Dazed and confused
Friday the 13th may induce triskaidekaphobia among billions across the globe; supposedly millions refuse to even go out of the safety of their homes on the day. But October 13th, 2006 proved to be one of the most fortunate days for Bangladeshis, as Dr Yunus became the first Bangladeshi to win the Nobel Prize in Peace. Starting from 3pm that day the whole nation has been celebrating this rare feat and the rush doesn't seem to be over. Some even went on to compare the sensation of this achievement to that of December 16, 1971 and rightfully so.
Kudos to Dr Yunus who showed the world that our underestimated poor can put the billionaire loan defaulters around the world to shame. On this occasion I can also think of another group of Bangladeshis who have long gone underrated -- students.
What have the Bangladeshi students done, you ask? Well what haven't they? In 1952, these were the people who broke a curfew and took bullets to ensure our mother language is not replaced by some alien tongue. In '71, these were the individuals who along with the masses faced one of the most brutal killing machines in the world. Students were also key elements in ousting a much-loathed dictator in 1990 (sadly enough that certain despot has successfully made a re-entry into mainstream politics. Do we have the memory span of fish?). It remains a completely different issue however, that when it comes to politics our students are exploited in the worst possible way.
Every year, despite the inadequate accommodation in public universities, non-stop hartal, oborodh, load shedding, horrendous traffic, shortage of competent teachers, lack of recreation, encouragement and recognition -- our students are making significant achievements in academics when compared to their counterparts in other countries. Education has always been allotted the backseat in our country. Teachers are underpaid; obviously qualified individuals are not eager to enlist in the public education, specifically primary schools -- you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
There are countless reasons for our students to be distracted, to be underachievers but my props to them because they are not. Here's to the uncelebrated underdogs.
On a totally unrelated note, Ramadan is about to end. Ramadan -- the month of moderation. Everywhere you look, there are blazing examples of moderation. People in cars, rickshaw pullers, and cab drivers -- everyone on the streets of Dhaka are moderate in being patient and compassionate towards each other. No one wants to budge, everyone wants to go at the same time in different directions. "Surprisingly" when this attitude creates a standstill, people show no moderation in letting out barrages of curses at each other either, all in the spirit of the holy month.
Prices of necessities, specifically food, go up "moderately". Some people need to make money, right? This makes little difference among the consumers or so it seems as everyone seems to be "moderate" in consuming food during Ramadan. The bazaars and grocery shops, restaurants and street vendors are busy till Maghrib selling food. This along with the preparation at homes that begin from noon. So that during iftaar not an inch of the dining table can be seen beneath the dishes. We seem to follow the golden rule of "Stuffing face during iftaar and hogging the table during sehri". Moderation at its best.
Eid shopping is all about moderation. Gazillion malls and shopping places in almost every nook and corner of Dhaka take a festive appearance. Eid shopping is a unique phenomenon. You let go of a certain item you were considering for 3 seconds, you may as well forget about it. Some other fashion victim is going to snatch it like it's the last piece of attire of earth. According to sources certain clothing items have been sold at "minimal" prices of Tk 30,000-50,000. Some even buy 10/12 sets of clothes on the occasion. How moderate!
Ramadan also induces an array of oddities among people. One example -- people refusing to keep their own saliva inside and spitting everywhere. Apparently, one's own saliva is a big no no when fasting! So it's raining spit and if you're lucky some of it will land on you.
As I stare at the blank screen contemplating how to finish my assignment due tomorrow, as only the Almighty knows when the miracle of electricity will breathe life to my computer again, I think to myself, "What a wonderful world".
(R) thedailystar.net 2006