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      Volume 10 |Issue 21 | June 03, 2011 |


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Surviving on Hyperbole


We are implicitly told from a very early age that social acceptance is the most important achievement of a human being. This is why babies are taken out to excruciatingly boring parties in uncomfortable polyester or silk to be displayed to a room full of germ-exuding, overenthusiastic grownups. They scream and screech (the babies that is, though it could easily be the other way round) at the sheer torture of being subject to so much adult attention. Soon enough though, these very babies forget their shyness and become suave performers and revel in this attention, deserved or otherwise.

It is no wonder then that we are subject to ear-splitting renditions of a minor, the parents of whom are convinced, is a protégé, at a birthday bash or what -could-have-been, a quiet dinner. Later be sure to be presented with a CD of the little sweetheart's songs that you must now review for the local equivalent of Rolling Stones magazine.

Parents are usually proud of their offspring and make no bones about it. But sometimes they do go a bit overboard. Inviting two thousand people at a child's circumcision ceremony, publishing achievement announcements in the newspaper after a child has received the first place - in kindergarten, sending life-size pictures of one's child to friends, relatives and vague acquaintances on occasion of her first birthday – these are some examples of parental adulation going to the extreme.

The really disturbing part, however, is that people tend to display this exaggerated enthusiasm even in the case of adults, whether they are their offspring or much adored leaders. If any of you were wondering, on Sunday May 29, whether the traffic jam, was unusually beastly as you mopped the pouring sweat from your face while stuck in Biswa Road, wonder no more. The reason, predictably, was the arrival of none other than Khaleda Zia and her entourage from a 'highly successful' US and UK tour. The swarms of revellers to receive her seemed enough proof of this. VIPs causing miserable, unbearable gridlocks with their arrivals, departures and highly secured visits to seminars, weddings or even the local grocery store, are hardly an uncommon affair. It is also quite usual for party supporters to create a nuisance celebrating successes that may or may not exist. This is what happened last Sunday.

We all know just how successful the leader of the Opposition’s trip was with no show from either Hillary or David. Those big-talkers who had bragged about having connections with high ups in US and UK governments had to eat their own words when the big party turned out to be a big flop. Newspapers have it that the Chairperson of the party actually didn't invite some bigwigs in her party in order to accommodate certain advisors who had boasted having close connections with high ups of the respective countries.

But the show must go on, thought the advisors and so advised the advisees to throw a party for their Chief anyway just to keep up appearances. Hence the jubilation and joy at the airport and utter agony in the streets of Dhaka for the ordinary folk. The idea is that when there is a nagging possibility that there really is no substance in something, the only way to ensure its survival is to use the easiest trick in the book: hype it. When your leader gets an award in a foreign land for upholding democracy at home despite her steadfast refusal to attend the parliament for which her voters had chosen her, make sure such inconvenient details are obscured by the pomp and grandeur of a big bash to celebrate an imaginary success.


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