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The week in re(ar)view

There's a saying that goes “when it rains it pours”. In our instance it should be “when it rains it drowns”. The rainy season is here and any slight burst pretty much drowns the entire city. It's sad because while many parts of the city is facing acute water shortage other parts are submerged in water (with many household soluble material). You know what we are talking about.

Looking for a new profession
It seems working for a living is becoming a hassle in this country. Almost every path of income is blocked with an inherent risk to life. A journalist will get beaten up or a rickshaw-wallah will have his vehicle impounded for not being literate enough to provide better false documents. A teacher will have to face ruling party led students trying to prove the pen is weaker than the sword. Even giving up everything and becoming a bear is not an option. Beggars have societies and leagues and whatnot that will end up beating you for begging in a reserved zone. Seems working for a living is such a hassle why not take money from those who are doing all. Why not become an extortionist?

On May 14 a bunch of extortionists went into a manpower agency at Hatirpool and started firing when their demand for 5 crore taka could not be met. In the non-RAB crossfire the relative of a client ended up dead. They seem to have al the right cause they have the might. Soon everyone will end up becoming extortionists and demand money from each other.

Fishy occupation
Being a fisherman will soon become the most hazardous occupation in the country. On May 12 a fisherman netted a 40 kg bomb when he was fishing in a Khama beel in Pakundia upazila. Apparently WWII war plane crashed there.

In another incident an 18 inch long live mortar shell was founding a shrimp enclosure in Khulna. Worst of all, 70 fishermen have been taken hostage by pirates from the Bay of Bengal. The ransom demand is taka 100,000 each for seven boats they captured.

By Gokhra and Mood Dude

Concert review
Artcell live in concert

After a great deal of hype, anticipation and delay, rock band Artcell's second solo concert was held on the 12th of May (Friday) at the newly built Bashundhara Convention Center. And like the previous Artcell solo concert about three years ago, this one was also a show to remember. But this show had been organized with a totally brand new concept of highlighting a band, and the concept worked. The three upcoming bands that came to show their tribute to Artcell also showcased their talents and assured the fans that the future is bright for Bangladeshi rock music.

It was already known to the fans that Artcell would be covering songs from their second album 'Aniket Prantor'. They came on stage first and performed the first track of the album, 'Lean'. Lincoln's vocals were amazing and Cezanne, Ershad and Shaju's performance on their instruments (bass, guitar and drums respectively) were nothing but electrifying.

The next phase of the concert was a different sort of an experience for a lot of the fans. Artcell invited some of Bangladesh's most famous musicians to come on stage and perform side by side. The first guests were Schumann bassist of the band Paper Rhymes and mentor of Artcell bassist Cezanne and Balam guitarist and vocal of Warfaze. These two, along with Artcell, covered 'Onno Shomoy', the title track from Artcell's first album. The overall performance was good, while Schumann's skills on bass were very impressive.

Then Artcell performed the song 'Odekha Shworgo' with Sakib (Cryptic Fate) as guest vocal. This was one of the best performances of the night and Sakib's vocal on the song was as good as Lincoln's. Then Jon (Black) came on stage as guest vocal and performed the song 'Opshori'. The next guest musician was Jewel (Miles), who sang and played the guitar while Artcell performed 'Rupok'. Artcell then performed 'Poth Chola' with Elita (Raaga) as guest vocal, Buno (Bangla) on bass and Tony (Black) on drums. After that, it was Sumon and Kamal of Aurthohin who performed 'Obosh Onubhutir Deyal' alongside Artcell. While Sumon's vocal beside that of Lincoln's was okay, Kamal's guitar work was mind blowing. The last guest appearance was of Hamin Ahmed, legendary guitarist of Miles, who showed his mastery over his instrument while Artcell performed 'Duhkho Bilash'.

Then it was time for the performances of the three underground bands that had come Eclipse, DNA and Arbovirus. Eclipse's rendition of Artcell's 'Mukhosh' was average; DNA's cover of 'Chiley Kothar Shepai' was good and Arbovirus' cover of 'Bhul Jonmo' was excellent. After Abovirus' performance, Artcell returned to the stage to finish off the night's show. The whole show was recorded with three professional television cameras and Artcell have promised that DVDs of the program will soon be released in the market.

Special credit goes to the organizers for the excellent stage decoration and smoke and lighting effects both of which were exceptionally good. But if there was one shortcoming of the whole program, it should be the venue that just didn't seem appropriate for the show. The sitting arrangement (or rather, the lack of any sitting arrangement) also created a few problems, especially for those sitting at the back. But the pros of the show surely outweigh the cons. The rock music fans will love to see more of such concerts in the future.

By Zeeshan B. Rahman

Tele news

Durotto jotoi hok, kache thakun!
The gargantuan telecommunications boom in Bangladesh is certainly the top notch business now and yet growing, making not only Bangladesh small, but also showing the demand and relevance of commutations in our country. Every time you take up that cell phone of yours and make a call, keep in mind that you are contributing to Bangladesh's growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Number of subscribers has leaped from 200,000 in the first quarter of 2001 to 11 million in early 2006! Over seven percent of the population now has a mobile phone, up from only 0.2 percent four years ago. Much to the country's need, this extraordinary increase has caused the mobile phone companies to employ over 237,900 well paid people directly or indirectly and adding 650 million dollars to Bangladesh's GDP annually! Also mobile phone network coverage is now as much as 90 percent of the country. Bangladesh being one of the world's poorest nations, these figures shows how important mobile phones are to the increase in Bangladesh's economic productivity and income for the whole country. Moreover, this trend is not one that will fall very soon, in fact with falling mobile prices, the trend will rise. So next time when your mom or dad starts shouting about how talkative you are or calculating about how much time and money you spend on the mobile each day, tell them to be optimistic for a change… for Bangladesh's sake!

By Adnan M. S. Fakir

Book review
Ship of Magic

Ships that have their own personality, carved wood that speaks, enchanted islands, dream-boxes, exotic ports and dashing pirates. Sounds like a recipe for a magical fantasy, doesn't it? I'm sick and tired, though, of people scoffing at fantasy as 'kiddy books'. I mean, of course there are fairytales and fantasy written with the child reader in mind, although I still enjoy my Cinderella stories (do I smell a feminist burning lingerie in protest?).

Anyway, this week, I read a fantasy novel that's so not a kid's read, even though it's got a bedtime-story name like Ship of Magic. The first of a trilogy called The Liveship Traders, it borrows the geography and setting from author Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy.

The story revolves around a port city called Bingtown, and a collection of Pirate Isles. Plagued by bad weather, cutthroat competition, serpent attacks, and pesky pirates, the only merchants who ever really prosper are those that own 'liveships', which are ships made from 'wizard wood', a magical wood of mysterious that has a life of its own. Consequently, anything made from this wood has what the book calls 'sentient awareness'. In other words, it has the ability to think, feel, and speak. Liveships are considered heirlooms and remain loyal to the family that owns them, as part of the family.

The ship featured in this story is the Vivacia, which belongs to the Vestrit family. Young Althea Vestrit, who was grew up on the ship, sharing long voyages with her father, expects to inherit her wooden 'sister'. She is rudely disillusioned when, after her father's death, the ship is passed on to her elder sister Keffria, who yields control to her grasping, over-ambitious husband Kyle Haven. Cheated of her destiny, Althea swears to reclaim what is rightfully hers. Her only friends are her former shipmate Brashen Trell, the mad liveship wreck Paragon, and a mysterious woodcarver called Amber.

Another tangent to this story is young Wintrow Haven, Keffria's son, who is yanked out of a serene life at the monastery and forced to live on the Vivacia, who needs to have a person of Vestrit blood on board to function. A mild-mannered, thoughtful, intellectual boy, he finds life as a ship's boy very harsh indeed, particularly when he faces animosity from the ship's crew because he is the unwanted captain's son.

A third angle comes from the pirate Kennit, who nurses a secret ambition to become the king of the pirates, and sees his salvation in capturing a liveship and making it his own. Hobb manages to take all these separate threads and weave them into a captivating story.

Underneath all the magic and adventure is a close examination of the evils of society; class snobbery, the clash between new money and old, the ugly spectre of slavery, gender issues, and unequal power relations within a family. Hobb takes his imaginary setting and puts it into a context real people can identify with and leaves us wanting for more. His style of writing is very matter-of-fact, in a tone that suggests 'what, you didn't know ships could talk?” His presentation of seafaring life is also very well researched and very convincing, and his depiction of slavery not unlike something you'd read about in accounts of World War II concentration camps. The story just keeps you hungering for more. All in all, it's a fascinating read, and to all the fantasy-scoffers out there, read it and tell me if you still think it's for kids.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


Peace, where do you hide?
And keep yourself away from our sight?
Peace, why do you not peep into our hearts?
And see all your 'invitation cards'?
Stop being a bird in flight,
Perch and rest for a while.
Oh for the world's sake
Come into everyone's life.
By Pavana Khan


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