Art and protests
It feels kind of awesome and reassuring to know that whatever else our shortcomings may be in this country creative expression is not one of them. We're swarming with talent here and the recently performed flash mob in the city is just another example of that.
Now flash mobs, as the name suggests, are energetic, fun and a pointless bit of exercise which usually leaves onlookers privately asking themselves 'What the hell just happened?' And that's exactly what people must have been asking themselves as 60 hyped up kids descended on Karwan Bazaar and did their own quirky routine of the web-sensation that is “Gangnam Style”. On paper, it sounds absolutely brilliant.
But the disappointing bit came afterwards, when the organisers branded the flash mob as a 'protest' against the control exerted by the government on the online mass media. As I read this last week, I thought it really took away much of the shine off what the flash mob stood for. Was there really a need to turn a spontaneous and brilliant bit of art like this into a propaganda tool, keeping in mind the reason the country is still reeling from the ban on YouTube? That one is a controversial issue at best and it can be safely said that linking the two together hardly does either one full justice. The reason for the 'protest' merits more than a South-Korean song making a satire of the upper social classes. And the flash mob deserves to be judged minus any reason behind it. The fun and sheer pointlessness of it all should be reason enough.
At the risk of sounding too serious myself about this, the protest or the cause of it left a lot of people scratching their heads in confusion when they really should have just been laughing at all of it. I'm sure not many people could have made the connection between the two without being told about it. So when people talk about 'Art in the Underground', we should really just talk about art for a change, the laughs and the excitement that go along with it. And when we politicise any form of art it definitely feels less creative and more about the propaganda. Hey, we are entitled to do silly, crazy and random fun things without needing to come across all 'deep and serious' all the time. Just my two-pence worth. Having said that, a big thumbs-up to the organisers for coming up with this in such a short time and having so much fun with it. Here's hoping there are more awesome things like this to come in the city. Oppa Gangnam Style!
There are questions which haunt a man at his weakest of moments; when he is so vulnerable, a little push might make him watch the Twilight movies. Is this all there is to life, is there a meaning behind all this, is the world really on the top of four elephants, would Pride and Prejudice still be as boring if it was written today in the age of duck faces and Facebook chats? And while we don't consider the first questions to be of any importance, we decided to bring you reviews of classic books written today. Here are a few must reads.
Phantom of the Opera
Christine is a high school student who likes to go shopping and uploads pictures of herself in Facebook like any other teenager. But there's more to her life than meets the eye. Who is that random stranger she added the other day? Why could she not resist accepting the request? And more importantly, why does he still use Opera as browser when Firefox and Chrome are out there? Read this captivating thriller to find out.
RS Times - A timeless masterpiece, will keep you glued to the pages. A brilliant story, worth its own stage adaptation.
Lord of the Files
He is just another common man trying to make his way in the world. Working a small time job at a government office, he goes by with his humble life. But wait, why are there so many files on his desk?
And why does his face light up every time he sees someone approaching him with an envelope? And where did the money for that new Mercedes come from?
The Guardians - The author takes us deep into the mindset of society. He mercilessly strips down the veneer of bureaucracy and shows us what the common man really is. Brilliant.
Crime and Punishment
This is their story, as they try to defend war crimes committed 40 years ago. This epic courtroom drama will leave you questioning your very integrity - the true story of the ideals that led them to think of themselves as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the messiah all at once.
Economystics - The non-fiction of the century. A dissection of the moral fibres of society. A brilliant account of the history that shaped the nation and the ones who opposed in the name of peace.
Snippets from Action:
By Sidrat Jabeen
Action: Mehndi Magic is one of those events that make CommunityAction speak louder than words. The idea is to split into teams, hit the streets and put mehndi on the hands of street kids and I participated last Eid.
Having followed the previous events closely, I knew there would be many moments that would touch my heart. However, I didn't expect the first moment to take place within 15 minutes of joining the team.
Suhana, one of my companions, and I were tending to a bunch outside a mosque at Dhanmondi 12/A. Suddenly this old beggar came up to us and asked very gently, “When will you put some mehndi on your hands?” While Suhana tried to assure him that we will once we are done with the kids, the old man kept reminding us that we ought to get some work done on our hands, too.
At one point, a mother insisted that we put mehndi on her sleeping kid. Several minutes after we were done, the adorable kid woke up and smudged all the mehndi over his cheek. During the hilarity, Suhana and I received too many 'get-married-to-a-good-guy' wishes from the mums, some of them wishing us a nice 'bideshi chhele!'
Later, a little one got me to write her name with the mehndi, came back in a while, and asked if I can write another. Surprised, I complied only to learn that her brother had gone to their 'desher bari' for Eid while she had to spend it here, so she wanted her brother's name on her hands. I mean, we all have siblings, but did we ever want to put up their names because we missed them?
An astonishing revelation at this event was that an unexpected amount of kids - I would say, the majority - could spell out what I wrote, even in English! My fellow Actioneers, Suhana and Faria, even got some to sing out 'a-b-c.' Hope shines eternal.
The story didn't end there. Shortly after I left the team, I ended up meeting few of the kids I had worked with, outside a mall. They smiled like we were buddies, and amidst a mob of beggars, one of them walked with me till I got inside my car.
I didn't get to see her after I got in, but as my car moved away I knew she was there, somewhere, still looking.
By Neeha Noireeta Hossain
8 yrs old, Class II Student of SFX Greenherald Int'l School
There was a boy named Rivom who had a sister named Mila. They loved each other very much. One day they were playing in the forest and they got lost and were very scared. Suddenly they saw an icy world with an ice cave. As they went into the cave, they saw a polar bear. The polar bear said, "Do not be scared of me.”
They took a step back and said, "What do you want?"
"I just want to be your friend,” said the polar bear.
They started to talk and soon became good friends. Suddenly a witch came and took hold of Rivom and Mila and flew off on her broom. They landed in a very strange place where window-glasses were made of wood, doors made of glass and there were people working for the witch. They cut wood to make the glass The witch told Mila in a very angry voice, "Go to the silver kitchen and cook food for me." Mila was scared. She looked at Rivom. Rivom said, "Go.” So Mila went to the kitchen, where everything was made of silver. The witch held out a rope to Rivom and said, "Hold this rope for me.” As Rivom took hold of the rope, the floor opened and he saw fire down in the hole. He screamed and grasped the rope tightly.
The polar bear was very worried and he searched for them everywhere. Then he came to the place Rivom and Mila was held by the witch. He heard Rivom's cry and saw him in the well where instead of water there was fire. He pulled at the rope. The witch saw this and she took up a torch to chase the polar bear. Mila was cooking food for the witch and she thought she would check what Rivom was doing. She ran out of the silver kitchen and saw that the polar bear was pulling a rope and the witch was running at him with a torch in her hand. Mila looked right and left and saw the broom which the witch used. She thought that all the power the witch has is in this broom. Mila took the broom and broke it. As soon as she did this the witch disappeared. The polar bear pulled up the rope and saved Rivom. Rivom was so scared that he fainted.
Someone in a soft voice said, "Rivom, get up." Rivom opened his eyes and hugged her mother and said, "I don't want to die.”
"What happened dear? Did you have a bad dream?"
Oh! That was a dream. He told everything to Mila and his father and mother. His father said, “So, do you want it to become true?” Rivom thought about it and decided that some parts of it was good and he would not mind having a friend like the polar bear.