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The Dan Writer extraordinnaire

Although writing for almost a decade, the master of twisted thrills, Dan Brown made a debut this year to the general readers' circle of Bangladesh, courtesy his worldwide best seller: 'The Da Vinci Code'. The immense success of this book immediately had a piggy-back effect on its three predecessors, and in a matter of weeks, the Nilkhet versions of all four books had flooded the market.

Dan's first book, Digital Fortress, was actually published way back in 1996, and became bestseller of the year topping the New York Times' list. The story revolves around the core theme of most of Dan's novels codes (and code breaking for the matter). NSA, an ultra-secret security agency, is faced with its toughest challenge ever. Its million dollar technological wonder, the ultimate code breaking machine, is faced with an invincible code. When the head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, is called to investigate the matter, a shocking truth is revealed. The NSA is held hostage by such an ingeniously complex code, it threatens to paralyse U.S. Intelligence and tip the scales of power forever. The pages turn from Tokyo to Spain as a desperate race to avert the biggest intelligence blunder in U.S. history unfolds.

Deception Point, the second book, unravels a much bolder and wider plot set in the wake of an impending U.S. election. As the opposition campaigning aggressively criticises NASA and U.S. space policy, an incredible rare object is detected by a NASA satellite, creating hopes of a much needed victory for the floundering space agency. When the White House sends a team of experts, including the Intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton and the charismatic academic Michael Tolland, an unthinkable act of deception is uncovered. But before they can contact the President, the team is attacked by a deadly task force, controlled by a mysterious powerbroker who will stop at nothing in order to hide the truth. A pulse-racing plot of deception and survival is tantalizingly revealed as the story takes us back and forth across the arctic to the U.S.

In my own personal opinion, the third book in the series, 'Angels and Demons' is by far the greatest thriller masterpiece. The plot opens with the gruesome murder of a brilliant physicist, with a strange symbol seared into his chest. When Robert Langdon, a world-renowned Harvard symbologist, is asked to analyse the symbol, the revelations are at once conclusive and unbelievable. The symbol indicates the resurrection of the Illuminati, the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. Langdon's worst fears are confirmed at the wake of the Vatican's Holy conclave, when he learns of an unstoppable time bomb hidden at the very heart of the Vatican; the final phase of the Illuminati's legendary vendetta against the Catholic Church. With the sands of time dripping down fast, Langdon embarks on a frantic hunt together with a beautiful Italian scientist, Vittoria Vetra. Their quest follows a 400 year old trail of ancient symbols that leads them through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs and deserted cathedrals, and into the very heart of the long-forgotten Illuminati lair. Angels and Demons is a tantalizing thriller that amalgamates science and religion, and their long fought war, which relights an ancient bloody trail of murders.

The most famous novel, in the series, needs no introduction. The Da Vinci Code is truly a work of a genius, the ultimate tale of codes and code breaking. Similar to Angels and Demons, the story starts with a murder, this time, of an elderly curator of the Louvre. Robert Langdon, being coincidentally in Paris at that time, is summoned by the police to decode the message. With the help of a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, Langdon solves the enigmatic riddle only to find that it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. Further investigations by the two reveal the involvement of the late curator with an actual secret society The Priory of Sion, whose members include Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Da Vinci among others. The Louvre curator has sacrificed his life along with three others to protect the Priory's most sacred trust; the location of an immensely important religious relic, hidden and hunted for centuries. In a breathless race from Paris to London, Langdon and Neveu are forced to match wits with a faceless enemy, one who appears to work with a catholic sect 'Opus Dei' who has long plotted to uncover the Priory's prized secret. Filled with surprises and twists and an astonishing conclusion, The Da Vinci Code is said to be the pioneer in a new breed of lightening paced thrillers.

Individually each of the books is seriously absorbing, but many complain that the stories seem to get very formulaic and predictable after reading one or two books. In spite of all that, the stories are something for the bookworms to ravenously devour, and is likely to be 'entertaining' for anyone, to say the least.

By Tausif Salim
(Special thanks to the Dan Brown website)

Just a moment

The room was empty when I got back. The table had been cleared up; I guess my mother had become tired of waiting for me. Even though she wasn't physically present, I could feel her disapproval. It was almost tangible. As resigned as I was to the bitterness between us, evidence of it still managed to take the spring out of my step.

I quietly sidled into my room, flicked on the light switch, and tossed my purse on the bed. A paper napkin with a number scrawled on it tumbled out, bringing back the events of the evening.

The band had been in full swing when I entered the room, nervous, yet tingly with excitement at being out alone, wearing my favourite outfit. The hall was filled with beautiful people; chic ladies in their sparkling saris, and tall men in their crisp suits. I was floored.

Then I spotted him. Standing in one corner, one leg draped over the other in a very Hollywood pose, he was quietly observing the crowd. I suppose he was no different from any other man present in the hall, but there was something about him; the dimple on his cheek when he smiled, or the twinkle in his warm brown eyes as they alighted on something amusing. I had to look away.

But I was acutely aware of him no matter where I looked. I felt his smile as I laughed at some witty comment by one of the ladies, that I didn't understand. I saw the twinkle in his eye in the flash of the drink a bearded gentleman raised to the light. There was no escape.

A tap on my shoulder, then, and I turned, and our eyes met.
That one word to me, was like a fanfare of trumpets and cymbals, and I floated away on the sound.

We began talking, or rather, he talked, and I drowned in the rich timbre of his voice. Much of what he said went over my head, and although I was still enchanted by his smile, the magic was beginning to wear off.

“Let's stay in touch,” he said, hastily scribbling down a number on a paper napkin. I accepted it with a smile, so as not to hurt his feelings, but I know I will lose it, for what we shared was a moment, beautiful, but fleeting. Just a moment to look back on with a smile.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Overused terms

Sitting in an educational institute is boring. I can't tolerate boredom; usually I have something to do during an intolerable period of being bored. But unfortunately educational institutes offer little to divert the mind. Since I couldn't be bothered to actually study I decided to write this. 'This' is a compilation of terms that are used way too much, (and have subsequently incurred me to bitch about them).

Tower: This word is used everywhere. A guy decides to build an 8-10 storey-building, panel its front with glass and names it a 'tower'. The formula for naming such a building a 'tower' is easy. Take your dog's name, or your distant-aunt-who-lives-in-Canada's name and stick it beside the word tower. Then stick the whole thing on the building. Eureka! You have just created an extremely stupid name for a building that doesn't even remotely resemble a tower. E.g. 'Kuddus Tower'

Plaza: Same as above, only this word is used for 8-10 storey-buildings that are supposed to be shopping centers or malls. The naming formula is the same; only the resultant name is even more stupid. E.g. 'Mokles Plaza'.

University: I see this everywhere. Literally. If you take a stroll through any busy street in Dhaka, you're sure to come across 10-20 so called 'universities'. This country must hold the record for having some of the smallest universities in the world. Usually these places consist of nothing but a few rented stories in one of them 'towers'. I actually witnessed three universities in one 7-storey building. Wonder how the students study there. Imagine a guy mistakenly enter not a different classroom, but a different university itself (this probably happens a lot).

School: A lot like 'university'. A walk down Dhanmondi and you'll come across 50 bazillion schools with names like 'Unique School', 'Happy School for Children', 'Sweet Garden Kindergarten', or something like that. Places like this consist of extremely small (I mean really small) supposedly complexes with miniature playgrounds. You can witness a few kids here and there listlessly kicking a ball in the ah… playgrounds.

Coaching Center: Seems like education has became quite an industry. People are now generously dishing out education. How nice. Actually no. Some these coaching centers are nothing but nice. These places usually consist of a rented storey in an apartment building with a handful of teachers and the places are supposed to offer quality education. Yeah right.

Band: Every teenager I speak seems to be interested in nothing but 'bands'. Usually they're talking about their own bands, bands that probably have no equipment but a few guitars and maybe hand-me down drums. The guys in the band are anything but musical. Some of them can't even thread a tune they just heard. Lets not discuss about their vocals.

Militant: I hate them militants. Everyone seems to be only taking about them. Its come to a point that I've started to passionately hate the word. I've stopped reading newspapers because of over use of the word. There are only so many times you can hear the word militant before you get pissed…The news, in the newspaper, your physics teacher, the driver, everyone one seems to be yakking about the bastards who can't even pull of a proper suicide attack (I mean the bomber doesn't die so how can it be a suicide attack?).

JMB: Enough with it already. How many times can a person discuss about how some jongees are destroying the nation. Seriously what happened to discussing sports and bitching about the political instability in the country? I've stopped talking to adults because everyone of them only says the same thing about how I should take extreme caution before going out. I missed two damn classes because the idiots tried to bring law and order down by taking down a couple judges (although a good thing is that if I do fail because of missing those classes I can always blame the JMB).

Tsunami: Although this word existed long before the day Bangladesh won it's first ODI versus India, people didn't know about it until the tsunamis decided that the Indian Ocean was becoming to tranquil for their likes. The tsunamis asked Mother Nature for help and cranky old Mother Nature caused an earthquake under the ocean. Then the tsunami party started rolling all over South East Asia.

However this word isn't quite as popular now than how it used to be in January when the biology teachers started yapping about them too.

Crossfire: I didn't even know this word existed; that is until it started appearing in every daily newspaper. An 'elite' force with a stupid name or rather initials captures a top-notch criminal (something which Bangladesh seems have quite a lot of). This criminal usually has an extremely stupid prefix or suffix added to his name ('Pichi'??). This guy appears dead a few days later. Usually because he was stupid enough to try and run away from gun-wielding, sunglass wearing, 'elite' people, that too in the middle of the night. The 'elite' guys instead of capturing him decide to mow him down with their guns. Thus the word 'crossfire' appears in the newspapers.

RAB: This word is seriously famous. This word is the reason behind the word 'crossfire's' immense success. And the endorsement of the initials by Harry Potter in the sixth book has ensured that the word isn't forgotten easily (wonder who the dude is though, to have such a name). For some reason the people connected with RAB think that courts and trials are unnecessary when they catch a criminal. They just pass on the sentence of 'crossfire'.

I personally think that these guys are trying to put lawyers out of business and render courts obsolete. (Question: Who do you think has done a better job of trying to put the courts out of business, JMB by trying to blow up all the judges or RAB by making sure that criminals never make it to their hearings?)

By Tareq


I was sitting with these people in the same table, most of whom I've met only minutes back. I hung on to my seat, taking care to keep my eyes off anyone in particular, or the delicious foods, as they talked and laughed. Startled, I would look around, trying to catch whatever fleeting cue, I could, of the source of their mirth. The farthest person sitting from me was not more than 5 feet away and yet I found myself miles away from their world, a world at the same time intimidating and intriguing to me. In spite of my queerness in the circle I knew it was far better than I had previously expected it to be. My ears weren't burning, and I did not have to worry about my face flushing into an odd complexion.

And so I continued to sit there, half relaxed, half happy that I was not the centre of anything, and tried to look neither bored nor too interested. I pretended to be a good listener while all I was doing was following the soft tune of the violin, or doing a mind-sketch of the designs on the cutlery. Whenever the topic made a turn towards me I would promptly look up, caring to look anyone who was talking in the eye. I remember I had thanked God a million times afterwards for giving me a pair of equally opaque eyes and smile.

By Tausif Salim


Rain on me
Rain on me.
Ah! The touch.
Tiny droplets,
All the sky has to shed.
Its pain, its agony,
Expectations mingled with
The rumbling thunder.
Oh, you're mistaken!
Merely the melody of an ancient
Forgotten song.
The thunderous hymn
Of thousand voices,
Rain on me.
The caressing drops,
The consoling touch of the countless.
As if they had souls of their own!
Careless and free,
Such tiny things to be.
Blurry, yet rhythmic….
Echoes of cry, echoes of laughter.
Echoes of life itself,
Showering altogether
Mixed with the drops of Heaven.
Clamorous, yet their whispers,

Me, my night and the river
Don't deny
My tearful sigh
Creeping towards the sky
Mingled with joy, soaring high
Never looking back, never saying goodbye.
Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of my
Tiny crystal tears that sparkle through the night.
They call them stars, can you tell me why?
The starry sky gazes down at me, standing alone, by
The river that flows on forever. Ah! The ritual of life.
The sky stares at me; I stare at the water, and try
To breathe in the aroma of the night, and to hide the cry
Of my confused little heart, overwhelmed at the beauty of the night so divine.
Yet I, don't deny, my joyous sighs, for the night I see through misted eyes.

By Raisa Rafique


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