On air! | Daily News
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On air!

Breaking into the newscasting is no mean feat. But that is exactly what Bangladeshi High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Tarik Ahsan has been engaged in as a ‘serious pursuit’ during his years in Bangladesh.

“It was something I was passionate about. We did not have many private channels during that time. I handled the news for about two days a week on national television. I got a big exposure due to the profession and become something of a ‘mini celebrity’ then. I was even interviewed by some magazines as a newly emerging newscaster. Since I was in my youth, that excited me,” he recalled with a smile.

He notes that the profession did fit well with his schedule then because he could be in the newsroom in a matter of minutes from his residence since there was no traffic at that hour. The news telecast took around 10 minutes.

“It went on air live. I was nervous at first. However I began to enjoy it since I took it as a challenge,” he laughed.

It was a rewarding five years starting off in 1990 till 1996.

“Three things are essential to become a successful newscaster. You need to have an idea of the news you are representing. That means you need general knowledge of what is happening in your country and around the world. You need to have a good command of the language. You also need confidence to anchor the program,” he advised.

He himself had to go through many rehearsals before he was put on air. He had gotten the opportunity by responding to an advertisement.

“I was interested in public speaking. I used to be a member of a public speaking club named ‘Speaking Expressed in Thinking’ (SET) formed together with friends. I also trained in acting but never pursued the field. It gave me some experience on how to deal with people and how to project my voice. I also recited Bengali poems at High Commission programmes at the request of my colleagues. My poems were published in some of the university magazines as well,” he reflected on his heydays.

Before coming to Sri Lanka Ahsan has served in USA, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Germany in various diplomatic capacities. He has been in Sri Lanka for around one year and four months.

“I felt at home immediately once I stepped into Sri Lanka. It has always been a friendly neighbouring country. Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans share many similarities and commonalities. Their culture, system of education, public administration, and legal systems are similar. They are even similar in appearance. There is a wide belief that in ancient times people from Banga migrated to Sri Lanka. Therefore, there are ethnic links between the two countries,” he said.

He notes that in modern history both countries inherited the Commonwealth legacy. One of the main features they inherited from the British is the English language and cricket.

Asked if he has a passion for cricket since his country’s team seem to be doing well now, the High Commissioner broke into a smile.

“I was not a fan earlier but now the tide has changed. Since the team has improved their techniques, my interest has grown in the game,” he quipped.

Ahsan has been to Sri Lanka before for official visits. He was one of the members of the delegation for CHOGM 2013.

“I went back with a good impression of Sri Lanka. Little did I know that I will be posted here!” he exclaimed.

Ahsan has done his BA in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. It is something which has captured his interest since he did not have a fixed ambition. However he made it to the honours list during his secondary and higher secondary examinations.

“That gave me the confidence that I would excel in any profession I would take on. I was very flexible on my future plans. I had a choice between medical studies and engineering. I chose the latter. Yet when it came to taking on a profession, I chose to go for a diplomatic job,” he stated adding that he has always embodied a positive outlook and never looked back at the past with regret.

Ahsan believes that the aim of education is to broaden one’s outlook. There has to be a good foundation so that an individual can do well in any field.

“I am heading a small mission but I have a great responsibility. We have only four diplomatic officers. The bilateral interaction and multilateral interaction between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is very intense. We engage in a lot of activities. Therefore I do not have much free time at hand for any serious commitments,” he said.

Due to the time constraint Ahsan’s leisure activities are limited only to the occasion badminton game with friends, a game of bridge, listening to instrumental and Ghazal music. Though he is not an avid reader, he reads articles about the history of the subcontinent and the award of liberation. He is also into editing videos, movies and photographs.

He says, “Photography has become more of my hobby now. I edit and keep them as a keepsake for future reference. I love capturing the beauty of nature. I started venturing out with a camera when I did my postgraduate studies on International Relations and Development in the Netherlands at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in 1993. Since then my collection has grown.”

He says that one of the most interesting pictures in his stock are some images he has taken in The Hague, Netherlands.

“They are of the same location at two different times. I took some pictures in some memorable areas in 1993 and visited the same places in 2010 for a holiday. That was a gap of almost 17 years when I was posted in Germany. The pictures were taken of the same places. I compared the pictures and realized that the environment hasn’t changed much. In European countries things hardly change much. It is in developing countries that change is rapid,” he opined.

A globe-trotter, Ahsan has traveled to many countries and visited many iconic destinations in the world. During those travels his camera has been a trustworthy companion.

“I visited some mountain areas during my time in New York. I went to Buffalo where the Niagara Falls are. Those are dream locations for shutterbugs,” he said adding that he loves driving and had once driven as far as Miami from New York as well as Texan from New York.

“Those are my memorable drives since they were around 1500 mile and 2400 mile drives,” he said.

His most memorable moments in life are when he has met the heads of states. He has met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He has also met President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

Ahsan is a father of one. His daughter, Nabila, is 16 years and schooling at Colombo International School. His wife’s name is Mahajaveem.

“We go out during the weekends. Viharamahadevi Park is a favourite spot of ours. We visit the Waters Edge Park in the evenings. We love the environment friendly atmosphere of these two places. There are fire flies flying around by the side of the lake in areas which are not illuminated. Whenever I go out of Colombo I take my camera with me. Sri Lanka’s natural beauty is in the seaside and the mountains. I visit Galle often. I do not take the highway then because I stop at Hikkaduwa and Bentota on the way,” he explained. He says that one of the things which impressed him a lot in Sri Lanka is the fact that the national anthem is played widely.

“I admire that. It inspires people to be more patriotic. In my country and other nations I have visited, the national anthem is played very sparingly. It is considered a sacred-saint matter. It is played only at events where the head of the states graces the function,” Ahsan noted. 


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