Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home

 

 

 

 

Home sweet home!

Where you live is your home, your neighbourhood. Your neighbourhood may seem pretty ordinary to you but if you look at it from a different angle, it may seem really interesting. Take mine for example, my area is just another typical area in Dhaka but it has some funny aspects to itself that make it worth writing about.

My neighbours aren't as cool as I am. (!) There's a bunch of kids who piss my mom off when they play cricket because their ball always ends up in our balcony. I don't get pissed that much. Back when I was a kid, at our old place, our cricket ball often ended up in the girl's school adjacent to our playground, and one of us had to step forward bravely and rescue the ball from the "forbidden kingdom of doom". None of us ever got caught though. Maybe it was our good luck that we never fell into trouble or perhaps our bad luck that we never got to taste the excitement! Every coin has two sides!

I live on the first floor and there's a sunshade just beside room. It's better to say "waste disposal unit" rather than "sunshade". Almost everything in the Universe is disposed of there by my inconsiderate neighbours living upstairs. Entire bottles of ink come crashing down and adorn the walls with abstract graffiti art. Finding butts and packets of cigarettes isn't uncommon too. (They say when the cat's away the mice will play. I say when mom and dad are away the son will smoke. But why dump all the evidence beside my room, for heavens' sake?) I even found an issue of the Rising Stars there. (Oh sorry! I was the one who threw it out.) Regular notices haven't done any good; they just won't stop throwing stuff around. Very soon I might find a dead body lying there. English movies always show dump yards being popular places for getting rid of dead bodies. Dead bodies are the only thing they haven't thrown in yet.

There are two private universities on my road. While I was walking by one of them one fine day, I found a crowd of students with some of them throwing and waving their hands around. So finally private universities are starting to have fight clubs of their own too and I always thought Dhaka University is where they have all the fun! I walked close to the crowd to find about what they were fighting about and got the shock of my life (something I get every now and then). While throwing their hands around, they were discussing the two-dimensional motion of a projectile. Man, did you simply have to mention mechanics just when I had given up my ingenious plan to get a chainsaw, travel back in time and cut down the tree which bombarded good old' Sir Isaac Newton's head with apples? Mechanics at class, mechanics at home, mechanics in the streets. Aargh!

People in our vicinity have an interesting style of dealing with notices. They set up funny notices all the time. When the road leading to the main road was closed, there was a notice saying "Road close ahead", which was actually true, since the road was really quite close. But I guess the guy who put the notice up intended to mean something different because I suspected a "d" had disappeared into thin air. Then there are those well-known notices saying "Ekhane prosrab koriben na." Here the notices are more enhanced and advanced: "Ekhane prosrab koriben na. Korile 50 taka jorimana shoho 50 ta jutaar baari." (Don't answer Nature's call here. If you do, you'll receive a 50 taka fine plus 50 smacks with a shoe.) Just think about the creativity of people.

That was most of the stuff that makes my neighbourhood as weird as I wanted it to seem. I've heard people of having weirder neighbourhoods. At least I can say my neighbourhood is safe. In this city of ours, there are people living in distressed areas with criminals lurking around every corner, where every day brings the news of someone being killed or someone being robbed. Every person deserves to have a home where one ca return safely at the end of day without fearing about one's safety and well-being. That's what every neighbourhood should be like and that's what we should try to make ours like.

By Hamdu Mia


FOOD

An essential part of our Hospitable Culture

"Everybody says 'khai khai. Why does everybody say 'khai khai'?" my niece uttered one day. I kept quiet. It would take such an effort to answer appropriately, which I lacked completely at that moment. This is compounded because she spent only two or three years of her childhood in this country and can not speak fluently in Bengali, her mother tongue. So I just gestured that 'I don't know.' Then I tried to figure out the appropriate answer of her inquiry. I mentioned this situation because it gave me the topic to think and simultaneously express my deep concern. This particular article of mine is an answer to her question, which has every possibility not to become a proper one.

We Bangalis are quite renowned for our hospitality, tolerance, kindness, softness, and a certain lack of positive brainpower of a minor group in our society. I have used this particular phrase because it signifies a great deal of regret that we became the no. 1 corrupted country for three consecutive times, even three decades after we achieved independence. As I was quoting, we are renowned as a hospitable nation. Food always has had a significant role as a part of our hospitality. People in our country love to entertain their guests with a variety of food items to the best of their ability. People in our country are breeding this custom over the years. People of different society have their own way of food entertainment.

Many countries recognise food as an essential part of their cultures, especially us. In our country many other countries organise food festival in different times. These food festivals mainly feature traditional food of respective countries. So this certifies the importance of food in their culture. This holds a clear testimony of food.

In the early ages, in this region, the others praised the man who could eat much. People used to applaud them, encourage them with their delighted comments. Because, at that time people nurtured an impression in their mind that, he who could eat much could work harder, longer, could have working capacity more than others, etc. The landlords (zamindar) often sponsored many ceremonial functions in which they fed all people of the land under their control. They took special care whether the people were entertained properly or not, because people's satisfaction depended on it. Rich people also used to arrange functions, although not as elaborate as that of the landlords. In these occasions they also used to entertain people with food. As many respectable persons were used to attend, they used to try their level best to make the guests happy with a variety of dishes.

Today we can see the repetition of that posture of people. In the wedding ceremonies we can see how the hosts are desperate to keep the guests satisfied about the food. They take special care whether the food is being cooked properly or not. Even they took special care about the place where the food is cooking. They try their utmost to rent a suitable place for entertaining their guests. In our country people do enjoy this lot. Besides these wedding ceremonies, there are lot more functions where food becomes a part of it.

Let's drop the context of ceremonial functions. Suppose if we pay a visit to any of our relatives' house, we'll find that the host is trying his/her level best to entertain us. The host always tries to please us and make us feel at ease. In my case I always enjoy this. I admire this typical 'Bangali' entertainment. Not surprisingly food is a mandatory part of it. Even when I go to any of relatives' house in my native village, people not being financially sound enough, always try to entertain us with food in accordance with their ability. I often feel embarrassed but can't avoid being entertained for the sake of their pure hospitality. At the same time their nice hospitable behaviour makes me feel proud to be a 'Bangali'.

We have seen many feasts organised in the honour of a special guest, mostly the head of the government of another country. That has been an essential part of the delegate's entertainment. Often, food serves as the positive catalyst of gaining a treaty. In that sense food diplomacy mostly bears positive gesture.

As the people in our country are growing to be more concerned about their diet, the passion for food is not as evident as before. A particular section of people in our country, like others around the world, favour a healthy diet, not too much or not too insufficient. Though this section is a tiny one, the habit for food is changing. This particular section of people has the bearing in their mind that excessive eating is not good for health. Only a healthy diet will serve their purpose properly. This type of apprehension is appreciable. Each and every people in our country should develop this consciousness.

One day in a wedding ceremony one of my close relatives inquired me, "Why people in this country say 'Biye khaite jai?' Even then he quoted, "That should be, let us enjoy the wedding ceremony." Later he concluded that Bangali is an ever-hungry nation. Though I tried to argue with him, later he ended up labelling me as a fundamentalist. At that time I became displeased. Later I was calmed down by my khala. She said that it was a mere joke and at that time my relative was laughing. So I took the positive gesture from it. I don't know whether he still has that same opinion, but he/she should consider that, food is a part of our hospitable culture. It does not mean that ours is an ever-hungry nation. Food will always be the part of our hospitable culture. The comments from anyone will not do any harm or misrepresent our passion for food. Being a hospitable nation food will always serve as the positive bearing for our country.

By Arghya


Sweet little monkeys


What was the last time you have been to the zoo, at Mirpur? For those who haven't been there for a while I have a story to tell. Certainly, I am not fond of wild life or animal planet but I really do care about those monkeys in the cage, who are being stared at laughed at not by the visitors but by there own brothers.

I bet you will see more of those monkeys outside the cage than inside it. I asked a worker about those monkeys outside the cage and his answer was something like this, "Every year some clever monkeys find out those splits in the cage and use them as a secret passage way". When I asked him why don't they put it in the cage again, he said when their (monkeys) job is done outside they get back inside through their "secret passageway" by themselves. I wonder what "JOB" might they have outside the cage! Young male monkeys going out with there girl friends, surely.

If my little brother can, what is wrong with them? My dad who is a doctor says my bro has genetic codes similar to the apes. And he added when apes take over this planet my little brother will be the great king of the planet earth (dad is a big fan of sci fi movies). Don't ask what he tells about me. Somehow he relates me with donkeys.

I remember when I was a kid of 11 and my brother was 6 my dad used to take both of us to the zoo once in a month and we had a nice time there. But my little brother used to cry and shout all the way home. You know why? Cause dad hasn't shown him the dinosaurs.

Zoo at Mirpur is quite a safe place for both the animals and the young couples. I wonder how people find this place ROMANTIC? I have seen quite a number of couples eating nuts and romancing. May be they prefer this place for there is less crowd (almost none) and also less chance of getting caught by your friends or parents (nowadays people hardly visit the zoo). But it really feels unusual when you are stared at by lions, tigers, and bears, and mocked at by baboons and chimpanzees. I found out how much my girlfriend likes monkeys when she one day told me-"Hey, your little brother is soooo sweeeeet".

Sometimes it really gets scary when you come walking to a huge cage and look up at the sign board "Great Royal Bengal Tiger" and you find the cage empty. I was horrified thinking that the big tiger figured out the way out like those monkeys. And another thing, there is a big chance of getting lost in the zoo so always carry a compass and a map. And remember the zoo gates close at five in the afternoon. So once you get in be sure you come out before the hell unleashes.

And lastly, before you check out make sure you don't miss those Tapirs in the zoo. These are the cutest animals of the zoo though it takes a while to figure out its front side. It looks almost same both ways.

By Spider


Poems

The Hole

Let me be alone, in my very little hole.
Away from all the cruelty
and pain we see in this world.
Like an earthworm I will seek,
a place warm enough for me to inhabit.
The darkness, the silence; I will live on.
Just give me my peace.

Let me be alone, in my very little hole.
A place for me to pray and reflect.
A place for me to isolate myself,
from everyone and from everything.
A sanctuary where I can let my feelings
and thoughts free from its barb-wired cage.
I can now open up.
Release my burden from within
Here my memories linger
Till I no longer crawl out into the whole.

I am ready to come out now.
Fresh from within, free from everything.
But until such a day arrives again,
Let me be alone, in my very little hole.

Meenhaj

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2003 The Daily Star