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Looks like it runs in the family, huh?

Ever notice how each family is unique in it's own little way? Even if you aren't aware, there are certain 'family traits' that seem to have gradually implanted themselves over the centuries. A few of these are definitely pretty common i.e. talking styles, eating styles, walking styles, bragging styles and God knows what not! Yet, even amongst these there is a few err…well…let's say pretty 'unusual' traits embedded in certain families. Finding it hard to believe? Well read on, while I reveal…

Lets start with me. Please bear in mind that when I use the word 'family' I really mean it in the tradition Bengali sense…everyone who's anyone is obviously included in this category. When I was young (let's say being around six years old) I always had an imaginary friend. I didn't play around with her; instead I choose to confide all my secrets to her. As I grew up, I gradually began opting for my diary instead, but soon tiring of writing began confiding in my 'invisible' friend again. Suddenly it dawned on me that maybe this wasn't normal anymore! Excuse me, but how many 17 year old teens do you know, who actually go around talking to air? Now I walked around being pretty tense…what if there was actually something wrong with me?

Thankfully, I was relieved of this misconception one night at dinner. A few of my relatives were over, and over dinner I heard one of my aunt confiding to my mum that she was pretty worried as her nine year old daughter had developed a recent 'weird habit'…apparently, she has secretly begun conversing with walls. My mum hastened to reassure her that it was simply a phase, adding the words 'my sister went through it too. Don't worry, she'll grow out of it soon'. I thought about my mum's elder sister; she is always so poised and composed that's its almost impossible to imagine her talking to inanimate objects. Nevertheless, if my mum says, then I guess I must be true. Another day, another uncle mentioned how he found his four-year-old daughter on the roof one evening, wearing her 'Hello Kitty' bag and chattering pleasantly away to the potted plant about the 'nice weather'. Whew! I still talk to my invisible pal sometimes, but at least now I don't go around feeling like a freak. Thank God!

Now that we have covered 'that', let me tell about another bizarre family trait I happened to witness one lazy Friday afternoon. One of my dad's friends had returned to Bangladesh after seventeen years, and as expected a huge reunion was planned. The reunion was a pretty crowded and interesting affair as practically the entire world had turned up. I had just joined a group where everyone was talking about private tutors, when I noticed something weird. There was this girl in the group who kept on repeating the last five words of someone's sentence, as soon as they stopped speaking. At first I thought she was doing it purposefully, or spitefully or something, but a little while later I realized that she was doing it totally unconsciously. I went home and soon forgot about it until dinner that night.

We were having dinner when my mum casually remarked about a lady she met earlier during the party had a habit of 'repeating the last part of everyone's sentences'. As I was trying desperately not to choke on my dinner, my dad exclaimed that another man he had met earlier apparently had the same weird habit! Upon comparing notes, we later discovered that the man and the lady were married, and the girl I noticed earlier was their only daughter. Talk about weird happenings! Guess it must in the family,

By Jennifer Ashraf

Retail Threrapy

“Wake up!"
"Someone's holding the phone for you."

I gave up on mumbling my sleep-induced, monosyllabic, unintelligible gibberish. My conscious mind began the transition from the world of sweet slumber to the disturbing reality of my father's voice, informing me something about somebody wanting to speak to me on the phone.

It turned out to be my best friend, who, for the last one week has been loyally serving the job of my alarm clock. What with no school for the next two months, all my sense of time has been lost. In the most joyous turn of events, I'm now allowed to laze around in the bed beyond the unearthly hour of 6.30 a.m. Which means, I take advantage of this liberty to stay in bed till 2:00 p.m.

"How come you didn't show up today?" she asked.
"I'm sorry," I replied, cringing inside with guilt. To make plans with your best friend and stand her up is not something to be proud of.
"Don't you want to go to the bookstore?" she politely asked. I admired her patience, and feared that it would run out any moment. This wasn't the first time I had picked sleep over our much anticipated plans.
"I don't want to. I don't think I have the money." Well… I wasn't sure if I did. I probably didn't anyway.
"Oh." A slight, very well concealed tone of disappointment. I hate it when I'm the reason behind that tone.
"You know what? I'll be there in twenty minutes." I promised.
"Sure?" she asked rather apprehensively. Maybe she expected me to go back to sleep the moment I hung up.
"Yeah, of course."

In the car with my best friend, I looked outside the window. You know how people have mid-life crisis? May be I'm having one as well, except it's more like a mid-teen crisis. I'm uninspired, bored, and I can't think of anything to write about AND I'm hungry in my attempt to make up to my best friend for being the most irresponsible, thoughtless, insensitive and selfish person on this side of the southern hemisphere, I haven't had time to grab my coffee.

Once inside the bookstore, its damp darkness seemed to depress me even more. Let's take a look at these books… hmm…
John Grisham (can always borrow it), Agatha Christie (no I am not a chronic insomniac), Sidney Sheldon (don't even let me get started) Shobha De (oh God! Scared off by the pictures of the scantily clothed figures on the jacket). Hey, you know what? This is not that bad. I'm beginning to feel a little better already.

It so turned out that one of the shelves housed exactly the kind of book I was looking for: something to do with the underworld, the Mafia and powerful Italian men. The salesman and I tried to argue about the price of the books my best friend and I picked. Bargaining, I would have to admit is one of the (many) fields where my skills are ridiculously inadequate. May be the young guy at the counter had fooled me_ but hey, I was the proud owner of a new, fat book!

Back in the car, I felt a lot more relaxed. No, optimistic, that's how I felt. It's funny how the moment you buy something you want, you feel so much better. The purchase of a book may have no direct connection with the state of my life, but in a matter of a few minutes, it had lifted me up from the pits of self-deprecation.

On I continued with my shopping excursion, accompanied by like-minded shoppers. More indecision and more bargaining equalized by lighter wallets and lighter hearts. So maybe this thing at the back of my mind was occasionally giving me a tiny, almost unnoticeable peck, like an indolent woodpecker on a summer afternoon. I ignored it with admirable ease. So what if I was being a little excessive and buying twenty-six movies on DVD? My guilt was sipping a pineapple cocktail in Hawaii: nowhere in my sight.

By the end of my shopping spree, I was in higher spirits. I was awed by the miracle of retail therapy, something I had wisely, yet inadvertently administered myself to. I admit on having been sinfully extravagant in the amount of my purchases, but if my happiness is to be found in a collection of meaningless movies about clueless, blonde teenagers in high schools, so be it. I wasn't complaining.

I applaud retail therapy for its magic over the uninspired like me. I'm just worried about the next time I feel low since I'm not really Richie Rich and probably won't be able to afford frequent 'shopaholic' behaviour. For now, who cares? With heavy bags and a light heart, I am happy to say that I am… Happy!

By Maliha Bassam

What are mobiles for?

Even ten years ago it was quite a prestigious matter to have a telephone at home. Now, however, it has become a prestige issue to have a cell phone in your pocket or handbag. Whenever or wherever you need to give your contact number it is expected to give your cell phone number. Maybe cell phones are a great help to the service men, businessmen or officers but since I am a university student, I sometimes wonder what its uses are to my friends (i.e. students). I have a lot of friends who possess personal mobiles and some (like me) are fighting or arguing with their parents or saving money to buy one. When my parents ask me in spite of living in the campus why I need a mobile, I really fail to answer reasonably. All I can say is "I need one. That's all."

The first question that comes to my mind is what are my fellow students doing with their cell phones at present? The most common thing is to send messages and to give missed calls. If you receive a message or a miss-call, it's your obligation to send at least a miss-call to the sender. Well, it's quite fun to be in touch with friends all the time. After all, in student life, friends are the best part of any one's life. When a cell phone starts ringing in the middle of a lecture, however, it means serious disturbance and the obvious consequence is a rebuke from the teacher. It is quite inevitable that at least one person forgets to turn off his/her ringer before class. As a result a rebuke from a teacher regarding the phone has also become a routine. It's also true that not everybody do this intentionally.

What the students do intentionally is that they lie to their parents quite often, using the cell phone. What they do quite frequently is to call their parents and tell them that they will be late because they will have to attend some extra classes or will have to do library work. Parents who always love to think that it is not their children who can lie to them believe these words easily. Keeping the parents in dark, they enjoy a time being with friends or partners.

Only a few days ago I had an in-course exam at noon. Most of the students were taking preparations for the exam. Someone of our class called the teacher on his cell-phone and told him that no one was willing to sit for the exam because of poor preparations. Surprisingly, the teacher told that student that he would not take the exam that day.

The rest of us who didn't know this, had been waiting until it was revealed at last that the exam had been cancelled over the cell phone. When we went to attend the class the next week to get a fresh date of the exam, the teacher announced that he would take the exam then. Amidst our protest and astonishment, it was held without any kind of preparation. Both the student and the teacher were guilty for their respective roles but it was we, the general students, who suffered. Don't you think that the cell phone was the main culprit of this mishap?

Cell phones came to add a new dimension to the communication system as well as to our lives. Yes, it is successful in that sense too. People can maintain a number of affairs using the cell phones because they are more secure, safe and personal. Also if you want to disturb anybody there is no other better option than to give his/her contact number to all and sundry and to request them to call or send message at least once.

This is how cell phones are misused nowadays by the students. I am not denying its advantages. For example if I had one, I could have called my parents earlier when our bus broke down on its way to university while we were coming back from picnic and it would relieved them from such tension. Then again, I think it was a good opportunity for me to see how they really care for me!

Actually mobiles have changed the scenario of our society a lot. It is up to us to choose how we should use it. There is no doubt that cell phones are a blessing for all of us in many ways. It will be wise of us if we use it for good purposes rather than like Munna Bhai MBBS. So, guys, enjoy your cell phones in the proper way and pray for me so that I can get one soon!

By Tania S. Khaleque







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