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     Volume 9 Issue 37| September 17, 2010 |


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Tomato in a Fruit Salad


Taking cue from a number of outfits that have laun-ched tutorials for the aam-janata of a country born from bleeding for Bangla, I will begin with a lesson in English:

A 'paraprosdokian' is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax.

Now to continue with our normal activities:
Seeing and hearing some of our ministers and MPs, past and present, remind you of the paraprosdokian that 'light travels faster than sound'. That is why they appear bright until you hear them speak.

That cliché has been doing its round since some ego-thirsty people chose to be elected to become public representatives at the policy level. But now the light and sound matter has become more relevant to our midnights.
How so?

At a time eternally reserved for horror shows and eerie prowls, television has harnessed predator and prey to churn out each night unresolved and continuing parleys between a bunch of experts, nationwide about twenty-five odd (pun not intended), who switch from channel to channel, and who pretend to have a solution to everything that this country is not only reeling under, but might, except to the great political divide that dominates our socio-cultural existence. No one on the 500lux couch seems to know how to bring the donkey to the river, but they all vouch that they know how to make it drink the water.

Despite my reservation and exasperation, I too am compelled to acknowledge their holistic expertise because the talkers seem to know about everything (or they are damn good actors) from the rift in an upazilla committee of bookbinders to the split in the moon. North or south, BC or AD, AC or DC, oriental or occidental, boy or girl, hot or cold, up in the air or down under water, communism or capitalism, catwalk or moonwalk, they snatch halfway the question from the presenters, who on their part have become so oriented with the stereotype that they now look forward to watching English Paper I on TV. Hearing some of them night after night will give you the confidence that you are never too old to learn something stupid.

This is not anything new in our country. We have the knack to imitate and duplicate anything that is doing well, over and over, again and again, until the market forces bring it down or the people reject it for something fresh, something innovative. There have been attempts to vary the number of guests, again a guest on one show is the host in another, ki tamsha. They have tried to rearrange the furniture, redefine the decor, dazzle by technology, but they did not dare to recast the guests.

While our drama serials are no less guilty of succumbing to monopolistic demeanour of a bunch of performers, nationwide about twenty-five odd (pun not intended), who switch from channel to channel, and who pretend to know how to act out every character on earth, from 16 to 60, they are largely harmless.

Whereas the act of descendants of Thespian is intended for entertainment which is not guaranteed and a social message may be considered a bonus, the role of the talkers with their wrinkled vroo should have been constructive and vital to a nation that is yearning to go ahead. Instead 'talk' as in Bangla is now more appropriate in several of the cases. And a survey may reveal that the shows are the most common cause of supriyo viewers switching off.

There are two main categories of guests: one, those who were ministers, advisors, MPs, Secretaries, IGPs, DGs; and second, those who aspire to become ministers, advisors, and MPs. The incumbent Secretaries, IGPs, and DGs remain deaf and dumb as far as these shows are concerned.

The ability of the talkers is also divided along their line of categorisation. Those who were in a responsible position or aspire to become somebody have all the solutions from electricity outages to traffic problems to constructing Mawa Setu in just six months. On the other hand, many of those who become somebody, having hoodwinked all and sundry by their gab and guile on chat shows, have been seen eating heem-sheem to run their own ministry, or to look after the problems of their electorates and that of their constituency. That is one measure of the acumen of these global experts.

Little do the sab-jantas know that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.



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