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The plane touched down, a little ahead of schedule, and I was received by my family and friends, all kisses and embraces and handshakes. The women were expressing great delight at seeing me with long hair: a new thing, me having confined myself to the 'army cut' for as long as I can remember. Also, my hard lifting during the last 3 months was earning its due praise: "Riaz, you look so BUFF!", and "Oh! A few more months, and you'll be the Arnold of Bangladesh, man!" permeated my ears from every direction. I am escorted out of the airport, my countrymen hailing me on my successful return from America, all proud, beaming faces…
I wish.

What happened, in truth, was that I had a three hour delay at the last leg of my 25 hour flight from USA. I flew from Kuwait in an aircraft saturated with my countrymen (or, rather, the distinct 'aroma' that seems to follow them everywhere). Arrived, not to be received, but, instead, to 'receive the receivers', if you get my drift. And the first words out of the women of my family were, "Good grief, do you need a haircut!" and "Wow! You've grown fatter!". The beaming faces I saw were not from pride, but from the sunlight reflecting off the sweat-beaded faces of the 'helpers', as they grabbed (yes, grabbed!) my luggage and started to 'help' me, all the while handling them with the efficiency of a drunk elephant, banging them so hard that any fragile items within would have long been dissolved by the time they were finally settled inside the car-trunk (and you better pray that they didn't bust a tail light while they were at it!)!

…Ok fine. I admit. My 'long' hair might have grown a teensy weensy bit 'wild', and (to the untrained eye) my 'bulk' might LOOK like a new layer of adipose tissue (I mean, I'm on my bulking phase, for crying out loud!!). However, as fascinating as my private/social/messed-up life is, no doubt, this article is, by a long shot, not a slice of my life story…

Instead, I type this piece, with the next batch of abroad-studying-students in mind. For those of you 'smarties' who already know what to expect, (and when to expect, and how to expect) from USA, kindly ignore this most enlightening literary endeavor, and tickle yourself to death with a pogo-stick! (And for the others… well, read on!):

First, and foremost; expect… no wait, DON'T expect anything to happen your way, at least for around the first 3/4 months. Read and watch as many American books and American movies and NGC documentaries and CSI and Friends and American Idols your heart desires; know, that nothing is set in stone, and ever-changing is everything. (I might sound like Yoda here, but its true!)

You might have done a ton of research about the State you're going to live in. You might have raked up enough internet bills researching about Universities, rankings and all, to feed a poor kid from Ghana (or Dhaka) for a whole year. Heck, you might have even nailed it down to the male to female ratio of your school of choice! But, and it gives me no joy to inform you, dear reader; that numbers, although a good 'indication' of how things might be, do no justice to how things really are. And of course, you must realize that whatever information you get could, possibly, be a little biased, since all that the universities are doing through their sites is 'advertising'.

So, my suggestion to you is (if you can), kindly book yourself a flight to the US for a period of one month or so (during vacation time?), when you will physically visit the first five universities that you fancy. If that sounds slightly insane to you, I suggest that you grab a friend or relative living there to do the honors. Give them a list of the Universities you want them to visit, then, you might add a second list, which specifies what to look out for. If I was reading this 1 or 2 years back, I'd have done something like this:

List 1: Names of Universities to check out:-
#1/ University of Blah,
#2/ Lalalalaaa University,
#3/ State University of Thingamabob,
#4/ Yada University of Wachamacallit,
#5/ University of Yadayada…
List 2: Watch for these things SPECIALLY!!~

#1/ Check if the people there tolerate racism, or tolerate us.
- a thing not much talked about, and yet the most common reason that students either drop-out, transfer, or, the worst cases, get so demoralized that they simply lose all the drive and desire with which they left BD, and lose themselves to drugs and alcohol. A factor not to be overlooked: after a year out, I now know that rankings are secondary to the rate of tolerated racism in any University. If the people of the university itself don't care about nothing more than your money, it really isn't the best place to be for the next 2 or 3 years. (O yes, and kindly have the 'common' sense to not depend of the University's Statistics of racism. As I mentioned earlier, they might not be 'accurate'. )

#2/ Check if the class sizes exceed 100 students or more.
- Lets face it; you're going to have fun in the University, but at times, you might need to study a bit. And, depending upon your learning style, you might be extremely comfortable studying with 500/600 other students in huge auditoriums (what happened to me), or you might prefer a more personal approach: a smaller class size of 40/50 people (what I so wanted!). Regardless, know in advance what your University average class sizes are. The last thing I wanted was taking a class with over 500 people (always that fear that the whole class might start hooting, pointing, and flat out rolling-on-the-floor laughing at your 'silly' question!).

#3/ How's the weather there?
- Your dream University might be sitting in the middle of a desert, and you, being a regular sun-salamander, might be totally ok with it. Others with heat-o-phobia (yea, sue me) might want a more hydro-based living environment. Hot, cold, moderate, rainy, chilling, melting: your call, no one is going to live there but you. I hate cold weather, but chose my University thinking 'logical' thoughts such as, "Other people are living there, so why not me?", and "That's why they have jackets and windbreakers and heating systems!" Well, long story short, I just transferred this summer. You are what you are. Compromising anything just means compromising what you can be.

#4/ How many gyms do they have, and how large?
- Just my own thing. I love lifting, so I'd have searched for them. But most universities have good gyms already. My point including this is for you to know that you should have access to things related to your hobbies or interests: there is only so much one can study, you know…

#5/ Any Bangali restaurants near the university?
- Food. Home style, Bangali made food. And it becomes more than mere sustenance, once you start breathing, eating, reheating, and re-eating leftover pizzas, burgers, and all the junk-food you ever dreamt of in this life. My peers, and other 'USA-ers' will know what I'm talking about.

#6/ If not, are cooking facilities available in the dorms?
- Ties in with the preceding point. If you don't have a Bangali/Indian restaurant around your university, and also lack a kitchen in your dorm, I pity you.

#7/ How many Bangalis or Indians did you see?
- Doesn't apply to me, but some of you might become suicidal, when you find yourself surrounded by every 'kind' but your own kind.

#8/ Sooo… any good looking babes?
- In my opinion, this comes in third place, right after racism and university rankings. I just put it in 8th place so that, in case your parents still glean over RS, they might overlook it. Regardless, I cannot emphasize upon this point strongly enough. (And if you don't understand what I'm saying here, kindly put down this paper and proceed to jump off the nearest 10 storied building. Thank you.)

#9/ And how are the teachers? (NOT the male teachers you twit!)
- Self-explanatory. A great resource is www.ratemyprofessor.com

#10/ And. umm… keep watching?…

I kid you not, dear reader, when I say that this little bit of prudent and 'physical' investigation will prove to be most worthy and fruitful to you in ensuring a long, happy, and healthy future with your final choice of Uni. My own time in… well, lets say, University *&@^#%*^@%#^, was more of a 'love-hate' relationship than a more symbiotic one (which is why I transferred the heck outta there!)…

In conclusion, allow me to review some very important points: drink at least 2 liters of water everyday, exercise 30 minutes daily, brush your teeth 2 times every 24 hours with a fluoride based toothpaste. If you smoke, don't (if you're showing me the third finger of either hand, counting from either ways now, kindly eat lots of green veggies: they fight cancer). O yea, and while you're at all those, kindly take some time to breathe and prepare for 'the next episode'… (Of life, education, relationships, whatever)…

By Riaz Md. Nasek Khan

The world of tarot

Anyone mildly interested in the many intricacies of 'fortune telling' has undoubtedly come across the two most common forms: the 'Crystal Ball' and the 'Tarot Cards'. While the Crystal Ball remains as a vague concept, Tarot

Cards have a different practical approach. Due to this, you don't even need to seek the help of 'so called fortune tellers' every time you want to try your hand at predictions. In fact, all you need is a set of Tarot Cards, a Beginner's Guide, a notebook, and you're all set.

While many Tarot card packs are very fancy and complicated, the basic card pack consists of 74 cards, 52 of which belong to the "Minor Arcana" and the rest belonging to the "Major Arcana". The Minor Arcana is further divided into four different suits: the Suit of Cups, the Suit of Wands, the Suit of Swords and the Suit of Pentacles.

The Suit of Cups describes the shifting and ever-changing world of "Feelings and Emotions", and the prime symbol of feelings is the element of water. This is because feelings, like water, are always changing. In order to become familiar with the Suit of Cups, one has to allow the symbols, shapes and colors on the Tarot cards to make an overall impression, before trying to analyze individual cards. Once this is done, we can move on to uncover the interpretations of each of these cards. A variety of emotions, from joy to sorrow, are covered. It is likely that feelings of elation, joy, confusion, doubt and grief will all be represented in some way by the Suit of Cups.

The Suit of Wands describes the magical process of "Creativity". One of the prime symbols of creativity is the fire, as depicted in the cards. A single spark can catch hold of a piece of wood and the next thing you know a bright, blazing, warm fire is roaring. In the same way a simple creative inspiration can lead to an amazing example of creative genius. Every image in the Suit of Wands is depicted in the warm, fiery colors of yellow, red, brown and orange, reinforcing each card's connection with fire. The cards also contain other symbols of fire: little flames, the salamander, the sunflower and the sun.

The Suit of Swords connects to the element of air which, in turn, connect to the mind and to rational thoughts. In short, the Suit of Swords represents "Life Challenges". It illustrates the various life events that we will all encounter at some time or other, and suggests the application of pure logic and rational analysis to them. The challenges indicated by the swords are not limited to a single are of life such as relationships, creativity or finance. These cards also reflect many of the problems we have in balancing intellect with feelings, intuition and physical needs. The main symbol of Swords is air. Other symbols include birds, butterflies, clouds, the changing patterns of the sky, and also cool colors such as ice-blue and steel-gray.

The Suit of Pentacles is linked to the element of earth, which is concerned with the world of form and substance. The theme here is "Money and Potential". Every brilliant idea originating with the imaginative Wands must pass through the Pentacles if it is to be made real. The symbol of the Pentacles is fascinating in itself. Shaped like a coin, which is a symbol of the material world, it has the magical five pointed star engraved on it, symbolizing the magical powers of the earth itself. The colors that permeate these cards are brown and green. Symbols portrayed are mice, rabbits, dogs, fruits and flowers.

Once a user becomes familiar and is able to deal with the 52 cards of the Minor Arcana, it is time to move up to the next step, i.e. move up to the Major Arcana. This comprises of a set of 22 additional cards, which together describes all the stages of a man's life. The journey through the procession on the Major Arcana cards is "The Fool's" journey through life. The Fool, like each of us, must pass through childhood and adolescence until he finally enters adulthood where he encounters the four virtues of "Justice", "Temperance", "Strength" and prudence ("The Hermit"). Note that the words between the quotation marks are the names of some of the cards. The second half of life involves some inner soul searching, represented by the "Hanged Man", "Death", "The Devil" and "The Tower". As with the Minor Arcana detailed analysis is provided for all the cards.

I know a lot of this may sound confusing, but once you have a pack of Tarot Card in front of you, trust me, everytime will be clear as day! So, fancy doing some fortune telling by yourself?

By Jennifer Ashraf

The Lost Puppy

One day James was playing ball with his puppy in the park, when his mother called him. James told his puppy to stay put while he ran to his mother.

The puppy stayed there as he was told to, but soon he saw a bone in the distance and as he went close to it, he decided to bury it far away. There was a forest nearby and he buried it there. Then he found that he did not know the way back. Meanwhile James came to the park and started to look for his dog. He asked the garbage man if he had seen a puppy. The garbage man told him that he had seen a puppy go into the forest.

James ran to the woods, for he loved his puppy very much. To his joy he found his naughty pet. James was very happy that he had found his puppy.

By Daneesha Khan


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