Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 14, Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Puthi

'Puthi' Is a handwritten manuscript. Before the invention of printing, books were handwritten and copies were made based on the demand. Puthi literature holds a special place in the history of Bengali literature as a genre written in a mixed vocabulary drawn from Bangla, Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Hindi.

It was popular during the 18th and the 19th centuries and its composers as well as readers were primarily Muslims. The word 'puthi' (or 'punthi') is derived from 'pustika' or book. However, only a particular type of writing dating from the 18th-19th centuries is known as 'puthi'.

This genre of literature was initiated by Fakir Garibullah (circa 1680-1770) with Amir Hamza -- an epic on warfare combining both Arabian history and legends. Its language differs from the traditional Bangla of the period with a third of its vocabulary consisting of foreign words.

The poet presumably based his language on the spoken dialect of the ordinary Muslims of Hughli, Howrah, Kolkata, and 24-Parganas. Garibullah and his disciple Syed Hamza wrote several other poems. Many other Muslim poets emulated them in composing similar poems. These were read by the Muslims of all strata of society but were most popular among the low-paid employees, traders and workers.

Back in those times, it was a common scene that villagers would gather around in the evening, while an enlightened person bestowed with the knowledge of reading would recite stories from a 'puthi'.

The puthi composer was generally known as a 'shaer', Although read from left to right like other Bangla books, puthi text was printed from right to left as in Arabic and Persian.

Many Muslim poets of the period wrote in both 'sadhu' or chaste Bangla as well as in 'dobhasi' Bangla. It should be noted, however, that dobhasi was not completely novel. A similar mixture of Bangla and Arabic-Persian words were used in some narrative verses composed at least two centuries earlier.

With some exceptions, most 'puthi' literature was derivative with poets using Persian, Urdu and Hindi works as their sources. While borrowing from these works, they not only adopted the subjects but also many words, parts of sentences and even their syntax.

In terms of subjects and themes, 'puthi' literature can be divided into many categories namely, romantic love stories, poems on warfare, biographies of prophets and other holy men, folktales about saints, poems about Islamic history and religious rites, and contemporary events.

But 'puthis' that describe contemporary matters are rare. Most contain imaginary stories based on a mixture of ancient history, anecdotes and traditions. Poems depicting the lives of such heroes as Hanifa, Hamza, Hatem Tai, Sohrab-Rustam and Joigun Bibi were very popular, as were poems based on supernatural actions performed by historical or imaginary 'pir-awlias' and other holy men.

The reason was that the subjugated Muslims found solace in the glorious past of Islam, especially the heroism of Muslim conquerors, the spread of Islam. The 'puthi' poets created for the Muslims a world of fantasy and heroism away from the world of realities and the revolutionary changes brought about in Bangla language and literature in the 19th century.

Source: Banglapedia


MAN TO MAN

The need for entertainment

Boys will be boys and as boys they will always love toys. Even when that huge step to adulthood has been taken and now they are called men, the love for toys remains unchanged and intact. Of course the G.I. Joes are now replaced with more tech-savvy and expensive toys.

There are certain things that a Man needs. The right to basic necessities is the birth right of each and every human being. Entertainment is at the top of the ladder and the antics of the child or what happened to you today is the last form of entertainment. We demand the right to purchase a highly expensive High Definition Plasma TV. There is absolutely no way of going around it. If we can't have a pool table, then you cannot expect us to also forgo the opportunity of owning the Plasma TV which is HD. It's okay honey, we will send the kids to college next year.

Size matters. How can men possibly be expected to watch TV via 24 inches of screen only? The art of balancing the remote control and the magnifying glass is almost next to impossible. Hence, nothing below 32 inches really works.

Numerous companies are now offering payments for these monster sets in instalments, thus making them affordable to a majority of the consumers. Sure it'll set you back a few thousand grand or so, but it is really worth it. There is nothing better than coming home and losing yourself to the high definition world of glorious clarity. And plus, everyone gets to enjoy the benefits. Except for the children; keep them off the television or they will wreck it for sure. Seriously, take heed.

Once the TV set is placed in your living room, let's go a step further and enhance the experience even more. Cable operators are certainly not giving us our money's worth and the choice of channels, all translated in different languages and ridiculous voice-overs, are pathetic. Why suffer from their ignorance when you can select your own choice of channel packages along with a clarity that the cable operators have never provided before?

Indeed, it's time to get Tata Sky. It opens up a whole new experience of television viewing and it really does justice to your brand new TV. Of course it sets you back a pretty penny compared to the current cable operator, but it's worth it. According to various factors you may need to spend in the region of Tk 3600-8000 taka as set up charge and customise your monthly bill, but then you are in control.

Is there anything better than being in control? Plus, every time you have a crucial game coming up, you can easily remove Star Plus, Zee TV, Cartoon Network and whatever other channel may interrupt you in participating in one of man's oldest and most noble traditions: Game Day.

Finally its time to head to a furniture store and get the cosiest sofa available, preferably ones with cup holders, stain-free material and if available, massage options. Total comfort and so in style right now.

And there you have it. So, go on, get out and get yourself these toys and you are set for the next few months or as long as you have to pay the instalments. Then, there's always something else. At least Men don't dish out 1500 taka on eye-liners. Practicality you say?

By Osama Rahman


SPOTLIGHT

Tell me, what's in your pocket?

“Things found in my pocket
things lost and forgotten so very long ago
things found in my pocket
the sudden reminder of someone I used to know”
- “Things Found in My Pocket” by Bill Gable

Arecent telecom advert showed a man starting off alarms as he passes a metal detector. The guard gets suspicious and asks him to empty his pocket. To everyone's wonder, he takes out some big, random things - from a bookcase to a group of tribal Africans! He finally takes out his mobile phone and says, “Sorry, the internet was on!”

While this is an extreme example of the vast variety of things that can be found in one's pocket, many people do carry a whole lot of curious and seemingly unnecessary objects. Last week I asked people at random to empty their pockets.

The things people carry are unbelievable! A few items like cell phones, iPods, tissue papers, keys and pen drives are understandable. But there are things that will test your sanity in trying to make sense of why they would qualify to enter a pocket.

A common thing many stuff in their pockets is cash. Why don't you simply put it in your wallet, then? Why carry a disorganised lump or pack of dirty papers in your clothes? When asked, most of these people answer with a shrug. One guy answered, “I like keeping change handy.” Yeah, as if the wallet is in a vault in some bank far away!

Another thing many people keep is a Swiss knife or an army knife. They say it's for safety. A few say it's for “style”, which makes me think deeply. I say nothing and move on. But what if you discover someone has a small hammer in his pocket? Makes you think even deeper, right? We move on.

Some people have a soft corner for their socks. A few maniacs have a toothbrush in their pockets for some reason, while others like to think of their pockets as trash cans. Some think of it as a lunch box to save snacks and fruits for a later time. I know someone who carries around a tiny guinea pig in his pocket. What does he think he is; a kangaroo?

Not only do you find strange things in your pocket; you also find lost things in your pocket. Remember the last time you frantically searched the whole house for your mobile phone and suddenly it rang up inside your pocket or purse? We don't search in the most obvious of places. And, there have been many cases in our lives where an important bill survived the whole laundry process and came back - clean and crumpled.

But the amusement of pockets doesn't end here. There are pockets within pockets. And then there are hidden pockets. This concept however, is quite useful for many. Harun, an assistant to a proprietor, says, “I carry large amounts of money between my boss and the banks, customers, etc. Therefore, my work pants always have two or three hidden pockets.”

Of course, the sheer number of pockets a dress can have is amusing. I went to Jaflong this year, and noticed a tourist wearing a pair of pants which had several pockets from the waist right down to the ankles (approximately eight, say, four on each leg). He was engrossed in collecting the beautiful stones that you find in that area.

Indeed, the things found in your pocket- and the number and nature of the pocket itself- can say a whole lot about you: your personality, values, social class, tastes and preferences and what not.

So, what's in your pocket?

By M H Haider


REVIEW

Playlist: THE Music Magazine

March 2011 marked the debut of Playlist, perhaps the most comprehensive magazine on all things musical in Bangladesh. Available in most renowned music outlets, Playlist may just be the dose that an already burgeoning music industry needs. For all the music lovers in Bangladesh and abroad as well, Playlist provides a complete insight into the Bangladeshi music scene.

If the debut issue is a sign of things to come, then it can be said that Playlist will indeed go a long way. Starting off with the Evolution of Band Music in Bangladesh, tracing Black's journey to even containing a piece on Micheal Jackson, the magazine appeals to each demographic and absolutely anyone who has a thing for tunes. Sajeda Tamanna's cover story on band music could very well be described as the jewel in the crown, as she diligently maps the boom in the band music scene, from Azam Kahn, Rambling Stone, Zinga to Miles, Souls and the likes. Instead of just talking about the history and growth of the bands in question, a detailed observation on the places that really kicked off the music movements was also provided.

Recent music events such as the Dhaka World Music Fest and Bryan Adam's Bare Bones concert were also covered. Furthermore, the magazine provides a platform to showcase upcoming artists and bands while providing a rare sneak-peek at the lives and stories of the super celebrities. Thankfully there is also a review section which can help music lovers to carefully select the right tunes from the numerous releases every month. At the end an actual play list is also provided for everyone to know what the world is playing. Although, at best, the play list can be considered a bit back-dated, it still is a start. On that note, the 10 'most awesomely bad songs of 2010' contained Eric Carmen's 'All By Myself', which was actually played and performed back in 1975, so there's a glitch that is hard to understand, considering the time and the fact that it was actually a superb effort.

The magazine itself is a novel and unique effort. With brilliant graphics work throughout, Playlist is pleasing to the eye and a certain dose for the music maniacs of the country. Though at times the write-ups themselves leave a lot to be desired, displaying a rare lack of professionalism, the graphics work compensates for it. Despite the few and far between drawbacks, the magazine can very well cement itself in the music scene for the years to come. And a pat on the back then for whoever came up with the Instruformation column.

By Osama Rahman

 
 
 

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