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Why cycling sucks

Do you know how to ride a bike? If you are one of those people whose answer is no, you should say so, loud and clear without thinking about what other people may say. Your answer to this question should also include the following.

There is no shame in not knowing, particularly when we are talking about a means of transportation that can be at best called primitive and at worst redundant. The first bike was introduced to the public in 1817 and since then we have been blessed with better means of transportation like the rickshaw, bus, and train among others. A bicycle usually carries a single person compared to the rickshaw, which can carry up to three people, so it's not the most useful human powered vehicle around.

A bicycle is not really the safest mode of transportation around. Riding a bicycle is almost like walking a tightrope. And once you lose your balance, even for mere seconds, the hospital might turn out to be your next destination. Bicycles are devoid of stability - something that most other means of transportation like the rickshaw have. Besides larger vehicles will not even care if they hit a bicycle due to their small size, and your life is too precious to risk on a bicycle.

What's the big deal in knowing how to ride a bike? Take out a Physics book and study the chapter titled 'moments' for five minutes and you will know that riding a bike is nothing more than the balancing act on the see-saw. People usually learn to ride a bike after several failed attempts and each failed attempt results in an injury, which you definitely can live without in your already trouble-stricken life.

The bicycle is an inexpensive mode of transport but you have to buy it first and that's when it may turn out to be expensive. Why would you pay for a bike when you can enjoy a lot of rickshaw rides with the amount of money necessary to buy a new bike?

People usually support bikes because they have very little carbon footprint compared to other modes of transportation. However at a time, when everyone is blaming rickshaws for traffic jams in Dhaka, that argument seems totally irrelevant. Our main roads don't deserve another low capacity vehicle, which is also slow. The use of bicycles would simply increase traffic jams and end up increasing pollution and wastage of resources. You being a conscious citizen cannot therefore ride a bike, so what's the use of knowing how to ride a bike? And don't even think of riding your bike on the footpath because that's for pedestrians!

Bicycles are also too slow to adapt with your fast paced lives and riding bicycles will ensure your punctuality punctures like a tyre. Speeding up your bike, would leave you fatigued and you definitely do not want to arrive somewhere all sweaty and exhausted. Instead by simply spending a few bucks you can arrive at your required destination on time and in your best physical shape. And when you want to expend energy for exercise you can just walk instead of riding a bicycle.

By Nayeem Islam


A 'Total Nightmare' Food Review

Paan-Shupari

They had always fascinated you: the glossy allure of the spade-shaped leaf, the somewhat smelly 'nuttiness' of its finely-chopped companion and all the other precious little tidbits that went here and there. They were secret elements from a faraway magic-land, coming together into neat stacks stowed inside the mythical box - The Box That Must Not Be Touched. Yes, your grandparents' ornate 'Paaner Bata' which they watched over like hawks and would get very upset if you ever wanted to use it for fun games (like 'freaky-rattle', that was one hell of a sport).

“Don't touch it, there're important things in there,” they used to say to you, only adding more fuel to the already enticing mystery of 'The Box' and its contents. Your grandparents were hiding something super-exciting from you, weren't they? How ardently they arranged all the ingredients in the box; the gentlest of movements they used to hold the leaves, to apply the snowy 'choon' and the beady 'jorda', to slice the 'shupari' with the magic 'nutcracker', and oh, the amount of relish they put into the actual act of consuming the little green packages - none of it went unnoticed from your watchful eyes. “Must be even better than candies,” thought the younger you, and there was magic in that thought.

Alas, how it all fell apart when you got older and finally had your own first share of the stuff.

This writer has no clue as to how many of you out there actually like Paan-Shupari but I'll tell you this much: I respect you people. After yours truly was lured into having 'the first Paan', courtesy of grandma, the only thought that came to mind was- “Am I really related to this woman by blood? How could she do this to me?” Allow this humble writer to elaborate, from a sufferer's point of view.

When you put the stuff inside your mouth, at the first bite you kind of get this tangy, acidic freshness of the betel leaf. After that, the whole world goes haywire. The inside of the mouth simply feels… black. It is bitter, the highest degree of 'teeta' imaginable. This is credible info, yours truly is a korolla-bhaji fan, so believe it. The 'choon', oh God, do NOT be fooled by its holy appearance, it burns your tongue. The 'jorda' is tobacco, of course, so you already know what demonic things it's capable of once inside your bloodstream. Last but not the least, the 'shupari'. A couple of minutes into the chewing process and the throat suddenly feels tight, like some shakchunni clutching at it with icy hands. It's the 'shupari', as I was told later. I was also told that this particular phenomenon is the 'cool' thing about Paan, it's supposed to provide the addictive kicks. Well, it obviously kicked all the air out of my lungs alright. Coughs.

The aftermath of the fiasco was that this poor writer ended up with puffy red eyes (from coughing too much), pseudo-lipstick smeared lips and teeth that looked like they had a bad case of green decay. To an expectant grandma, yours truly could only respond, “Felt like something died in my mouth.” “Yes, yes, that's the beauty of it,” she nodded with dreamy eyes.

Old people in Bangladesh are pretty tough, aren't they? And I thought it was because lipstick was expensive in their days or something. Heh, 'nut'cases.

By Kokoro


BOOK REVIEW

The Comfort of Strangers

IAN McEwan has a flair for exploring the intricacies of martial, or near-marital, relationships. Enter 'The Comfort of Strangers,' his 1981 Booker Prize-shortlisted novel. The slim paperback should not fool you; despite the scant 200-odd pages of fiction this novel takes the time to probe to some degree the extent of human madness before pulling you out of your reverie and leaving you more than slightly befuddled.

An English couple, Mary and Colin, is vacationing in Europe. We are told that Mary is divorced, with two children. Colin is her long-time partner, a de facto father to her children. They carry with them the burden of their relationship; the minor bumps and hiccups of two intelligent thirty-something independents who happen to have cobbled their lives together. Their last names, as well as the city they roam, remain unnamed. What matters is how their thoughts unfold as they traipse through familiar - and unfamiliar - paths. And when they run into Robert, a disturbingly charming foreigner, in a hole-in-the-wall bar, they are instantly intrigued. Looking for excitement in their otherwise comfortable lives, Mary and Colin are completely taken in. They are welcomed into Robert's home, embraced by his disabled wife Caroline, and that is when things start to fall apart.

Not one to lapse into predictable storylines, Ian McEwan ensures that The Comfort of Strangers conjures up no fuzzy thoughts of warmth and hospitality. This is a dark tale, told in McEwan's signature eloquence. Though tackling themes like sadism, masochism, the subservience of women, and the madness of the human psyche, McEwan keeps the prose fluid and easy to grasp. No doubt this man is well-versed in the myriad characteristics of human nature, and he pens the uncomfortable grace of Robert with as much élan as he paints the faded beauty of Mary and Colin's tourist spots. Though McEwan's novels have a tendency to share a few traits (Booker Prize nominations, sad tales of lost love and forgotten lives) they don't lack the sting at the end of the tale. Like 'Saturday' and 'On Chesil Beach' before it, 'The Comfort of Strangers' also managed to surprise me with its ending. To the point where I had to look up the book on Wikipedia, to make sure I had gotten it right.

'The Comfort of Strangers' is not a light read. Though it is entirely possible to skim this novel, a mere once-over would not do this justice. This is a book that deserves a quiet nook, a cup of hot chocolate (that will quickly be abandoned) and an hour at hand to ponder just what the heck happened when an unsuspecting English couple found themselves in the comfort of strangers.

By Shehtaz Huq

 

 
 

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