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Rickshaw pulling pranks and prejudice

Residing in Dhaka City no one can say that they have never used rickshaw as a mode of transportation in their life. That is unless the person is stuck-up, fake, dumb and every other word which can define “fake” pride. This person is what is known as a a leech, sucking money from the parents because s/he can't do anything on their own.

Getting back to the topic, I have traveled by the aforementioned vehicle many times. On every occasion my experience on a rickshaw has become engraved in my very soul. Ok, so maybe not all of them, but surely some of them have.

Once, when I was in a rush, I finally managed to hail a rickshaw after numerous failed attempts. I had to reach Lalbagh by 5:30pm and it was already 4:00pm. This rickshaw-puller had a certain grace about him and his speed would put any biker to shame. So, with a cheerful smile, I asked him whether he would take me to my designated spot. He agreed almost immediately. The way he rode, what speed! However, I reached Lalbagh at 6:30. The reason, you ask? The rickshaw-puller was fast except the stupid fool forgot to take me!

Getting bored in Lalmatia, I was with two of my friends. We decided to go to Dhanmondi. So, we called a rickshaw and told him where we wanted to go. We didn't feel like haggling to get a fair fare. While we approached the rickshaw, he asked us, “How many are going?”

“Four,” my friend replied.
“But there are only three!” He exclaimed!

“Why? Are you not going with us?” My friend asked. This may not be funny for the normal citizen but for us, it was hilarious.

Then one time, I asked a rickshaw-puller if he wanted to go to Mohammedpur. He said “Yes.”

“Tahole jao, darai aso keno? (Then go, why are you standing?)” I replied. The hilarity of the situation was missed by his offensive and colorful vocabulary.

The following incident was related by my sister's friend. He claimed that once, while on a rickshaw, he asked the rickshaw-puller to go left and the rickshaw-puller promptly jumped off the rickshaw and ran to the left direction. Yeah, right! As if that's true!

Rickshaw has also become a dating “instrument”, because with the hood up, no one can see your expressions of intimacy. But seriously lovers, although it covers your back, what’s up front is still visible.

Anyway, with this I give you my account of some of my memorable moments and I am sure you also have some of your own. And finally, lack of decent spots for lovers does not make rickshaw a romantic rendezvous spot! That's the bottom-line!

By Osama Rahman

The Brine Pickles BRAC Show
The slogan went “Kuddus Bhaier Choritro, Andar Moto Pobitro!” as the 'greatest political leader' walked onto the stage of room UB 403 in BRAC University, on the May 29. His promises to the people included anda (as in egg) without bird flu, exams without question papers, TV channels with FTV, and what not. All you have to do is vote for him.

With the political parody, Theotonius Gomes instantly caught the crowd, starting off the Brine Pickles show at BRAC. Brine Pickles is a performance literature group, in collaboration with the British Council. They have performed several literary shows all over Dhaka, and even in Chittagong. They had recently published a book titled “Maps and Metaphors” and their BRAC show was a very unique promotion for the book.

The “Vote for Me” performance was followed by canny recitation of two poems by Tanvir Hafiz and Fatima Tuz Zahra. An extract from Andrew Marvell's “To His Coy Mistress” followed along with a humorous rejoinder, where men's obsession with a woman's beauty was mocked by Kazi Sarmad Karim and Munasir Kamal. “The Grass is Greener” on the other side, a collection of tiny short stories by Sabrina F. Ahmad (the name sounds familiar for some reason, doesn't it?) came up next, featuring hardships in relationships, leading to the conclusion that a man's (and a woman's) best friend is always a dog!

A music video titled “Dhakar Tokai” was shown next, which talked, or rather sang, about the life of a tokai rummaging around the roads of the city for life. Theo entered the scene again in the music video that portrayed several actual tokais. One of the best performances came up next titled “Escaping Paradise” by Sabrina Binte Masud about Adam and Eve, where Eve gets stuck in a box for centuries while Adam proposes several methods to break open the box, not thinking that just lifting the top might actually open it. The play ironically portrayed the doubts of the human mind, how easily men fall into frustration and give into Satan, remarkably performed by Rubaid Iftekhar Mahbub and Maherin Ahmed.

Two more recitations followed, titled “Blurred Blue” and “Khewl,” succeeded by the major play of the show titled “Of Rumination and Romances” by Asif Iqbal. The play was most likely set in the in the early 19th century with the main characters being the English Romantic Poets and Painters. The plot comically revolved around a struggle between Wordsworth's “Tintern Abby” and Coleridge's “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (which historically were published together) where Wordsworth (obsessed with nature and the word “preposterous”) becomes jealous of Coleridge's (obsessed with opium) work and tries to put him in jail. He later acknowledges his mistake and stops the act. Coleridge and Wordsworth were historically very good friends, however, I have no idea how much of the plot actually happened. Lord Byron's fickle character and his numerous love affairs, along with P. B. Shelley, William Blake and the French painter Adelaide Labille-Guiard were also involved in the plot.

The show was wrapped with a light-hearted song titled “Carnival” written by Sabrina F. Ahmad and composed by Theotonius Gomes and performed by both. While the crowd was not too huge for the show, the show received its much deserved appraisal.

The BP crew would like to thank Firdous Azim, Chairperson of the English Department BRAC, June Rollison, Director of British Council, Syed Masud Hossain, Culture and Science Program Manager of British Council and Asma Anis Khan, Lecturer at BRAC University, for helping and making their show a reality. Be sure to buy their book “Maps and Metaphors,” available at Words n Pages.

By Adnan M. S. Fakir

Fainting - It's not all it's cracked up to be

Ever since I started reading my still favourite Archie Comics, I had a very definite aim in my mind. I was determined to faint one day, with the whole holding my hand up to my head and then falling into the strong yet gentle arms of someone hunky who was 'coincidentally' standing right behind me. It was probably one of those wily, feminine things that girls think about but seeing Veronica and Betty do it so many times convinced me that it was fun.

Over the years, my preferences of who that lucky someone would be changed from Pete Sampras to Bon Jovi to Johnny Depp until a few days ago when all that changed. No, not my penchant for the utterly gorgeous Depp (into whose eyes of melted chocolate I would stare into…) but my passion for fainting dramatically.

Ah, all those days of practicing in front of the mirror, with the bed behind me, of the best position to pass out in so that I wouldn't harm the guy who held me and yet look my best while 'unconscious'. It all burned up in flames. A few days ago, we had the usual power shortage in one of my coaching classes. The weather was already unbearably hot and humid that day and after waiting a couple of futile minutes for the power to come back on, class was dismissed. For some unexplainable reason, I had also decided to wear a full-sleeve shirt that day. As we all got up to leave, I stood a bit apart from the others, chatting with my friend while I waited for the others to leave. I was feeling hotter by the minute and was already breaking into a sweat when I started feeling dizzy. I even felt a bit wobbly but I thought the feeling would pass. When it didn't and I started to feel giddier by the second, I tried to grab at my friend who was standing nearby. I remember telling her I felt woozy… and then that's it. I don't remember what happened after that.

In my head I don't know what was going on. I felt like I was in a nightmare and in the few seconds before I gained consciousness, I remember feeling like I was being sucked into a vortex of overwhelming sounds. I had tunnel vision and couldn't see anything in front of me. I suddenly opened my eyes to see I was slumped onto a couch and my friends were concernedly peering at me by candlelight. For 30 seconds I didn't know where I was. Then in reply to their queries I said that I was feeling extremely weak. My head was aching and I even felt a bit nauseous. I remained on the couch until someone got me a lemon soft drink, after which I felt a bit better.

Later on when I realized that I really had fainted (due to the heat and dehydration) even if it was only for a few minutes, it hadn't gone the way I wanted it to at all. According to my friend, a guy I didn't notice grabbed me from behind as I started to fall, without whom I would have collapsed and my head would have cracked open like an egg. I guess I should thank him for that but the whole disappointment of it all not being the way I thought it would be is substantial. Fainting is not a very pleasant thing and no matter what Veronica gets out of it, I wouldn't want it to happen to me again. At least not without Johnny Depp somewhere close by.

By Nisma Elias

Autism in Bangladesh
Where do we stand?

With the recent increase in autism recognition and new approaches to educating and socializing autistics, autistic cultures have begun to develop in many countries. Though our country is far behind in having a culture for autistics, some people have never given up. These 'some people' include a mother of an autistic child and along with her a small crew of devoted teachers. These are the people who inspire hundreds of parents of autistic children all over Bangladesh. People who make these heartbroken, sleepless parents dream again.

Established on April 4, 2004, the Autism Welfare Foundation is a non-profit, non-government, voluntary welfare organization, formed with the aim of training and educating autistic children to perform at their maximum strength and interests and making them self-sufficient. It was their third anniversary on May 31 this year. A cultural program was arranged at the Public Library auditorium, Shahbag. Advisor of caretaker government, Tapon Chowdhury was the chief guest. Also present were the chairperson of Autism Welfare Foundation (AWF) Dr. Raonak Hafiz and chief advisor of the foundation, child specialist M.R Khan. The cultural program was full of life with the autistic children taking part in the puppet show and their solo performances.

An autistic child can be like all other normal children. A nurturing environment at home, at school helps autistic people continue to learn and to develop throughout their lives. AWF is such a foundation dedicated to raising public awareness about autism. The training and education centre of AWF provides intensive training and education for autistic children and adolescents.

Autism is a life long development disability that prevents individuals from properly understanding what they see, hear and otherwise sense. There are thousands of unrecognized autistic children out there all over Bangladesh. To help all these little minds to flourish the foundation needs to extend their helping hands furthermore. “The Bangladesh government will be there with all the help that can enrich and help the ever expanding foundation to carry on their great work” assured Tapon Chowdhury, advisor of the caretaker government. Along with the government we can also help the foundation to grow and help the innocent little minds and their parents to dream again.

By Adnan Quadri


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