Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home

PLANET RS

21 years of doing the same thing may sound boring, deadbeat, like watching a bad romantic vampire movie twice. But that all depends on what the 'same thing' is. The young mind is a fickle one, always changing, always looking for the next high. Fads come back and then get discarded. It's always shifting and that's the constant RS works with. Which is also what makes us grow. That's why we are never the same, mixing things up from week to week.

This week we celebrate our 21st anniversary. Have we grown up? Not really. We've always been the same age since birth. Hope to stay the same, but not the same, next year.

-- Ehsanur Raza Ronny, RS Editor


The number 21

It's our number for now. Others have found it significant in their own ways.

Feel the music
The Paddingtons and The Cranberries both thought that 21 was a great name for a hit song. But some bands feel the number deserves a more permanent place in their music - like the 21 Demands. This Dublin based rock band plays original songs that attempt to fuse many different genres, from pop to electronica. Or what about Omarion, the R&B singer? His second album was called 21 and made it to the number one spot on the Billboard 200.

Some record labels also use twenty-one in their names, like 21 Records and 21st Circuitry. They must know that twenty-one is more than just a number.

Boom
Gun-salutes are a serious business, mostly because they involve the firing of guns. But why do people fire guns as a salute? And why 21 times? Apparently, it started with the Navy sometime in the 14th Century. Firing cannons at sea was tough, mostly because it took quite a while to reload, unlike the quick-fire cannonade in Pirates of the Caribbean. So firing the cannons was used as a show of good faith. A ship approaching a port would fire its guns, usually seven rounds, to indicate that it came in peace. Of course, if today you approach anybody with guns blazing, they'll probably crap their pants and run. Or if they have guns themselves, they'll return fire.

Which is exactly what the shore batteries did… somewhat. Since gun powder was easier to use on land and there were helpers around, it was stipulated that a shore battery could fire off three shots before the ship could reload, making ship captains of the medieval era a bunch of whiny losers.

So shore cannons would fire thrice number seven, i.e. 21, to show that they were willing to receive in peace. If they wanted to receive in pieces, they would just point the cannons shipward. Good mincemeat for the sharks down there.

This is madness
We like our mad scientists. They bring in a flavour of adventure to an otherwise dull world. Without Dr Evil, Austin Powers would be boring. Without Dr Frankenstein, we wouldn't have Frankenstein. Without Isaac Newton, we wouldn't have the Apple ipods we do now. Keep in mind though, these guys are mad, not evil. Except Dr Evil, who is not really evil.

But then there's one guy who tops the mad scientist list. Dr Duncan MacDougall (1866-1920), a physician in Massachusetts who was clearly of Scottish descent [which explains a lot; you'll see]. In his bid for the scientific hall of fame, he attempted to measure the weight of the soul. Yeah, you heard that right. He would place dying patients on a gigantic weight machine that measured minute changes in mass. With his consistent attempts, he gave the result that the soul weighs… wait for it, 21 grams.

Of course, he has been the laughing stock of the entire scientific community since then. Nobody has managed to reproduce the results he got, which has led to his life's work being relegated to the scientific dumpster titled “meaningless junk”. Then again, maybe his weight machine was magical, like stuff from Supernatural. Anyway, we'll never know.


I'm a big kid now! For Pinocchio, things were easy

By Numaya and Dr Who

Of course they were. He just had to turn into a real boy and that's it. Not so much for us regular kids. There is the double digit Ten, the big Thirteen, the not-at-all sweet Sixteen, the can-drive Eighteen and finally, get-a-job Twenty-one. And still mothers yell at us for staying up late.

The lines have been blurred over the ages when it comes to adulthood and growing up. The psychologists have come up with a new term for it: emerging adulthood. You are neither here nor there. Things were easier before. At first you just had to know how to throw a spear accurately and, voila, you got your own nice spot beside the fire where you could sit and munch on drumsticks and everyone listened to when you grunted. In the golden oldies, sixteen was a big deal. 2300 years ago, Alexander was beating Macedonian rivals into a pulp. Then being 18 was pretty important. We say pretty because that's the age Cleopatra became queen.

You're probably scoffing and saying they are people who literally lived thousands of years ago. Au contraire. Joan of Arc, 16, only a few hundred years ago. Jack Cornwell, 16, stood at his post during WWI awaiting orders despite being fatally wounded; awarded highest honour, the Victoria Cross. Jordan Romero climbed Mount Everest in 2010 at age 13. Hamidur Rahman, 18, Bir Sreshtho. Argument invalid.

But let's not talk about the things not done. Because frankly, being lazy feels good and we really don't want to do anything. There is no hurry. Life will happen like it always does. Let's talk about things we don't have to do and perhaps feel a little better about ourselves.

See, the things we are getting for free by just breathing in and breathing out every day, some people have to earn that. Some people have to earn their right to be taken as adults, to get their own food, to find a boy/girlfriend. And the things they go through are terrible; feats involving jumping over cows naked [with disastrous consequences to your nether regions if you mistime the jump], scarring, severe mutilations bordering on torture, insane dosage of drugs, the appropriately named bullet ants, beatings and, well, bungee jumping. Or land-diving from a 100 feet tall tower with only a couple of vines tied to your ankle and an unshakable faith in the gods and your clan's ability to measure construction heights., which is what some tribes do in Vanuatu, which is a country we had never heard of before. But vines don't recoil like bungee cords and the margin for error is intriguing to say the least. Best case scenario, you have painfully sprained ankle. Worst case scenario… well, at least the gods will be pleased.

But women don't have things any easier. In Sumatra, the Mentawaian females have their teeth chiselled by shamans. It apparently makes women more beautiful and pleases the spirits. The blade is basically a sharpened piece of rock and there are no anaesthetics. If this seems tame compared to , flick your teeth with your fingers. Yeah, now multiply that sensation by a gazillion.

When you think of that and then consider our Bangladeshi rites of passage, the grass looks a lot greener right here. Previously, the rites involved women receiving their mother's jewellery, which was a huge affair indicating maturity and possible marriage. Men got family heirlooms, old coins and watches.

In our everyday lives there are so many events considered as coming of age. We give our O-Levels and SSCs. Guys shave their baby moustaches and girls shave their legs. We get our first jobs. We earn our first salaries and treat people (or just ourselves). We finish college and head to university and find someone and get married. Our parents watch on the sidelines as we grow and when they throw us our next increment in freedom, we are overjoyed. Our first phones, first days driving, first sleepovers, first boyfriends and girlfriends that we tell our parents about. Life passes by and we grow up. But thankfully ours don't include bullet ants. Curious? Google “Sartere-Mawe Initiation Ritual”.

References: Lots of internet searches about weird but printable initiation rituals [and no, we didn't take it off Wikipedia]. Then Google searches about famous people when they were sixteen. Then one of us tried to remember their Psych 101 course and failed and had to Google again. Welcome to growing up and memory loss.


We asked our readers what being 21 means. Some were scared, some were excited [for all the wrong reasons] and some few were doing it right. Check them out here and on our Facebook page. Also, if you want to hug/kiss/howl at us, that's the place to do it. Or e-mail. Links below.

Chanchal Chowdhury The legal age of marriage for males in Bangladesh is 21. But I don't know whether to anticipate it or be apprehensive.

Just wear No Fear underwear and you'll be fine. Or at least that's what we hear. - RS

Mahin Khan Right after you turn 21, you start to feel that amazing power of being an adult - not just 20, it's 20 plus one - and then you start to fantasise about the awesome things you will do with that great power you have. Then 'boom!' it's all gone when your mom starts yelling at you to clean your room. All that power vanishes with that untamed desire of ruling the world (or at least your own life). New dreams are born, most of them of your parents; those dreams become responsibilities. You get the taste of life as it is, the taste of the cruel world out there, waiting for you to get in. You start to read people. And then... you feel like being a 5-year old again - being a little kid whose job is to play and dream of a wonderland, not taking responsibilities and dealing with other people's complicated minds or to feel alone and shattered. Not someone who tries to be 'normal', who tries to 'fit in' and stops being him/herself.

Aurnab Hasan Year 21: I sort of understand what's right and still deliberately break rules.

Amen! - RS

Samiha Binte Seraj Turning 21 makes you feel like you have grown Old. And you can no longer be the carefree/irresponsible person (which is me).

Anna Karenina 21 or 101, RS will always be the epitome of pure awesome.

Tolstoy never said a truer sentence. - RS



   

 

home | The Daily Star Home

2012 The Daily Star