<%-- Page Title--%> Musings <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 132 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

December 5, 2003

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In a Blink

Imran H. Khan

Without the last minute shopping, Eid for some people is incomplete. Without the hassle and traffic and the noise and pollution and clamour, what fun it is to shop…the last minute tension, the last minute bargain, the last minute comments. It's all good as long as you get to do them before Eid. Sath Masjid Road, for example, provided the complete package for such crowd-hungry people. There were cars everywhere, people, racket, lights, and the works. It was a night to rejoice and what better way to brighten up the night than through lights. They were everywhere, by the roads, on walls of houses, all over shopping complexes… especially on shopping complexes. For one whole week before Eid, Dhaka City looked a bit like Las Vagas in full swing.

I was tired after all our shopping and as I was staring at the lights of Meena Bazaar, a fairly new mall, I was mesmerised by its dazzling effect. It seemed brighter than it usually was. It reminded me of a breathtaking fireball show I had seen some weeks back…

It was the first time that I had been selected for something…something special. I was selected as a Facilitator for the 9th Annual Cultural Evening (ACE) of North South University. It was organised by NSU Shangskritik Shangathon (NSUSS). I was utterly speechless from the moment Rifat, the President of NSUSS, conveyed this message to me. She had to say it twice to make sure that I understood. I was a Facilitator. It was almost as if someone had tapped my shoulder and told me to rise as a knight. I finally had a title. It was my moment. It felt magnificent. I smiled in reply. The truth was, I had absolutely no idea what a 'facilitator' was. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Tanvir, Nabeel, Amit and Rifat: the Executive body of NSUSS.

On the day of the ACE, all the facilitators were told to meet up beforehand and plan on what was to be done. It seems that there were quite a number of people who had received the 'honour' of being facilitators. In fact there were more than fifteen of us. Very quickly, I lost that special feeling. And then I found out our 'duty'. We were supposed to make sure that the event (ACE) was a peaceful one without any disruptions (not that we were expecting a bio-chemical warfare anytime soon) but one never knows students nowadays.

As Miller gave us our duty (he was in charge being the senior most and one of the sports legends of NSU), I gazed at the paper he had in his hands that Rony had drawn. It was a map of all the seats that were available at Osmani Memorial Hall, all numbered to precision to prevent anyone from standing once the festivities kicked off. We were supposed to take positions around the seats, at different corners, at different entry points and at different key points. But before the event, there was also the question of letting the people into the hall. The whole 'plan' was like a S.W.A.T. team's recipe for invasion.

I ended up getting the fascinating job of collecting the girls tickets at the gate. (Hey, who's complaining?) As the doors opened for the gala event, a queue had already formed that stretched about half a kilometre. Everyone was dressed to kill and looking grand.

But why did they all have shopping bags in their hands? I suddenly felt someone shaking me. I quickly realised that I must have dozed off and had started to daydream. I was looking at the people in front of Meena Bazaar. Shameem and Emdad, my friends who had shopped with me the whole day were trying to shake the dizziness out of me. They succeeded and also managed to give me a mini 'heart attack' in the process. Plus I was carrying some of their shopping bags in my hands. I managed to pull a straight face and started to stare at the lights again. But my mind wondered off.

As soon as I finished my duty outside and made sure that everyone was inside, I entered the hall. It was completely dark and there was an expectant hush as the show started. Present on the occasion was Mohammed Shajahan, Chairman, Board of Governors, NSU; and Dr. Hafiz G.A. Siddiqi, Vice Chancellor, NSU. The first item to set things off was a Rabindro Shangeet, soon followed by a fireball show. The fireball show. The whole stage was in darkness and as the performers started swirling their little balls of fire, the whole crowd was in complete awe; many of the audience released unattended 'gasps' and 'wows'.

Pretty soon, the comedy acts came up and the whole crowd was roaring with laughter. I knew a few people who had no idea what was going on but still they were clutching on to their bellies. I found their acting much more entraining than the gist of the jokes. My duty around this time was to stand between the isles of students and make sure that they were in accordance with the rules of conduct. I did my part and more. I even made sure that the students were sitting straight. I made a lot of enemies that night.

As the saying goes 'good things don't last', that night was one that passed really fast. The last item on the menu was the chorus, featuring all the performers, all the organisers, all the people associated with the programme and lastly, all the facilitators. As our names were called we went up on the stage for the grand finale. Though it was our turn under the limelight, I couldn't help but wonder what the weight limit was for the wooden stage. I was astounded. There were close to a hundred people on stage at the same time and it held. As the curtains fell, everyone on stage started to jump up to rejoice; my mind was still on the stage but it never ceased to surprise me. As I joined the group and started to jump, it felt really good. We were all a team and we had all worked together to create something.

The next thing I remember was Shameem telling me that we had reached our destination. I stopped day dreaming. I guess we all reach our destination one way or another, it's the little twists and turns that make it really worthwhile.


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