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|Volume 12 |Issue 06| February 08, 2013 ||
I just moved into a new apartment recently and don't know my neighbours very well yet. Unfortunately however, I do know a lot about them, as the walls are very thin and I can hear pretty much anything said out loud in the apartments next to me and above me. A few nights ago, I heard a terrible argument between a couple upstairs; the woman was mad at her husband for coming home late and was accusing him of spending the evening with a lady named Sheela (or something) while he furiously denied it, swearing up and down that he was at work. The argument lasted half an hour and needless to say, it was difficult for me to get my five-year-old to sleep. They resumed the fight the following night and the night after that, exactly at the same time, until it became absolutely necessary for me to raise my objections. I marched upto their apartment on the fourth night and furiously rang the doorbell. An old lady opened the door and I demanded to see the “Sahib,” of the house. She looked confused as she explained that she lived alone. I could still hear the argument from inside the house so I asked why she was lying to me. Her expression cleared when I mentioned the fight and laughing to herself she lead me into the house where I saw a maid sitting in front of a large TV watching some sort of Bangla serial. “That fight will last all week,” she said, “but don't worry, I'll turn the volume down.” Feeling silly, I went back home and informed my wife that I had taken care of it, and we can now sleep in peace.
The Right to Survive
Last week while on my way to lunch on a rickshaw, I noticed a man on a motorbike in front of me holding a sack tied with a rope at the neck. At one point he dropped the sack in the middle of the road and sped off. I would have thought it was a trash bag if it hadn't started moving and I heard a whimper coming from inside. I jumped off my rickshaw and ran toward the sack before it could be run over and when I opened it, I found a traumatised cat inside, crying and shaking in fear. I took it to a clinic for animals where it is safe now. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon incident in our country. For some reason, people think that if they no longer want a pet, usually cats and puppies, they need to dispose of them by either drowning them or as this man had done, tying them up in a sack or box and leaving them to die, instead of simply releasing them into the streets. Although people may not think this is ideal, animals can still survive and live a happy life on the street being looked after by construction workers, guards, street vendors- it is not upto us to play god.
LESSON IN A SIGNBOARD
Recently, while waiting for the Uttara-bound bus at Farmgate, I noticed something intriguing at a roadside bookshop. A small plastic-laminated white signboard, conspicuously written with black ink, hung up inside the bookshop saying, ''tui, tumi ba mama bole shombodhon korben na, bebohare bongsher porichoy (please, don't address me disrespectfully, behaviour denotes the family-background identity)''. I walked over to the shop. The seller was around 25. He answered without looking at me as he was busy wiping the books dust-free with a rag.
“Why do you have that signboard?”
-”Yes, people like you bargain politely but some people react furiously throwing in some bad words. And some people tell me to put the signboard down.”
“So what do you say to them?”
Having spoken to him, I understood that he wasn't well-educated but was polite and treated his customers well. I realised that if the signboard had not been there, I would have probably treated him disrespectfully as well. Subconsciously, the signboard inserted the etiquette into me. It changed my behaviour towards rickshaw-pullers, roadside-vendors, beggars, shopkeepers as well as my university staff. It was a lesson well learned.
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