My first memories of Dara Bhai are from our house on Asad Avenue in Mohammedpur in the early 1970s. They were a newly-married couple then, my cousin Ruhi Apa and Dara Bhai. Driving a Volkswagen beetle they often came to see my grandparents and parents. For the duration of their visit – perhaps an hour – the house would be filled with raucous laughter and loud banter. Dara Bhai with his debonair good looks, witty remarks and infectious laughter and Ruhi Apa with her vivacious and animated ways – the two of them were without a doubt the best-matched (and best-loved) couple known to our household.
But I really got to know Dara Bhai when he visited me in California in 1984. I was living in Palo Alto and working at my first software engineering job. Dara Bhai, Ruhi Apa, their son Omar and my aunt Shejo Fufu were visiting the USA. They had been to Los Angeles watching the 1984 Olympics and decided to stop by the San Francisco Bay Area, spending the better part of the week with me.
Dara Bhai had just finished a management course at Oxford. He was at the prime of his career as a senior oil company executive. I was just starting mine. In the ensuing days much wisdom passed from Dulabhai to Shala – about corporations, the world of business, how to advance one's career and the real world outside the university.
That same trip, I learned Dara Bhai was a man of impeccable taste. He was not much into shopping, but when he went into a store, only the aesthetically precise accessory would do – a fine tie, or the right shoe-polish for one of his fashionable shoes. He was fond of his car which had lost an ornamental part, then unavailable in Dhaka. We searched for the part from store to store until he found one exactly to his liking. You should have seen the delight in his eyes.
Later in 1984 I came home to Dhaka for a vacation. Ruhi Apa and Dara Bhai took me on several outings. They wanted to show me nice things about the country. My first view of the National Monument in Savar was during a trip with them. One evening they asked me to dinner. “How about some kababs?” asked Dara Bhai, remembering my fondness for them in California. We spent an evening at Darul Kabab. After demolishing copious amounts of kabab, we proceeded to a delicious chicken fry and finished off with some sweets.
Dara Bhai was also present during my wedding. Before the ceremony, as I was struggling to don my Sherwani, he magically showed up in my room and helped me get it together. Then he rode with me in the groom's car to the wedding venue.
Later, while I was living abroad, I learned that Ruhi Apa and Dara Bhai had parted ways. My recent discussions with Dara Bhai often revolved around his memories of earlier days, about my father and my uncles whom he had seen up close, about my mother for whom he had great affection.
Dara Bhai hailed from an illustrious Mymensingh family. His father was the renowned politician and author Abul Mansur Ahmad; he was older brother to Mahfuz Anam, editor of this newspaper. Dara Bhai studied Geology at Dhaka University and held various senior posts in energy and other sectors.
With his passing, there is less laughter in our lives. But wherever he is, undoubtedly there is more laughter there.
Born in 1944, Manzur Anam completed his Masters in Geology from Dhaka University and started his career in the Geological Survey of Pakistan. He became the Chief Executive of the co-ordinating body of all oil companies of Pakistan, called “Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC)” based in Karachi.
After independence, he was the first CEO of OCAC, Bangladesh. Later he joined Meghna Petroleum. He also worked for Rangs Group and Pran RFL Group. At the time of his passing away, he was a Director of Air Alliance Ltd, working for the global courier company, UPS.
He is survived by his wife Jamila Zahedi Anam and only son Omar Anam.