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The week in re(ar)view

Type 'W' for wealth
Typing skills are a must if you want to share your views with thirty unknown faceless bored people at the same time courtesy of Internet messengers. It is an even greater albeit underrated skill if you want to make money.

The Anti-corruption Commission on Jan 20 filed a case against an ex-typist of the Land Ministry who has been covering up his wealth amounting to over Tk 1.44 crore.

ACC Assistant Director Mahfuza Khatun filed the corruption case against Kutubuddin Ahmed.

Commute in style
$5.2b should provide plenty of style for commuters. The communications ministry on 20 Jan approved the Strategic Transport Plan (STP) at the aforementioned cost.

It will include an underground railway system to ease traffic congestion and is estimated to take 20 years to complete. That is AFTER a two-year feasibility study. Now 5.2b should also provide separate LCD monitors with game consoles for each commuter. But we figure the 2-year feasibility study will show that 5.2 billion dollars will only pay for one railway car with only one bench to be shared by all.

Other components of the project include 'non-motorised transport (NMT)' lanes by which we figure special footpaths for stray dogs and the homeless to bite and wander aimlessly about.

Buses can speed up even more as exclusive bus-only lanes will be created solely so that they can go faster. Welcome road rage.

Development partners including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Our Oscar winning entry
You know how post apocalyptic movies generally have a large broken bridge in the plot that people have to cross to get to humanity? Soon we may very well be making one such movie of our own. Question is, where lies the humanity?

A lane-wide crack developed on the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge with a previously mended expansion joint is seen half mended behind the crack.

This happened because bridge employees and police guards have been allowing overweight vehicles to pass over the bridge in exchange for bribes.

Although the weight limit is 25 tons, goods laden trucks weighing 30 to 35 tons wheeze their way across.

Police personnel were caught red handed in exchange for a bribe of Tk 400. Overweight trains running over the bridge also played a role in development of the cracks. Maybe someone on the designing board should have built the bridge to withstand much greater loads than trucks could ever possibly carry without breaking the axles in half.

What they call 'lack of foresight' we call 'smug wisecracking' and it is downright fun.

GP in your pocket
Soon you can own part of GrameenPhone as it promised to offload shares at the local stock market by June this year. What this does for us right now is nothing more than simply fill up 5 lines in our column.

Crime pays
Ours is a country where you can never be too young to pay for your crime or more likely other people's crimes. Heck, sometimes you pay for no crime at all.

The government on 15 Jan released a nine-year old girl imprisoned for the last six months. Apparently it was in the name of safe shelter. She was a rape victim but it seems the it was the rapist who was being kept safe OUTSIDE the prison.

She was freed and transferred her to the adolescent development centre at Konabari in Gazipur.

Shackling rifles
We have seen men with chains dangling from their waist that secures their wallet to their body. Don't be surprised if you see police wearing similar shackles. Ansar members standing guard in front of the Institute of Diploma Engineers in the capital are seen with rifles shackled to their waist belt so that miscreants cannot snatch the weapons.

Of course, if people can snatch weapons so easily, maybe these people should not be given weapons in the first place.

By Mood Dude and Gokhra

Maatir Chula

The kitchen is out of potatoes. Since that is one of my favourite things in the world, we couldn't have that. So out I go into the cool afternoon winter sun in the quest for taters.

The shop is quite crowded for an afternoon. Not feeling up to pushing and shoving, I look around aimlessly, thinking about the upcoming exams and my eventual, and inevitable, expulsion from the house in the face of certain failure. That's when I notice Hashem Mama.

He is sitting a little further down the pavement, with a maatir chula [clay oven], a few pots and a stack of small plastic half-plates. He is making bhapa pithas [steam cakes, I think you could call it]. I walk forward, feeling the feeble stirrings of hunger. I ask him the price. 'Three taka each,' he says. It's cheap, it tastes amazing and it's quite filling. Taking another cake, I compliment his cake-making abilities. He smiles and shakes his head.

His name is Hashem [as I stated before], and Mama is the title of almost all street vendors. He isn't sure about his exact age, but he guesses it's around 50. I ask him where he got the chula. 'I made it myself,' he says. When I ask him where he learnt to make one, he smiles and says, 'it's a maatir chula, what's there to learn?' As for the firewood, he collected it from the trees felled by Sidr.

Apparently this is his winter job. Otherwise he sells bananas. 'This is a little more profitable, comparatively,' he says. He gets a profit of Tk.80-90 everyday, he informs me, while stoking the fire in the oven. It is boiling a pot of water with a red clay lid atop. The lid is turned upside down and has a small hole to let the steam out. 'You see all this,' he says, pointing at his pot full of chaler gura and gur, 'it'll be finished before 9 o'clock.'

He takes some chaler gura [er…rice seed powder. I'm really not cut out for translation] into a cup-like plastic object. It is an extremely flat cone which is cylindrical at the opening. He puts some gur [I give up, where's my Bangla-English dictionary…ah yes, molasses, crystallized form of sugarcane juice] on top of the chaler gura and some coconut on top of that and some more chaler gura to complete the circle. He places netted cloth on top and places the thing upside down on the lid with the hole. After about a minute he puts the cake on my plate. It's really hot. I let it cool, while he talks about his family.

He lives in the Eskaton area. His son has passed SSC and works on computers at an office near Banglamotor, though he doesn't know what exactly to do with a computer. His daughter studied till class 7, and then got married. I question whether she was under 18. 'She was 16-17,' he says. I pause on the verge of telling him that it was illegal. What good is that going to do now? The daughter is already married. But if we don't tell them it's illegal, who is? So I shake off the doubt and ask whether it would not have been better to wait till she was 18. He considers for a second, then shrugs, 'the proposal was a good one.' The husband works in Motijheel. He is a lift-operator of a 32-story building. Apparently he earns Tk.10000 including overtime. I decide to accept it without question.

I watch him make a couple of more cakes. Behind me, the crowd at the shops lessens a little. I pay for the cakes, buy the potatoes and head back home. My mother is a little angry at me for being late and even more so for eating 5 cakes outdoors. She grabs the bag of potatoes and retreats huffily to the kitchen. I grab a glass of water. The taste lingers even after the drink.

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Cool adda

Location: In the airplane in a long international flight

What to bring: You passport, preferably with a VISA to wherever you are going, unless you are just there for the ride.

The Adda: long flights can be a great adda place, simply because you have nothing to do but to addafy. Great place to discuss things that you don't understand, things such as the political situation of Bangladesh and things that you would enever discuss on Bangladesh soil with your friends, such as your favourite hindi serial actors and actresses. The unknown person sitting next to you might be a foreigner, so don't be afraid of sharing your deepest secret with him in Bengali! Or teach him a few Bengali swear words. But the best is if you can grab the attention of the pretty air hostess and begin an interesting conversation with her. She will bring you whatever drinks and food you want, whenever you want if you can do that.

At night (although you wouldn't know) you can try to run through the lane between the seats and play aero plane inside the aero plane. This will annoy other passengers. But who cares.

Beware: the air security system is pretty tight this days. Do not, by any chance, use the B word (Bomb) and the L word (Laden).

By Monty Python

RS Mailbox

Send us all your love, hate, queries, news, contributions, etc to risingstars@thedailystar.net

Poetic pitfalls?
As a lover of poetry I am sad to say that most of the poetry is really substandard compared to the rest of the RS. Sure, there are some brilliant pieces (like Adnan Fakir's work and Alaka Halder's 'Begging Independence') but the majority of the poems are insipid, poorly formed and 'emo' in a whiny - not emotional - way.

Poetry isn't just about the message. It's about turning that message into the most touching and effective string of words. Instead of cutting out the poetry column completely (because I am sure there are many poetry lovers), I ask that you raise the floor for poetry submissions.

The rest of the magazine is excellent as always.
Your Faithful Fan,

Friends and psychos
Hello, I read the article by Osama Rahman last week. I felt bad. Loneliness is tragic. Someone doesn't become a psychopath just because s/he doesn't have a human best friend. In this society, where everywhere you go you can find players and cheaters waiting for a girl to prey on, you can't expect every girl not to be a psychopath. I don't know about the girl you mentioned but I fear making close friends nowadays, be it a boy/a girl, because this society is indeed full of cheaters. I have loads of friends but no best friend. And everyone is not lucky enough to find a best friend, be it a boy/girl. This world is not a friendly place for everyone. I hope I didn't offend you. These are all my personal opinion. Stay well.






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