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Reader's chit

Tame Those Games!

These days, kids learn to play video games (defining broadly, video games here include computer games, Play-station and arcade games) before they even learn to read and write properly. And since almost every household owns a computer, it is inevitable that an attraction towards PC games will develop from an early age. In fact, along with usual tasks, playing games has been the predominant computer bustle for both children and adults. Indeed, playing video games is dreadfully exciting but studies have found out that these video game amusements do have their toll on the participants' health, putting them to a number of physical risks including seizures, obesity, hand injuries and changes in heart rate.

It is the youngsters who are likely to spend more time with video games. And as they spend increasing sums of time in front of the television or computer monitors they are likely to be at risk from obesity. Although there is yet to be a research that thoroughly documents a direct relationship between obesity and video games, it is obvious that a child is likely to be overweight since she/he spends about 4/5 hours on video games. It is common sense that the exercise of only fingers and thumbs would not do much for the rest of the body. Besides children's diet involves junk food high in fats, sugars and carbohydrates and these food habits combined with lack of physical activity results in the surge of obesity in children. Video games do contribute to inactive lifestyle by displacing involvement in sports and other physical activities. But in many cases youngsters do not have any other choice but to take shelter in video games instead of playing outdoors. Take the example of Dhaka's adolescents. With the disappearance of open grounds, the sport culture of the youngsters of the capital has also departed. And since there is not much to do around, all efforts end up in front of TV or video games.

Studies have also found out that computer games may trigger epileptic seizures in certain users. It appears that some video games cause seizures in patients with photosensitive epilepsy with their "flicker frequencies" or quickly flashing images. Excessive video game playing is also associated with a form of tendonitis called "Nintendinitis". It is considered as a sports injury characterized by severe pain in the extensor tendon of the right thumb as a result of repeated pressing of buttons during game play. This type of injury along with child's eye, back, postural, muscular, skeletal disorder and wrist problem is associated with the amount of time spent on video games, and due to the addictive nature of such games, the healing process is inhibited and injury perpetuates.

Video games also have an impact on the character of its users, which can be considered as the social effects of playing video games. Children, especially boys, spend a good amount of time on these games. If the game is violent and contains explicit languages or scenes then it often results in a negative impact on children's behaviour as research has found out that violent games increase children's aggressive behaviour.

Undoubtedly, video games are fun. But one has to be cautious that this fun is not turning out to be detrimental. As a result it is advised to monitor the contents of the games before playing, ensure safe computer use which includes taking frequent breaks and positioning equipments properly, avoid games with flicker frequencies and sustain a routine for playing video games.

By Obaidur Rahman

My Memorable Years In Africa

I came to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana at the end of December,1990. I perceived a remarkable difference between these two countries: Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Zimbabwe is awfully beautiful from its scenic side but economically far less solvent than Botswana. Inside my heart I felt these are just like two sisters, one rich in wealth and the other rich in beauty.

Botswana a vast and ancient land is covered by grassy, thorn-bush dotted Kalahari sand beneath which lies the tremendous mineral wealth which has enabled this one extremely poor country to rise among the ranks of the richest in Africa. Its progress after independence in 1966 was astonishing with the discovery of diamond pipes at Orapa and Jwaneng. This precious stone is still the country's leading foreign exchange earner. Copper, nickel, coal and gold are also contributing to the economic growth of Botswana. Botswana's main tourist attraction still remains the unique OKAVANGO DELTA, with its prolific wild life and fascinating waterways and scenery.

Most of the major African species can be found here, including elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, lion, cheetah, African buffalo, and some 20 species of antelope from the massive eland to the tiny duiker.

The local people of Botswana are called Batswana, and they come from Setswana speaking ethnic groups. Setswana is the national language although English is the official medium used in Business and most government affairs.

Gaborone, Botswana's capital is governed by the township act. Gaborone derives its name from Kgosi Gaborone of the Batlokwa, a tribe that lives to the east across the Notwane River.

At the airport we were received by Mac and Jenny, a British couple. Mac was a civil engineer at the BHC (Botswana Housing Corporation). While we reached our house provided by BHC at "VILLAGE" a residential area, we met Mr. and Mrs. Giasuddin, a Bangladeshi couple who brought us dinner and breakfast for the next morning. Mrs. Giasuddin was such an adorable lady; whenever someone was in need of some help, she was always there with a helping hand and a broad smile.

It was a fully furnished house with a big fireplace in the lounge and a high chimney on the top of its roof. In the morning I took a walk and was surprised to see all the houses in that area to be identical in structure, shape, and design. The roofs were all slanted, with red tiles and white chimneys. I was happy to see the spacious yard both at the back and in the front. At the backyard there was a tiny one-bed room hut for the maid to stay in. On the left was my neighbour, an African lady living alone with her two kids. On my right was a Scottish family with three young children just like mine.

Eventually, these children became so attached to my children that I had to consider six mouths always at the time of preparing lunch and dinner. Especially, Andrew, the little boy who was a year older then my little daughter, used to visit me a lot in the kitchen. He became familiar with all the Bangladeshi dishes. One afternoon I was frying uncle bean's rice to make some "Murri" and Andrew kept on saying, " Suraiya, are you frying Murri? Can I have some please?" He was so fond of murri that every time I prepared it I used to keep some aside for him.

The first two weeks I was busy getting my children 's admission in the nearby schools. Then I went to the Botswana Polytechnic and met the Principal, showed him the offer letter that I received from Harare Polytechnic, in Zimbabwe but could not join because of the delay in receiving my transcript from Bangladesh. He sent me to the Head of Civil Engineering Department, Mr. Kerton who was very impressed after a few minutes discussion and sent me to P.D. Rowelamela, the Deputy Head, for another interview. I still remember P.D. Rowelamela with deep respect as he sincerely and affectionately guided me to begin my career as a lecturer in Communication Skills Programme for the B.ENG. Students (Bachelor of Engineering Students).

I started taking classes from February 2, 1991 and in the beginning they gave me only one class to take i.e. on every Tuesday morning for two continuous hours. P.D told me to give 10 minute breaks in between two hours as these were all grown-up students and they might want to drink water or smoke for a while to freshen up. Well, that was the beginning of my working life there. I had 20 students in my class and among them there were three Indians and two Chinese students too. The rest were all Batswana. Right after one month's teaching Mr. Kerton called a Departmental Meeting and I was told not to miss this meeting at all. That was such a wonderful experience that I still vividly remember every moment of that meeting.

By Suraiya Zafar
To be continued


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