Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 62, Tuesday September 13, 2005





Why Teens LOVE Their (Messy) Rooms

Imagine an average teenager's room. Messy with clothes strewn all over, toys and books cluttered on the floor, a sock chaotically left behind...maybe even a day-old-half-eaten sandwich under the bed. Just what you'd expect if a torpedo hits the house. No wonder parents spend hours trying to get kids to clean up. And when constant nagging, gentle coaxing or bribing doesn't work, its time to impart a piece of their mind. Why is it that teens prefer the unholy mess that they live in? Scientists are still working on that one.

In many ways, teens' rooms are a direct reflection of their lives: dark and confusing places where everything gets periodically turned upside down. For parents this might be terrifying but for them, their room is 'their zone'. A private sanctuary where they can be themselves, at a safe distance from parental, social or peer pressure. Hence the multiple 'No Entry' signs on your sixteen-year-old's door.

Some teens like the untidiness because of the image they have of themselves: non-conformist, rebellious, oddball. Some might actually be enjoying the fact that the sights of their rooms bother their parents. Or it could be a desperate plea for attention. Maybe it's because your teen craves privacy. At the same time it could also be a cover-up for something a teen is hiding.

It's rarely all that complicated. Most teens have very little time in between running from one class to another and are exhausted when they get back home. And they are spoilt, aware that their parents or the paid help will eventually take care of things. Parents who tried the 'smoke-em out' approach often tell horrifying tales of how bad things got before they could take it no more and stepped in.

Then again, parents can be paranoid. It is often better to make peace with a little clumsiness than resort to constant nagging, which makes things worse. But, hormones or no hormones, when there is no ray of hope parents have every right to take drastic measures.

Teens are pack rats. They collect all kinds of junk and will never consent to their being thrown away. Parents should learn to live with that. All they might really need is more space to keep their stuff. Shelves, drawers and closets help your teen to stay organised. Simple adjustments in your house could also go a long way too. Large plastic containers can hold magazines and comic strips. A CD rack could be home for a booming music collection. Dirty uniforms can be chucked into a laundry basket in one corner. Ask your teen what s/he might need so that everything has a right place. Remember, that whatever improvements you make, they should be convenient, handy and well-located.

Weekly clean-your-room routines can be a fun and productive time if parents help out too. On a lazy Friday morning, turn on the stereo and start the work together. A great way to bond and it gets the job done, presto.

All things being said and done, teens will be teens. A little mess never hurts anybody. Besides, this is just a phase that'll pass. Most teens almost always turn out right. It's just a question of faith and patience. Sadly, parents having the selective memory that they do, often forget that.

By Shoaib Alam


My memorable years spent in Africa

IT was mid 1992, as much as I can remember now, when we went to see the goldmine in Johannesburg. And now that almost 15 years have passed since my visit to that gold-mine ,I can hardly remember what I had seen. Even then I can still remember a few unforgettable scenes, as some memories never seem to fade away!

At 9.a.m. we started our journey to the south of Johannesburg to see the goldmine. This was something, a completely different experience for me. I had heard a lot about gold mines but my dream came true only on that day and every word that I heard from the people there, and everything that I saw there seemed to me as if I had been to Ali Baba's cave for once in my life.

South Africa, though generously endowed with many other minerals, is synonymous with gold. In the past century almost 40% of the world's gold came from South Africa. The gold fields lie in a great 500km arc from Evander in the northeast and to Virginia in the south.

Since 1978, residual gold has been recovered from the chemical recycling of old dumps and slime dams. But the bulk of the 860 tones of gold which the South African mines produce each year, and which comprises three quarters of the free world's output, is recovered from far beneath the surface. From narrow stoups, often little more than a metre high, the ore-bearing rocks and the men who mine them are hauled upwards in special lifts.

We were given protective clothing to wear and then taken down under the surface of the ground by a lift used for the visitors only. I felt as if I was inside a huge room and when I looked around I saw piles of ore-bearing rocks and a group of 4/6 black women cleaning and washing those rocks. A few other black women were sorting the rocks in another room . Next, these sorted out rocks are crushed before being ground into 'fines' which then undergo a complex chemical process to extract the precious metal. It is then smelted and poured to form the 31. 1 kg gold ingots containing some 88% gold and 9% silver, which are further refined at a central plant in Germiston. Even there, these gold-green bricks do not reach absolute purity, but a fineness of 996 parts in 1000.

I heard from the guides there that intensive safety precautions and elaborate techniques which warn of potential dangers have greatly reduced the risks of deep-level mining.

The mournful warning sirens at the pithead are seldom heard today. Even with some 200,000 miners underground at any given time, even minor injuries and accidents are remarkably infrequent. And it is still the man, the miner, who must pit his paltry strength against Nature's subterranean forces which can suddenly erupt causing injury and even death. At such times it is as if the earth is claiming human sacrifice in exchange for her gold.

The next day at around 5 p.m. we came back to Gaborone. I went to the backyard and called Cornellia (my maid) loudly to let her know that I had come back from my trip. But there was no sound of her and I understood she must have gone for a walk or for shopping. So, I started cleaning and cooking for the night and for the next day too as I had an early morning class to attend at the polytechnic. An hour later Cornellia was knocking on the kitchen door although the door was wide open, I thought to myself, "Who taught them these good manners?" She came inside while I gave her a smiling nod and handed me two large envelopes that she had taken out from the letter box. One came from the President's House with an invitation to attend Botswana's Independence Day's celebrations. My husband got the invitation as the Principal Architect for BHC (Botswana Housing Corporation) and I was included as the spouse. The luncheon was to take place at President Masere's presidential palace on that day. The other one was from one of our Gujrati friends, inviting us to attend his eldest daughter's wedding to be held at the local mosque. I had attended quite a few Gujrati wedding ceremonies before while I was in Zimbabwe; that time I had noticed that both the parties ,I mean the friends and families of both the bride and the groom - all gather at the mosque premises on a Friday noon. In the presence of all the families and invited guests, the Imam performs the ceremony of Akht. After that the bride's father would distribute token sweets and small decorative gifts to all the guests and participants in the wedding, and lunch is served right after Doas. And all these steps used to take place after Jumma prayer. I used to enjoy their carrot chutney and Gujrati flavoured masallah biryani very much. But what surprised me was the wedding attire of the bride! It did not bear resemblances to any of the Indian bridal attires rather it was like the typical Christian wedding dress mostly white in colour. I have seen the same type of bridal attire to be used by the Saudi Arabian people too.

The next few days were quite hectic for me attending classes, meetings, going to Botswana Agricultural College to teach and then all of a sudden, I fell sick and had to give a phone call to Dr. Maclaud in the middle of the night around 12.30 a.m. At first I thought she might not receive the phone call and talk to a patient at that hour. But her comforting language regarding my discomfort not only amazed me but filled me with soothing relief. That night I was suffering from severe UTI and Dr. Maclaud asked me to drink some soda water to relieve me from the burning sensation and then see her right at 7. a.m. the next morning. That was the beginning of my kidney disease which later turned into pilo nephrities as Dr. Bialas, a polished doctor of Gaborone private hospital informed me.

After a week ,I started my busy life again. Once you start working you can hardly afford to pass your time in relaxation because you feel like finishing so many commitments, so many responsibilities to attend to. I was eagerly waiting to meet President Masere and his wife and was counting my days for the 30th of September to arrive.

To be continued…………
By Suraiya Zafar


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