Saturday, 31 August 2013

Visit beautiful Bangladesh with me..........

In my novel, The Dark Side of a Promise, much of the action takes place in one of the youngest countries in the world, Bangladesh, particularly in its capital of Dhaka and the District of Bhola.

Why, you might ask?

As you will discover in my story, the man that Drake Alexander seeks, the man that has senselessly taken the life of his best friend’s sister has eluded them and the law for three years. He surfaces in Asia. Bartolommeo Rizzato is a ruthless criminal that does other men’s dirty deeds, a gangster for hire. His employer is blinded by revenge. Bangladesh is home to the second largest population of people that practise Islam, it is perfect for his plans.

In my opinion, Bangladesh is one of the most intriguing countries in the world. I’ll tell you why I feel that way.

We Canadians are far removed from this country halfway around the world knowing little of its people, its geography, its history and its past struggle for independence. We’ve been shocked by the recent deaths in the thriving garment industry which provides three quarters of its export industry. The collapse of the Rana Plaza building claimed 1100 lives. The Tarzeen Factory fire took another 117 souls. There are over 14,000 garment factories, not all are regulated by the government which has neither the money nor the staff to impose stricter laws. While these unfortunate events have claimed the news and our imagination, the country is much more than that.

In 1947 when the British Empire withdrew from India, the state of Bengal was divided. The west was claimed by the newly partitioned India, the east by the new country of Pakistan.

A nine month war in 1971 created an independent country call the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. In the Bengali language the name means “Country of Bengal”. Estimates of those massacred during the short war range from 30,000 to 3 million, we will never know the real number. It has endured many military coups, famine, poverty and political unrest until democracy was restored in 1991.  Although the political parties to this day remain bitterly opposed, the country has experienced relative calm and economic progress.


Bangladesh is in the low lying Ganges Delta, bordered to the south by the Bay of Bengal. It straddles the Tropic of Cancer. Unfortunately it is vulnerable to climate change which contributes many natural calamities like tropical cyclones, floods, tornadoes and tidal bores happen almost every year. Most of its land is less than twelve meters above sea level. If the waters would rise by as little as one meter it is estimated that 10% of the country would be flooded. There are claims that the water laced country has over 700 rivers. Boats are not only a necessity but a way of live for many of its inhabitants.

The most extreme flooding the world has ever seen occurred in 1998. Three of their mightiest rivers, the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and the Meghna overflowed destroying 300,000 homes, 2700 kms of embankment, 11000 kms of roads, thousands of cattle were killed. Over 1000 people died and 30 million were made homeless.

In addition the country is prone to cyclones. In 1970, a major storm claimed a half a million lives. In 1919 another took 140,000 more. Hardships we can only imagine.


However, not all is doom and gloom.

Bangladesh is a developing country. The poverty rate has declined by 25% since 1991.

The largest deep sea port in Southeast Asia is being established at a cost of 500 billion taka.

It is home to one of the largest river ports in the world, Sadarghat Port on the Buriganga River in the city of Dhaka. According to officials, over 50,000 people on average come and go every day.

It is the fourth largest producer of rice in the world, second largest producer of jute.

The largest shopping mall in Southeast Asia, the thirteenth in the world, is located in Dhaka.

The country hosts the world’s second largest gathering of Muslims during the Bishwa Ijtema, where millions gather to pray for peace and supplication.

Weavers from a guild in Dhaka are renowned for saris produced from exquisite Jamdani muslin.

It has a rich literary culture with many famous writers such as Tahmima Anam,  Shamsur Rahman, Haripada Datta, and Shahed Ali  to name only a few.

The national cricket team won gold at the first cricket tournament ever held at the 2010 Asian Games, defeating Afghanistan.

It is home to the largest mangrove forest in the world as well as a diverse selection of flora and fauna, including the Royal Bengal Tiger.

The national bird is the Magpie Robin known as Doyal and it appears on currency notes. The national flower is the Shapla, a white-flowering water lily. The national tree is the Mango. The national fruit is the Jackfruit.

There is much hope in this small country, people dream of better things, foreign investment brings better lives. The land is one of a rare beauty. I am indebted to an incredible photographer, Ihtisham Kabir for exposing me to the splendour of the countryside, to the vibrant colors and the people. You can find his photos at

I have recently discovered an exceptional writer from Bangladesh who now resides in Sweden, Dilruba Z. Ara, whose works have been acclaimed universally and are studied at different universities across the world. Here is her website:

Please visit their sites for a journey of discovery, you won`t be disappointed.
Next week, 4Q will be interviewing Yves Chiasson,
musician, songwriter, founding member of the popular Acadian rock group, Zero Celsius.

Monday, 12 August 2013

4Q Interview with Mark Andrew Young- Visual Artist

4Q Interview with Mark Andrew Young, visual artist, owner of Manchu Mark Young Designs, father of Damien and partner with Nathalie Brun. Mark has created works of art in creative CD covers and promotional material for a varied group of artists such as Roland Gauvin, Dominique Dupuis, John Jerome, 1755, to name a few. He has created distinctive posters for numerous cultural events. His work can be seen at

4Q: It’s always interesting how we choose our careers. Your grandfather Ernest was an artist and professional sign painter, perhaps his creative genes have been passed on to you. What made you want to be a graphic artist?

MAY: There are things in life that just happen. When I was a boy, I would watch my grandfather paint, and I was too young to realise I would follow in his footsteps.
Even though I started drawing on the floor as a baby, who would have guessed I would be doing this for a living.
I can proudly say his love for drawing was passed down to me, and lives on, just in a different time.
He would use lead-based ’’one-shot paint’’ on mostly vehicles and board. I regret not learning that lost art. Now the vinyl decals and modern printing technics have become mainstream.
It’s kind of like discovering the electric guitar after years of acoustic play; you rock with it, but have to remember the roots. There was a lot more honour then. Everything was made by hand with no room for error. Nowadays, graphic design is simply a technique that facilitates communication in various mediums. But it’s still very much, and more than ever a cool way to get your point across whether it is by means of an art exhibit, a poster, a comic strip, anything you want really.
I had travelled a bit, did various jobs here and there, but when I came to peace with myself, it just happened naturally.

4Q: Some of my favourite posters you have done is both the 2012 Franco fete and the same for 2013. Another favourite is the new one for 2013 AcadieRock which is a huge event coming to Moncton in August. The poster was featured in a Times Transcript article. How does a design like this begin? Where do your ideas come from?

MAY: It is a designer’s responsibility to visually deliver the message or feeling of the subject, that being an event, identity branding or album artwork etc….Like any industry, it is very complex and detailed, but research is always an integral part of the process. You want to make sure your ideas are current and have not been portrayed in a similar way. Not to say that styles and eras are not a big influence in my work, but the key is to make it your own.

Inspiration often comes from Music, daydreaming, and ultimately vision. It comes down to letting your imagination explode into the moment. And like anything, working it, re-thinking it, polishing to your’s and client’s satisfaction. But like a fine painting, your canvas is never finished. One could work on an image for years….but at a point and time you have to say; Yes, love it, next! Stay fresh and keep creating. 

4Q: Tell us a pleasant memory or anecdote from your childhood.
MAY: I personally made my childhood complicated when in fact it was the simplest and easiest thing ever!
I am blessed as you know of being very spoiled and constantly surrounded by love.
I remember a lot of camping, street hockey, hanging out in trees, cousins in full camo (with war-paint) in the marshes of what is now Wheeler Boulevard.
There are many great memories. I can say that my Guardian Angels worked over-time watching over me as I rebelled against a dead era, and survived thanks to family and friends.
And some stories are better set around a campfire.

4Q: One of the major projects you’ve undertaken is the huge mural in the new Arts & Cultural Centre for the City of Dieppe. You did a fantastic job with this and must be quite proud to have your work displayed publicly for everyone to see. How did this contract come about and how did you ever get your ideas on the wall in such a large scale?

MAY:I was asked to do it. To be given an opportunity like that was overwhelming as first, but I approached it the same way I would a blank piece of paper; with full concentration and ultimate honesty. The creative process is like an all-inclusive adventure; with sleepless nights, constant daydreaming and finally discovering your confidence.
The project was a collaboration of 8 or 9 members; Professional artists & technicians, architects, projectionists, painters, general contractors. My design couldn’t have taken on this expanse without their combined skills. I’m not the best at driving a scissor-lift. :)
You really have to think WAY out of the box,  get as far as possible out of the that so-called ’box’’. Keep it fresh and stay true to yourself.


Thank you Mark for taking the time to share your insight with us. Please visit Mark’s web site.

Stay in touch for the upcoming 4Q Interview when we will feature Yves Chiasson, former founder and lead guitarist of the dynamic Acadian rock group Zero Degrees Celsius. He records and performs as Luther Chase with a cache of catchy tunes. His website is