Mansura Hossain, a staff reporter working in a renowned national daily, has a hectic schedule everyday. An independent woman with a demanding career and a loving mother of two, she is admired by friends, family and colleagues for her dynamic efforts of keeping constant balance between work and home. One day while waiting for the bus she overhears two gentlemen talking
Man 1: So, how was the interview?
Man 1: So what did you do?
It was like a conversation thread from a different planet, it felt so surreal to Mansura. Be it Bangladesh, the oh-where-is-that-again third world country where literally everything is possible, but still it IS the 21st century, isn't it?or so she thought till that moment. All of a sudden, Mansura was not so sure of the world around her anymore, the world that appreciated her and celebrated her worth as a woman. All of a sudden, she was stepping into the realms of a parallel world, seemingly in sync with her own, but at the same time quite different and unexplored in nature. Mocking. Frightening.
The scientific theories concerning the multiple universe concept are in themselves quite interesting. But one doesn't need to know about quantum mechanics or hubble volumes to follow or feel familiar with the idea. How many times have you seen the street-kid by your car-window getting exhilarated with your leftover packet of chips, or the drug-addict in his mid-twenties who doesn't hesitate to mug even his father when in need of money, or even the moody teenager who locks herself up in her room in silence and refuses to socialise; how many times have you seen them and wondered, “What kind of a world do they live in? Surely nothing like mine?” Take the poor slum-girl and daddy's Barbie-princess and make them stand facing each other. Won't they wonder, “Do we both even belong to the same dimension?” When you see all sorts of people around, don't you ever imagine yourself in their shoes? Don't you ever fantasize about the different worlds seen through their different eyes? Parallel worlds, where you could be one of them, living their lives each day.
With our current lifestyles, self-centred as they are, the idea of extra-terrestrials and all the hypes about them are rather unnecessary, don't you think? We are probably the only race that is diversely peculiar enough to make ourselves seem like aliens to one another in spite of living on the same planet day after day. While in one country people fatten themselves up with chicken wings and coke, in another people die of hunger and are reduced to drinking their own urine in desperation. National newspapers bear headlines of mass death due to cold-waves and expensive rocket-launching for space-rocks on the same day. The daily expense of a pet dog in a rich country equals to that of a human's in a poor one. Yes, it all happens here on planet Earth, a world that has so many parallel worlds intertwined into it.
By Raisa Rafique
The Face of Bangla
Venue: Drik Gallery
Exhibiting the photographic work of Nayeem, “The Face OF Bangla” is inaugurated at the Drik Gallery last 3rd July, 2009. This 9 day long exhibition will continue daily from 3pm to 8pm until 11th July, 2009. Discovering your country with your eyes and rediscovering it again with photography are two different things. Walking on the pavement or running with the rush of urbanization we almost forgot what surrounds us. Every thing seems so insignificant against our concrete life and we ignore all the little details. And these little joys are captured by Nayeem with his brilliant photographic skill.
A street urchin can give you an innocent smile even he or she has not had any food for a whole day, a lonely walk through the foggy winter morning can make you nostalgic or the grace of silence of a surreal sunset can ignite your passions. These are the beauty of our motherland. With every colour and every shade it is magnificent in its own way. And through the lenses of Nayeem you can experience this beauty even if you are surrounded by the walls of concrete jungle. So don't forget to make a visit to the Gallery of Drik before 11th June and drench yourself with beauty of Bangladesh.
By Zabir Hasan
Fragments and food
I looked at my hands cloyed up with grease, alarmed and slightly dismayed. They were beginning to feel slightly sticky and I could sense rivulets of fat condensing on my fingers, but what the hell. Everyone around was eating obliviously and ravenously - even the ladies with the immaculate manicures, foregoing the use of the fork. Ah yes, the power of the biriyani. Insult biriyani and thou shalt witness the unity of the Bangladeshis, squabbling amicably forever on other subjects of mutual difference of opinion.
Shehnai suddenly blared out at an extremely high pitch from a loudspeaker nearby, causing several people to emit equally shrill shrieks and have near-heart attacks, one of whom upturned a pitcher of borhani. As the music was toned down and the mess was cleared up from the table, people resumed eating, neglecting the now- prominent fern green stain on the tablecloth.
Now and again the hosts ladled out generous helpings of food to the guests who had more or less cleared their plates, knowing full well that at least a quarter of the food would most likely be wasted. Force-feeding is an affectionate gesture and an ancient custom of unquestioned origins only in this part of the world.
And yet, people still seemed to retain enough of their appetites (and their sanity) when firni was handed out in small clay dishes, for they were cleared out in less than five minutes.
It was a noisy business. It was one of those countless weddings when the bride would almost always arrive after half the guests had filled the hall, when a few garish women dressed up in all their finery would gang up and gossip, when a few men would talk about their wealth nonchalantly (each attempting to outdo the others), when the crowd gathering catch that one glimpse of the bride on her special day would be shooed away unceremoniously by the video-cameramen with their haughty airs.
It was one of those countless weddings where the fragments magically glue themselves and all you could see in front of you was a community of people who simultaneously loved and hated each other.
By Anika Tabassum
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