Believe it or not

Programme misprint ‘ruins violinist’s life’

A Bengali violinist says his life has been “destroyed” after his name was replaced by a rude word in an official festival programme.

Abdul Shahid said he has been subjected to “immense ridicule” after his first name was written as “bal” which means “pubic hair” in Bengali.More than 85000 copies of the programme were circulated by Tower Hamlets council for the annual Baishakhi Mela Festival last year.

Mr Shahid (43), a father-of-four, is now suing Tower Hamlets for more than £300000 for damages, reports the London Evening Standard.

He claims he has been subjected to “immense ridicule, taunting and humiliation” which rendered him unable to work.Prior to the misprint, Shadid performed across the world, including nine times in US, and was regularly broadcast on Bengali TV channels.

“My name has been destroyed, it’s a disaster. Everybody in this community knows me,” he said. “When I go outside everyone who knows me and my family are like ‘woo, woo, woo’, making fun of me. They say ‘Bal, Bal’ and I am ashamed. I have lost my livelihood. I was a very popular player, but since this has happened, I haven’t been out of the house much at all. I only feel comfortable going out at night.”

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets council said: “A claim has been issued against the Council which it is in the process of defending.’’

Octogenarian hopes for sex swap op

A Chinese octogenarian is hoping to become the oldest in the country, and possibly the world, to undergo transgender surgery. Qian Jinfan (84), a former government official who lives in Foshan, is believed to be the country’s oldest transexual.

He said he wants to become his true female self after nearly a century feeling like he was locked in a man’s body. Qian, originally from Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, said he first felt that he should have been born a girl when he was just three years old. “Deep down inside, I always thought it would have been great to be a girl,” said Qian.

“But only when I was completely alone would I be fully myself. Whenever other people were around, I would keep it all inside,” he added.

Qian’s parents had no idea that their son secretly wished to become a woman. He even got married as a man at the age of 54, and his wife too was totally unaware of his secret, as was their son.

It was not until 2008, at the grand old age of 80, that Qian finally felt the time was right to start taking female hormones, and to dress as a woman. He is now waiting to undergo transgender surgery, but there are complications that first must be overcome because of his age.

Camera pens for customs officers

Customs officers are to be forced to carry special pens, with a hidden camera and voice recorder, in a crackdown on corruption in Bolivia. The government initiative was announced by Customs Director, Marlene Ardaya, who will be issued with her own pen.

“They will work as an anti-doping mechanism in the department,” she said, adding that the voice recorders would remain active during all working hours, reports the BBC.

The authorities said officials would be selected randomly to have the recordings in their devices checked. The Bolivian Customs Department, with more than 1000 employees, is seen as one of the most corrupt areas of government, costing the South American country’s economy up to £250000 in lost tax revenue a year.

Post published in: Analysis

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