Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 47, Tuesday May 11, 2004






Banking Tips

Nasreen Sattar Head of International Sales, Standard Chartered Bank

Q. I have received a cheque dated April 30th 2004, is it possible to encash the cheque before the due date as I need the fund urgently?

A. No, this is a post dated cheque and cannot be encashed before the due date.
However, if the person who gave you the cheque changes the date to suit your requirement along with his/her full signature on the alteration then the bank will accept it.

Q. I have some unused travellers cheques , I would like to give them to my mother . How do I go about it?

A I assume that the TCs are already signed on the top left hand corner by you, please counter sign them on the bottom left hand corner and insert your mother's name on the space on the centre where it is mentioned that you can give it to a third party. Please note that your mother cannot encash them, but can deposit them into her account.

Q. I had put a 'Stop Payment' on a particular cheque and advised my bank accordingly, however, to my surprise I realised that despite my instruction the bank had honoured that cheque. Should not the bank reimburse me the amount of the cheque?

A. If the 'Stop Payment' instruction reached the bank, duly acknowledged by them before the payment was made then the bank is responsible and the amount should be reimbursed to you.

Interpreter of Maladies

Dr. Nighat Ara, Psychiatrist

Q. I am a 28 year old female. Usually I cannot remember my dreams. I am not a sissy type of girl who screams while watching a horror movie and later at night dream about them. A few days ago, however, I had a peculiar series of dreams. One night at around 3:30am I woke up shivering. I dreamt three dreams, and each of them was very scary. There was something about them that gave me the creeps. The rest of the night I had trouble sleeping. It felt that someone is in my house. I turned on all the lights of my house, checked all the rooms, and only then I could sleep. As usual I could not remember any of the dreams in the morning. I only remembered the shivery feelings that I had at night. The next night I was scared to go to sleep. I was afraid that I might dream again. And I did when I finally went to sleep. I woke up shivering again around 3am. It was an old dream that I had several days ago. I realised that every time I have these dreams I had dry mouth so I was thirsty and I was sleeping in a very awkward position. I had a hectic day too. I am having sleep disorders because of this. I hope you can help me by explaining the whole thing and no I wasn't watching too many horror movies.

Ans: Sleep is an altered state of consciousness. A normal night sleep is composed of REM (rapid eye movement - when the eye ball rolls under the closed lid) sleep and NREM (non rapid eye movement) sleep, which again consists of four stages ranging from light to deep sleep. It has been demonstrated in sleep laboratories that people dream in both these types of sleep of a night, however, dreams occurring in REM sleep is usually remembered well. It also depends on which stage of sleep you were when you woke up. Dreams can have a "latent content", which is usually obscured by a "manifest content". In your dream, it seems that the feeling arising from manifest content is fear. Here, the latent content could be deep seated sense of insecurity (e.g. in relationship, job, financial situation, social life, childhood repressed memories etc.). I'm making this assumption on the basis of my theoretical knowledge and clinical experience though I'm not ruling out the possibility of other issues which might become apparent after further probing. PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is a psychiatric condition that results from exposure to a traumatic event. People who have experienced , witnessed or confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or other (e.g. battle field, rape, hijacking, robbery, physical assault, severe mental or sexual abuse etc.), may later develop PTSD. Repeated dream of similar scary content occurs in people suffering from PTSD. Night terror is a sleep disorder where nightmare is accompanied by sympathetic arousal (e.g. increased heart rate, sweating, rapid breathing, dry mouth etc.). Awkward posture could be responsible for partial obstruction of airway passage and diminished oxygen supply to brain. A hectic day may mean over-exhaustion leading to certain chemical imbalance in the brain which in turn has a direct or indirect impact on the quality of sleep. However, this is usually a transient reversible situation. Adequate rest and proper relaxation may restore the condition though, negligence and long lasting sleep disturbance may cause further damage. Anxiety state and/or depressed mood may be other contributory factors. To calm your nerves and induce a state of tranquillity, medicine may be helpful. Ironically, people withdrawing from sedative/hypnotic medication may as well suffer from this kind of sleep disturbance.

Q. I am usually considered as a friendly person by others and I have lots of friends. When we finished our university we tried our best to keep in touch, all of us. Recently after three years have gone by I have realised that I am the only one who is taking initiative to meet the friends, others are quite reluctant to have a reunion. I know everyone is busy with job and other things but so am I. It makes me feel that I am the one missing others no one is missing me. I also feel that I am not needed any more. Am I being irrational?

Ans: I assume that you belong to the age group of 20-35years. People of this age group usually enjoy hanging out with their friends. It also serves to resolve the conflict of "identity Vs role confusion" - an important step of establishing self-identity. However, this peer influence gradually declines over time. "Intimacy Vs isolation" becomes a major conflict that needs to be addressed at this stage to enhance psychological growth. Larger groups of friends break down into smaller closer groups or pairs and people get more interested in intimate, long lasting relationship at this stage than large, superficial groups. Career building, familial and financial responsibility become a priority in life. Coping with all these demands is quite challenging for many people. They feel over stretched and overwhelmed, can not really focus on anything else. You've stated that you're a friendly person and taking all the initiative alone to maintain the friendship. You feel hurt by the lack of warmth or reluctance of others. I also understand that you're quite busy and functioning well in other aspects of life too. It seems that your need for social stimulation is probably higher than your fellow friends. We all are social being but our personal need for social interaction varies from each other. We tend to connect with others on the basis of sameness (e.g. you are trying to connect with people who studied with you in the same class or university) but we grow on the basis of being different (e.g. you are different from your friends in respect to your personal need for friendship). You may use this sociability as a resource in other aspects of life too (public relations, social work etc.). The feeling ( "I am not needed"- feeling abandoned!) arising from this situation is a direct consequence of your negative interpretation or belief ("no one is missing me"). According to Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)- this is an irrational belief leading to negative feelings. If you challenge this belief and ask for evidences, you'll probably find it is based on inadequate ground ("no one" seems to be an exaggerated term, reluctance doesn't necessarily mean they don't miss you rather it could simply mean they are busy) . So, replace it with a positive belief ( I'm more energetic, I'm more passionate or at least I'm more friendly etc.) which will boost your self esteem and make you feel better. I won't be surprised if you exceed your friends in overall global functioning score (axis v of multi-axial psychiatric assessment method). However, if you can change your negative thinking pattern, you'll probably function even better in future.






If I were to die…

The thought comes to all of us, now and then, ever since we are of an age to think about things perceptibly. Everyone wonders, "how will it all end for me?" And then the unfortunate moments create shadows in our crystal clear lives, attending someone's funereal for the first time, or hearing about how a life ended. And that's when we start dealing with ideas of death, as a mere child just learning to live.

The darkness of death gloomed us all at one point or other. The other day I too was pondering on the thought of death, trying to decide if I wanted to really die in America or Bangladesh, will I want to be buried here or there, if I do die here how I will die and so on. Thinking about it I saw how death is perceived in different ways in Bangladesh and in America. It seemed to me Americans get really creative about death while us Bengalis are dying in a higher rate but without any art or inventiveness.

If you are confused I am here to explain. See it goes like this, us, the expandable Bengalis are dying every minute, either in the hands of a contract killer, hired by someone who we were "unjust" to, or we are going under a bus or truck (probably the most insignificant and common way of dying), or dying in hospital beds while receiving treatment for the wrong illness. Where as in America you have the choices to die as you wish unless it's an accident which you have no control over. People do come under trucks and buses but not that often really. And even if the death involves a truck, it's attached to an elaborate story usually, such as, the truck was crossing a flyer-over when it tipped and fell and created a fire that burnt for a whole night and day (see veryyy original). Every morning and evening some unfortunate bad driver crashes and dies, and everyday more weak and olds get submitted to yet another hospice to welcome death. Besides the insignificant ways of dying, the over indulged Americans indulge themselves even when it comes to planning the end.

Still confused? Okay think about Dr. Jack Kevorkian AKA Dr. Death. He has helped over 40 people die since 1990. Dr. Jack Kevorkian operates on a simple philosophy: People have a right to avoid a lingering, miserable death by ending their own lives with help from a physician who can ensure that they die peacefully. These assisted suicides were all done with care and creativity which later added fame to Kevorkian's career. So tell me isn't death an over-rated sumptuousness in a country where giving methods to die can be a hobby or a career?

Okay say suicide is not your choice of a perfect ending. What's out there for you then? Well in America you always have the assurance that there is some psychopath who is going around killing without any rhyme or reason. The Columbine High school shooting, the Okalahoma city bombing, the sniper shooting in 2002, and there are so many more, when people died in the most unfortunate and sudden ways, being memorable dying in the hands of psychopaths.

Now take a look at the poor Bangladeshis? How are we dying? Accidents and contract killings? Crowding a half drowning ferry or boat knowing its capacity and just sinking into the depth of river Megnha, Jamuna or Padma? Isn't that a form suicide also, with a lack of innovativeness? Or dying in the hands of local goons for not obeying certain wishes of some "respected" leaders and thugs. Our deaths are forgotten by another insignificant death the next minute. Unless it is a wicked murder story of a beautiful model, controversial leader or the perfect housewife, the general public of Bangladesh barely remembers the dead.

A similarity concerning death between America and Bangladesh is that neither country produced philosophers like Aristotle or Socrates who pondered for hours about the meaning of death, the tangled philosophies of dying. Death to us is either a simple tale or a creative ending.

Currently I am in the process of soul searching to define my perfect ending. When it's time, where should I reside to welcome my significant or insignificant death. The question is do I want to die in the hands of a psychopath or contract killer. What a dilemma…

By Iffat Newaz



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