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Chasing Money

It's that time of month again. Everyone looks forward to it. It's the light at the end of the tunnel, the hope at the end of despair. Because whether you're doing some lazy kid's homework, checking test papers or writing random articles, when the month is done, you get paid.

That's right, paid.

With money.

So during the last week of every month, you daydream about that iPhone you'll finally have enough dough for and mark scripts 29 instead of 92. And the first week of the following month, you swagger in to collect your pay check. Maybe it's not nearly enough, but you can't hide the gigantic grin threatening to split your face in two.

Until you discover… The Setbacks.

Your boss has very conveniently forgotten that your pay is due. The family's off to Portugal for a week. And the cashier is not at his desk.

It's not polite to ask for money directly. You shuffle your feet and wait in the cushioned chair before your teacher as he makes important calls, telling his darowaan to get him tea and reminding his wife they have to go to his cousin's friend's son's wedding. And when he finally looks at you, the hint you drop (“Sir, it's the first week of the month.”) pries out a carefully constructed blank gaze. You try again (“I checked four hundred and twelve papers last month.”), and this brightens him. He asks if you want more work. By the time you're done choking on your own spit, your arms are full of two more bundles of test papers, which are due tomorrow, by the way.

Next day: When you say it straight out, after much persistence, you manage to annoy him into giving you more papers to check, and barely a quarter of what you've earned.

You call beforehand to find out if the parents are in.

The maid sets the tray in front of you and leaves. This is about the time you expect the mother of the poisonous scorpion to walk in with a kind smile and pretty envelope and chat with you about your studies as you ogle your envelope. You wait eagerly. After almost an hour of waiting with the company of naught but empty plates and glass and a fidgeting maid who doesn't know if she should take away the plate with one biscuit still on it, it dawns on you that she's not coming.

Next day: The father enters and gives you an earful about disrespectful young men, and pays your due. Everything goes straight over your head with that envelope in hand, which you open as soon as you're home. Funny. You could've sworn your pay was fifteen 500 taka notes, not five.

You half-skip half-dance to your office. You worked so hard last month; your pay will be huge! You even went and created a bank account 'cause you'll get a cheque instead of regular cash, 'cause your pay will be huge! You hum inside the elevator, wondering at the lack of glass inside it (when there's glass everywhere outside it), and it's all you can do to not rub your hands together and cackle.

You step out of the lift, turn towards the cashier's desk, and realise it's empty.

Next day: You come early enough to wait for the guy if he's not there. Lucky you, he is there. But the lady who writes the cheques? Yeah, coffee break.

Next day: You burst in, demanding your pay, only to discover your boss inside, shooting you a withering look. You're aware that your employment might be taking its last breath. But it doesn't matter as long as you get the cheque. Tragically though, the paperwork which guarantees your money has mysteriously vanished.

At least you get paid in other jobs.

By Professor Spork


Biryani Review:

Fakhruddin

One of the most disturbing aspects of eating biryani is the fact that good biryanis are often not available close to your home and you have to travel through clogged roads to a faraway place. To further compound your miseries, you either have to stand in long queues or will be forced to return empty handed because the stock ran out. So what would you do if you suddenly wanted to eat biryani while taking a stroll through the streets? Go to a Fakhruddin restaurant near you. That's what makes Fakhruddin's biryani so great; it's always available in close proximity where ever you live in this city. And the fact that you don't have to stand in long queues just for your well-deserved plate of biryani saves your stomach from sheer torture inflicted by hunger.

The aesthetically pleasing sight of a plate of Fakhruddin's kacchi biryani is bound to metamorphose you into a “food-holic” at first sight and why resist the temptation when your stomach can't wait anymore? And why not take in the essence, that free great natural fragrance that's rarely present in other biryanis? Before you kick off your biryani eating campaign, remember self-indulgence is a word that doesn't exist in your lexicon when you come to Fakhruddin.

Another aspect of Fakhruddin biryani, which you are bound to like, is that your plate of biryani is in fact a 'meaty' masterpiece. You will never run out of meat if you have taken a full plate and the proportion of meat and rice ensures your optimum satisfaction. Besides you have the opportunity to eat while sitting inside an air-conditioned restaurant - a far better proposition than eating inside a dilapidated hotel somewhere else. And guzzling a bottle of great borhani would be the ideal way to end your feast at Fakhruddin because like its trademark kacchi biryani, Fakhruddin also makes the best borhani you can find in the market.

So what's the price you have to pay for a full plate of Fakhruddin - it's close to 200 taka but depending on your tummy size a half plate available at half the price wouldn't be bad either. Considering the taste, quality and availability it's probably the best bargain you will get in this bustling metropolis.

By Nayeem Islam


Book Review

Brilliance of the Moon

There is always a certain expectation with the final chapter of trilogies. The mind craves something epic, especially from a story set in fictional feudal Japan. We enjoy feats of sheer heroism, even though we know that the protagonists are fighting hopeless battles. Because we humans hunger for bravery.

Otori Takeo, our young warrior, is beset by a number of enemies from various fronts. He has married Shirakawa Kaede without permission from her overlord Arai Daichii, who is currently the biggest fish in the Three Countries. The leaders of the Otori clan, uncles of Takeo's adoptive father Shigeru, wish to kill Takeo and solve the problem of his claim as Lord of the Otori. There is Iida Nariaki, nephew of the old enemy Iida Sadamu, to deal with. And let's not forget the small matter of Lord Fujiwara, a nobleman of the Japanese court [not a clan leader, mind you] who covets Kaede as an art collector covets a painting of rare beauty. Oh, and then there is the secretive Tribe, clans who basically run the underworld of the medieval Three Countries and possess special powers.

Takeo manages to get his hands on a peasant army and realising he doesn't have the strength to take on either the Otori or Arai, he marches west to Maruyama. This region is now Kaede's by right as she is the closest surviving female heir of Lady Maruyama. When they reach their destination they find Iida Nariaki, who happens to be Lady Maruyama's son-in-law, staging an assault. Caught between Takeo and the Maruyama forces, Nariaki is annihilated.

But that's just one out of many. As he mounts a campaign against The Tribe, using the records on the organisation Shigeru made before his death, Takeo yearns to capture the Otori capital, Hagi. As he goes north to meet his old friend, Terada Fumio, whose family now runs a pirate expedition, to discuss possibilities of an invasion of Hagi by sea, Kaede rides home to her family and is promptly captured by Fujiwara. When Takeo finds out, he gathers his army and marches south to find that it's not just Fujiwara's small army he's facing, but Arai's gigantic force as well.

It has become a cliché that war is not a nice thing. The choices that are made are rarely win-win or even win-lose. For some reasons, these lessons, that are now so common that we generally ignore it as “heard-it-before”, seems to hit home in this trilogy. Consider for a moment that the trilogy spans the time of a few years. Within this time, the Three Countries has faced numerous battles and hardships. One can almost agree with The Tribe's affinity for a stable government, regardless of its
legality or ethics.

As a trilogy, Tales of the Otori is a welcome change from the usual Western-based medieval fantasy. The story and the settings seems more sophisticated, even the villains sometimes. But for all that, the peasants still face the brunt end of the war. Burning and pillaging is still part of the strategy of battle and death is served out without second thoughts.

As for living up to expectations, The Brilliance of the Moon is not exactly outstanding. It is an epic but at instances the storyline drags a little. Still, it is a solid end to an interesting Trilogy. Wish we could say the same for the subsequent sequel and prequel that came out.

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

 

 
 

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