‘Sarker was intelligent beyond his appearance and groomed to be a guardian’
Naryan Chandra Sarker, a travel agent and managing director of Padma Travels Ltd, will be deeply missed by his many friends and acquaintances from all spheres of life.
Professionally, he ran a respected travel agency that provided executive service and corporate services. He did not conduct manpower or pilgrimage ticketing business. He maintained high level contact with airline station managers in Dhaka, London, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and Dubai to name a few.
Sarker could easily provide friendly airline contact in any major city of the world. One of the specialized 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 University of Chittagong (CU). Originally admitted to DU, he moved to CU at the request of his professor. His professor used to visit him in his office for many years. Even from a young age, he built long relationships – one of his extraordinary qualities.
Sarker was intelligent beyond his appearance and groomed to be a guardian. It is this background of guardianship that he learned from his father and family background that gave him patience, empathy and a listening ear.
He told me a story of his childhood: “In the village, I liked playing football, we didn’t go to school perhaps until we were 7-8 years old. After the game and just before coming home, I would go to the Bazaar and have a roshogolla without money. The mishtiwalla never refused. Some days later my father called me and said ‘It is ok, but keep it to this limit’.”
This respect of the mishtiwalla and the support of his father in time became a responsibility to help the people who show respect. Sarker grew up in the rural environment of Hajiganj upazilla until he came to Victoria College in Comilla for HSC and I grew up in an urban and international environment. But everyone had the same experience with the same sense of responsibility to serve.
Sarker grew up in a village, playing football barefoot and probably did not ride a car until he got to the university. But he never felt deprived, impoverished, inadequate or unaccomplished. Everything was about patience, determination, and balanced growth.
The man was progressive and became cosmopolitan, traveling to different corners of the globe. Sarker 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 was always striving to advance our society whether as a member of a Rotary Club or 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 from Bangladesh to form a research initiative to develop knowledge based technologies for Bangladesh.
Sarker 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 has recently joined the HELP Services Foundation which is working to build a hospital like Mount Elizabeth in Dhaka. It is a rare quality to venture into areas unknown at the onset to discover new opportunities.
He started Padma Travels Ltd in 1986 with an air-conditioned office in the brand new BCCI Bhaban in Dilkusha at the highest rent like at Sheraton or Sonargaon Plaza. The other tenant in that location was Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury.
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 program in the back of this office. This service stabilized UITS and established the university’s way forward.
Many important and influential persons would visit his chamber in the DCCI building and discover his qualities to listen, be discrete and 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 transact the secondary businesses that travel agents usually follow like 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 in his office. Everyone was happy to share thoughts that they could not be shared 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 the founder trustee of Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB)