Let this be a tacit admission. I. Don't. Care.
When I wear pants, my good people, I wear them because society has dictated that I wear them, because the Neanderthals died out due to wind chill. But the most integral reason, the one that really matters, is that I plain wear those pants that I wear (the ones you are so quick to judge and deride) because I want to.
They may be overly baggy, they may make me look like some brown wannabe version of L'il John except a little cleaner, but see, they're my pants, and my legs I'm covering. If I so choose, I will wear sequined pants, secure in my masculinity as only one such as me can be. I will wear them tight and in shades of fuchsia so gaudy that it would beggar a field of cultivated genetically enhanced fuchsias (which is a flower).
You might ask why, why would a red blooded, slump shouldered, overweight, bespectacled, self respecting man wear such apparel? They make me feel good. That's why. And you do look don't you?
In a moment of whimsy, I might choose to wear those dreadful checkered shirts, the ones that have Dhoom sewn on the backs. I might choose to combine that shirt with leather pants, ones which have roses sewn on the back pockets. I will wear fake Aviators from New Market and top it all off with a yellow fedora. What do I care if Vogue-addicted fashionistas swoon and faint at the very idea. As feminists tout at every opportunity they get, this is my body. I will clothe it in a burlap sack and walk the streets with a head held high if I so choose.
Dear people, dear belligerent people, why is it so hard for you to understand and why are you so quick to condemn? Have I not eyes behind those shades? Have I not a beating heart underneath that netted shirt? If you pulled tight that crimson lace scarf that I have wrapped around my scrawny neck, I would choke. If you were to prick me through those leather pants, I would bleed. Much like you in your tailored custom suit.
My fake biker jacket keeps me warm on a winter morn, my netted purple shirt keeps me cool on summer eves and I revel in their blinding, deafening colours, their effeminate cuts and curves, their too tight expanses. Much like you do in your branded over-expensive T shirts. So what if my belt-buckle is actually an oversized scrolling digital watch? I choose to be punctual, much like you with your gold-banded Rolex. I wear my time around the waist, you around the wrist. And yet I am to be reviled.
Such discrimination! I have a dream you know, that one day, on the gritty pavements of Mohakhali, as I amble down beneath the sweet shade of the over bridge, I will be as a brother to you. Accepted, tolerated, even liked. I dream that I shall one day rub shoulders among those who consider me their equal, those who would not set me apart merely because I come off as somewhat queer. I am not bent you know, as much as you would like to believe.
But lo, there is more. Even my hair is to be scrutinised! Tell me, in this world where Ladies named Ga Ga can wear meat gowns, what great crime has my Mohawk/rat-tail committed? Why do you so frown upon my mullet?
Tell me, must I buckle under the weight of disapproval, merely because I chose to flaunt my corn-rowed beard? And if I wore sideburns that would embarrass Elvis, so what? My wilting moustache is a testament of my unending courage.
My people, you are too quick to judge, and yes, you only judge the skin. And today, in the outré disaster that I currently wear, I condemn you, in turn. For thinking me and my brothers, shallow, for thinking of our tastes as degrading, without meaning. Man once covered himself in leaves and was content. I will now wear a shapeless, haute couture catastrophe. And me, and that leaf wearing man, we are as brothers.
And to those who even now misunderstand, who now hold this missive in their carefully manicured hands, wreathed in their colour coded, matching dresses, who now laugh at this, I can only leave you with what I began.
I. Don't. Care.
By Tareq Adnan
To Extremity and Beyond!
By now almost everyone must have seen news of, heard about or been told of Bangladesh's damp future. It seems we're headed for a future flooded by not only further decadence and corruption, but also a lot of water. If we know our luck, our potential nuclear plant will help radiate it and turn it yellow. Either a) we all snuff it, or b) we gain superpowers and save the universe on a regular basis. Either way, it's a win-win.
But the flooded business got our little cogs whirling. By some hypothetical incidence, suppose we somehow got stuck in extreme but survival conditions, what then? Our primary sustenance, if food were not an absolute necessity (though, we love it anyway), is gaming. We need it, we breath it, we live it and we want it worse than a love-struck Romeo wants his Juliet. Probably.
Dude! Nuke 'em: So, if that purported nuclear plant gets built and then pulls of a very deshi Chernobyl, we expect to grow a third leg. Or maybe wings. Or retractable toenails. Anything to seem cool. But, the question here is one of survival, namely gaming on the nuclear (we just came up with that, pretty cool huh?). Now, because nuclear radiation has given the whole population a second set of nostrils, we're pretty sure that some enterprising soul in Dholaikhal would naturally have come up with a radio-electro-appropriategizmosoundingword-machine. Something to turn all that nuclear energy saturating the air and giving newborns 36 genes into useable electric power. And where you have electricity, you have Alienwares and Envies and other assorted customized Desktops and Laptops, all fired up to take on the newest games.
Fire and ashes: Earthquakes, floods and nuclear meltdowns - who's to say that by some unforeseeable freak chance a volcano wouldn't rise out of Assam fault to bathe us in lava and ashes? And what if by further freak chance, we find our sorry self at the centre of this monstrosity? Well, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And when life gives you unlimited supply of heat and steam? You generate electricity, box yourself in a makeshift heat resistant cubicle with decent enough ventilation, hook yourself up with a several ton AC and start playing games. Lava home also good for tan.
Under Pressure: Remember those submarine movies, the one where people who looked like Sean Connery pretended to be Russian and Captain Nemo? Remember how awesome those ships were? Remember the Bowie song? Now, imagine Dhaka flooding, which is bound to happen thanks to global warming. Now imagine Waterworld, the movie. Now, after imagining all that, imagine Dexter the genius twerp inventing a machine that converts water pressure into useable electricity. Oh, wait, we already have those. Now imagine playing Mass Effect on a luxury cruise that never ends thanks to hydropower. Drool. Don't imagine that. No.
Oh Hilary!: The Sherpas never imagined someone called Hillary conquering Everest, but seeing as how everything seems to be flooding these days, we might just have to perch on the highest ground available. Which is Everest. We hear there's a lack of oxygen up there, but when has that stopped Dhaka residents from surviving? Now, on Everest, playing Flight Simulator would seem that much more awesome. But how would you get your computer to work? We figure, since man has managed to create electricity out of virtually everything and banana peels, at some point, we'll have machines that'll burn snow for light, thereby increasing the speed of global warming. But what do we care? Mass Effect 3 in 2011! We'll probably be on Everest by then, anyway.
Deep Space: Another such extreme place may include space, the vast emptiness which brings out the existentialist in all of us. And are you thinking where we get power there? Our reckoning is that if we're able to get our gaming rigs out there with ourselves, then we've probably perfected solar power. Infinite energy and infinite gaming where you won't ever hear your parents scream.
NM: This was a completely pointless article. Why did we even do this?
CK: Aren't all of our gaming anecdotes so, brother? We do this to reach out to our people!
NM: I'm bored. Chol manush mari.
CK: Whaaat? Etokkhon Halo khele shanti pas ni?
NM: They aren't real people!
CK: … I think our stomach's emptiness is affecting our sanity.
By Ninja Murgi and Captain Kauwa
Watermelons are one of the most awesome fruits around. They're big, juicy and delicious. On a hot day, there's nothing better than a cold slice of watermelon to mellow down. The problem is cool melon is not always found when you want it, like when you went to Ashulia with your friends and it was boiling outside. Have no fear though, for the Japanese, with their outstanding ability to find obscurely necessary things are once again coming to the rescue. Behold! The watermelon cooler!
This portable cooler on wheels looks like a Martian in a bio-suit when there is a melon inside it. Of course, you can use it for any food you'd like to carry to a picnic. And for the jaw-dropping price of $235, you can be a proud owner of one, too, if you absolutely cannot think of anything else to waste your money on.
But I see that you are disappointed. What happened to the giz of this gizmo? Where is the crazy Japanese tweak, I hear you ask. Well, cooling the melon is not the only thing this machine does. Are you nuts enough to crave a warm watermelon? It will save you the trouble of putting it out in the sun and warm the melon for you. Life is so much simpler now, isn't it?
By Dr Who
Darkness and doubt
The good thing about living in a big city with a seemingly busy schedule is that every day passes you by without a pause, like an intercity bus on the highway. The crushing weight of this concrete behemoth suppresses your thoughts and each day leaves not a mark. Even while sitting in endless traffic, you twiddle the radio dial, curse your luck, worry about getting to your destination in time, watch the people flit by your window. It is a chaotic meditation that your mind performs. At the end of the day, you go to bed with a blank slate. Today was a good day.
But if, for one reason or another, sleep eludes you and the Internet or TV cannot offer any solace, that's when the disadvantage of living in a big city hits you. You cannot look at the bright stars and endless skies as you would in a village or a small town. You can't find peace by breathing in the soft, sweet night air while you sit silently on the side of the dusty road. In the darkness of your claustrophobic room, your thoughts batter down the gates of the fortress of your mind. In the featureless plains of your expansive psyche, the isms hunt you.
The first to assail you is Nihilism. You wonder whether there is any point to life. What if it is all random? Maybe as the first sentient creatures on this planet who could think two steps ahead of their next meal, Humans faced the sudden philosophical emptiness that you are facing now. What if a really smart Human just went out to the wilderness one day and thought long and hard and decided that we needed a sense of purpose, even if it was false? What if he came back to the cave and laid down some rules for our conduct and government? What if he gave us hope that there is a greater plan to it all, that this is not the end? And just to make it believable, he gave us the idea that a higher entity is the master of the plan. Your mind spirals into the pit that Friedrich Nietzsche, the man with the moustache, warned the world about more than a hundred years ago. Morality doesn't exist. It is just a construct. There is no light at the end of the tunnel; the screen just goes blank like a switched off monitor.
Your feeble attempts to fight the oncoming despair with the idea of love picked up from a children's book is quickly swept away. Love? What of it? Find someone you like, talk till you run out of topics, get married, have babies, then what? The babies will keep you awake most nights and eat up all your hard earned money. What happens when they grow up? How will they think of you? What do you think of your own parents? You think of your crushes and girlfriends. How you loved them at first and how you fell out eventually. No, there is no redemption in that direction.
You laugh silently at your failure to escape this despair. You remember Albert Camus's, The Myth of Sisyphus and you know that your attempt to divine the meaning of life will ultimately fail. You feel a hysterical, crazy hilarity at the absurdity of it all. You do not contemplate suicide, because you remember Camus saying that suicide is the height of absurdism, ending your life simply because you can't find a meaning to it. Quitters are gutless losers.
You think of Sisyphus, the man who cheated and imprisoned Death itself and was sentenced by Zeus to eternally push a rock up a hill. Every time he got near the top, the rock rolled back down and he had to start all over again. Camus suggests that Sisyphus must draw satisfaction from his endless task and glory in his toil. “One must imagine Sisyphus happy,” he says. You smile at the thought of Camus criticising Dostoyevsky and Kirkegaard for going from absurd to hopeful right before saying Sisyphus must be happy and that “all is well”.
As you doze in these heavy thoughts, the early hours of morning slip slowly through your window and abruptly you wake up. You thought you heard your dead grandfather in the next room, reading the Qu'ran, reciting from his favourite surah, Ar-Rahman. “Fa-beayyi alaa'i Rabbikuma tukathiban.” What other favours of thine Lord shalt thou deny? As you contemplate existentialism, i.e. what will get you through the next day, you decide that maybe Camus was right about one thing after all. Perhaps the beauty of life may just be enough.
By Dr Who
The Right Stops
There are certain experiences in Dhaka that make its residents one and all feel as if they've all crossed their personal Rubicon. Navigating oneself in a crowd and making sure to only graze against non pickpockets while trying to catch up to a tin bus that will take you home, once a man has crossed that bridge and burnt it too, he feels warped, as if the journey has indelibly changed him. Dhaka has that effect every day, every time you get out on the streets.
If a man were to survive Dhaka and still retain sanity, said man has to learn to improvise. And one of the very first things one has to learn to do is to accept Dhaka totally and utterly as his home, because otherwise, he might get uncomfortable peeing in public (note: at some point said man will have to visit a public toilet and will end up vomiting instead of … um, anyway, he will ultimately come to the conclusion that peeing at a wall is so much more hygienic).
Now, to come to terms, the first evil aspect of Dhaka is its traffic jams, the subject of this article. The accepted truth of life these days is that you have to sit there and wait it out. But what if you didn't have to do that? What if, for arguments sake, you could take a leisurely stroll? Enticing yes? Here is a list of the best places to get stuck in a traffic jam in:
Outside Nabisco: This stretch of road knows frequent jams and, being smack in the middle of the industrial district, the roads are predictably dank and depressing. As we suggested earlier, you can't really take a stroll here, the roads are too depressing and reminiscent of ghetto mugging scenes. But, if by some freak chance, you end up near The Factory (notice the use of capitals?); you might just be in for an olfactory treat.
Nabisco is a godsend. That smell of biscuits baking and god knows what else, ah… If as a child you read about the Chocolate Factory, and always wondered, well, getting stuck here, all those memories can be relived and the jam won't seem so irksome
Panthapath: This whole road is a complex, subtle insight into the human condition. You have cars stuck here, hour after hour, in passive acceptance of fate, like sheep herded into a pen. On good days, they don't even bleat. The cars I mean. A man could lose his sanity getting from one end of this road to the other. However, since Dhaka is a crazy artist's nightmare version of a Pacman maze, traversing Panthapath is easy when one knows how. For example, if the heat becomes unbearable, which it is bound to do by law, you could just jump ship and take a gander into Bashundhara City, buy yourself a coffee smoothie and come back down in time to catch the CNG move forward two feet (WHEE… coffee rush, apologies).
Feeling a little down, heat rash coming on? There's Square Hospital. Visit, get treated and avail yourself of the free dental they might just give you for exorbitantly priced services and come back to chat with the CNG dude about the futility of teeth. It's all good. You could even shop for furniture.
Bailey Road: While Banani 11 and Panthapath hold their charms, they are a little on the weightier side of the price scale. Getting stuck on Bailey Road serves two functions; one, food, and the other, saving money while pigging out. And since we're discussing philosophy, let us now hold discourse over this plate of chotpoti over that plate of phuchka.
The chotpoti, a delicate mixture of spices, sliced chilli, boiled eggs and white peas, offers to the palate a veritable storm of flavour and if one can balance it with just the right amount of tok, ah, sweet satisfaction. The phuchka on the other hand offers a crackling escapade into a revelry of hot spicy … spiciness all held together in that small compartment, offering to the customer a delectable option of experimentation, with the tok or without the tok; both hold appeal. Yeah, you could start writing that cookbook on Bangladeshi street food here if you felt like it. While the pavements thrive, the cars move ever so slowly.
Satmosjid Road: Over the ages, man has pondered futility in all its glory and has come up with zilch. For Dhaka residents, futility is Satmosjid Road at eight in the morning. If there were 101 courses where you got to strive in vain like the tragic heroes Aristotle described, one of the prime requirements would be for you to get to work/university/school on time through Satmosjid Road.
Yes, it's that bad. Aristotle probably just flinched at the very idea. But for the sake of survival, man learned to shape stone. And for the sake of survival, you must learn to like Star Kabab. Or mall hop. Or play pool. Or go sit beside a lake; buy five takas worth of peanuts and just chill. And you'll never miss the bus 'cause it'll still be there in front of Abahani, faithful as always.
As we said before, it's easy when you know how. Crossing the Rubicon, aping Aristotle, writing cookbooks, all you have to do, is get stuck in traffic. Or you know, grow a pair and actually do those things but that's too much work.
By Tareq Adnan
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