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Say Uncle!

There are uncles, and then there are uncles who aren't married. Most of us have at least one from the latter category. Those who don't and think they're the same thing, think again. Because before the woes of matrimony turn him into a lame wuss and after he has attained financial success, an uncle is practically made of fresh 500 taka bank notes.

This uncle doesn't have children of his own. All he has is a favourite niece/nephew. Sure, there are other insignificant insects (read: cousins) vying for his attention, but if you're the lucky favourite, they don't matter. For some reason, this uncle is never poor. He always has money, and quite unlike the others who are willing to buy you stuff (read: parents), he never says no. And that's not even the best part. While parents make conditional offers (“If you give us all A's in your O'levels, we'll give you an iPhone”) and require something in exchange (“Ice cream after you've cleaned your room”), the only thing your uncle wants in return is a big smile, enthusiastic expressions of gratitude, and your general happiness. Which you can gladly give without having to work or study. He'll get you anything. He'll even get you a pineapple.

Unfortunately, conscience sometimes gets in the way and you find yourself unable to feast on your uncle's money the way you know you should. The solution is easy. The world has enough special days to expect gifts on, including birthdays, Eid, Christmas, Puja, and Earth Day. Utilise the futility of such random occasions. Ask for a new phone on World Math Day.

None of this comes without a bit of skill on your part of course. There are certain rules you need to follow in order to reap the full benefits of having an unmarried uncle. First and foremost: you must never take money from him. Your uncle could offer you cash to go buy what you want in your own time, since as a rule they're very busy people. Avoid accepting said cash. Saving is a great idea, but that's not what these uncles are for. If you take the money, you get a limited amount. If you drag him to the store with you, the amount far exceeds any limit. More money equals more gifts. More gifts equal greater happiness on your part.

Another rule says you must be decisive. You should always have a list ready. If he refuses one thing, you must have another prepared. Do you want the iPad more or the iPod? Make sure you know. You can't appear confused about your choice. Act like you know everything there is to know about whatever it is you're asking for. Sometimes, when getting you something even you know is useless, he'll ask if you're certain you wouldn't want… oh, this other totally awesome thing. Yeah, you're positive. It's not a good idea to change your decision halfway, or you might just end up with nothing.

Your uncle finds happiness in giving you gifts. You find happiness in receiving gifts. Unconditional love doesn't exist people. Get over your delusion. You're his favourite niece/nephew for a reason. You show him love and respect, and you're comfortable enough around him to ask for anything. And let's face it: you do love him. Funny thing is, it's not just the money. He's an awesome person too. It's a package deal, and if there's one person in your family you'd pray for, it's him and his awesomeness.

P.S.: No I haven't forgotten the aunts in our lives who have refused matrimony. It's just that they're not awesome enough. Sure, they cook you stuff, but so do your other aunts. And they never give you as many things as the uncle. Like most women, they're a bit cheap when it's not about them. Being women, they also know better than to believe you actually need a new leather jacket in March.

By Professor Spork

A Matter of Principals

Leak 1:
"A recent cable leak has indicated that schools may secretly be conducting claustrophobia experiments by stuffing large numbers of children into small spaces and then forcing them to factor large equations into smaller pieces. Reports say underachieving teachers might be exacting sweet revenge on unsuspecting students. A witness, a child from grade five had this to say, 'Dude, he's overcompensating-'. Due to the controversial nature of this report, the rest of the statement has been censored. We have however informed the fifth grader's parents to keep a closer watch on what the kid does in his free time."

Leak 2:
“A recent study has shown schools are using subtle psychological and subliminal means to make students fear and loathe their teachers more in order to reduce the level of homework teachers have to deal with. Badly accented, oral-hygiene-lacking-sweat stained teachers are currently in high demand to reduce the insane growth of interest in education. 'I actually prefer my students bunking class. Especially the male ones. It means I'm the tallest person in the room. Except for that girl in the corner... She scares me."

Leak 3:
"Seven different physics teachers and an escaped rat from the biology lab have conducted a series of extensive experiments to determine that rickety desks destroying children's concentration levels is an unfounded rumour based on their inconclusive results. They have also said that a teacher sometimes mispronouncing words is a lie deliberately perpetuated by foreign parties in order to tarnish the image of the school physics teacher. They said they know it was you Abrar."

Leak 4:
“In an effort to ease the flow of brain drain to foreign lands, schools have taken up the initiative of Memorisation. A spokes-principal said that such an endeavour to force creative children into the humdrum of recitation and knowledge gathering will help in reducing inane questions asked in class and furthermore make it impossible for them to write creative SAT essays on the go. In other words, this will ensure that students remain in the country. When asked about the detrimental effect this has on the students' educational growth, the Principal had this to say, 'Meh.' "

Leak 5:
“Recent scandals and papa-student-razzi photos have unveiled a secret cabal of school principals and headmasters who meet at every turn of the half moon in a wooden shed off the Beribadh Road. What is more surprising, other than the secret and unspoken rituals these school masters engage in, is the fact they all seem to be surreptitiously working for the fast food chains. Studies of trends show that nearly all schools are currently devoid of playgrounds and located cunningly near fast food shops. A concerned whistle blower has stated that obese students are easier to bully (whistle blower wipes tears of personal pain at this juncture) and thus easier to control.”

Leak 6:
“In a report leaked onto the InterWeb, the details of a secret investigation have come to light. We however warn our readers that the following is not for the faint hearted… or for the parents of school-going children. The report states that assemblies may not be as innocent as they look. The findings say that the whole standing in line thing, with attention unwavering is a subtle way of training young individuals for “positive behaviour reinforcement”. The leak further states that the megalomania of school headmasters may be behind the whole exacting ritual of morning assembly. An interview with a disgruntled principal indicated that all principals harbour a deep hatred of Sri Lanka with its top schools and high literacy rate. Sri Lanka, beware.”

Leak 7:
“The segregation of boys and girls in schools is an oft debated topic, one that until recently met with very few resolutions either way. However, Jamal Ibn Jamal Ibn Jamal (née Clarice), an investigative journalist, has said that there are more hush-hush reasons behind the division of boys from girls. 'Cooties, they're real,' apparently a spokes-headmaster said. Jamal might have been joking but Kamal Bin Kamal Bin Abdul (AKA Gertrude) has said quite the same thing, however he disagrees on the cooties part. He says the segregation is a means to fight equality by disillusioning young students by telling them that girls are actually from Venus. True story.”

Leak 8:
“'What's up with uniforms', asks a frustrated third grader. And this question has indeed sparked a worldwide controversy. What is in fact up with uniforms? An informed and educated answer would say that they engender discipline and equality among the students. However, merely talking about students does not account for the whole story. A recent article in the New Dork Times has said that teachers and education councillors are in favour of the uniform because they are themselves ashamed of their lack of fashion sense. By forcing a drab and dreary visage upon the pupils, the teachers get to live out their fantasies of being the best-dressed man in the room. Whether or not these developments change the current scenario and public opinion about uniforms is yet to be determined. 'Can you help me with my tie?' The third grader however, still suffers.”

Leak 9:
“In a surprising turn of events (which in itself is not so surprising) teachers, educators, headmasters and mistresses and principals and have all spoken up and formed a cartel of schools that actually threaten OPEC and the European Trading Bloc. However, economic implications aside, the main agenda of CRAPT (Community of Regressive And Power-hungry Teachers) is to bring forward the Corporeal Punishment Rights movement. In a press release they have said that without the aid of the 'rod' teachers have no means to fight the increasingly 'gangsta' students. Consequently, the teachers' way of life and culture is being severely threatened. 'They spray-painted Detention Junkie on the side of my car,' says a tearful biology teacher who is known for being increasingly harsh during the reproduction chapters. What this bodes for the future is still uncertain.”

By Tareq Adnan





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