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May the fork be with you

So two people managed to land themselves a date on the aftermath of Valentine's Day. Good for them. Now the guy being a guy is looking to make a good first impression. So he pools all his suspiciously-earned savings, “borrows” some money from dad's pocket/mom's handbag and takes the girl out to a fancy restaurant. 'Cause, you know, nothing impresses a girl more than raising false expectations of wealth.

Be that as it may, they find themselves in a slick restaurant with good-looking, English-spewing, generally badass waiters. And a table full of cutlery. There's a bunch of forks on the left, some knives on the right and veritable collection of spoon on the far side of the plate. There are napkins coming out of every orifice available on the tabletop and both of you are quite clueless as to which knife you murder yourselves with. Fear not, for RS is here to help, with experience gathered from countless dates, 'cause don't you know, RS writers are in high demand. Must be our rock hard abs and gorgeous manes of thick black hair.

The Napkin
As you might imagine, it's there to help you in case you decide to take a nap in the middle of your date. Generally, you fold it into eighths and then plonk your head forward on it while you wait for your order to arrive, which takes quite a long time in these sorts of restaurants.

However, we at RS like to mix things up a little. We go with the classic Western bandana-style, wrapping it around our nose and mouth and tying it up at the back. Why? Because it helps with the drooling. Also, tying bandanas for each other is a good way to bond.

Some idiots might say napkins go on the lap while you are eating. That's ridiculous. If it did, it would've been called lapkins. Do not listen to stupid people.

The Cutlery
Apparently, the general rule of thumb about the various knives and forks is to go from the outside in. As far as we figure, it's a metaphor for self-actualisation and a protest against racism as well as a boost to self-confidence. The spoons teach us that it matters not what size we are or how much food we scoop up in our metaphorical bellies, in the end we are all metal. The different goblets point out that no matter what colour our skin is, when you drain all the liquid inside, we're all transparent. The knives show that despite varying in strength, we all have a unique edge. And the forks, well, they're there just to poke at the white plates.

The cutleries may have been a cunning ploy by certain segments of humanity to point out that size matters. But such intricate plans rarely succeed in making the point and are often misconstrued.

The Plates
There's an appetiser plate, a main course plate, a dessert plate, a soup bowl and a serving plate. At a good restaurant, biting into an appetiser plate will break your teeth. At a bad one, you'll probably manage to get a bite in and cut your tongue. Either way, you'll have blood in your mouth, which is supposed to be very appetising. Or at least that's what all the vampire fictions tell us. No, not the one you are thinking. Real ones.

The soup bowl is for the “soup boys”, the kind of people who think life has turned into a scalding hot liquid containing disgustingly suspicious, chunky floaters; all because they failed in the little thing called getting a date. Rejoice! You are no longer part of that group. Ignore the bowl with dedicated indifference for the rest of the meal.

The main course is where you and your date discuss nautical subjects. Latitudes, longitudes, support vessels, tying knots, etc. This is the part of the meal where you decide whether or not you will be shipmates in this relation”ship”. That's why the plate is big, see. You draw charts with bits of carrots, steaks and sauce. Our advice, use a LOT of sauce.

Also, the dessert plates do not taste sweet. Blame the diabetics.

The Bill
Waiters live a hard life. They don't make a lot of money and as such can't buy their wives/girlfriends pretty little tips. So make sure to slip in a two-taka tip bought from New Market into the black notebookthingummajiggy. Never hurts to be nice. Don't be extravagant though. The tip being worth 10% of your total bill is just something propagated by some thoughtless greedy waiters.

Now that you have some ideas about dining etiquette, happy dating. And remember: “Politeness, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy. “ - Ambrose Bierce.

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Would you die for it?

How people view language across the world

Five days from today, Bangladesh will celebrate its namesake, the language Bangla, and the ridiculously brave people who gave their lives for it. It is a deed unmatched by any other nation of the world. To give homage to such sacrifice, 21st February was declared International Mother Language Day. But why is mother language really important? Why would people die for it? And do people around the world care as much about their language as us?

Studies show that children below 10 years of age pick up languages really fast. And they grow up more comfortable with the language they are most exposed to. Labib, a university student, agrees with this theory, saying, “Language itself is a communication tool. And I think in Bangla because that is what I have been using from the beginning, so obviously, that comes first.” That is practically the very definition of mother language. Because the first person we try to communicate with, is our mother.

This sense of comfort keeps growing as we continue to communicate in this language. “My language is my identity,” says Zayan, an O-Level student. “I know this is the language I'll always be free to express myself in, the one I'll always be at ease speaking.” Saajid, a BBA student, affirms, “It comes naturally to people.” Our ex-boss used to say that cursing in Bangla just had a certain extra impact and satisfaction. Like it or not, he had a point.

Things are a little different across the oceans. “In Japan we don't give much thought to our language, it's just a means of talking and that's it,” says Mizai, a Japanese 9th grader. However, he prefers anime in Japanese and mentions that students at school regularly practice the extremely difficult Japanese calligraphy and some even go on to make careers out of it.

Countries such as Brazil and Argentina don't use traditional native languages, preferring instead an adjusted version of Portuguese and Spanish respectively, which they consider to be their mother tongue. A Brazilian Facebook friend, Rodrigo, commented that poverty is so acute in Brazil that people barely have chance to think about their life and their language and most kids there think playing football is the easiest way to get rich. He does mention the fact that Brazil has a museum dedicated to Portuguese language and is one of the few countries to make such a gesture towards their mother tongue.

Bulgarians are very enthusiastic about their language it seems. Stanimira Papazcheva says, “I'm very proud because Bulgarians invented the Cyrillic alphabet, which is the third official script of the European Union after Greek and Latin.” Cyrillic script is the alphabet used by many of the Eastern European languages, including Russian.

She also makes an observation about how a person's language is integrated into their habits and customs, making languages easier to pick up if you know the people's history. Our war-cry during the Liberation War makes that much more sense now.

Sometimes the language itself is used as a form of exclusion. While we are often hospitable enough to babble in our broken English to foreigners, experience tells us that there are certain countries where people only give terse answers to questions made in English, but warm up considerably when you approach them using their own language, such as Sweden. However, the Swedish education system is one of the few in the world that give students in primary and high-school the option to study their mother-tongues by providing teachers for it, even if there is only one student.

“A language only lives as long as its speakers,” prominent Bangladeshi author Anisul Hoque points out. If we choose to stop speaking it, it will die. Like the native tongues in Argentina are dying out. Like the native languages in our own country are dying out.

Hearing these stories, one slowly comes to the conclusion that, as with everything in life, it comes down to choice. Bangla is so important to us because we choose to make it important. Salam, Barkat, Rafique, Jabbar chose to go to that fateful rally because they wanted to defend their right to speak in the language they wished, to give it a place of honour as a State Language. And no right was ever given without a fight. Just ask the women of the world.

Our choice to set store by Bangla, to fight for it, to lay down our lives for it, to celebrate its existence everyday by using it in our lives, is what makes it different to us from all the other languages in the world. Families may be similar, but every mother is unique in the eyes of the child.

By Mahir and Padya Paramita

Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?



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