable risk’.

5. To understand public opinion but to make the decision that is ‘in their best interest’ rather than what they express to be their wish.

According to Tony Blair, ‘true leadership’ is to be able to do what is in the best interest of the country or the people even if it means doing the opposite of what the public want or losing your job, ending your career or all three. I believe he is mostly right in thinking this, but uncomfortably, this realisation seems to go against the foundations of democracy. This thinking led to his decisions on Iraq but it can also be argued that Adolf Hitler must have thought that his decisions were ‘in the best interests of Germany’ despite many Germans expressing views opposite to it and the rest of the world deciding that his policies were against ‘morality’ or ‘evil’.

Many people think that the US and UK governments have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in contravention of the Geneva Convention in Iraq, Abu Gharaib, Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. It is interesting to note that General Pinochet of Chile had US support when he made citizens of his country that opposed him ‘disappear’; how surprised he was when he was arrested decades later in the UK and tried for war crimes!



Story opening paragraph 2

English Posted on Mon, February 18, 2013 09:19:48

The car made a soft muffled sound as the brakes engaged; it veered to the left in a curved path towards the snow covered hard shoulder. He moved the wheel quickly to the right, and then to the left just as quickly, to stop the car hitting the vehicle on the middle lane. He could see red brake lights glowing ahead as the car in front, that had suddenly braked, stopped. A queue had built up. He looked left and right. The hard shoulder was white with inches of snow; with the traffic stationery, the motorway driving lanes were turning white as well…



Story opening paragraph 1

English Posted on Mon, February 18, 2013 09:17:19

Explosions shook his head with the shrapnel of a thousand profound thoughts. His chest burned with the acid of sudden, slow realisation. His body shuddered and shivered and then stood still. He was driving. It was the end of a warm summer’s evening and the sky was glowing like red ochre near the horizon behind him…



Bullying Still a Problem

General Learning Posted on Thu, November 29, 2012 13:09:11

According to the latest report by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, over 90% of school children in the UK have reported being bullied during their time at school. More than a quarter of students have reported that they have deliberately performed badly in order to hide their talents so that they would not get bullied. This confirms what many of us have observed over the decades about the culture in the UK (and also in the USA) of mocking, taunting, belittling and bullying bright students who are dilligent in their studies. This is not the same in other countries. In Germany, India and China bright students are praised and respected for doing well in their studies and working hard and applying themselves.

Cultures change slowly, and politicians and leaders are less effective at ordering people to change their attitudes and behaviours as they are at punishing, labelling and fining people for behaving in ways different to their wishes. The impetus for change in culture needs to come from influential people outside the government and then the message needs to be reenforced by those who weild power.

The culture and attitudes towards smoking has been successfully changed in this country. It took efforts by governments, sports personalities and celebrities in many fields as well as the continuous mesages from people in the health field. The change took decades, but in the end is a commendable achievement of the UK people that other countries can learn from.

If we make similar efforts to change the attitudes and behaviour towards smart and dilligent children. Recognising, praising and respecting them and their hard word rather than labelling them and teasing them then not only will the studious children and their families benefit, but the whole country will benefit in terms of economy, technological advances and many other ways.



Education in the UK Today

General Learning Posted on Fri, November 23, 2012 02:25:54

Education Today in the UK.

—Mohammed Mominur Rahman

—Senior Tutor & Educational Consultant

—Excel@Learning

—Latest Results

—BBC News Article by Hannah Richardson and Katherine Sellgren

—Published 26 January 2012

—Analysis of Department of Education Data

—Covering over 5,000 schools with over 200 pieces of information for each school

—This year’s league tables have 4 times as much information as last year.

—The Good News

158 schools see 100% of pupils getting five GCSEs A*-C or equivalent, including maths and English.

95% of pupils who started school “ahead” for their age (achieving Level 5 at the end of primary school) got five good GCSEs, including English and maths.

—Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School in Rugby comes top for GCSE results.

—Sevenoaks School, tops the English Bacc tables, with 99% of pupils meeting this benchmark.

—The Worrying News

107 secondary schools below the floor standard of 35% of pupils getting five good GCSEs, Including English and maths.

Only a third (34%) of children from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve five GCSEs – A* to C, including English and maths.

—Just one in 15 (6.5%) of pupils starting secondary school in England “behind” for their age goes on to get five good GCSEs.

In 909 schools, not one low-attaining pupil (those who did not reach Level 4 at the end of primary school) achieved five GCSEs – A* to C, including English and maths..

—The Political Debate

95% of pupils who started school “ahead” for their age (achieving Level 5 at the end of primary school) got five good GCSEs, including English and maths.

Overall, 58.2% of pupils in England’s state schools got five good GCSEs including English and maths (including equivalent qualifications).

—When BTecs and NVQs, are excluded, 52.4% of pupils gained five good GCSEs.

—The Debate Continues

—Of those who started school at the expected level for their age, (Level 4 at the end of primary school) some 45.6% failed to progress to five good GCSEs

—Minister Nick Gibb said

—Schools which let pupils down would be tackled.

—Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds aren’t given the same opportunities as their peers.

Children only have one chance at education

—Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said the government

—Is promoting pet projects over real need.

Needs to focus on the 3Rs

—What Teachers are Saying:

—Dr Peter Kent, Head of the top performing school, said much of the school’s success was down to Key Stage 4 being spread over three years rather than the traditional two.

—”This gives departments a chance to deliver a very personalised curriculum and we all respond well to something that’s been tailored to our individual needs,

—Maria Ashot says,

—“As a teacher, I have worked wonders with lagging students. Many, many times. It takes a special kind of teacher, and a relationship based on profound trust. The first thing the student or pupil needs to feel is Love & Encouragement from the Teacher. Often, they are lagging because they have been denied encouragement and careful guidance, whether at home or school. It can be done. Believe me!”

—What Teachers are Saying

—Teachers already work on average a 65 hour week. With all the best will in the world, it is not possible to help every child acheive their top potential. Not with this work load.

—Reduce workload,

change the national curriculum (to allow us to reteach basic skills at KS4),

—reduce class sizes.

—If every child matters, education needs more money put into it.

—Try teaching English without books.

—What People are Saying

—Not just a question of “tackling the schools”, but also about nation-wide attitudes and values. Complex social issues to be considered and why the culture of low expectations and underachievement continues.

—Nobody is going to solve anything while policy-makers and managers continue making statistics-based decisions, trying to make reality fit their pet theories and targets. Nobody listens to the students and teachers who have a very different view of what works and what doesn’t.

—Conclusion

Make sure your child is at Level 5 before he/she starts Secondary School.

—If your child is below level 5, Consider some private lessons between the ages of 10 and 14 to help him/her catch up.

—Practices of the best schools and the best teachers should be promoted as benchmarks and good practices

—Students and Teachers be provided with an online reference for learning tools, syllabus information and assessment criteria



Betauka Roots

English Posted on Fri, November 23, 2012 01:59:58

Betauka Roots.

This is a text I am writing to inform my children and the children of my brethren and their children and grandchildren about their roots in Bangladesh. I write on my laptop on the kitchen table wearing my spectacles for pretty much the first time, when writing something. I am thankful to Allah for my thirty eight lunar years with good vision. I realise now the blessing this has been as my eyes have been troubling me quite a lot of late. I appreciate the hardship and extra effort made by those who have to wear glasses from a young age like my own brothers, my sister, my nieces and now my own daughter Saima. I hope that this text survives to inform the youth of my tribe after I am long gone; I am feeling the wear and tear of the years in my teeth, my joints, and my internal organs as well as in my eyes.

I will begin by describing what I have seen and what I have been told by my Father, my Mother, my grandparents and other elders of my homeland. I was born in a house on the border of Derai and Jagannathpur. The house was built by my grandfather Mohammed Taiz Uddin, who was also known as Taiz Ullah and Taiz Master. It was one of four houses built by the four sons of Gaus Ali, my great grandfather. My grandfather’s brothers were called Hashim Ullah (the eldest), Ashkor Ullah (the second) and Sayd Ullah (the youngest). The four houses stood in the middle of a ‘bari’ about half an acre in size.

As was the custom in these parts, the western side of this land was turned into a pond and the earth that was dug up was piled onto the middle of the plot to create a raised mound. The houses were built on top of the mound with the western slope between the mound and the pond and the eastern slope between the mound and the river banks used as vegetable gardens.

At first there was only one house built by Gaus Ali who lived there with his wife, four sons and his daughter, who was the eldest of the five. Before this, he lived in the ‘old bari’ with his parents further north towards ‘Jaliya gang’, the famous river in these parts. His father Barkat Ullah moved south of the old bari as there was no room for his growing family; Gaus Ali built the southernmost mound, while his brothers Ibrahim Ali, Shofor Ali and Jofor Ali built mounds in between his and the old bari. Gaus Ali’s Uncle Nasib Ullah moved to a mound further west with his sons.

The old bari was built by our oldest known tribal ancestors, The two sons of Abul Hiday, who moved there from the village of Akhalkura in Moulvibazaar in southern Sylhet near the Tripura region of India. Hiday, the older son was the grandfather of Nasib Ullah and Barkat Ullah (and father of Sheikh Nousha and three daughters), while Niday, the younger brother was the father of Sheikh Arza and Sheikh Mirza. As the families got larger, the sons of Sheikh Arza bought the hindu owned bari to the west of the old bari. His descendants are still living there and the bari is still known as the ‘indu bari’. Two of the descendants of Sheikh Arza now live in Manhattan, New York, USA with their families; they are my cousins Zulhash and Shahin.

The sons of Sheikh Mirza built mounds north-eastwards of the old bari until they reached the banks of the Jalia river. Later some of his descendents moved further north and established a new mound on the other side of the Jalia river and beyond the mound of the Chowdhury tribe. They called this new mound ‘Gayd-dala’. This new bari is opposite the village of Jaroliya (Jalia) on the east side of the river that divides it from Jalia. On the north of this bari is the village of Tongor and north west is the village of Tarapasha.

The village of Betauka consists of three sections. The part nearest to the Derai border, right next to the Market village of Nasni is called Nuahati (new area) built by the sons of Abul Hiday and consists today mostly of our tribe and a few houses of people who came later from other villages. The second part is the ‘Chowdhury bari’ and ‘Dash bari’. These two baris are the oldest parts of Betauka and are inhabited by people from other tribes. The newest part is the third section called ‘Gayd-dala’ built by the descendents of Sheikh Mirza and now contains half Sheikh Mirza’s descendents; the other half live in Nuahati. The three sections are separated from each other by streams of the Jalia River.

When My father, Mohammed Motiur Rahman brought us to England in March 1983, we lived in a flat, 31 Sceptre House, in Bethnal Green. One of my Father’s cousins from Gayd-dala was ill and he lived with us there for nearly a year. His name was Abul Hussain. Later he brought his family from Bangladesh; we moved to North London and they remained in the East End. He passed away while they lived in Carr Street, Stepney at the end of the last century just after my first child Jayedur Rahman was born. His wife now lives in Bethnal Green above the shops on Cambridge Heath Road where we used to buy our halal meat. Another of my Father’s cousins lives a few roads away. She is a descendant of Nasib Ullah from the western bari. Her name is Aydul, and she lives there with her sons Anhar and Monir and her three daughters.

My cousin Shahin, who lives in New York, is memorable to me because when we were both infants in Betauka, he cut me with a broken glass bangle on the left side of my chest. I still have the scar from that incident. I was between four and five years old, he was a year or so younger. His mother is the daughter of Hashim Ullah, my Father’s first cousin and his milk sister. It was summer, the flood season after the rice harvesting was finished and they were staying in our bari in his grandfather’s house on the northern side of the bari. Our bari is known as ‘Doke-ner bari’, which means ‘South Mound’.

My Mother went to visit his mother. My younger brother Mohammed Mohibur Rahman (Noora’s Father) was being carried by my Mother, while I held her hand. Mohib was wearing a green and red children’s ‘sari’! I was only wearing a half pant and my chest was bare as it was very hot. Suddenly, Shahin came and he described the clothes my brother and I were wearing and with a broken glass bangle he had in his hand, he placed the sharp point on my chest, just under my left nipple and pulled. I felt a sharp pain and cried out loudly. My Mother looked down and saw a lot of blood flowing from my chest. A panic ensued and in the end, when the cut did heal it left a deep scar, which I still can see, although it has moved further to the left as I have grown up. Of course we were both very young at the time so although the incident is memorable, there are no hard feelings about it.

Two other close cousins of my Father lived in Birmingham, where I studied at Aston University. My brother and sister now live in Birmingham too. My father’s close companion and older cousin Shonjob Ali passed away last year; his other cousin Angur Miah lives with his family in Sparkbrook. Both of them are descendents of Sheikh Nousha, Angur Miah is from the western bari and Shonjob Ali, from the mound directly north of our ‘southern bari’ was a grandson of both Gaus Ali and Ibrahim Ali; he was my Father’s first cousin descended from my grandfather’s sister. Shonjob Ali’s wife, children and grandchildren live in Birmingham. His oldest son, Abdul Majid from his first marriage lives in East London and he has a nephew Chad Miah who lives in Beckton with his children.

I do my best to keep in touch with the tribe in Betauka as well as those members who are spread around the world. This has been more difficult in recent years, so I am hoping that we could use internet and mobile technology to help the tribe keep in touch in the coming years. There are also the friends of my late Father and their children to consider. According to the final Prophet, Mohammed (peace be upon him), it is a service to one’s dead parents to keep in touch with his surviving friends and their children. I pray to Allah to help me fulfill my duties in these regards and I hope that I can teach my children the names and faces of these people, so they will keep in touch with them after my death. In addition, there is a need to keep in touch with one’s Mother’s blood relatives and her friends. The Messenger of Allah also used to keep in touch with the family and friends of his first wife, Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) and send them food and gifts after Khadija (ra) passed away. These are good practices that will benefit us to emulate in our own lives.

Mohammad Mominur Rahman

October2012



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