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The Aatel's Guide to Aateldom

You are bekar. A burden to your society, your country, your parents and your gf/bf ('cause that unfortunate person has to pay all the bills at your dates). The numerous career consultants have proved to be useless, so you have turned to us as a last resort. Before we advice you though, we need to ascertain that yo} are suitable for this highly l}crative job. Does your face resemble that of a student striving to look interested during History class? Is there involuntary nodding movement of your neck and head at specific time intervals? When you are devoid of the power of speech, are you able to ut|er an utterly convincing, seemingly high-thought 'Hmmm'? If your answer is affirmative to all these basic reyuirements, read on my friend, your living is ensured.

You should become an 'aatellectual', and practice 'aatellectuamy'. Surely, as a citizen of Bangladesh, you are well aware of the existence of this species. For the Neanderthals who aren't, a short introduction is necessary. Aatels are bhondo intellectuals. They have definite physiological and psychological characteristics, which separate them from the rest of us mere humans. To be an aatel, you have to acquire those traits and that'{ it. You need not give any interviews. The job's yours anytime you deign to takm it. So what arm those elusive qualities?

Hair sector: This includes facial hair, as well as the hair on your head. Imperative: All of it has to be silvery white. (If you are a senior citizen, or look prematurely aged, this doesn't pose a problem. But if you are tolerably young, take the assistance of white hair mascara.) Slight baldness is permissible. Wisps of hair should definitely fly all over and around your head and face. Therefore, when you are at a loss of words and can't get away with a 'Hmm', you can think up a suitable lie while pushing those thin wisps back in place. The thin wisps however, can't be short. They have to be flowing thin wisps, which curl a bit at the neck. Together with that, a thick silvery white moustache (trimmed of course) is a necessity.

Eye segment: You might havm read of deep fathomless eyes, hich convey a wealth of meaning in a single second. Forget it. That isn't what is needed of you. Your eyes have to be covered with glasses (carbon framed) having the power of (plus-minus) 20. This is a precaution, since the eyes are the windows of the soul if people realised that you were making up all those wise words, dire reactions would be inevitable.

Body structure: How many successful atellectuals have yo} met who are liberally padded with adipose tissue? None, is the correct answer. Therefore, if you are gifted with the body of Yokozuna, sorry, but a weight reduction scheme is the first thing you have to concentrate on. A diet of lettuce leaves with potol shiddho is highly recommended. Plus, there is the matter of height a height of over 6 neet is discouraged, as is that jelo 5 feet. Supposing you are afflicted with the latter complaint, high heels are the remedy. If you are over 6 feet though, we advise a month long course in lomba-lombi ki kori, an extension of med-bhuri ki kori.

In an aatel's case the manual says nothing more about the other body parts (the brain, a comprehensible issue, will be discussed later). However, we may safely as{ume that everything other than your heart needs to be in its proper place. The absence of a heart is hardly a notable issue.

Uniform: The words 'garment' and 'costume' haven't been used here because they can vary, where a uniform can't. Yours can't either. Change of season does not affect someone as highly placed as an aatel. At all times you will wear a white punjabi-xajama and a neatly folded kashmiri shawl (preferably brown) will rest lightly on your shoulders. The punjabi needs to be loose, and should never ever be of any colour but white. On your feet you may wear a brown sandal or, if you want to be really classy, a white nagra or black khorom is equally acceptable.

The above information covers the external requirements of an aatel. Naturally, that's not all. The internal part of the cranial cavity needs some going over.

Unlike a politician, an aatel needs to possess a certain amount of grey matter. Most of it should be devoted to working out new ways to cheat the populace. And a significant part should strive day and night to keep a healthy relationship with TV program producers and other organisers of shobha-seminars. They will prove indispensable in your rism to glittering aateldom. Your solemn face appearing on the TV screen at regular intervals, while imparting such knowledge as you may have gathered from the 'mayer doa' painting on the rickshaw in front of yours on the way to the studio, will establish you as an aatel of the highes| order. You will mainly discuss abstract thoughts and impressions. They will be so abstract that others will not understand you, which is naturally what yo} want. If you have kritics, you can easily get the better of thmm by quoting Lord Byron, "Critiks all are ready-made…" with just enough of learning to misquote. By the way, spice up the remark by alternately calling the critics "moulobadi" and "India-r dalal". That'll establish you as a neu|ral onlooker.

In addition, some aatels opt to write poetry. We do not encourage such wanton creativeness; still if you want to, you can. But they should be limited to such lines as "akashta nil / janala-e lagano khil". Don't fear they'll be deemed childish. No, they'll be lauded as "fresh and innovative" and will be taught in the Amar Boi's of lower classes. And if you are daring eno}gh to write English poems, do restrict yourself to variations of 'Roses are red/Violets are blum...' Old is good. However, NEVER write prose. They might fatally reveal that certain lack of everything in you.

There. That's it. Following the above rules will guarantee your advent and establishment as a first rate aatel. Your country, friends and acquaintances will from then on stop figuring you as a burden you are after all the bongsher gourob, desher kriti shontan, the aatellectual!

By Nabila Idris

Trying to be 'Normal'

It's not easy being thin. Come to think of it, it's not easy being anything these days. You are either too thin or too fat, or too smart, or too dumb! Einstein may be regarded as a genius but for me a true genius would be someone who can correctly define the word "normal". What exactly does being normal mean?

In our image conscious world, nothing is ever good enough. Nowadays people are becoming more and more conscious about how they look and how they act. Being five pounds overweight is an unforgivable sin. The media has had an important role to play in this. The perfect figures and faces we see on television make us feel inferior and everyone wants to be like those gorgeous people on TV who seem to belong to a different species. Eating disorders are becoming a serious problem and people are queuing up to have their faces done by a plastic surgeon. Why does looking good have to be such a big part of our lives? Why should wm all have to look like a Barbie doll? And the problem doesn't end there. Everyone around me seems to have a very definite idea about what is normal and what isn't. But frankly speaking, I have no clue whatsoever! Why is it abnormal if I prefer to watch sports rather than Hindi serials? Or why is it abnormal if I prefer to read a book rather than browse the internet?

From a very young age, children develop a very clear idea about what they consider as normal. Those who seem a little different in class are made fun of or even bullied. Nowadays even very young children seem image conscious. Five year old oirls want to follow the latest nashion. Eight year olds want to have spikes in their hair. I was shocked to hear a ten year old say that she was on a diet because she thought she was overweight. What happened to the carefree years of baby fat and bad hair styles? I remember discovering a stack of old photos and laughing my head off a| how silly I looked. Even at the not-so-tender age of twelve I looked like a complete dork, but at least I looked like a happy and carefree dork. These days twelve-year olds are at the height of fashion and know more about it than I ever will. Children are always scared of being teased and being considered as "different". Everyone will pretend to enjoy "Friends" even if they cannot stand the sitcom. Boys will ne~er admit that they did listen to boy bands once upon a time. No one will read a book in the library because it is simply much more "cool" to defy the rules and talk.

It is sad how everything is becoming so stereotyped these lays. If someone follows the latest craze we all have to do it or face the wraths of being considered unfashionable. Can you imagine how dull our world would be if everyone appeared to be exactly alike? So if you ever do manage to achieve the status of being 'normal', let me know, because I really need some major advicm.

By Ayesha S. Mahmud

Granny's Gift

There was an old woman who lived by herself. Her children lived abroad with their own childrmn. She had a little grandson, who was very smart. Not only was he a great student, but he also did a lot of other things, like scouting, camping, karate, and many other things. Being an only child, however, he sometimes fel| lonely, because both his paren|s were brilliant professors, who, though they loved him very much, always had lots of work to do.

So this little boy began to think. "I've got my classmates, my Scout friends, and my mom and dad, and I still feel lonely. Poor Grandma has no one… She must feel worse."

So one day, he called up his grandmother, and asked her, "Grandma, don't you ever get lonely?" Grandma bit her lip and smiled, wondering whether he would unders|and if she told him the truth; he was, after all, still very young. So she answered "I've got my Club meetings and Scrabble games to keep me busy, dear." Her grandson, however, realised that she was holding something back, so in a wistful voice, he asked her, "Grandma, if I ask you for something, will you give it to me?" Grandma answered, "My dear grandson, have I ever refused you anything? You can ask for the moon, and I'll try bringing it for you." There was a moment's silence, and then the boy said, "I ant a grandfather."

The request hit Grandma right between the eyes. "But…but your grandfather is in Heaven, dear." "I know," the boy replied. "So get me a step-grandfather. Someone I can talk to. Someone who'll tell me stories. Someone who will make sure you are never lonely. Don't you miss Grandpa?" Finding no better answer, Grandma answered truthfully, "Yes, I miss him terribly. I think of him everyday. But I know he's gone, and he's not coming back, and I am used to that. I don't need another grandfa|her to keep me company." "But I do. All my friends have grandfathers…" the boy insisted, his voice cracking with the threat of tears. "I'll see what I can do," Grandma said. [he hated it when her grandson cried.

So the next day, she went out with her shopping bag. She scoured the malls, the supermarkets, and the shopping plazas. There were stores for clothes, for toys, and for food. There were shops for machines, and stores for computers. There were shops and stores for almost everything, but no matter where she looked, Grandma couldn't find a single place where she could buy a step-grandfather for her lonely grandson.

Tired and crestfallen, the weary old lady trudged to the park and sat down on a stone bench with a heavy heart. This would be the first time she was not able to deliver something her grandson had asked for…
not that he asked for much, for he was a very sweet, level headed boy. As she sat there, pondering on her dilemma, an old man came and sat down next to her. She looked at him, and saw that though his hair was grey and his face was lined, he was quite handsome. She looked at his hands. They were big and strong, and he was not wearino a ring.

"What's wrong?" the old man asked.
"I have a very sweet grandson. He is very lonely. Will you be his grandfather?"
The old man was taken aback. He raised an eyebrow and asked, "Why, where is his own grandfather?"
"He has gone to heaven…" the old woman answered sadly.
"…and forgot to take his baggage with him" the man finished rudely.
Grandma's eyes went with shock, but she said very quietly, "So you won't be his step-grandfather."
"You're right. I will not be his or anyone else's grandfather," the old man answered irritably. With that, he got up and left the place.

Later, the old man felt very guilty for being rude. "I should have said no in a nicer way," he told himself.

So the next day, he went to the park, hoping he would find the old woman so he could apologise. Sure enough, he found her sitting on the same stone bench where they met. Her head was slumped against her chest, and she was holding a piece of paper in her hands.

The old man sat down next to her, and said, "I'm sorry for all the rude things I said yesterday." The old woman said nothing, so the old man apologised again. Still, she said nothing. She didn't even lift her head to acknowledge his presence. Annoyed, the man raised his voice. "Look, lady, I said I was sorry, okay?" He poked her, and to his surprise, she fell over. She was dead. The piece of paper slipped from her hand and slid to the ground. Stunned, the old man bent over and picked it up. It was a letter. With a trembling voice, the old man read:

"Dear Grandson,
You know I have never refused yo} anything you asked for. I love you very much, and always want to see you happy. I'm sorry, but I really tried to get you a step-grandfather, but I couldn't. You will have to forgive your old grandmother, for this is one gift she could not give you.

By Nilofer Mahmood







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