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Modern medical marvels revealed

When you're a biology nerd like me, and a viewer of Hindi serials, you can't help but notice wild discrepancies between reality and the Hindi serial land. Ignore them, I hear you cry. Well, I could, but it's much more fun pointing them out.

Plastic surgery In Hindi serials plastic surgery is just the same as transfiguration. Starting from the face, to height, body structure, and complexion, everything can be changed using 'plastic surgery'. The reasons for 'plastic surgery' are the all too common accidents (notably car crashes), falling off cliffs, or getting trapped in burning buildings. Patients recover amazingly fast from intensive facial reconstruction surgery. They're out and about within hours of being discharged from the post-operative room. No risk of infection. Damn, their immune systems are one of a kind.

Twins In Hindi serials, there are two kinds of twins: identical twins (usually separated at birth), or fraternal twins (not common). Most twins, at least identical ones, are adopted by two different sets of parents, and meet years later. Identical twins in Hindi serials never know that the other one exists, nor do they ever feel any 'connection' to their twin. Yet they know exactly how the other twin behaves, and can mimic each others' personalities perfectly. Even their own mother can't tell them apart (but the wives usually can!). This is called the 'bond of love'…

A recent gimmick in Hindi serials is conjoined twins. Conjoined twins (or "Siamese twins") are identical twins whose bodies are joined together at birth, and they may share limbs or vital organs. Now, one particular Hindi serial about conjoined twins, I noticed that the twins in question are a) un-identical and b) apparently not joined at all. So, in Hindi serial terminology, 'conjoined' means 'pretending to be stuck together'. They have no impaired movement, and are no different from say, two people walking arm in arm.

Paralysis In Hindi serials, paralysis is of three types: a) you're wheelchair bound (probably due to some accident, like a car crash) or b) you're bed-ridden (probably due to some accident, like a car crash) and c) the shock of knowing the truth. Paralysis results in loss of speech or movement, and is usually restricted to the lower half of the body. In the rare cases where you can't move around, your paralysis maybe caused by a) a failed attempt to kill you, b) something that your mother did when you were conceived, causing you to be ill-fated or c) you know something that can possibly change the fate of someone or something but can't do or say anything about it to anyone due to the trauma of knowing the truth (poetic justice). Sometimes paralysis can be cured by brain surgery.

Disabilities in Hindi serials are usually defined as the inability to see, hear, talk or walk. So, if you're blind, you just look somewhere to the left of the person you're speaking to. If you're deaf, you look blankly ahead, and if you can't talk, no one is going to bother teaching you sign language. And if you can't walk, you can still move around with relative easiness! Live with it. There is another type of disability, the disability to reproduce. This can usually be blamed on some curse that someone put upon you for something horrible that you did eons ago.

Autism in Hindi serials is something that's catching on. This is when grown men and women act like children and play with toys. This may happen due to trauma or can be induced by some medicine. Again, they have no physical impairment, and require no assistance to go about their daily lives. All they need is a nanny to hand them their teddy bears. This nannies usually come in the form of an illiterate/demure/docile wife. Autism can also be cured by brain surgery/electric shock treatment. Most autistic people are owners of large industries.

Childbirth and pregnancy In reality, it is typical for women in the first months of pregnancy to experience morning sickness, and even cramping. Between the fourth and sixth month, expectant mothers put on weight, their bellies protrude more and more, and they start feeling the movement of the fetus. By the third trimester, expectant mothers might be having achy backs and feet. After childbirth, they still have backs and feet that ache, and their bellies don't radically reduce in size until at least a month has passed. In Hindi serial land, mothers look the same before and after childbirth. They don't have protruding bellies, or any symptoms of pregnancy, except maybe a tendency to clutch at their abdomens and gasp, and maybe retch now and then. (Did you know that halwa made from dates is bad for expectant mothers? No? Neither did I). And after childbirth, they jump right back into their industrious-housewife-and-sprightly-daughter-in-law role.

Anti-Ageing agents There is a tendency for people to live on years after years without looking older by a single day. It is perhaps the miracle of latest cosmetics that are coming out. The older Murubbis (Ba) are especially free from the effect of natural ageing as they have outlived their great-great grandsons and daughters.

So, there you have it, folks, modern medical marvels, courtesy of the mothers and daughters-in-law of Hindi serial land.

By Hu and Monty Python

Killing time

I was bored. Not just bored. Very bored. Perhaps, more than that. Listening to music wasn't doing any good. It was a hot day, too. I groaned in misery and paced around my room. It came to me then, doing that was doing no good. So, I groaned in anger and paced around the room. I then realised groaning in a certain feeling and pacing around the room was not doing anything whatsoever, so I stopped that altogether.

I got bored again.

I plopped myself on the single sofa and placed my hand under my chin and thought. And thought. And thought. I became tired then, for thinking is tedious. You have to think up stuff to think about. Then you have to think about that. And you have to think why you were thinking in the first place. When you know that, you have to think what good it would do you thinking about it anyway… Sometimes, thinking about a certain thing may lead to thinking about another certain thing that leads to forgetting about the first certain thing. That's the way it is, when you are a thinker. It's not that easy to think, contrary to popular or, depending on the society, unpopular belief.

So, I then decided to stop thinking on the whole. It was then I realised I had forgotten what I was thinking about. This made me confused. I went on to think about being confused, which confused me. I subsequently recalled being confused a moment ago, and being confused twice at the same time was further confusing still. And this particular confusing fact simply muddled me.

It was getting too confusing for me. So, I just threw myself on the bed and decided to completely stop thinking and rest for a while. So I did. I got up from my nap so abruptly and so refreshed that I forgot I had taken a nap. I was smiling then because the sun was hiding behind the clouds and the clouds looked very dark, and didn't seem persuadable to let the sun out. I was already dressed for travel, and so left the apartment and then the building as fast as my lazy legs could take me. I was thinking again, the clouds inspiring me to do that. I found myself on the highway, without even knowing when and how I got there.

I saw a band of people holding up some large banners demanding something. Or perhaps, protesting. I can't remember which. I told myself to join them, and I did join them and I shouted along with them. I wasn't sure what I was shouting. Seemed like nonsense to me. I shook my fist in the air with a certain feeling leaking out of me. A feeling I couldn't recognize. Probably mindless idiocy.

I was wrong about the clouds. They dispersed quickly. And the sun was out again. And it was summer, too. And it was Dhaka. I started to lag behind a bit, finding myself at the rear end. I started to think again. It wasn't too difficult then for some reason. Everything was so very clear all of a sudden. I stopped walking with the band of people, completely. I ran to some shades and I looked after them as they trod away. The air cooled my sweating body. They were probably sweating, too… And I didn't notice anybody actually noticing their protest, demand or whatever it was they were doing. I found it all appallingly pointless.

I muttered, “Darn idiots!” Recalling that I was a part of that group a few moments back, I drowned myself in self-pity. Then, I recalled that I had no idea what I was doing and I felt instantly infinitely better. I did it for the kicks. These people were doing it for something; even though it was quite certain whatever the heck they were doing it for would not happen, given a thousand years even.

I sighed at their pathetic gesture of pointlessness and started the long walk back home. Once more, I began to drown in misery when the fact sunk in that the day wasn't
interesting, at all. It was, at best, mind-numbingly stupid.

By Emil

In conversation with myself

Sitting down to write I had no fore plan in hand. Pondering for a minute or two, I decided to start from the start: Why do I write? Is it for the sake of being read and called an author or to convince and make changes?

My other self answered: none of that, I write for cash.

My self retorted: no, no, no, you're mixing it up with something else. Don't cook a soup out of my question! Ethics don't allow me to write for money! That's not what I was taught

My other self said disgustedly: but that's what you have learnt to do. A few things come naturally they are called 'survival strategies'. Don't give me all your goody-moody moral speeches; I know them as well as you do.

My self answered: you are not listening to me.

My other self yelled: yeah? okay say that to your girlfriend who needs a bouquet of flowers and a card every week; say that to your teacher whom you pay yourself; say that to your mother who often asks you for money; say that to your

My self interrupted: shut up! You are exaggerating it. All those are there, but not so much… err… umm… okay a little like you said. But yet I don't write for money, that's what I was taught and that's what I prefer to believe in.

My other self smiled: yeah, yeah… I know the threefold law. I prefer what I want to prefer; I see what I want to see; I believe what I want to believe in. it doesn't matter how true or false the fact is it just has to act in my favour that's all.

By E Huq

Book review
Tooth and nail

Imagine yourself in a situation like that, where you have to second-guess yourself every step of the way while in the process of doing something that you've been doing for all your life. Now imagine someone's life depends on you getting it right. How's that for pressure?

When Inspector John Rebus arrives at London, little does he know that's the kind of pressure he'll be facing shortly. The Wolfman, a serial killer so named because he was 'born' (London police parlance for committing the first offence) in a neighbourhood called Wolf Street, has struck for the fourth time. His victims are always female, and the modus operandi is always the same, but he's a professional, and never leaves clues or follows a pattern, so that while the policemen can identify a corpse as a 'Wolfman job', they have precious little else to go on in terms of solving the case. They send out an SOS to their counterparts in Edinburgh, and that's pretty much how a disgruntled and bemused John Rebus finds himself on the train to London.

Tooth and Nail is the fourth in a series of John Rebus whodunits by Ian Ranklin. The cover jacket of the paperback I'm looking at as I type says 'Rankin and Rebus Number One bestsellers”, and I have to wonder why I've never heard of either before.

The story reads like one of your typical 'mismatched partners' tales, with Rebus and his London partner George Flight in constant friction, and not of the sexy kind either. The fact that their nemesis turns out to be extremely intelligent and well-versed in police investigations procedures adds an element of suspense as the readers are left wondering after each chapter, as to how the Wolfman will thwart Rebus' latest tactic. The arrival of the mysterious and alluring Lisa Frazier makes the story even more interesting, and the author toys with his readers by tossing plenty of red herrings into the plot.

The story is also deeply psychological, not only because the snapshots from the Wolfman's side gives us a frighteningly vivid picture of a madman slowly coming unhinged, but also because Ranklin does a great job of portraying Rebus' and Flight's insecurities on a personal and professional level. Back in London, surrounded by memories of a marriage gone sour, and in a tentative relationship with a beautiful and intelligent woman who makes him only too aware of his own shortcomings, Rebus makes for a very realistic, very human protagonist, not unlike Christopher Brookmyre's Sgt Angelique de Xavia.

The language is beautifully crisp and simple. Ranklin gives it to you straight, without the fluff or flowery descriptions, and yet paints clear pictures for you scene by scene. From the first page, he reels you in and holds you in thrall, right up to the explosive (and unexpected) finish. So, who's afraid of the big bad Wolfman?

By Sabrina F Ahmad




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