Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 39, Tuesday March 2, 2004






The good, the bad and the dusty

For people in the city cars are as much part of the lifestyle as women emulating the latest "Kuch kahani Bahu Ki Whatever" outfit. It becomes a necessity coupled with creating an image. Cars are your modern day all encompassing accessory.

27th February marked a homage to cars. A group of NSU students formed the F1 event management & Ad Firm that organized the autofair showcasing some of the coolest cars around. The fair was a chance for owners to show off their pride and joy with an extra option of entering into a contest for best in category. The cars were loosely slotted into three categories of Classics, Sports and Modified cars with many vehicles falling into several categories at once. Confusing? Yes it was especially since they did not have any contest showcasing the dirtiest car. Mine wasn't washed since last December.

The fair offered a refreshing sight compared to your typical scene of white family cars always seen on the roads. The best consisted of some old Coronas and a Mazda that were restored to near perfection with mirror smooth paintjobs. There were a couple of Mercs with one being an early 80's bright red 500 SL convertible. Frankly it looked hotter than the brand new SLK that wowed everyone when it was first displayed in the Benz showroom a year back. There were also three Jaguars with an old swoopy looking 60's S Type. With this Jaguar you would be the coolest cat around. All these cars were adorned with huge 17 inch chrome plated wheels and low profile tires. Other oldies included a fleet of Beetles a couple of which looked rather tired and ready to go to that big junkyard in the sky. Center of attraction was an ancient 1924 Rolls Royce whose owner rather preferred to ride into the fair cosseted in an air conditioned Lexus SUV with the Rolls in tow.

New cars include the latest Mazda RX8 in electric blue with side doors that open like a double door wardrobe. Sounds silly but looks great. If you thought a Maruti 800 was a weird little car then you haven't seen the Smart car in read and white. It is a joint effort by Benz and watchmaker Swatch creating a car so tiny that you rather wrap it around yourself instead of sitting in it. As for Marutis, there was one very funkily pumped version with all the extra body kit and no power. Other newbies included the Hummer H2 that would scare even the huge Lexus V470 with its girth but looked less imposing on the open field.

Cues were taken from movies like Fast and the Furious with some modified family sedans looking completely pumped with steroids. These were more show than go with hardly any of the cars having serious punch. Big bumpers, sky scraping spoilers, fat wheels, neon lights and ear shattering speakers were the order of the day. There were a couple of Honda Civics one with a modified air intake system and another a factory built racer with about 185bhp designated Type R. Packing serious juice was a Toyota Levin with a huge cold air intake up front. There was a lovely black pickup truck with silver flames on the side and a crazy Corolla that was modified to look like a Benz and was appropriately name the Toyota Benz.

The show started mainly around 5 when all the participants were asked to start their engines following a countdown. It was loud enough to create an earthquake. The show included a few stalls selling accessories like lights, alloy wheels and aftermarket bumpers that look mean enough to bite the car up front. A workshop offered to take orders to turn your eyesore into a dream machine. On display were a modified Publica and Datsun.

There was also a video gaming contest but not many people opted for it as it dealt with the ancient Need For Speed 2. The show ended with a fire spinning display and judging. Clint Eastwoods movie title came into play with some cars being good, others being bad and ugly while the crowd became extremely dusty. They should have had the dirtiest car contest after all. My car would have won hands down.

Sadly there weren't any of the three Mustangs I have seen in the city. It's a car I could sell everyone's soul for. Anyone of the owners interested?

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny

The multifaceted roles of Bengali women

Women are like gems. Their brilliance permeates all facets of life no matter what the setting. It is said that women were created in pure reflection of the creators mind. Possibly as a result the role of women in this world happens to be one of great variety and versatility. Women are more than what their domestic image portrays. They have so many other parts to play besides that of a mother, daughter or wife and that has lasting impacts on everybody's lives.

For the women of our country this forward movement is one that has been continuing for decades despite countless hardships and obstacles.

A glance backwards shows the lives of women in days gone by. They comprised of a gentle caring mother, a loving wife and careful organiser all wrapped into one smart package. That woman was an extremely busy person whose world revolved round her husband and children. Her thoughts, dreams and aspirations were confined within the walls of her home. It was difficult if not impossible to think of venturing into a world beyond those walls.

Education was often a very distant matter. It and hence progress was a light at the end of a very long tunnel. The most some well off families were prepared to do in this regard were to provide primary schooling for the girls at home. Many considered education for women almost a laughing matter. Society seemed to have a tough and unwritten rule that women were better off without it.

In the 18th century Begum Rokeya came to the scene with an idea that changed everyone's lives. She proposed schooling for all girls, which needless to say met stiff opposition. Despite all that her movement proved to be a breath of fresh air in the stale recesses of social discrimination. It was a valiant protest vowing to free women from mental drudgery. She started her school called Rokeya Shakhawat Memorial School and went door to door imploring people to send their daughters to school. The rigid norms of society could not remain so forever. As a result womenfolk of our country entered a different phase of life.

Education helped women step out of their shells and become more acutely aware of their surroundings regarding people, society and politics. Women realised that they have an important part to play as well in everyday matters. Gradually they decided to stand alongside men in the professional level. The jobs they began with were those of a schoolmistress, doctor, nurse, maid or a sweeper. These were often degradingly referred to as girlie jobs but it did not continue like this forever. Society or rather men began to shut up and take notice as women started to take more control over their own lives during the 60's and 70's.

In fact, women were considered to be twice as industrious as men. When their professional jobs ended they had to go home and take over the role of looking after the family. All women will surely nod in agreement that this is the most trying job of all. The professions taken up by women in the last few decades have diversified into everything form painters and writers to typists, journalists, officers and what not.

Our women have not only dealt with changes in the professional arena but also in matters of politics. Be it the language movement of '52 or the '71 liberation war they have never hesitated to serve the country. These periods were punctuated by great displays of courage. This forward flow of the movement was unstoppable even during the postwar slump. Women did not sit back, rather they took on even more demanding jobs such as business and highly technical ones like being a pilot.

The woman who once had to ask the husband or father for money is now busy making her own through her tireless work. This not only helps her but also benefits the country as a whole by adding to the workforce available. Women have started to join the garments business in all its different forms and have had an active part in exporting as well. In this way they are not only helping economy but also helping themselves reach personal emancipation. Women are doing just about anything to set themselves free from the constraints of society. Almost any profession be it breaking bricks for construction, setting up roadside stalls, being a salesperson or sitting behind the desk of a high rise office complex - they are doing it all on a level with men.

The lives of the city women have changed with the aid of education and its resulting heightened awareness of their surroundings. They do not fear hard manual labour. The advent of micro credit schemes has helped many women especially in the rural sections to start up their own businesses such as poultry farming or craftsmanship. No frontier is left unexplored. Politics has had its female participants in the form of union committee leaders. For some time now women have been running our country and it is no easy task to control a wanting, hungry third world country.

The women are moving forward with their hard work and skills. Of course, despite all this progress all women still have to suffer in the form of violence perpetrated by men. Still the women folk move ahead without losing hope. The light at the end of the tunnel is not so far away after all.

By Sultana Yasmin
Translated By Ehsanur Raza Ronny



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