Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, December 18, 2003





Cyber affair

By Suravi

Few days ago one of my friend invited me in a party to celebrate her successful cyber affair. She and her friend were also getting married within a few months. At that party we discovered that one of my other friend was also in the midway of a cyber affair. Though he has met the girl few months ago, he is already feeling that she is the one of his dreams. They were cyber friends for quite a long time, may be two and half years. Recently, they met and they are now dating with full energy. Though they haven't yet expressed their love to each other, but sometimes silence also talks. He is sure that she loves him and he is waiting for the Valentines Day to express his love.

We are eight in our group and two of them have already got their life partner through net! I had heard about this kind of successful affairs before but couldn't understand how can it be possible. It sounds so ridiculous. But seeing these happy couples suddenly one question arises in my mind- is this a new trend or a blessing of modern science, why is it gaining popularity among the new generations?

I guess in our isolated modern life we guys have become so busy that we can't communicate with the society and our relatives properly. So to fulfill the social needs we are searching for a new way to create relations. I believe friendship is one of the most popular and valuable relations in this world. The Internet has given us the opportunity to create this relation without binding us within the geographical limit and language. Nowadays most of us have two kinds of friends.

One category is the people whom we meet in our school, college, varsity or any other working place and make our friends. Another category is the people with whom we meet in the cyber world. The process of making any kind of friends is the same- proper understanding, feeling for each other, love and care. While exchanging mails or chatting through the IRC we share our feelings, happiness and pain. Thus these unknown people become a part of our life.

This relation becomes stronger when we meet each other and communicate in the real world. While communicating some lucky guys find their life partners and the rest is a FUTURE. I have addressed it as "future" because, I still don't know whether they lead a successful and happy married life or not. I hope they do or will do. (Cross your fingers).

However the question remains- should we try this process? As it's a gift of modern technology I think (I'm not suggesting you do this, it's just my point of view), at least we can try it. But if you start making friends with the intention of searching a life partner, you would never find a perfect one. Cause with this in mind that you have to choose one as your partner you would never find a real friend who will understand you and your feelings.

So, search for friends through net, not life partner. There would come a time when you will feel some special feelings for someone among many of your cyber friends and if you are certain that it's LOVE then go ahead. But think hundred times before getting involved in any sensitive relation. You shouldn't believe everything blindly that your cyber friends say. Because in this world everyone tries to be more sensible, smart and impressive than they really are. And remember, there are also cheats, bad guys waiting here to trap you. So be very careful before getting involved with cyber friends in the real world.

Grandparents: our treasures

Imagine one day you wake up, sleepy-eyed, walk like a zombie to your bathroom. You're brushing your teeth, still not fully awake when suddenly you catch your reflection on the mirror. A face, your face, stares back at you. Your skin has a thousand creases, the forehead is lined with age, the face is sagging, your hair is gray and your vision isn't too clear either.

Now imagine living your life like a useless piece of furniture, occupying space in a house, but never being cared for or looked after. You're clothed and fed but the acts bear resemblance to a busy housekeeper dusting an oak cupboard. You feel just that much significant and your son is more enthusiastic about giving his brand new Jaguar a car wash that he is interested in asking you how you are feeling.

The thought of this scenario ever being a part of my life scares me and it is only my imagination. For millions of people in this world, the picture just described is part of a tragic reality and they have to live in silence everyday, accepting the cruelty that Life inflicts upon them.

I am talking about out grandparents, the people whose presence in our lives are hardly ever appreciated to the extent that it deserves to be.

Many of us have not been blessed with the opportunity of spending time with our grandparents. My paternal grandfather (Dada) had passed away long before I was born and I regret not being given the chance to get to know him. From the pictures that I have seen of him, he was a very handsome man and from what I have heard from my Dadu (my paternal grandmother), he was very fond of a song which happens to be one of my favourite Bengali songs. He also wrote two books and I sometimes wonder what his reaction would be to the fact that his youngest granddaughter writes as well and dreams of being an accomplished writer one day. I am sure he would have been proud of my published articles, may be prouder than the other members of my family. I have always felt that we would have gotten along very well if we knew each other.

Then there was my maternal grandfather, my Nana, who passed away when I was only eight years old. He was one of the best looking men I have seen in person, looking regal with his fair complexion and impressive height. He would take my mother and her siblings to the rooftop when they were young and show them the stars in the sky, enlightening them upon their names. Genes are truly miraculous things for how surprising it is that I should have a curiosity for the stars and the other celestial bodies in space. How I wish I could share the marvelous experience of learning the names of the stars from my Nana. At that early an age, I did not have the maturity to understand how precious he was to me, nor could I fathom that grandparents do not last forever. Besides, he was suffering from severe diabetes and was very ill. Yet, eight years after he had passed away, I still have memories of a man whose age could not fade his innate regality and elegance.

My paternal grandmother (Dadu) is probably the only one with whom I have been able to spend time with. To describe my relationship with her would require an entire book to be written. She is so eccentric, so vibrant and energetic even at the venerable age of seventy. I can be most frank with her, tease her, joke with her, speak with her in my pathetic Hindi, and even fight with her. In fact, I resemble her in character and appearance so much that everyone in the family says I am exactly like her.

My maternal grandmother (Nanu) on the other hand is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I rarely get to see her, much to my own fault and laziness but when I do meet her, she cannot recognize my mother or me. How painful that must be for her or her children, I can imagine but will probably never fully understand. I admire her for the way she has brought up my mother and her six siblings_ for it must have been a very difficult job to rear that many children but yet, she had done it amazingly well.

When we were kids, our grandparents used to tell us stories, which we found fascinating. They are there to make us our favourite "achaars" (pickles), give us their blessings when we ask them to pray for us during our exams. They'd give us new crisp notes when we "salaam" them on Eid days. They'd tell us not to wear jeans that are too tight or want the remote control just when Roswell is about to start. They'd proudly introduce us to their acquaintances as their grandchildren in such a way that makes us feel like we are stars by simply being ourselves. Each of us may share different kinds of relationships with our grandparents but one truth that can be more or less generalized about our generation is that, we really do not give them the love, respect and appreciation that they deserve.

One sad thing that is often seen in families is that when our parents face problems with our grandparents (resulting is bitter quarrels and temporary, mutual or one-sided dislike), we ourselves become distant from them, boycotting them from our lives. This, though may be natural (since all of us stick to our parents' side in situations like those) is in fact something very wrong that we do. What happens between our parents and our grandparents is their personal matter and it shouldn't influence the way we treat them (even if pretending that everything is all right may make one feel awkward in the beginning). I believe family feuds do not change the way our grandparents look at us or alter the unconditional love that they feel for us in any way. Except in the most tragic cases, the issues are usually resolved between our parents and our grandparents before it's too late. Meanwhile, the hurt that we may deliberately or inadvertently cause them is simply unnecessary, irreverent and most painful.

There is a lot that we have to learn from them. I mean, how many of us have been able to go through sixteen years of our lives, without at least once, wanting to give everything up and surrender? Whereas, our grandparents have lived through wars, revolutions, personal turmoil, natural disasters, been crippled by the cruel forces that govern the world and yet survived. They are living evidence of Life as an eternal energy that is never destroyed but which is simply transferred from one being to another and that must be conserved. They are here to tell their tales, but we never do ask them or are patient enough to listen to what they have to say. They may have lived during different times, times to which we may not be able to relate entirely, but their acquired wisdom through years of experience is to be treasured, for there is so much that we can learn from them.

It is essential to remember that we are nothing if we are not aware of where we come from, what there is behind us. If we are not aware of our roots and the strength of our roots, we can be easily uprooted. If we do not know about our history, our present and the future can be easily wiped away. And it is also important to remember that history repeats itself, that one day, the youth that we are basking in today, will filter away from this body and in a shriveled, hunched cage will be trapped a soul that would yearn to be young again. If we do not love our grandparents, our children will not love our parents and our grandchildren will never love us for it is a universal truth that we get what we give.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to still have them here with us in this world, we can try appreciate them a little more, remembering that one day we will lose them and won't be able to have them back. One day, we too, shall be in their shoes; we might be required to be as brave as they are in battling life-threatening diseases and the agony of solitude. If we, their grandchildren, do not let them know how much we love them, they may spend their remaining days feeling unloved and unwanted. Keeping all that in mind, we can pay them a visit today or tomorrow or simply give them a call right now. We really have no idea how happy we can make them feel by such a simple act of kindness.



Dogs Have Personalities

By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Confirming dog owner suspicions, a new study reveals that dogs have personalities, and that these character traits can be identified as accurately as similar personality attributes in humans.

The paper, published in the current Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is the first cross-species personality study between a human and another animal. Dogs (Canis familiaris) were chosen because of their wide availability, the fact that they safely and naturally exhibit a wide variety of behaviors, are understood well by many humans, and can travel to research sites with ease.

Experts, however, suspect that many other animals also possess unique personalities.

The dog research consisted of three studies. For the first, 78 dog owners were recruited from dog parks to evaluate both themselves and their dogs using criteria common to human personality studies: extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness.

After the three tests, Samuel Gosling, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, and his colleagues determined that the judgments made for the dog personalities were as accurate as those made for the human personalities.

Gosling believes that more than half a human or non-human's personality is inherited. The remaining percentage is formed by upbringing, events in life, and learning from chance happenings in the environment. As a result, animal studies could help to address some long-standing issues in human personality research.

"This includes such issues as understanding the social, biological, and genetic bases of personality and understanding how personality develops," explained Gosling.

Gosling has performed other studies that validate the myth that pet owners share similar personality traits with their pets.

"If my dog needs taking for two walks a day, I will become more active," Gosling told Discovery News. "If I insist on cuddling my dog every evening, it will probably learn to
be more affectionate."

He added, "Certain characteristics are associated with certain breeds, so I can use these associations to make public statements to others. For example, if I want to convey a tough image, I will buy a rottweiller rather than a teacup terrier."

David Funder, professor and chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Riverside, agrees that animals have personalities, something that "every pet owner knows."

Funder, however, was "surprised and impressed that Dr. Gosling was able to come up with ingenious methods to demonstrate and measure animal personality."

James King, professor of psychology at the University of Arizona and an expert on primates, said that research on chimpanzees and orangutans appears to support Gosling's work, which King described as "elegant and well-executed."

King said, "Tool using, culture, and language have recently been shown to not be uniquely human. Now, we are seeing that our personality and personality dimensions are also not uniquely human, but shared with non-human primates and even dogs."


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