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Give peace a chance

Some will describe the title as an all-inspiring slogan, but many will just dismiss it as hippie riff-raff. Nevertheless, nothing anybody ever said made it any less famous. It's everywhere, chanted in Nobel peace prize concerts and quoted by Arundati Roy. Every time I hear this song I find myself thinking of the 101 situations it could be about and whether we can't for once incorporate its message into our own endeavors. And today, I've blown my fuse to the point of actually getting down and writing about it.

Just when people were getting used to life as 'normal' as it could be in Bangladesh the porishthiti had to turn sour again and ruin it all. Under virtual house arrest yet again, I find myself asking WHY. Sure, I know a lot of the answers. Not because I am much of an intellectual, I don't even read the papers regularly (a fact I'm NOT proud of) but from dinner-time discussion. I'd sell my soul to the devil (reference: Dr. Faustus, Christopher Marlowe) to just find a solution. I'm not even asking for a miracle cure, just something that will keep everything in check. What with the flood, inflation, unemployment don't we have enough problems already without creating new ones?

Now that we know that all our tax money isn't being looted, spent on Mercedes and mansions shouldn't we at least try to get the country on its feet again? Is one event enough to abandon all our efforts and put such a huge dream back in the box? Is anything worth getting waylaid?

To hell with the rhetorical questions, people just don't understand. The words spoken in frustration, “koyekdin por por gari na bhangle oder bhalo lage na,” seem to hold true. I am not denying that something utterly regrettable happened, but we can very well see where violence has brought us. Even when our league of honest men and their squabbling ladies are not in power their legacy is still tangible.

It seems that we are a desperate people, we accept everything for a hundred Bangladeshi bucks, stand in any political meeting and cry for anyone's death if we are gifted enough to fake it. Why else would students all around the country launch a massive offensive against the government because of something that is small compared to the natural calamity prevailing in the country? Is it because it's just not their government? I don't see any other answer because this government isn't any worse than managing the country than their government was!

The events taking place now have a vaguely familiar ring to them. The reactions spurned everywhere are of so vast a proportion that it seems that these students have been praying for such an opportunity to take the current government to the ground. Their attitude resonate the one we had when we were trying to dig up any excuse we could to postpone a test we were very badly prepared for. Of course these are responsible, well-balanced university students and we were just kids. Indeed, the issues they deal with are infinitely more important. They determine 'the greater good,' but they don't seem to exercise any caution about it.

Yet if you go around asking anyone who has had even a very limited contact with Bangladeshis, the common people, they would disagree vehemently about us being a pathetically, desperate nation. On the contrary, we have been hailed as the 'happiest', we are the most optimistic.

It just reminds me of the blood camp we had at school a few days ago. They had to collect fifty bags of blood and it was sad how people came up only to bunk class, and turned down their request with lame excuses like they were underage, or worse still that they were too tired today. However, after waiting till five they did get the number required. Many students who had refused earlier complied because it really would not be a problem.

I hope that this will serve as a microcosm for the problem I've been cribbing about. Nay, I need the citizens of my country to stop trying to kill each other and work together to make it a better place to live in. Even if I manage to get a Canadian immigration visa or something this will be my home.

I once saw someone on TV, pleading for the Palestinians, about how they didn't choose a life of fighting, dying, killing, how they want to farm, how their children want to go to school. They don't ask for much, just comfort and to live with dignity. We, as a nation, with supreme sacrifices have at least been able to prevent our motherland being snatched away. We have adapted, learnt to survive through continuous mishap and misery. We have all the potential to make it happen. It is time the Bangladeshi people's resilience was rewarded.

By Mayeesha Azhar

Are you not entertained?

A conniving mother-in-law. A naïve daughter-in-law. Family drama that spans over four generations. Throw in a scheming ex-fiancée, a sister with an illegitimate child and a younger brother-in-law who's suffering from partial amnesia and you have the surefire hit formula for a Hindi serial. Right?

Not quite. Viewers have become more intelligent. They crave not these over-the-top, glamorous, larger-than-life shenanigans. They want human emotions and relationships in all their complexity and shades. So the creative teams behind these (mindless) programs have decided to give their audience a heaping dose of good televisionin other words, Hindi serials with a 'difference'.

Naaginn is one such show. For the uninitiated, a naaginn is a mythical creature, half-cobra and half-human. In this particular show, a naaginn daughter avenges her naaginn mother's death by morphing into a ten-year-old and getting herself adopted by a wealthy childless couple. She then schemes and connives and plots revenge. Occasionally her eyes flash blue and that's when someone ends up getting hurt. When she hears the snake charmer's flute she morphs back to her full-grown form.

The naaginn is hunted by this evil dude and his high priest, both of who spend long hours in a CGI cave scheming and plotting to bring the naaginn down. So, even anti-heroines have enemies.

One serial that has piqued my interest is Ambar Dhara, the only program that has dared to defy convention (and logic) by showcasing (un-identical) conjoined twins who are joined at the hip and still manage to share a liver. This show has not only managed to challenge science, it has redefined the word 'conjoined', altering its meaning to 'two people who walk hand-in-hand and pretend to be joined at the hip.'

The producers and creative teams have made a sorry attempt to salvage this show by introducing a love interest and his devious mother, who wants nothing more than the destruction of the twins. Throw in the budding music career of one of the twins (Ambar), and you have a show that generally goes from nowhere to nowhere.

Audiences have developed a taste for the armed forces. If American viewers can have Army Wives and JAG, then why can't the Indian audiences have men and women in uniform? Choona Hai Asmaan is about six young men and women in the Air Force. At the heart of the show is the love/hate relationship between the two protagonists, and recently a conspiracy involving a terrorist group has cropped up. Patriotism and betrayal are key elements in this gripping tale.

Producers are privy to women's liberation. That's why we now have Tujko Hai Salaam Zindgi, about a young woman who joins the police academy. This show is relatively new, the plotline still uncluttered by long-lost twins and illegitimate children. A love interest is surely to develop, though. You can't have a Hindi serial without a few broken engagements and marriages on the rocks.

There are two kinds of Hindi serialsremakes of Western shows or remakes of tried and tested Balaji telefilm productions. A prime example of the former is the medical drama rip-off Dil Mil Gaye. On the surface, it's a show about a gang of young doctors interning at a prestigious private hospital (Grey's Anatomy, anyone?). There are the predictable characters (bad-boy-turned-lover-boy, super-competitive-rebel, the ladies man, the bug-eyed picture-of-innocence-and-modesty etc etc) and complicated love angles. Watch a few episodes, and you'll realize that DMG is Dawson's Creek with men and women with stethoscopes and lab coats.

Surely, audiences must get bored of this love-hate-marriage-money cycle. Sometimes the viewers want their adrenaline rush. That's when they watch Ssh…Phir Koi Hai, Star One's very own horror show. If the skulls and the axe-wielding hooded creatures don't scare you, the story lines will surely keep your gray cells working. That is, of course, if you're unacquainted with Hollywood horror movies like Saw, The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street, Final Destination etc etc. Because, like every other Hindi soap, Ssh…Phir Koi Hai 'borrows' its plots from other sources. Ignore the close references to the famous aforementioned movies, and you might find Ssh…Phir Koi Hai tolerable.

(The visual effects and the makeup leave much to be desired, by the way.)

Lastly there's the Disney Channel's answer to children's entertainment. Akram Bakram Tigram is a 'comedy' about a family of aliens, the Malhotras, who reside in Earth as earthlings. The Malhotras have nosy neighbors and magical powers to take care of the unending stream of sticky situations that crop up and said nosy neighbors. Every few minutes the scene in question is punctuated by canned audience laughter, which will get on your nerves faster than the young Ms. Malhotra's overacting.

Seven shows. Seven (original?) plots. All going from nowhere to nowhere. So, are you not entertained?

By Shehtaz Huq

Chemistry fest @ Curzon Hall

A love for chemistry and competitiveness at its peak- such was the excitement that marked the first ever Chemistry Olympiad in Bangladesh. Held on 18th January 2008 in Curzon Hall of Dhaka University, the Chemistry Olympiad was organized by the Bangladesh Chemical Society. The competition was open for students all backgrounds.

Many contestants were enthralled with the beauty of the DU campus and were seen examining the Gothic architecture, the high-paned glass windows and the traditional furniture. Although the atmosphere was a little spooky (because the old stuff kept reminding you of historically famous people who had once trod the length of the very campus), the students were eager for the competition to start. They were seated inside the Curzon Hall, where they began their exam promptly at 3:00 p.m. and ended an hour later.

After an intense wait, the results were finally announced in the evening itself. All participants were rewarded with certificates while the first ten winners were awarded with prizes and the first three winners were given crests. Scholastica and Notre Dame College ruled the top ten winners' chart while Dhaka College and Viqarunnisa Noon School bagged two prizes. The first 5 winners are: Nibih Jawad from Notre Dame College, Amin Andalib from Dhaka College, Safeer Farrukh Siddicky from Scholastica, Faizaa Fatima from Scholastica and Syed Sabbir Salman from Scholastica respectively.
At the end of the day, the students did not regret participating in this laudable venture because irrespective of whether they won prizes or not, the intellectually enriching atmosphere at the Olympiad further inspired them to get a solid grounding in the sciences. The organizers of the competition plan to send students to compete in the International Chemistry Olympiad in the not-so-distant future too, so all those chemistry buffs out there, prepare. The great chemistry fest awaits you.

By Anika Tabassum




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