The NZ experience
To start with, BM was ecstatic about his first-ever century (143) and rated as it as one of his best innings. IB didn't have much to say about the game as he felt his performance was nothing out of the ordinary. Of course, this particular hotel room tete-a-tete was more about their lives than cricket.
One of the things that the New Zealand team found as particularly nice was their visit to some of the local shopping malls and side scenes. BM mentioned that he found the quality of clothes and accessories at ARONGto be truly rich in culture and the cut of Panjabis to be particularly exotic as he'd seen it for the first time. IB regretted not being pursued by the customary pack of fans of the fairer sex in places they'd visited, adding that since cricket was one of the most passionately followed sports in the country it was rather a letdown to not be hounded by adoring fans. BM who is a married man with a kid didn't have much to say about it, except "Married!" with a wry smile.
BM was delighted to find his choice of premium branded items here (DIESEL, PRADA and DOLCE & GABBANA accessories were among the one's he'd quoted), as the prices were (needless to say) surprisingly low and he'd bought many. When Mr. Manna and Mr. Rehan had told them that these were fake items, BM was not bothered, as he "didn't care much of the genuineness". [Ever wonder, the accessories we go gaga over, can actually be the fake ones, when we think that these are so costly]. Other notable goodies they'd acquired from our fair country include Shinepukur's Bone China collection ["awesome"] and a L-O-T of DVDs, the prices for the latter being incredibly low. BM said the prices were positively crazy. He was happy and thanked all of the local sellers.
Some of the local delicacies that they'd found unforgettable, as they said, were Jilapi, Halim and Jhalfry. They were sad at not being able to try all the items available during the Iftar time, as they were here during the Ramadan.
One of the best places that they visited was the Chittagong Golf Club, as it was very nice, "Almost heaven on Earth!"
We thank Mr. Manna and Mr. Rehan again, without them, it couldn't have been possible.
By Taskin Rahman
Then I made a new friend who was a Christian; and this fellow, who now plays keys in our band (and is one of the nicest fellows I know) was the reason I came about looking at Christmas in a completely different way.
But we can talk about that later. Christmas to us is hardly something you don't do; the TV we watch, the papers we read, the very lives we live have become intertwined with the festival. December just isn't that time of the year without Yogi Bear's christmas specials, and kids in Dhaka have oodles of fun at Sonargaon with Santa and the tree, regardless of what religion they're from. While I remember a rather irreverent comic that made little of Christmas, the truth is that this is a festival that crosses boundaries of race and religion wherever people can mingle and brings joy and happiness to everyone who's not too blind and stubborn to see it.
During my very brief stint abroad in Singapore, I've discovered that there, at least, Christmas has a tangible meaning: great big shiny trees in every shopping mall of any repute and the associated shopping sprees and red and green on the hottest and sunniest tropical days ever. While caught in a traffic jam back here in Dhaka, though, it finally dawned upon me; we live in a world of flashing neon lights literally screaming "BOL" and "RC Cola" in your face and hundreds of crimson tail-lights and the associated blaring horns, in a land tinted orange with all of the sodium lighting everywhere. And people oblivious to the streams of hundreds of individuals passing by, without an instant's thought of anything except the day's cricket game or how tonight's soap opera's going to turn out or, for the less fortunate, pecuniary issues (of course, there are others similarly concerned). The very concept that it might be possible for people to know and associate with other people without personal interest seems to have disappeared from society of any and all sorts.
Enter Christmas. Because the 25th of December isn't about presents, or Santa Clause, or the flying reindeer or chimneys; it's about people loving people and showing that to each other. Of course, we don't mean the "standing by your door in the pouring rain" type of love, though that's welcome too; Christmas today, to us, is about being "excellent to each other." The Christmas spirit doesn't need a fireplace and stockings to make its way into our hearts and homes; merely remembering that the people around us are every bit as human as we are, and acting accordingly with compassion and understanding is all it takes.
I remember the very best Christmas story I ever heard; from Little Women, when the March sisters give away their breakfast to a starving woman with her family. And there's the story of the Grinch, too, and we all know how that turned out.
People today, everywhere, are disillusioned, materialists, and bitter about the world; so much so that school kids make fine cynics, and the sole regret that some people have is that their cars aren't as big as their neighbours' BMWs. Which makes just about every one of us a little bit of a Grinch ourselves; and a little bit of Christmas spirit never did hurt anyone, after all. Remembering that people are people and that we can be eminently civil and nice to them is what Christmas is about, anyway. And you don't need to be of a particular religion to do that.
Christians celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ; there's celebration, and prayer, and feasting, and good times with family, and decorating your Christmas tree, and all that. Christmas becomes the renewal of love and affection for family, and friends, and to everyone beyond, in much the same way that Jesus gave love to all; people of every religion and race likewise learn to celebrate it as a new beginning for trust, compassion and friendship. And even though many of us remain like me happily sleeping away the morning of just another day off and partying with the gang, taking the time to make a difference to people around you is never quite as fitting as on Christmas. In the shaky times that we live in with crime and terror rampant around us, Christmas is a new beacon of hope; playing Santa and being good to everyone you know and everyone you don't still makes you feel all good inside.
Nothing like the Christmas spirit, is there?
Anyway. Back to my story about my friend. We were supposed to be recording a few tracks right now (and hopefully become big stars... well, it IS Christmas so it can't hurt to wish for something), but then that had to go on hold. As well as his studies (the fellow's taking his A-levels in January) and everything else, because it's Christmas and the fellow just has to play the carols at the church. And therein lies the beauty of the Christmas spirit; putting someone else before yourself, and liking yourself better for it.
Jingle bells, everyone. Merry Christmas.
Acing the new SAT essay
By now, the 'new' SAT isn't news to most of you. Starting March 2005, the much-dreaded SAT exams will be sporting a new look...and a new writing section. Before you start breaking out in hives, and start looking up colleges in Timbuktoo, here's hope: the new essay is actually easy to prepare for, so much so, that it's expected to be one of the easiest sections to score in. Who does she think she's kidding? Trust me! ETS (Educational Testing Service) says it judges your essay by the overall impression it makes. So you don't have to go ballistic on the details.
No study buddy would be complete without some handy hints, so here are five for you.
Triumph of the Thesaurus
Now you know all you need to know to write the essay with confidence. All you need now is practice. So what are you waiting for?
Sabrina F Ahmad
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