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Xtreme Paintball

Just opposite to the "third largest mall in south-east Asia", Bashundhara City, lies a seemingly inconspicuous recreation centre the Xtreme Paintball arena.

For the uninitiated, paintball is a team-based game where you battle with (toy) guns which use paint pellets as ammunition. These pellets are marble-sized, break upon contact and splatter out where-ever they hit. While it seems much safer than the gun fights we have here, a word to the wise: a paint pellet can still sting prettttty badly!

Since this is the first ever paintball "arena" in Bangladesh, my friends and I decided to go check it out. Finally being able to "live out" our videogame and action movie dreams was a pretty big incentive, so we were pretty excited. We went there one sunny Friday afternoon and……On to the review!

The guns look and feel real!
The guns were made to look like modified versions of the M4 assault rifle. Made from metal, painted black (and other colours) and pretty heavy, the guns are the closest thing you'll get to the actual stuff! The aiming sights can be switched for close-quarters shooting or for sniping from afar. The magazines can be released and slammed back with a resounding click that'll send weapon-o-philes into a state of sheer bliss. You can even lock the gun (i.e. safe it), and choose between a rapid-fire auto setting and a slower semi setting! What more could you want?

We've all seen those ridiculous moments in action films when the well-oiled, monosyllabic Austrian hero sprints through a hail of bullets and emerges unscathed. Well, now I've discovered his secret: the goons are firing the same guns that the Xtreme Paintball arena uses! The guns there aim like pacifists. In order to actually hit someone you'll have to aim either a few feet above him or to the side! The safest place an opposing player can be is right in the line of the weapon's sights! The force of firing is so weak that the pellets hardly splatter the paint and they don't travel too far, either. While that's perfect for overprotective moms, it ruins the whole point of the game for the players! Most of the bullets don't even fire! They'll either sputter out the muzzle or just pop out the side! When each magazine (containing a piddling 15 pellets) costs 75 Tk. that's a pretty hefty rip-off! We realised that we were playing without pellets most of the time! The guy in charge was the definition of chachra! We had to waste a whole bunch of magazines just to test the guns (which failed spectacularly) yet the guy wouldn't admit that the guns were faulty and he refused to replace the wasted pellets!

The gear makes you look like a real trooper!
All players get a full-sleeved sweat-shirt-type coverall to make sure they don't get their clothes all dirty with paint! How thoughtful… after all it's either sweat like a pig or face the wrath of an angry mom…

You also get a military camo vest which can hold your extra magazines and generally make you look like a soldier. Lastly is the "gimp" mask a, well, mask that's used to protect your face only. After donning the gear and carrying the gun, you may even start to feel like a real soldier as you head out onto the playing field!

It's a miracle! The people at "Xtreme" Paintball still managed to mess up the clothes, too! While the sweat shirt generally fits and does keep away the stains it feels too bulky and is somewhat uncomfortable to move around in. The vest is equally pathetic. I can't understand why they would give you a forest camo design for a place fully of earthy brown colours! Most of the time, the vests won't fit and if they do, they puff out and make you look like the Michelin man. The mask is even better! It's pretty smelly to begin with! The eye-pieces obscure your vision pretty badly and you'll start feeling hot and sweaty within a few minutes. The masks rarely fit and ours had to be secured by rubber bands… ouch! And your head is pretty much unprotected so we advise to wear a cap or something because a shot to the skull can hurt like a <censored>!

The terrain looks like a proper battlefield…with obstacles to boot!
The play field was bigger than we imagined it and was pretty creatively strewn with obstacles ranging from an old, battered-up car to a broken down washing machine. Random cover like broken planks, signboards, corrugated iron sheets and what-have-you were everywhere. There's even the obligatory sniper post which you can climb and keep a watch on the other team! The base areas were somewhat well-designed with one being the aforementioned sniper post area and the other looking like a miniature version of an airplane hangar. Sneaking around from one spot to the other and taking risks to pop out and shoot from behind the cover provides an opportunity to have genuinely fun and tense matches!

Sadly the environment has its share of flaws. The area is still smaller than you'd want it to be…but then again, since the pellets hardly travel far or go straight, the size is serviceable. It's rather obnoxious of the people there to give the name cover to the scattered junk. Most are too low to be useful and others have large enough holes to throw a tennis ball through. Most of the time you'll have to stick to the few "good" ones and sit there hoping that someone will be dumb enough to come blundering by. The sniper post is a pretty big exaggeration too! Since the guns don't fire properly over a distance, it's no use taking up the post. More likely than not, you'll be stuck up there as your entire team is tagged out and finally everyone will come up to decimate you!

The Verdict
Now, despite all the annoyances, we still had lots of fun. But know this: if you go thinking that the game itself will be fun, then you'll be sorely disappointed. If you go and try to HAVE fun and generally try to enjoy yourselves with a bunch of friends, it's definitely something you must try out! I recommend taking about 300 Tk. (75 Tk. for the gun and gear, 75 Tk. per magazine, with a special offer of 200 Tk. for 3 magazines) and a minimum of six people (yourself included).

They have a small fast food joint there, but despite the flashy names (Frag Noodle Soup, anyone?), it's expensive and tasteless. In the end, it'll be an experience that you'll probably recall (to complain about) and be glad that you went there once and got it over with!

Review ByLe Chupacabra

Leaving life

The years gone by in my life have simply been wonderful. Life has been fast-paced, I have encountered a lot of memorable people and situations. I have learnt innumerable lessons from a lot of people and situations. Life, has at times been bumpy, but, on the whole, the years from childhood till present, have been pretty good.

Over the years, I have become the person I wanted to be. I have traveled to many places in Bangladesh and in some regions out of the country. I have a dedicated and loyal group of friends who I am happy with. I have done quite well educationally, particularly in the past few years. I have had access to many accessories to remain smart and trendy. I have eaten a lot of delicious cuisines and deserts. I have subsequently seen many films and documentaries on television and by means of rented cassettes and dvd's.

I have visited Comilla, Savar, Gazipur, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Sundarban, and so on. I have gone to Nepal, India and the USA. I have traveled by all the major modes of transport. I fondly remember the boat rides in Ashulia, the speed-boat rides at Cox's Bazar and the late night bus journeys to many localities in and around Dhaka, to Comilla, etc.

I have seen the beauties of nature; the water in the lakes, the birds flying across the sky, the kittens playing and chasing each other, the red roses, the foggy hills.

I have gotten wet under the rain, have felt the cool breeze passing through. The cows eating grass in the meadows were always a source of pleasure, the trees bearing flowers of various colours; purple, red, yellow, etc. impressed me immensely.

Most of the teachers I have come across, have been extremely supportive. They have inspired me to better myself, have always had full confidence in my capabilities. Some of my relatives have been good company, I have spent some memorable times with them. I have been lucky in many ways. A lot of people tell me that I am one of the happiest persons they have come across.

Remember the saying, 'all good things must come to an end'. This statement is appropriate considering my current health situation. I have been diagnosed with leukemia and my days are numbered. But, I do not want a sad and miserable end to my life on earth. I will always cherish my friends and relatives. I will leave with fond memories of my life; the beauty of nature, the love of people, the achievements, the support of well- wishers. It is for these reasons that I hope not to have a discontented death.

I look forward to my life after death with great anticipation. I believe that my Creator will reward me for all the good that I have done. Life after death is a mystery to all, and, I will be able to uncover that in a short while. Anyone I have misbehaved with or have mistreated, please forgive me.
P.S. The article does not reflect the writer's actual state.

By Arbab Quadri

Book review

White city blue

First person narratives have always been a personal favourite; but when I first started reading 'White City Blue', I wasn't entirely sure how long I would take to finish it. The book had a number of things going for it. A, it wasn't another romance-heartbreak-happily-ever-after 'chic' book. Tim Lott, the author is said to write under the newly emerging genre of 'lad lit'. This means, it was different from the usual Kelly-Keyes. B, it had a great awardunder its belt: the 1999 Whitbread First Novel Award. C, I thought, why not?

Frankie Blue, also Frank the Fib, as he is 'affectionately' called by his friends, introduces himself to the readers quite… honestly. He is a real estate agent who is smarter than real estate agents usually are. After all, he has a degree from a university; the only one to have one among his friend circle. Now his friend circle consists of four of them: the self-obsessed, selfish but charming Tony, who is not a barber, but a 'hairdresser'; serious, politically correct, literature loving, taxi driving Nodge; nervous, awkward, computer genius Colin and real estate agent, Frankie, himself. Frankie has the habit of… err… embellishing the truth; mind you, it's not lying; just a bit of polishing. The guys hang out, have fun, do the 'guy' thing. In other words, they compete. All men do and though things aren't all that great sometimes, adulthood has taught them that it's better to stay quiet than complain; whining is for kids.

Then enters Veronica Tree. Sounds posh, and posh she is. She is a pathologist, which means she is used to probing the insides of dead bodies to find out what went wrong. And she is equally good at doing this even when the person isn't lying in the morgue. Frankie falls in love with her (has to, of course) but life doesn't transform to cupid's hearts and roses. As Veronica gives him more insight on life, much to his annoyance, a process of self introspection is triggered within Frankie. He actually pauses… and thinks. A difficult task for many men, I guess. Just kidding!

The worlds of his friends with unwritten rules and the world of him and Veronica, a couple engaged to get married don't go all that well together. There's conflict and there are choices. And there are opportunity costs to these choices (Gaah! No economics!). In the face of having to make life altering decisions, Frankie starts realizing who he really is, and comes face to face with some things in his life which he normally wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole…

A novel that starts as a good book and ends as a great book. Quiet and reflective and makes you give some thought to the necessity of friendship. Funny and just a tiny bit sad; not enough to deplete your tear ducts. As for the name, it's meant to be philosophical, I guess and must have some connection to the fact that the main character's a real estate agent. No, it's NOT a book about any city. It's about a man. Or rather a man who still has some growing up to do. And who, while growing up, forces you to see some of the less fine truths about your own life that you wouldn't have wanted to see otherwise.

e-mail: rs.readers@gmail.com

By Maliha Bassam


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