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Tales of a Bangladeshi girl in the oasis of sands

Are there constraints on dreaming, especially for girls? Why can’t we properly stretch our rainbow-colored dreamy wings? My answer to all of these questions reeking with insecurity and anxiety that often inundate our minds is to dream even higher, bolder and bigger. Let’s try to touch the sky and float in the cloudy lands of true passions. I took a chance and it brought me the most unexpected and awesome experience of my life so far.

Travelling is something I truly enjoy like most of you who are probably reading this. After
relishing scenic beauties of Bangladesh, I got more daring to try my luck in abroad. After 2018’s trip to India, my thirst for knowing the unknown has gotten exponentially bigger. Being a major at Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in DU, I was searching for an opportunity to exhibit my research internationally. I got selected into the ‘Doha Oasis for Innovation, 2019’ organized by ICYF and Ministry of Culture and Sports of Qatar which is a global platform where young innovators, researchers can display their works. I was the only representative from Bangladesh in the congregation of 42 participants of 32 countries. As the cherry on the top, it was a fully funded opportunity.

It was my first air-journey. I got goose-bumps when the plane flew from runway. In that sun-kissed day, glimpses of the sapphire sea playing peekaboo amidst the fluffiest cottony clouds took me to a dreamland. On my way to the hotel, I was eagerly taking in the extravagant buildings, spacious roads, luxurious cars and the Persian Gulf stretching right beside highways with the waterfront promenade called ‘Doha Corniche’. I had a very adorable roommate called ‘Adawiyah’ from Malaysia; a PhD aspirant in nanotechnology. The next day, we were taken to ‘Ali Bin Hamad Al-Attiyeh Arena’ where we, participants were allotted stalls with our countries’ names, respectively. I was literally a knotted ball of nerves. For the next two days, we exhibited our researches/innovations to spectators, judges. It was hard to explain basic research works to rowdy Arabic-speaking school-boys. The girls as always were of more refined and knowledgeable sorts. The hosts kept on stuffing us with many foods in-between and also made us exercise in those grand gymnasiums whose sheer size and facilities made me speechless. Latter we participated in a 48 hour long ‘Group Hackathon’ with an aim to develop novel products along with corroborating marketing strategies. The organizers arranged a tour in the ‘Qatar National Museum’ which resembles a desert-rose in its shape and color. The narrator literally took us on a fairy-tale journey starting from prehistroic era to the life in Qatar at different time-periods. The old-relics, stone-made replica of the early scribbling and human remain in burial pot looked too real for my comfort. Before the era of liquid gold, Qatari people were mainly pearl-divers. Bedouin women used to wear leather made face-covers with cloth interior. They would welcome guests into their homes in sandy, chilly nights with bitter but fragrant Arabic coffee and offer them dates to mitigate the bitterness. Qatar has acquired their historic jewel-encrusted attires and accessories at sky-high price in present. We were also taken to ‘Souq Waqif’, the pedestrian market which is flooded with every possible things including different pets. It reminded me a bit of our ‘New market’; only cleaner and more organized. Exotic spices of different smells, colors and shapes sold on the stone-craved alleys by men in traditional ‘Thobes’ reminded me of movie scenes. The perfume alley was a myriad of countless decorative bottles of amber color liquids with the smell of ‘Burnt Uhood’ flaring into nostrils.‘Katara Cultural Village’ was a site to behold with its waterfront amphitheater and museum.

Every good thing comes to an end; so did my journey with the final group-invention display and prize-giving ceremony where I was awarded ‘Bronze Medal’ in individual exhibition. On the 22 nd September, at 3.00 a.m., I landed in Bangladesh.

What’s the best part of the experience? Without an ounce of doubt, I would say that meeting so many diverse people from different countries is the most extraordinary part. I met Abdourazack from Djibouti who created a solar schoolbag made of worn jeans. I befriended shy Baldan, an Indonesian young gun making preservative form shrimp waste. I acquired a little Iranian sister Shakiba, with a cheery disposure and invention such as multifunctional measuring tools.

Life shouldn’t be measured by the length of years, rather by the spectacular moments that get ingrained in our minds to change us for good. This once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity gave me a new dream of a harmonious world built on mutual respect, solidarity and sharing of scientific innovations.

Shomoita Sayed
MS Student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka

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