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By Tareq Adnan

The following article will not adhere to the Aristotelian unities. It will not be a Socratic musing wherein the writer digs deep into his soul to find answers. It will not be a play pretending to be a Dionysian tragedy. It will not cunningly refer to Faust. Romeo won't die and Shylock will punch Portia in the face. Space aliens won't systematically beam the answers to complex theoretical physics straight into our conscious from deep within the ether to mess with us. In other words, nothing that follows convention or is considered “literary”. Hell, it won't even be a groundbreaking, genre defying/defining piece of alternative art.

It won't be some sort of monomyth.

Yeah. Things have changed. I wash my own socks now. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club plays in the background. Something about being all alone. I find the song embarrassing; it's a little too emotional. I feel guilty listening to it and I feel like I'm somehow betraying the identity I've so carefully crafted. But I still listen to it; I find it soothing. The lyrics are cheesy but the thing about cheesy lyrics is that they represent the truth so completely that the denial part of our brain kicks in and decides to go all 'tsk tsk'. We can't possibly be listening to this - this is crass, this is clichéd, this is tripe. We must listen to something more original, something transcendental, something that is aesthetic. Screw aesthetics. I could listen to trip wave right now, I could listen to some avant-garde band that samples Dante into its lyrics, but seriously, none of us has seen the inside of Tartarus so what's the point? The Divine Comedy isn't even funny, but when asked, I'll tell you it's the best thing to happen to literature since Enid Blyton made animals talk. Yes, I'm well aware of the anachronism.

I learned four new words today. Ghettoisation. Well, would you look at that? MS Word, thou art deficient. I want to really explain what ghettoisation means and how I came to learn of it but really, I know it would be pretentious. Okay, on to the other word. Hamartia. It doesn't sound English but then pyjamas are basically Bangla so yeah. Contemporaneity. Look, MS Word's catching up now. I have no idea what that thing means; I can take an educated guess but it's good to know Word's on my side. Abecedarian. I don't even know in what possible circumstance, in what possible universe, anyone would ever feel the need to describe something as abecedarian.

But a few things have changed. I cook my own food. I routinely mop the floor in my room. I fold my clothes and sometimes get pissed off when I find a shirt creased. Things have changed. Random thoughts bounce around my head and I keep thinking I could be doing something so much more productive if only these domestic needs were not there.

I have new fears too. I fear rent. I fear light bills and heat bills. I've become very adept at multiplying small numbers with larger ones. The exchange rate seems to be a streaming, constant flow of interchangeable numbers in my head, delightfully, frightfully accurate, every time I even think about spending a dollar.

What hasn't changed is that I don't feel special. I don't feel like I've done something, anything worth noting. My parents speak to me like they're proud, I see emails from relatives who I didn't know were still alive and they tell me they're so proud. I haven't figured out why. They seem to think studying abroad is special. It's not.

The very first thing an international student here learns is that we are unimportant. Oh yes. The attention we are subjected to before we leave gives us a false sense of superiority, as if we've achieved something monumental. We haven't. Once you get into that international student's orientation you realise you're a speck of dust on the windowsill, there for those who care but otherwise invisible. There are literally hundreds of 'you's of various hues from different parts of the world who have done the same thing you have done and most of them have done it slightly better.

I've tried to tell them that. I've tried to tell them of the kid who kept getting lost in the laundry room, in the cafeteria. To impress upon them just how hard I pay attention in class. How stilted my conversations are with other people. I want to show them how I stumbled through my first ever cooking session. I want them to see that there is no trace of that certainty that I had back in Bangladesh.

I won't come back all shiny and remade. All I'll have is a degree that proves I got a prescribed education. And yet, they smile at me. I can't seem to smile back. And that's just it. This little sojourn in the cold North will be just that. A simple trip.

There is not point gushing over a Pyrrhic victory now is there?

(da.phat.one@gmail.com)


Swansongs and superstitions

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

For the past month or so, my colleagues have had to restrain me from raging against the Pune Warriors selection board. And I say “restrain” with full knowledge that the incoherent yelling would've been fruitless. Subrata Roy or his son [owners of Sahara Group, which owns the Warriors], do not read RS.

However, the one time I did write down an article about Shakib, KKR faltered against Kings XI Punjab and Shakib was dropped. Much like Gambhir and his superstitious attachment to his pads, I have a thing against previews. It's silly, possibly audacious, to think one person can change fate. But even Einstein eventually came around to the idea of a dice being involved in the greater works of the universe.

But now the tournament is over and KKR have won and no one can deny that Shakib played his part. No matter how many times we say Shakib has nothing to prove, he has turned out to be, one way or another, the sole ambassador of Bangladesh in the league. Two man of the match awards, 12 wickets and three small but very important innings at the right times, one of them in the final; Shakib has done all that could be asked of him.

The same cannot be said of Sourav Ganguly. Hailed as the comeback king of cricket, Ganguly has always been a player that you could never write off. But age is starting to show on the man. In that last match against KKR, he looked like his team: coming off at the seams.

A contrast is Rahul Dravid, captain of the, once glorious, Rajasthan Royals. Widely criticised as a captain for his lack of assertiveness, Dravid remains one of the nicest guys in the game and justly he came to collect the award for fair play. Harsha Bhogle said he was like a rock star to the crowd and there was something very melancholy in Dravid's smiling reply, “I think the rock stars have won the competition tonight.”

In many ways, this is the swansong for the old horses of India. Dravid has retired, Sourav is crashing. Sachin hasn't fired for Mumbai as he would've liked to. IPL blatantly points out their failings and shortcomings. It also showcases the endless lines of talented players waiting to take their place. Cricket is fickle in its affections, especially T20.

But IPL is not about sorrow and goodbyes. It is about fun; sometimes bordering on the ridiculous and unfunny. But it had its moments of awe. Most of the awe had to do with a few West Indians. Dwayne Smith of Mumbai Indians hitting 14 of the last 3 to win a match, that too off Hilfenhaus - a success story of Chennai; Dwayne Bravo of CSK hitting a six over extra cover while almost falling over; Sunil Narine bamboozling Tendulkar and almost all of IPL with his knuckle ball [he got hammered in the finals]; all of them pale before one man, the modern T20 mercenary Chris Gayle.

You often hear about Sir Viv Richards casually chewing his gum with a nonchalant expression and butchering the bowling stats of the opposition. Old video footages perhaps don't do the carnage justice, but there is a certain peace about Gayle as he bats that I like to imagine stems from the West Indian heritage he shares with Sir Viv. The comparison ends there though.

While Richards refused blank-cheques to play in South Africa during the Apartheid, Gayle was hitting 13 sixes as West Indies floundered against the English pace battery thousands of miles away. One hopes the WICB and cricketers will see sense soon. This Windies team can still be great. How long will Chanderpaul hold the fort with brief bursts of brilliance from Samuels and his cohorts?

I meant this article to be funny, but somehow it came off a little sad. I wanted to perhaps dissect the Dhoni and Gambhir duality; compare the flair and final burst of CSK with the determined focus of KKR; talk about Morne Morkel and the stupidity of Delhi Daredevils; Shah Rukh's fisticuffs at Wankhede; Steyn's fire. I wanted to talk about Botha and Rahane's catch. But better writers and statisticians than me will be talking about it all over the internet. At the end of the day, I find myself asking, what will I remember this IPL for?

I'll remember it for the moments of doubt; the instances when the heart skipped a beat; the motionless intensity of my family as we sat and prayed. Because Shakib was playing, and while he may have paid his dues, the world refuses to.



 

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