A new book ‘Goodwill on Two Wheels’ captures a cycle tour from Bangladesh

Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Contributing Editor,Shottobani

London: Soon after the independence of Bangladesh, four freedom fighters, Jamal Hasan, Anwar Ahmed, Mahmud Abdul Quayum and Syed Akhtar Ali, set out on a world cycle tour on a special mission. They wanted to thank the people of the world who supported Bangladesh’s Liberation War. They started their tour from the front garden of 32 Dhanmondi. They carried with them a personalised message of good wishes and greetings from the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to the people of the world they were going to visit.

One of the four, Jamal Hasan, recently launched a book to recall the trip. His book titled ‘Goodwill on Two Wheels,’ publication event was held at the Over 50 Club, Southgate, in North London. Dr Naz Rashid acted as the moderator for the event. Ian Martin, ex-Secretary General of Amnesty International and currently working as a representative of the United Nations, wrote the foreword. He gave an introductory talk at the book launch event. Also, Mr Asaduzzaman Malik, an established author, spoke about the author’s previous book and expressed his high expectation about enjoying ‘Goodwill on Two Wheels’. Finally, before questions and answers, Catherine Lepper and Mahmud Quayum read a few excerpts from the book.

Goodwill on Two Wheels is a memoir based on the 1971 Liberation struggles of Bangladesh and the celebration of hard-earned independence. Jamal Hasan, like all young Bengalis, is desperate to play his part in the fight for the freedom of Bangladesh. So, he makes a perilous journey across the border into India, hoping to find a place in one of the training camps for freedom fighters. But the training camps are full of volunteers, and he must wait his turn. Jamal has an idea. He finds three friends and persuades them to go on a world cycle tour to drum up support for the Bangladesh Liberation War and strengthen the world’s opinion of the liberation war. They talk to exiled Bengali politicians and soon have plans for their world cycle tour. A prominent Indian company donates them four sturdy bicycles. They obtain Indian travel documents and make the necessary preparations. When they are about to start, fortunately, the Pakistan military capitulates to the Bengali freedom fighters, and Bangladesh becomes an independent country.

After the independence of Bangladesh, Jamal and his three teammates adjusted their plan. Now they decided to go on a goodwill mission instead, for the fledgling state to thank the people of the world for supporting the Bangladesh Liberation War. Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka University, and Bangladesh Sports Federation sponsor their world tour. The date is 7 April 1972, and the starting point of their long odyssey is the front garden of the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The Goodwill on the Wheels contains 26 chapters, each for a particular country, a city or a place of interest. The author skillfully takes the readers with him and shares his many excellent insights on life, faiths, traditions and cultures as he travels from country to country and place to place. The description of how he felt watching the endless water during a month-long ocean voyage is incredible. In Paris, they are lucky to have a renowned artist who introduced the wonder of Paris to them. The author was particularly excited to have the famous artist volunteering to be their guide at the Louvre Museum.

During their tour in India and Europe, they meet people from all walks of life. In addition, they reach out to politicians and dignitaries in all the countries they visit and engage with people through press conferences and TV programmes to convey the greetings of Bangabandhu and the good wishes of the people of Bangladesh. The author gives historical references to places they visit, describing each country’s past glory and attractions. Although Goodwill on Two Wheels is a travel story well documented with rare written materials and photographs, it reads like fiction – the historical references’ narrations are never dull. Instead, these are found rather interesting and exciting.

Goodwill on Two Wheels, written by Jamal Hasan, was published on Amazon in 2023 The cover design is by Imon Hasan.


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