Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 09, 2010


The Ball with a Brain

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

Back when some of us in this team were kids, Eid was a lot more than a lot of things we give importance to these days. The frantic shopping, conspiracies on eidee and overstuffed dining table were all there, but Eid began with the moon. Yes, the moon that we rarely see nowadays held a soft strip in our hearts and Eid would not be Eid without moon sightings! `

Of course, truth remains that I personally never really found the moon. On the supposed last day of Ramadan, we'd all run to the roof or wherever there was an open space with a clear view of the sky and compete to become the first one to find the Eid er chaand. I, obviously never won and in spite of everyone pointing in one direction, never really spotted the moon but I'm sure it existed and remained something elusive exciting and mysterious in our lives.

As we grew older and lazier, our generation decided to hand down this great legacy of moon sighting to the younger kids. Who would have thought these very young kids will never share our enthusiasm? To them, moon represented something else a beauty salon, a person with a funny name or for the more extravagant lot, an inconspicuous part of our fleshy anatomy. It never occurred to them that moon was the Earth's satellite and minus the science, was the “lame thing” that every connoisseur of nature indulged in promiscuous thoughts with. If they wanted the moon, they could just Google it, download an app and a white little ball often mistaken to be the virtual moon would howl and play ping-pong on their desktops.

The virtual moon reminds me of powdered khichuri, but that's another story altogether.

Yet, somebody still needed to sight the moon. So, generations before our generation who perhaps predicted the Internet decided they should form a committee who would be in-charge of this extremely important task. They will be responsible for sighting moon across the country and for the more ambitious lot, the world.

Chaad Dekha Committee (and how creative too, huh?) is a group of people who have a wide network across the country. They meet twice every month, talk about the moon, talk about new strategies to sight the moon, sight the moon together and disseminate with new ideas and assignments on sighting the moon. These are the people who'd suddenly announce at the late news about a moon sighting in some part of the country we've never heard of and in moments, a perfectly calm household would go upside down in preparation of the next upcoming religious fiasco. With the power to be the only authorities that bother to look, Chaad Dekha Committee now has control over our days, our lives and market economy.

One would have predicted this domination. As Dhaka skies cloud into pollution and every element of space and time becomes inconspicuous, one would know the power over outer space and greater world will be bestowed onto a group of people. They'd be the Egyptians of our time and control everything. All we'd have is Space.com and PREDICT (a satellite tracking and orbital prediction program) and they'd have the moon.

So now, all we do before Eid is switch on the TV and wait for the Chaad Dekha Committee to say something, anything that will determine food or no food, eidee or no eidee. The moon has a mysterious mind of its own, and with the combined not-so-mysterious minds of the Committee, it is going to take over the world.


By Professor Spork

For some lucky people Eid is a holiday you get to spend with family and friends, at home. For others, some misplaced sense of familial obligation sends them to (usually) their grandparents' house, which is, as it would happen, not in Dhaka. These miserable fools, who know they should've said no in the first place, drag themselves out of bed between the hours of 3 to 4 am in the morning, shovel down their sehri, and prepare to depart.

The least bad way of travelling before Eid is in a private car. However, this luxury doesn't come around often, as most such cars are supremely expensive to operate beyond the borders of the city, and the world has not yet discovered a father who isn't a miser at heart. So those leaving on the final day are on the bus by dawn, which is delayed by half an hour if they're lucky, two to three hours otherwise. Anyway, the engine is revving sometime in the morning and they're off!

Or so they thought. Do think of these tortured souls and sincerely pray the grandparents live in an area accessible by an air-conditioned vehicle.

2 hours later: After the initial slumber, you wake up to discover (rejoice!) Dhaka is gone. Awaiting you instead is a long stretch of road, completely filled with buses moving in a single file in the same direction. Oh wait. Moving? Excuse the mistake.

3 more hours later: Fathers will prepare themselves, for now the questions come. “How much longer?” “Where are we?” “Can we go home?” “My butt hurts!” So the last one wasn't a question. After over 5 hours, it becomes really painful to sit.

7th hour: The younger sibling has reached Its limit. Therefore you, as the elder, sitting beside It since It is apparently old enough to be removed from Its mother, face the gallows. “Aww! A baby goat!” Uh-huh. “Look, that cow is so cute! Look-look-look! It's looking at us!” Shut up already! Hang on. It is staring directly at you! Inch away. Slowly. “Are we there yet?” Stupid question really. It is bored. Games. Riddles. Potty. May the Lord have mercy.

10th hour: The temporary bus stop has arrived. During Ramadan, sometime around now the bus will stop for iftaar and namaaz anyway, whether you've reached the stop or not. Bathroom! Push people under the wheels if you must, but get there before it's blocked!

15th hour: The 5-hour nap didn't do anything to wake you up from the nightmare. Your iPod's out of charge too. The grinning local people walking past the bus are more annoying than It. “Bhaijan, je paach lagse! Ei line-er to kono shesh dekhina!” Bengalis are sadistic by nature. We take great pleasure in the misfortune of others, and that is a fact. After iftaar, around now, the requirement to visit the restroom will have returned. You could just go down to a roadside house, complete the task, and return to the vehicle within ten minutes. Pity all there is on either side of the road are paddy fields. No wonder people want to mow them down!

24th hour: It's Eid. It was Eid a long time ago. Everyone hopes to have fun on this day. They hope their hair won't look like they just woke up or their clothes won't be crinkled beyond repair. These miserable fools though, they only hope to find an empty bed in the bustling house and collapse, on their stomachs, never to wake again.

But it's your grandparents' house. There are tons of guests. Who all want to see you.

You only visit twice a year.


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