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A Night of High Hopes

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

After an amazing Bryan Adams concert at Bangabandhu Conference Centre, I am heading home towards Bailey Road. It's the night before the first World Cup match on Bangladesh soil and Dhaka feels like a little kid who is too excited to go to sleep, quiet in places, exuberant in others. People are taking pictures at every hot spot, even in front of the hugely out of place gorilla at Karwan Bazaar. Truckloads of cheering fans decked out in red and green bandanas move out towards the Mirpur stadium to stay overnight before the gates, blissfully unaware of the pounding to come the next morning at the hands of Sehwag. But if there ever was a night to take a walk, it's this.

Eventually though, hunger beckons and I flag down a CNG at Karwan Bazaar. "How much?" I ask through the grill. "50 taka," the driver says. I pause for a second, considering the extravagant fare. But I am infected by the manic high that has the city in its grips, so I hop on.

The driver is a small guy, reddish teeth testifying to his love for paan. He is wearing a beanie and has an overused matchstick poking out of the corner of his mouth. I glance at the meter; it's working fine. The fare shouldn't be more than 30-40 taka. I shrug at the ten bucks. Tonight, Bangladesh feels rich.

As a truck growls past on the other side of the road, the fans letting out the occasional roars, I ask,

"Ki mama? Khela dekhba kalke? Ki mone hoy, amra jitbo?” (Hey man, going to watch the match tomorrow? Think we'll win?)

"Khela toh dekhum-e. Aar aasha toh asei." (Of course I'll watch the game. And we can always hope.)

"But India is a tough team, probably the toughest in our group."

I can hear the smile in his voice as he replies, "Doesn't mean we'll stop hoping."

"So what's going to happen tomorrow if Bangladesh does win? Free rides for everyone?" I'm a little unrealistic this surreal night.

"Arreh! If we win then half-fare," he says, "Half-fare for everybody."

His name is Jahangir Alam and he's new to the CNG business. Six to seven months, according to him. He lives in South Shajahanpur Railway Bosti, but his family doesn't sound too badly off. His father also drives a CNG, while his brother drives a private car. He used to drive a bus before, but its hard work. I think back on being stuck in a jam for an hour or so and how it felt. Then I imagine being stuck in rush hour traffic sitting beside a hot engine in a congested tin can full of sweaty folks off to work for hours on end, non-stop. Driving CNGs must be heaven compared to that.

He tells me he has four children, ages ten, seven, five and two. I make a risqué comment about the age gaps, the number patterns and what I consider to be a rather safe prediction. His ears turn red as he admits he and his wife aren't looking for kids anymore.

By this time, we're almost at my place. I step off and while reaching for my wallet, I ask him, "Did you get any foreign fares yet?" He shakes his head. "If you get one, are you going to go by the meter?"

He smiles as I hand him the money, "Ho! Asking extra fare can only be done to folks who live here. Bideshi-der loge korle ora koibo ei desher shobai chor. Desher ekta maan-ijjot ase na?" (If I ask extra fare from foreigners, they'll say everybody in this country is a thief. The country has its pride, right?)

I am left speechless as he drives away.


The week before last we presented the topic Cricket vs Football and we received a grand total to two entries. That is depressing. For next week we give you Painted Faces. Hopefully this time there will be more people participating. Articles sent in have to be written within 500 words and sent in before noon Sunday. Mail to ds.risingstars@gmail.com.

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“What's in a Game?”

By Synthia K. Nur

I'll admit it. I am a football fan. I did not understand cricket, nor did I want to, until this topic came up in the “Beta Writers” column. So I did a little bit of research but am still convinced football is way better. Even Wikipedia agrees with me, quote, “it is the world's most popular sport.”

First of all, majority always wins. Only football can be called international, because all countries of the world play. On the other hand, even in the Cricket World Cup we can see only 14 countries playing. If that isn't enough, FIFA has 208 member countries, while ICC has 104, with only 10 of these as full members (whatever that means). Also there are numerous football competitions held all year round, around the globe, not to mention the national leagues in every country, some of which are very good. The only notable competitions for cricket, aside from the World Cup are the Twenty-20 World Cup, the IPL and something called Test matches, which I fail to understand.

Football is known as “the beautiful game”. That definitely says something. What footballers do on the field is “art in motion”. The cricket-lovers will say that cricket is “the gentleman's game”. What they don't realise is that the fouls, the tackles, the pushing and the shoving only make football more interesting.

Initially, cricket was invented for old, retired men in 16th century England. Cricket involves less running around and less physical exertion than football. It goes on for long hours and all this was perfect for retired men as they had the whole day to themselves and cricket served as their only mode of entertainment. No wonder cricket is so boring. Football on the other hand is only a 90 minute game, which is perfect for our fast-paced lives.

One more point which makes football better than cricket is the players. Footballers are more, um, visually appealing than most cricketers, who look like middle-aged men. This is where the boys will start to complain and say things like, “Girls are so shallow” and “We don't care what the players look like as long as they're good on the field/pitch”. Then, let me tell you boys something. You wouldn't be too happy if “Transformers” starred Miley Cyrus instead of Megan Fox, would you?

Now, the cricket-lovers will rise in protest saying that cricket is where the Bangladesh team has excelled whereas they are not looking so good in football. Well, who's fault is that? You really have to up your game (pun intended) if you want to compete at international levels in football. It just goes to show how high the standards are in football.

In the end, football definitely comes out as the clear winner. After all, cricket is a game which “No. 1 Khan” Shakib Khan watches. You can't get worse than that. So football will always be the best sport ever invented.

P.S. I think baseball is a better version of cricket.



 

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