Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


The Auction

“Two tickets to the World Cup,” called the girl, and then it all began.

Before, it was a circus, with the ringmaster cracking her whiteboard duster whip, screaming for order, and the animals refusing to obey commands. The elephants would not climb onto each other's shoulders, the lions would not leap through the rings of fire, and the clowns were telling all the wrong jokes. The band played no particular song, just went about producing as much deafening noise as possible, cymbals crashing, drums a-thunder. It was madness but it was a restrained sort of madness, for the grey and white uniform-clad beasts knew the punishments the ringmaster could deliver.

But then the girl spoke and the last vestiges of restraint broke down. The circus tent crashed, the beasts donned lungis, and the ringmaster herself joined the chaos. It had turned into a fish market. A Bangladeshi fish market.

The girl looked smug, calm and inscrutable, as any good auctioneer would, but she was the only one. The rest were rabid; wild eyes and frothing mouths, they shouted offers and nearly fell at her feet in desperation. They knew nothing of discretion and the quiet gestures normal bidders made. And anyway, a subtle nod, a raised eyebrow, would be as much use in this riot as the teacher's whip-cracking had been before.

“Seven hundred,” yelled the teacher. The girl shook her head pityingly and looked round for a better offer.

“One thousand,” screeched someone else. She still didn't look too impressed.

“One thousand? One thousand?” The offers rose by hundreds.

“Two thousand,” a call came, finally, from across the room. The smile began to appear.

“Two thousand? Is it going? A chance to see the boys live! Would you miss it?”

“Three thousand,” someone shouted. The smile widened. She looked uncannily like a spider, spinning a sticky web, and reeling in the juicy flies. She turned back to the teacher.

“Miss, the ICC Cricket World Cup. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How can you turn it down?” The fantasies were already floating in the woman's eyes. She took off her glasses and polished them slowly on her dupatta, imagining Shakib Al Hasan blowing her a kiss as she cheered for him from the stands. He would fall in love with her and they would get married, and they would have twelve children who would comprise the entirety of the future cricket team. She forgot, momentarily, her paunch and sagging skin, and, indeed, her husband of fifteen years.

“Five thousand,” she declared grandly, and the girl's eyes glittered.

“Any other offers? Apparently they're giving out signed balls at the end.”

“Six thousand.” It was going well. Her profits would be vast.

“Six thousand, one hundred.”

“C'mon, dude, didn't I treat you to lunch the other day?”

“Hey, we've been best friends forever, give them to me.”

“By the way, guys,” the girl interrupted. “This is six thousand, one hundred, separately for each one.”

There were cries of protest, but not too loud, and not too many, because this was to watch the Bangladeshi cricket team, the Tigers, the stars who had once beaten Australia (and once lost to Ireland, but that was easily forgotten).

The price was settled, in the end, at six and a half thousand.

“Going, going, gone,” called the girl, and the mob calmed down, despair lining each individual's face as they considered their shattered dreams. Now they would not be able to watch a leather ball be thrown, hit with a piece of wood and caught, and they had saved thirteen thousand taka. Such a shame.

By Grasshopper

Batting the Perfect Six
6 Folks Who Made Most of the World Cup

With the ICC World Cup only a few hours away, this end of the world is in an exuberant frenzy. Cricket lovers around the globe have either collected tickets or fixed their TVs to catch every ball that toys, teases or smacks those coveted wooden sticks. It's not surprising our country - one of the proud hosts of one of the most important events in the alley of sports - is also getting busier. Last minute preparations are flatteringly on display and every institution is making a cut from the occasion.

It is further not surprising that we - being far sighted, a quality for which we are given less credit than we deserve - have made the most unexpected yet clever use of this season of cricket. Well, some more than others.

6. Travel Agents
Anyone who works on a clock is suddenly bestowed with a six-day long vacation. What better time of the year to visit Sundarbans or Cox's Bazar if not now?! Every other travel and tour operative in the country has released World Cup exclusive package trips to faraway destinations. They're making lakhs every minute with families catching up on long overdue holidays and opportunists grabbing 'discounts'. If you are someone with minimal knowledge of geography and culture, now is a good time to consider temporary employment as a tour guide.

5. Fakirs
A recent BBC report stated how the government is planning to 'pay' beggars to stay off the streets during the World Cup to ensure a positive and chaos-free environment for visitors. While yours truly has already had a heated debate on her Facebook with regards to its implications, hands down our beggars are enjoying the free cash. Here's a tip for making a quick buck this season get on the streets with fakirs. Returns guaranteed.

4. Dhandabaaj Public
Recall the time you saw stretching and winding lines of people outside banks, waiting for the much-desired voucher to watch the World Cup at the stadium. You must have wondered how short-sighted they were, missing out on the comfort of television replays and experiencing real cricket. Ah well, these folks turn out to be some of the richest folks these days. A little effort and they've got themselves a sweet deal of at least 10k on each ticket where it originally cost less than 300 bucks. Practice matches, regular matches, anywhere near the stadium name it and the dhandabaaj has struck a six.

3. Artists
Pictures, songs, paintings, food the World Cup has a market for everything. With tons of ads, jingles, investments and preparations in motion, our corporate world is suddenly in need of anything patriotic, inspirational and emotional. Be it an absolutely irrelevant photograph of a white swan making a poor attempt at flying to a terribly pitched one liner or an out-of-tune score, this season is a goldmine for anyone who is creative or is presumably creative.

2. Bongobazar
This place has the fascinating power to make the most out of every little thing that happens on planet earth. Obama, winter, devastating fire, summer, Bollywood, Khoj the Search, controversial political figures, sports, earthquake and women - the list is never ending. The likes of Bongobazar, namely the places opposite Dhaka College and New Market are currently flooded with jerseys of countries participating in the upcoming World Cup. They've even got Canada! They're on demand and selling like badaam to distraught and desperate cricket lovers. Bongobazar and places on par never disappoint and never fail to surprise.

1. Corporate Buddies
A very wise friend once said, “Desher manusher chetona shudhu matro ei corporates rai bujhlo!” (translation: No one understands our people the way our corporate world does) If anyone got the gist of the World Cup (or for that matter, anything we are emotionally attached to), it's probably to be the big boys with their fancy toys. From talk time bonanzas, to concerts, to cricket-on-the-go, to big banner ads, to flying cricket bats, to beverages every sector of the capitalist world has something to give (more likely, take) from the World Cup. Thanks to our booming population, we are never out of consumers and the business world is never out of ideas.

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2010 The Daily Star