Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


The Grass On The Other Side…

"So imagine you have x chocolates and I have twice the amount that you have, meaning 2x, so if we have y chocolates in total which is 16 times 3 divided by 4, what would the final equation here be?”

(long pause + sound of crickets in background)

“Is there any chance the chocolates have nuts inside, cuz otherwise I kinda don't want nothing to do with 'em…”

When we were younger, as is true in every kid's life, teachers were the ultimate bane of our existence. They nagged us to improve our handwriting, pestered us with memorising history and science stuff and made us do math. “They have it easy,” we thought. “We're the ones who have to learn all the things. They just come and explain and go away. Being a teacher is no big deal.”

They say the grass seems greener on the other side. God only knows how right they are! The conversation mentioned in the beginning of this article, for example, took place between this writer and her darling fourth-grader tutee. Two gruelling hours of a hot summer afternoon yours truly spent discussing concepts of x and 2x and equations and what not with the little one and yet, alas, after enquiring for feedback in the end all I got was… nuts (and the crickets in the background). “It's simple! Come on, I've been explaining for hours, what don't you get?” Frustrated, I exclaimed.

“No miss, I get it, I get it. It's easy.”

“Re-ally? Tell me then, if I have four times the stuff that you have how would you express your stuff in terms of x?”

(pause + again the accursed crickets)

“Erm, what was x again?”

Young minds are amazingly confusing to get. Especially when you're trying to explain the most basic of all things. You want to know the total of things - you add, you want to know the remaining amount after something is lost - you subtract. Duh! Basic math is almost like second instinct. The trickiest part, however, is to drive that instinct home in a tender impressionable mind facing its primary rendezvous with the monster named 'mathematics'. You explain and explain and keep explaining for days, and yet when you ask, “A kilometre is thousand times a metre, so if I have to convert one metre into kilometres, what do I do?”

- your apprentice responds-
“…. ”
“No, multiply!!”
“…. ”
“…. ”
(meekly) “Divide??”


Seriously, how DID our brains get programmed with the basic concepts of math?! Our teachers must have had it really tough on them. Knowing or learning something is way easier than trying to teach it to someone else. All of you out there constantly whining and complaining about your teachers should try tutoring other people sometimes for a change. It's bound to make you respect your teachers more for sure. And also understand how they feel when you, after all the trials and tantrums, manage to do well in your exams. Like when my student got A in her last math test. I was beside myself with joy (as you can imagine). “This is incredible! I thought you didn't understand the equations?” I exclaimed.

“Yeah, guess I'm really stupid,” the little brat said with a smug look on her face. “But you're a great teacher, so I think we're gonna make a pretty good team. Don't you?”

That precise moment felt priceless. When there's enough green on either side, who cares about 'greener' anyway?

By Raisa Rafique

Three Hats
And A Strange Interview

By Lady Orochimaru

The Royal Wedding might be over, and the curiosity about Kate's dress might have been sated. However, the event gave rise to a whole new debate: What were those things on the guests' heads? Where did those things come from? Was it all an elaborate, evil scheme to turn the royal wedding into a hat exhibit?

By pulling more than just a few strings, we managed to get hold of three of the most noticed headgears from the Royal Wedding. Princess Beatrice's (in)famous headgear, Victoria Bekham's comparatively sober headpiece and Duchess Camilla's hat . We take immense pride in knowing that the latter is actually a hat.

Here's how the interview with the hats went.

RS: Thank you so much for helping us out here! This whole hat phenomenon has left us completely baffled!

Camilla: Whatever. Just hurry.

RS: Riiiiight.

So,Beatrice's…uh…headpiece you were definitely the star of the whole hat exhibit at the wedding. How does it feel to be so phenomenal?

Beatrice: Oh, it's absolutely marvelous, even though I knew I was made to turn heads. Philip made me with that in mind.

Victoria: That's what Philip told the Princess, anyways.

RS: Philip Treacy? As in the award-winning milliner?

Beatrice: Yes.

RS: He made YOU too?

Beatrice: Absolutely.

Camilla: Poor Philip was drunk, I tell you. I mean, Vic turned out fine, I suppose. I definitely turned out fine, as you can clearly see.

Beatrice: Nonsense. I'm the most fascinating fascinator that ever graced a homo-sapiens head!

Camilla &Victoria: Touché.

RS: A WHAT? What was that?

Beatrice: A fascinator. I'm a fascinator. Victoria's one too. But nowhere near as fascinating as me, as you can see.

RS: … … …

Victoria: *sigh* Let me explain. See how Beatrice and I don't cover the entire head? And are more ornamental than functional? That's because we are fascinators. You know, like elaborate hair ornaments. Made with feathers, flowers, beads, etc.

RS: Ahhh…

Victoria: We used to be much simpler, often made of net and covering the hair and the eye. But what with increasingly wild imaginations of the milliners, it's hard to actually define us nowadays. You have to see us to know us.

RS: Indeed. Now that the whole confusion about the fascinator has been cleared up, can you tell us HOW you stay in place?

Victoria: Clips, combs, headbands…depends on how we are made. And a little hairspray helps, too.

RS: And a little glue for Beatrice, I'm sure. Otherwise the fascinator would've certainly toppled…if you consider Newton's Law and the centre of gravity and all…

Beatrice: Huh?

Camilla: HAHAHAHAAA!!!!

Victoria: No glue. Definitely no glue. It just shows you how talented Philip is…and why he calls us sculptures.

RS: Uh-huh. Now, we have a theory that the headpieces plotted to take over the royal wedding and turn it into a hat exhibit.

Camilla: We have better things to do, kid. But Philip might have planned it…

Victoria: Might have been the fact that Philip made over 30 of the hats at the wedding, and other famous milliners also contributed in large numbers. And they wanted to give it their best - it was the Royal Wedding, after all.

Camilla: I say all the milliners were intoxicated. By the way, I'm a hat.

RS: (man, this hat's got issues) Um, yes. I figured.

Camilla: Good. So make sure you don't associate me with some commoner's item like the fascinator.

RS: Commoner? I'm certain that there were more fascinators than hats at the wedding. And even putting that aside, the royals dig them. Including the Queen.

Camilla: You don't get it! Hats have always been an indicator of social status! And we don't need to be non-functional to be stylish! The poor folks of England made fascinators as an alternative to us hats! Hats were made to be worn by upper-class ladies! Those commoners couldn't afford the fabric for making us!

Victoria: Huh. Commoners, you say? Philip laughed all the way to the bank when Princess Beatrice handed him the paycheck.

Beatrice: Wait a minute! Was that a jab?

Victoria: No, sweetie. I saw it on the net.

Beatrice: Oh, then its fine.

RS: Ooookay…anyways, thanks for your shedding light on this issue… (I just wasted 25 minutes of my precious life)

Camilla: Wait, don't we get any souvenirs or anything?

RS: Yes, of course. A goodie bag, with English anti-lice shampoo and Tibet Detergent soap.

Camilla: …

Victoria: …

Beatrice: Oh well, that's better than nothing, I suppose.


In third grade, the first thing your English teacher said as she entered the classroom was for you to open your “Nobhels” and note down all the difficult words you come across in a particularly boring chapter of an already very mundane book. You were to give it the x-ray treatment - look-up the words and memorise them along with their definitions and derivations from your extra handy, very overweight dictionary.

The next day you were publicly humiliated when asked to read aloud or spell out the words. The “O-o-o-h's,” flying hands, giggles and nudges that were passed around the entire classroom as the wait for your failure came to an end were certainly quite visible even when your allotted seat was at the very front row. The teacher would then raise a sweaty eyebrow, give you a solemn please-know-you-are-dumb look and proceed to smile at your ever-brilliant classmate, who would beam back with pride and accomplishment at his correct answer.

You would learn to associate books and reading with mistakes, penalties, humiliation (and nerds) and as your errors were announced one by one, you'd wonder why the laughter was directed at you but not your teacher's oh-so-hilarious pronunciation (Zeolozy is spelt with a Zee (G), not a Zay)

Your head would eventually be filled with queer jumbled words which meant nothing to you (works both ways) and which you never learned to pronounce (the teacher could not be trusted on this one) and you would grow up thinking artillery meant the army.

Every chapter you read would be followed by rigorous testing and questioning to make sure you “understood” everything. Her mean-spirited picky insistence would grow to be the reason you hate the book-shaped holes in the Universe. The words in your abandoned copy were well out of the scope of your brain and were best left alone. Sesquipedalophobia (fear of long words) is a very real thing. Yes, your teacher injected you with yet another phobia other than pedagophobia (fear of teachers), didaskaleinophobia (fear of schools) and mole-o-phobia (pretty self-explanatory).

Why do children have to do that? How would those big hated words ever help them? How many of the un-colloquial words in the extensive vocabularies of us big readers have we learnt by looking them up in a dictionary? How many of us can pronounce the word colloquial correctly solely by looking at the dictionary (kuh-loh-kwee-uhl)? We learn words just as we learn to talk - by meeting them over and over again in different contexts until we see how they fit in. Why should children have to 'understand' every single word in their exact definitions? Why should anyone? Does anyone?

The first and last books that my elder brother read were the Harry Potters; that too because of a school book report. He never touched another book again. He now calls me a nerd when he sees me read and will never understand the joy of reading. What a sad, tragic, pitiful world.

By Neshmeen Faatimah

Why Heroes Exist

By Orin

Who said that villains were the bad guys? Well, maybe they are the bad guys. But never the boring ones. Apart from their random killing sprees or evil mega plots for destroying humanity, they are actually some of the smartest and most awesome people on the planet. Without them, the movies would be as boring as afternoon naps and as predictable as CSI. Heroes exist because villains do and that's why RS is giving the baddest villains some much deserved tribute.

Norman Bates (Psycho): In the whole movie, he appears quite normal. Only at the climax do we really get to see what Oedipus effect has done to him. Only when we see the full extent of his damage do we finally realise the threat he poses. And in the last scene when he looks at you with a blank and devious smile on his face, you finally see that the man is beyond insanity. Norman Bates was also the archetype for the smart, eloquent and psychotic villain that has become the frame for so many psychological thrillers.

Jack Torrance (The Shining): In a way, there isn't much hardcore about him, but the quiet writer's transformation into a tormenting maniac is some classic villain material. Jack Nicolson was so believable as the possessed Torrance that when he chases his little boy in a snowy maze at night, a little part of you dies in fear.

John Doe (Se7en): John Doe (name unknown) had a plan. To let the world know about the seven deadly sins it should be avoiding. To follow through, he murdered his carefully chosen victims in the most gruesome ways possible, reflecting their particular sins. He made absolute fools out of the police department and played by his own set of insane rules. Sending a wife's head in a box to her husband might have been considered as a cruel act even among some bad guys, but not by him.

Michael Corleone (The Godfather II): Some might call him an anti-hero who is torn between things. But he is a pretty ruthless villain, to tell you the truth. He murders his brother Fredo, torments his family through his actions and does unspeakable crimes. He might feel guilt for his actions and try to 'do things right' at a later time, but he still lives in the grey area between light and dark.

Bonnie and Clyde (Bonnie and Clyde): Are these two even villains? Is Robin Hood a villain? If they are, a lot of us probably would not mind being villains ourselves. Although they are getting money and having a good time, they are technically robbing people and occasionally abducting them. But they were awesome and gave us a different view into a criminal's mind. You would never have thought the death of a villain could ever make you so sad. They are the good bad guys.

The Joker (The Dark Knight): We know villains who are sociopaths; some want to prove something and some who want to take over everything. Then there are those “who just want to watch the world burn.” We have the joker. The moment you lay your eyes on this guy you know he's going to be in your nightmares. There are just so many layers to him, and his complete lack of motive makes him the worst villain to face.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs): Dr. Hannibal Lecter is probably the scariest guy on the planet, fictional or not. This mad genius could make all the other villains cry for their mommies. Well, maybe not The Joker. Lecter is not scary because he can mercilessly kill you, but because he can feed you to the rest of your family. He knows his way around the human mind and his sick ways and cannibalistic behaviour makes him more horrifying than ever. So, when he says, “Have to go now, I'm having an old friend for dinner,” you should pretty much run.

Movie villains are as awesome (if not more) than the heroes and more often than not it's the villains who stand up for things and the heroes just stand there 'defending'. Without them, heroes are like The Office without Steve Carell. Sometimes, it's good to be bad.

What to Listen to When Studying:
A Survey

By That Guy

Music. Most of us can't live without it. It speaks to the soul. It has no boundaries. It carries a message. And apparently, music also helps memory and learning.

A lot of people listen to music when studying. May being the month when a lot of people have exams, there's a lot of cramming being done. And a lot of people have their speakers blaring while this cramming occurs.

And so, this intrepid writer (read: guy who sits on Facebook all day) set out to find what type of tunes other people listen to when studying. And thus, a survey of friends, colleagues, cats and other random people I met on the street ensued.

Most people surveyed were found to like softer, more melodious tunes for subjects such as Physics and Economics which involve a lot of reading. Acoustic songs, alternative rock and soft rock served them well for these subjects, such as Nickelback's “How You Remind Me”. But when Math popped its ugly head, they needed something a bit more hardcore. In come Guns'n'Roses, Iron Maiden and Metallica.
Nothing gets you more pumped up then hearing Axl Rose belt out “Welcome to the Jungle” or Bruce Dickinson singing “Hallowed Be Thy Name” they said.

One person suggested Trance music. Personally, being pretty unfamiliar with this genre I myself cannot have any input in this suggestion. He says “Trance is soothing. It calms the mind and thus helps you concentrate.” He also recommended “Sufi” songs. To any readers who are as bewildered as I was as to what this is, it is apparently “a religious/romantic song sung in Punjab that brings harmony and tranquility to the mind.” Don't ask me what that means. Recommendation: “Teri Deewani” by Kailash Kher.

When asking my new Rising Stars colleagues, I was told that they listen to classical music. Music that did not need words to carry their message. The piano of Beethoven and Bach was apparently what helped them study. Piano music has been scientifically proven to be effective in improving memory. Researchers suggest that music helps stimulate the left side of the brain, which controls verbal learning. We suggest you go and find some Mozart to listen to. NOW!

Personally, this writer finds faster paced songs better to study to. He finds it best to study under loud guitar riffs and blaring drums. But that music, being the boundary-less, language-less, soul-touching creation it is, is a matter of taste. Some people will like it, some people won't. Here is a list of ten songs formulated by the survey that help people study.

Warning: They might not work in your case. If they don't, this writer will not be held responsible.

Welcome To the Jungle - Guns'n'Roses
Teri Deewani - Kailash Kher
Back In Black - AC/DC
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
Bouree in E minor - Johan Sebastian Bach
How You Remind Me - Nickelback
Iris - Goo Goo Dolls
Dhushor Shomoy - Artcell
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Prayer of the Refugee - Rise Against

Trance guy couldn't name any songs for the genre, so deal with it.



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2011 The Daily Star