By Sabrina F Ahmad
It was an emotional moment for us during a meeting a few weeks ago, when we realised that our sixteenth anniversary was right around the corner. Sixteen years! Suddenly the RS cubicle seemed very crowded; ghosts from the past, former members, funny moments, close shaves, all seemed to materialise out of thin air. Assignments forgotten, we got down to the serious business of reliving the past, and, with a brand-new recruit in our team, the topic inevitably meandered to memories of the recruitment interviews, also known as the Hot Seat.
If you've ever found yourself wondering how the names you see on print every week, or the ones you don't see anymore ever made it into the Rising Stars team, you're about to get your answers. Here are some memories shared by our members, past and present.
"I sat on the RS hot seat more than three years back, and disregarding the interview process I had to go through when I was eight years old and trying to enter Scholastica(?!), it was arguably my first big interview. From friends who gave interview before me,
I was expecting a scrawny bearded college guy, a nice Apu and some old lady with heavy makeup. I decided to put on my biggest smiles when I met the trio and in retrospect I think I overdid it. Smiling way too much, laughing at the smallest joke they made, talking way too fast about my plans for the RS (I didn't really have any - but I said something) and in the end doing the cheesiest thing I could, shaking hands with everyone like a dork. I got out of the interview, at first feeling fairly confident about my chances, a feeling soon replaced by the fear that perhaps I was a bit too over-enthusiastic. I got in, though and there was no looking back after that. After ticking off all the members of polapain.com, a few thousand SSC candidates, one particularly feisty young lady from Viqarunesssa and all my friends, I think it was an experience well worth it."
Kazim Ibne Sadique
"When RS asked potential job seekers for write ups, the thought of applying didn't even cross my mind. In my eyes, RS writers were the high and mighty people; almost Olympian in their splendour and glory. Right…like I was going to make an absolute fool out of myself by applying. Who wants rejection anyway? It was then that a friend of mine, convinced that my write-ups were digestible, started nagging me to send something in. More to shut her up than anything, I sent in a sample with a rather crude CV. When months passed without a reply, I had the [dis]pleasure of saying, "I told you so" in her face.
After almost two months of utter dejection, I decided, I can't take this rejection to heart and I should still keep sending in the odd write up, which I did. The next time I checked my mail, I found a reply from the RS email address signed Ronny. Apparently, I forgot to send my phone number with my CV [I did say it was crude]. I was to send my phone number to him or call him on his cell [the number of which he provided] before dropping by the office next Monday. I was in a cyber café. The girl sitting next to me was genuinely alarmed by my giant leaps and screams of joy. I called Ronny Bhaiya immediately. There was no answer. I called again, and again, and again. No answer. I deflated pretty fast, needless to say. I sent him an SMS explaining that by now he had probably realized he had got the wrong guy, and if that be the case, could he please just tell it to my face rather than leave me hanging. No reply came for two days.
I was sitting playing Lords of the Realm III on my computer [it's a marvellous game] when my phone rang. The ID read: Ronny. This time, there were no shouts or leaps. I answered with a cautious hello. 'Hi, this is Ronny. Sorry I couldn't get hold of you earlier. I was a little busy [said something about being out of the country]. But I was wondering if you could drop by the office this Thursday.' 'Does this mean I get the job?' I say rather doubtfully. The reply is affirmative. 'I'll get paid to write, right?' I ask again. I can almost see the smile, as the answer is again affirmative. I think he had to hold the phone a couple of feet away from his ear after that."
I didn't get a hot seat! Why didn't I get a hot seat? I want one too!
Hammad Ali a.k.a Solitary Sniper
"For me it went way too easy, somehow...I just went in and spoke to DBB (the editor). She asked me whether I write. <>Not at all, I am here to play basketball<>, I thought...and that was that. I started attending meetings, didn't start working and was always busy cracking jokes, especially assisted by Sabrina and Hamdu...those were the good days..."
Hamdan Kabir a.k.a Hamdu Mia
“I had nothing that you could call a hot seat. I stepped in to give my written test. Simnan Abbas was there, (I remember because he was amazingly tall and "looking down" on me), as was Munjulika (Whom i remember because she was amazingly pretty, which I later found to be just another fact of life.)
I was told to write this piece. Sat in a room with several others and wrote it. They tell me they might call me up later for an interview. Two weeks later, I see no interview; direct team selection. Two hopefuls were dropped in the very next meeting, and the team was subsequently trimmed down over the next few weeks. Don't remember much else about the hot seat, because I had too many such experiences in my career.
Funnily enough, initially, I was practically invisible. I remember after putting in my first article under the name Hamdu Mia, everyone was wondering who this Hamdu Mia is. Later, they were like… “you?!”
Shamma Manzur Raghib
There was Ron bhau, Sabz appi, and the Editor. I came in, DBB checked my CV and said, "You wrote for Fun Times; that seems good. We really like your ASF article and it goes cover next week. " I thanked and gave her a paper of things I like/hate about RS.... and then thanked the others and left. Short but sweet.... A few days later Ron bhau called me and said... welcome to RS! Wheee!!
“I didn't have a hot seat either. I came in, saw this 'girl' walking around, who later turned out to be the editor. I was asked to sit in this one room; I went and sat somewhere else. I was asked to write about something; I went and wrote about something else. In the interview, I was expected to talk about my writings; I showed everyone my sketches instead. Then I got hired. After being made to write for a bit, instead of draw, I finally discovered my life's calling; pochafying people who deserve it…and Weekend in Rearview was born. I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere…I'll tell you when I find out what it is.”
So that was the gang…or different people from different gangs over the past decade or so.
It's hard to imagine that it's been seven years since I first walked into the tiny cramped cubicle that housed the RS headquarters in those days, and showed my fledgling comic strip to DBB, who laced her voice with a heavy dose of suspicion when she asked me if I could write.
I got hired to sketch illustrations to go with the articles (Ronny's latent talent with the Peeing Dog hadn't shown itself yet)…and for the next few weeks, hung around the office like a spare tyre, realising that cartooning was serious business; one I was ill-equipped for. Frustrated with an apparently useless new recruit, DBB tossed a writing assignment my way, and realised that I was actually more suited to that than drawing. I got myself a column not long afterwards, and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history, and it's been seven years of laughter and good memories.
On the occasion of our anniversary, the Rising Stars would like to thank all its readers and supporters for having weathered this long journey with us. We hope to keep bringing you your weekly dose of fun, so keep reading us, and writing to us.
Every week, you find these eight pages tucked into your daily newspaper. If you're in the habit of flipping through it, as we hope you are, then you're bound to see some familiar names with the articles. If you stop to really think about it, you'll also miss some names that used to appear here, and you realise just how long this magazine has been part of a weekly ritual. The story of how it came to be so, is one that's been written over the past sixteen years, so let's take a quick look at the milestones that made up your favourite (?) teen magazine, why don't we?
1992 The brand new paper Daily Star sports a broadsheet page as separate youth supplement, started by Sona Bari. This was called Rising Stars, which featured jokes and articles geared towards a younger audience.
1994 As the page gains popularity, the reigns are taken over by Raffat Binte Rashid, who adds another page called Teens and Twenties, thereby segregating the audience according to age groups. Rising Stars caters to pre-teens, while, as the name suggests, Teens and Twenties carries items of interest to an older age group.
1997 From two to eight, the supplements dissociate from the main paper and merge into a single publication in an eight-page tabloid form. Still in a crude form, this 'magazine' features four colour pages and four black and white pages, and caters to an audience aged between 13-20 years of age. To cope with the demands of filling the extra pages, a core team of in-house writers is recruited.
2007 On June 7, Rising Stars makes one more major transformation, by arriving at the sleek, all-colour format that you're familiar with today.