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Friend, really?

I sometimes feel that I have too many friends but too few 'true' friends.

Facebook has given me more 'friends' than I will ever need in a lifetime.

The word 'friend' has always carried a very special meaning for me. So growing up, when people asked me to name my friends, I could never name more than five or six. A look at my friends list will therefore take people by surprise -- some 380 plus names already grace the list!

380 is not too large a number if compared to those who have a couple of thousand friends on their lists. Their list could as well be called a fan page because my human mind cannot grasp the idea of one person having 2,000 'friends.'

As said earlier, the word 'friend' has always carried a very special meaning for me. But today, anyone and everyone can be a friend. Your boss, a former colleague, a guy who you took just one class with in college, a girl to whom you hardly spoke in class, a friend's friend, a former classmate's ex-boyfriend... the list goes on.

The unbridled use of the word 'friend' worries me, not as much for myself as for the new generation. While we grew up with a handful of friends, today's children are growing up with hundreds of friends -- not physical but virtual friends. Many of them probably will never know that a friend is a very special person, a person you can confide in, on whose shoulders you can rest and pour your heart out, who will listen to your jibber-jabber but won't make a face and who will go out of his or her way to help you out.

How many 'friends' on my Facebook account will ever be that kind of a friend? Not more than five or six of them, which makes me go back to square one.

Any Facebook friend reading this might feel offended enough to 'unfriend' me. But is this the norm of today to define the words friend and friendship? I have more than a hundred 'friends' with whom I have not exchanged a “Hello” in more than a year, who do not know what I am up to (not that I know what they are doing these days), who do not remember my birthday, who do not send me happy messages on my achievements or notes of consolation at my times of distress.

There are also people on my list whom I have never met face-to-face. But is such a person still a friend? Really? How? He or she can be an acquaintance but a friend? Oh no! But oh yes, if you frequent the labyrinth of the largest social networking site; Facebook is a most amazing invention, I have not the guts to deny that. It is how we are using Facebook and how it is changing the way we once used certain words and treated certain relationships that have me tensed.

How can I possibly call a person a friend when I have not even talked with him or her in eons, and I probably will not in the near future?

My friends list is increasing monthly. I now have more friends than I had a month ago. I get friend requests from people no one in my family and friends circle has ever heard of. Random people want to befriend me. Making friends is becoming that easy.

Becoming a new friend is now only a click away.

Where have the days gone when friends would fight and still remain friends; exchange not just a superficial hello but everything that is taking place in one's world; cry a river of tears upon hearing that a friend is leaving for abroad and that you will not meet in a couple of years?

Becoming friends is not that easy. No matter how hard the social networking sites try to change the use of the word 'friend,' some stubborn people like me will probably never buy it.

By Wara Karim


When to mind your own business

At a family dinner, your six-year-old cousin stuffs food in his pockets and his three-year-old brother smears cream on your face. You are awfully irritated and it seems that your aunt and uncle must be raising a bunch of barbarians. Should you set them straight?

At the University, your best friend is nominated as the leader of the group and when she is working endless hours completing the group assignment, the rest of the members are partying. Should you advise her to delegate the group work among her members or would you think that it's best that she work in her own usual way?

While on your way you hear a couple quarrelling and arguing about how to find a location and you seem to perfectly know the way, would you offer a direction?

Soon or later, even the meekest among us feels an urge to meddle. But many people don't really want free advice or words of wisdom even when asked for it. Does this mean we should resist our impulse to intervene and offer genuine help? Usually, the wisest among us think twice before uttering but most of the times just before your brain starts working you find your mouth in motion.

Every such situation demands careful thought and judgement; these guidelines can help you decide when to butt in and when to back off.

First, do no harm
One should only poke his/her nose in someone else's matter when the situation demands his or her involvement. It means your intervention should only do good to that person and not backfire and complicate the situation further. So it is always a good idea to knock before entering another person's psyche.

Be sensitive not superior
People should be approached sensitively since many of us don't like having others assume that we are ignorant or don't possess the particular knowledge. Take the “lost couple” example for instance, what if one of them feels offended that a complete stranger comes from nowhere and gives direction. Giving advice is a one up and one down situation. To be effective one should choose one's timing so as not to embarrass the listener.

“Advice should be sandwiched”
This is effective when advising your near ones. Give a person a compliment, make your comment and give another compliment so you can squeeze your messages in between two bits of politeness.

Keep emotion in check
Just because your cousin irritates you doesn't give you the right to comment. You might not like the way your aunt is raising her children but that is their business, not yours to correct them. However if they are at your place you do have the right to say, “I don't want my place to be dirty.” Be as affectionate as possible but if they happen to disrespect their seniors you should speak up.

Moral issues
Sometimes it is best to give advice by citing the adverse outcomes of one's actions, such as when your best friend is doing all the work you can perhaps make him/her understand how this uncalled for kindness can be a huge load on her and deteriorates the quality of the work or how the dormant partner will never learn to work.

The rest of the members can be ushered to contribute their part by saying how if they had not participated they are losing their opportunity to gain knowledge in the future. We should always remember that we can only advise but not coerce a person to change their decision.

Intervene only when you are fully aware of the situation
The most ideal time to interfere is when you know what has happened and you have the perfect remedy. This is the case when a very complicating and painful situation arises surrounding the person you are to advise and hence needs to be handled with sensibility. However, one should always remember that the advice should be brief, to the point and avoid any sort of backbiting and uncalled for flattering to make the other person feel good.

And last but not the least, offer your precious advice on those rare occasions when it may indeed be needed and heeded.

By Tasneem Tarannum


Compromise and sacrifice

She drags her painful cage out of the bed to start the busy day at an unearthly hour. 5 am.

Restless eyes are quite opposite to the benumbed body, which doesn't allow her to lift it from the bed but eyes are sleepless as she has a lot to do. Sometimes she thinks and tries to find a reason why she is dragging life, instead of leading it. What is it for and where is the destination?

Although she doesn't know the ultimate goal, she doesn't expect much even as expectation brings pangs in case of failure. At this age she is experienced enough regarding compromise and flexible enough to sacrifice. Compromise and sacrifice, these words are not new and unfamiliar to her and others like her. It is quite a natural phenomenon where they are scapegoats at the altar of sacrificial offerings.

Her first teenage love was washed away by the flood of tears. By this time she is pretty much familiar with the word sacrifice as she had to do the same for the sake of others. With this sacrificial offering opens the era of compromise.

Husband, family, in-laws -- these are the synonyms of compromise. If someone is not generous enough to do it then miseries and despair entangle them and dig out the core of their souls. As she moves forward to see the earth, to breathe out, to feel the freedom, to find her economic independence, she is again cast in another net of employer.

There she meets the curious eyes roaming around to get a grasp of her thought. She is scolded by her boss for any trifling matter to stamp the evidence of her superiority complex. Here she gets a clearer idea of compromise without any logic on her part. Already, she passed two steps -- parental and conjugal where she already had countless compromises and sacrifices.

One more step yet to be experienced and she is uncertain about that which destiny has in store for her at the hand of her offspring, her last hope and dream. The rest of her life-juice yet to be squeezed out by the harsh reality.

She moves forward and turns back, she shrinks inside and opens up, cries in a moment and laughs the next. Sometimes, she feels happy and contented because now she can sacrifice a lot and knows how to compromise. At first she sacrificed because she was a daughter, then she did it as she was a wife and finally she does it because she is a mother.

By Farhana Afroz


To straighten your wobbly lipstick

It is a pity how broken lipsticks have been a reason for heartbreak in most of our lives. For us to amass the pieces of our heart, we have tried many a gimmick, only to our dismay. But there is one proven way which can help us extend the longevity of our beloved lip stains. Try holding a lighted match or a lighter under the broken ends of a lipstick until they melt enough to adhere to each other. Once stable, refrigerate to set the shape, and your lipstick will be back to faultless.


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