sits on the floor of the concert hall, dressed in a short kameez
and clunky platform-heeled shoes in the style favoured by Indian soap
characters. Her straight dark hair is streaked with blonde highlights,
and when she chances a glance my way, I find myself looking into a
pair of violet eyes coloured contacts, of course. The band comes on
stage, a group of young boys with long Morrison-esque hair, dressed
in fatuas made of gamcha material, with baggy pants
with chains hanging from the side, bead bracelets loading their wrists.
With a lot of pomp and fanfare, they launch into the music the cover
version of some American R/M/A (rock/metal/alternative) number. She
rises to her feet with the rest of the crowd, head banging and gyrating
to the music. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the teen scene
at a Dhaka underground concert.
in the Desh, today find themselves at the crossroads where different
cultures meet. Call it the invasion of foreign mass media, but they
embody a flavourful fusion of different fashions, norms and ideals.
While there's a lot of grumbling about how today's youths are losing
touch with their roots, one has to wonder just how overrated this
sentiment is. Considering that in terms of education, commerce and
information, we are no longer confined to the four corners of our
own country, but instead are competing on a global scale, is this
potpourri of cultural influences really a bad thing?
teens are better informed about foreign norms and cultures than their
predecessors, having experienced these diverse worlds through magazines,
TV shows, and of course, the internet. This helps them easily adapt
to their surroundings if and when they go to study abroad. Even if
they spend their lives here in Bangladesh, they are more comfortable
with foreigners. A wide range of experience of different cultures
makes for a broader outlook, which is an admirable quality in a young
said all that, there's no denying the adage that there's no smoke
without the fire. While they go about exploring different cultures
through the media, their own culture goes largely ignored. Stop some
young people on the street and ask them to sing a verse from either
the season's latest Hindi movie, or the current Western song that's
making waves, and you'll get a flawless rendition. Ask the same person
to sing the last verse of our national anthem, and you'll be surprised
to see how few people can actually remember the words, and this is
our national anthem, not even some obscure folk song. Go to the schools
and quiz the students on European history or American geography and
you'll have a hundred smarties shooting trivia at you. Quiz them about
Bangladesh details like the number of thanas and villages,
the names of the local tribes, and the number of kids who are able
to provide satisfying answers is a lot less. Please note that this
is a broad generalisation; of course there are exceptions. Also note
that no distinction is being made amongst Bangla medium, English medium,
or Madrassah medium schools. All three systems of education in our
country leave a lot to be desired.
how much a modern youngster knows about his/her own culture depends
on the home environment, whether s/he has had a lot of exposure to
his/her own cultures and traditions as well as those of other countries.
While today's parents, teachers, and other adult busybodies fret and
fume over how ‘aaj kaal kar tchele pelera" are more
excited about wearing jeans than kameez/punjabi and more keen on listening
to Pearl Jam than Papia Sultana, they should really learn to have
more faith in their kids. When the right time comes, the inherent
Bengaliness will flower on its own. There will come a time when the
sound of a bamboo flute on a rainy day will bring tears to their eyes.
The young belles will one day, on their own, discard their miniskirts
in favour of saris, and the boys will probably rough up any fast-talking
foreigner that dares speak ill of their homeland. It's in our blood.
It's who we are, and we can't escape it. For now, let the teens do
their thing and enjoy being caught between cultures.
Sabrina F Ahmad
I first started writing this article, I adopted a very candid approach,
poked fun at myself (if you haven't noticed, I do that quite a lot)
and descended into a humorous approach that became so complex that
I got confused and eventually quit.
I'm going to take a more analytical approach to the subject (no don't
groan, it'll still be funny, I promise). Now. Ah, the average Bangladeshi
teenager (ABT). All they do is eat, sleep and watch TV, that's what
Ronboss said. Bah! What does he know? Take it from an expert who has
passed this phase (not that Ron hasn't!), ABT's are a species of their
own. And from year to year their trends change.
I was a teen (God that sounds so far back!) aimless rickshaw rides
around town, pooling money to go eat, and talking on the phone for
hours were a common phenomenon. I don't know if things have changed
for the better or not, but I'm certain about one thing. Things have
truly been upgraded. Here's a concise version of what the average
Bangladeshi teen is all about:
Apparently this is the latest 'in' thing. If you're in a concert you're
'in' or something along that line. While its great to see there are
so many aspiring artists in town sometimes I just don't see how teenagers
these days manage to sit in a room without sufficient oxygen in the
sweltering heat and then still have sufficient energy to scream at
the top of their lungs. But if it's the thing to do, then I guess
it is the thing to do.
Gone are the days of chatting on the phone. Now chatting online is
the way to go. Why waste energy speaking when you can put your fingers
to work? After all it does burn more you know. Gone are the days of
mIRC and ICQ. Thanks to our Deshi teens MSN Messenger and in turn
dear Mr Gates is making a ton. After all why remain in the confines
of speaking to one person when through MSN everyone can chat at the
The West is definitely making its mark on teenagers these days. Although
I haven't seen it myself, reliable sources say that tubes and tanks,
spike collars, leather and Goth are definitely making their way. Add
to that the baggies from Eminem's wardrobe and presto! As they say
nowadays 'it's all in da hood!' While I have nothing against all of
this, is it really wise to wear skin huggers in this heat or pants
that might fall off at any moment? But then again compared to today's
ABTs I'm old!
let's see. So far the things I've talked about would generally give
people a wrong impression of our Deshi teens and I certainly have
no intention of painting a tainted image. So before I exceed my word
limit let me add a few things. While concerts, chatting and fashion
claim a big chunk of our ABT's time, teenagers these days have their
priorities and goals set. They are more responsible, well read and
well spoken. Teenagers these days are more involved in ECA and they
are more focussed on achieving their goals. Above all they know exactly
what they want. I guess that is why I set them a class above the ABCD
teens that I've met.
the end it boils down to this. There isn't a perfect Bangladeshi teenager.
For that matter, there isn't any perfect teenager. And while two teens
aren't the same, they do tend to act similarly. And maybe it's just
because of their hormones. Who knows? In the end, our Average Bangladeshi
Teenagers have their virtues and their faults. It's the balance between
the two that makes them more than average. It's this balance that
makes them…almost perfect!