Mr Naryan Chandra Sarker will be deeply missed by his many friends and acquaintances from all spheres of life. On the surface, he was a travel agent and managing director of Padma Travels Ltd.
Professionally, he ran a respected travel agency that provided executive service and corporate services. He maintained a high level contact with Airlines Station Managers in Dhaka, London, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and Dubai to name a few. He could easily provide a friendly airline contact in any major city of the world. One of the specialised services he provided was the travel service of the High Court and Supreme Court justices for over two decades. This service required strict confidentiality that he provided without fail.
He was trained as a Statistician with a Master’s degree from Chittagong University (CU). Originally admitted to Dhaka University, he moved to CU at the request of a professor. His teacher used to visit him at the office for many years. Even from a young age, he built long relationships – one of his extraordinary qualities. He was intelligent beyond his appearance and groomed to be a guardian. He learned guardianship from his father, and it’s the family background that gave him patience, empathy and a listening ear.
He told this author a story of his childhood: In the village, I liked playing football, and we wouldn’t go to school perhaps until we were 7-8 years of old. After football and just before coming home, I would go to bazar and have a roshogolla without money. The mishtiwalla never refused. One day my father called me and said “It is OK, but keep it to this limit.” Such respect of the mishtiwalla and support of his father in time instilled him with a responsibility to help the people who show respect. Mr Sarker grew up in the rural environment of Hajiganj upazilla until he came to Victoria College in Cumilla for HSC, and I grew up both in an urban and international environment. But we had the same experience with the same sense of responsibility to serve.
Mr Sarker played football barefoot in the village, and he probably had not ridden a car until he went to university. But he never felt deprived, impoverished, inadequate or unaccomplished. It’s all about his patience, determination, and balanced growth.
Mr Sarker was progressive and became cosmopolitan by traveling to different corners of the globe. He is a celebration of the tolerance and sophistication of our root culture practiced for hundreds of years in our villages and homes. He was a devout Hindu. But his religion was private and he celebrated Christmas and Eid with his friends and invited his friends to celebrate various Pujas with him. He always strived to advance our society whether as a member of a Rotary Club or by joining progressive efforts like CARES – the Committee of Action Research and Extension Services. CARES has been established to bring together all the PhDs in Bangladesh and thus to form a research initiative to develop knowledge-based technologies for the country. He once told me that, if you had asked me to become a Trustee in the Independent University, Bangladesh, I would have joined even if it would have been a bit hard at the time. He recently joined the HELP Services Foundation, which is working to build a hospital like Mount Elizabeth in Dhaka. It is his rare quality to venture into areas unknown at the onset to discover new opportunities. He started Padma Travels Ltd in 1986 with an airconditioned office in the brand new BCCI Bhaban in Dilkusha at the highest rent like that at Sheraton or Sonargaon Plaza. As the business grew, he moved to the DCCI building taking the full south side of the ground floor. The space was so large that UITS (University of Information Technology & Sciences) began its Motijheel-based MBA programme in the back of this office. This service stabilised UITS and established the university going forward.
Many important and influential persons would visit his chamber in the DCCI building and discover him to be an attentive and discrete person. They would also share his intelligence and deep understanding of human relations. Not many knew of his education, but they learned of his professional business ethics and unwillingness to do the secondary businesses that travel agents usually follow, for example currency trading and short term trade financing. He gained respect amongst his visitors, who were leaders in the DCCI. He became a friend and sanctuary to many men and women who would come and visit him at his office. Everyone was happy to share thoughts that they couldn’t share anywhere else with confidence and a sense of a sanctuary. The rich and powerful of Dhaka have been deeply loyal and attached to him. I believe many will vouch for him.
GOD BLESS HIS SOUL.
Quaiyum Khan is a Founder Trustee, Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB)