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By Tahiyat-e-Mahboob

As I sat in a rocking chair next to friend's bed I looked at her face that had a look of awe on it. "Lucky you," she said, "I wish I could have been there." I looked at her chicken pox infested face and for a second I had this overwhelming urge to spill out the truth but the urge passed almost instantly. The "there" she was referring to was Uttara Club and I was "lucky" because I had gone to see three Indian Idols perform live. Now before the rest of you start "oohing" and "aahing", trust me I would have much rather stayed back home to watch a very crucial episode of One Tree Hill. But alas I chose to take my Mom to the Indian Idol concert rather than listening to the better side of my brain.
I know a lot of you ladies are saying "Shukhe thakle bhoote kilay" having read so far but believe me it wasn't a big deal. I mean after watching Simon Cowell on live TV each Monday tearing contestants to pieces with his remarks, seeing Anu Malik praising shaky singers like Amit Sana was literally mundane. I thought music directors knew better but then again, it's tune-thief Anu Malik we're talking about.
Anyways I went because my Mom wanted to see a live performance. I went because I wanted to see how these "Idols" sounded without fine-tuning. And honestly they sounded great. But what wasn't so great was the obnoxious behaviour of a lot of the people who attended.
We arrived an hour before the show to get seats. And we saw that in true Deshi style one or two people were laying claim to entire rows of seats. One call to the organizer and that dilemma was solved. But what persisted was the rude mutterings of the girl sitting next to me who was upset because she had lost two of the 15 seats she and her brother had laid claim to. It amazed me to see the level to which people would stoop.
Anyways, turning a deaf ear to the rude girl's rude muttering I continued to read the book I had brought along while waiting for the performers. Once again in true Deshi style some dolt exclaimed that the singers were on their way and like lightning people got to their feet or onto their chairs to watch. As I continued sitting and reading surrounded by fourteen hundred and ninety-nine people, I became the recipient of glares and glowers. It was as if I was not paying respect to the Lord by remaining seated. Well this ovation was a waste of energy because it was a false alarm.
But an hour from when the show was suppose to start, when the singers did arrive I began feeling like I was trapped in a psychiatric facility. It was total mayhem. Girls were screaming, "Abhijeet, Rahul marry me!" Boys were screaming "Prajakta marry me!" And even elders were screaming "Abhijeet/Rahul/Prajakta marry my daughter/son!"
But it didn't end there. As the performance began people went insane, left their seats and began doing something that you could very loosely describe as "dancing". It reminded me of the scene out of mean girls were Lohan imagines she's trapped in a corridor full of people behaving like monkeys. Now it's ok, even normal, for people in my age group or younger to act like monkeys occasionally.
But what about old balding men or even the organizer's spouse? I mean the poor organizer was getting on stage after every song and asking people to sit down. But who would listen when they saw the spouse breaking all the rules?
Two hours into the concert I started feeling a little sleepy. My brain had adapted to the audiences chant and it almost sounded like one big drone. Hence I put some balls of tissue in my ears while trying not to look at my watch every two seconds. Finally the concert was over. When I looked at the three singers one last time wondering how is it that they could reduce people to such lunacy, I realized to my comic horror that five girls had grabbed onto to Abhijeet's hair as he leaned over the stage and were pulling his face towards them. The rest, I'm sure you can clearly understand.
"Hey, tell me all about it," said my friend breaking through my reverie. Thinking about what I should tell her I realized it had been a good concert performance wise. It would have been perfect, had it not, in true Deshi style been spoiled by the idiosyncratic behaviour of the audience. But as I looked at my friend's expectant face I decided not to burst her bubble in true Tahiat style. And so I began, "Prajakta was wearing…"

The back of the canvas

By Risana Nahreen Malik

I was wandering around the art gallery of the national museum. After taking a glance at the 'Zainul Abedin' section, I entered the 'Contemporary Art' section hoping to find something more interesting. There was indeed a wider range of pictures some of still life, some of landscapes, some abstracts but none were particularly appealing. Most of them were quite small. However at the end of the room there was a picture much larger than the rest turned to face the wall. I was bewildered; why would the museum administration just leave a picture turned towards the wall, especially such a large and noticeable one? The name tab was of no use; all it said was 'Composition.' however, some thing caught my eye and, upon closer inspection, I realized that I was looking at the picture! The artist had painted the back of a framed canvas. Now this was interesting. The picture looked so real, right down to the 'shadow' that the 'wire' appeared to form on the 'canvas.' I concluded that seeing that picture was the most memorable part of the trip.
I do not doubt that some people might think that painting the back of a canvas is pointless and a waste of paint, canvas and energy. Yet, I strongly disagree. Far from being a waste of resources, it could bring a number of matters to one's attention. Human beings are shallow by nature. We are usually too busy admiring the painting on the front of the canvas and do not care about turning it over or examining it from all sides to understand it properly. Sometimes its meaning is blatantly noticeable but more often it is unpredictable and discreet.
I am not an expert of art in any form, but I do know this: Art means expression and expression varies among people.
The reason is not a good or a bad one; it just is. Because in the world of art everything depends on the perspective of the artist and no one can contradict his opinions. That is what makes art so complex. Not even the most learned and experienced of critics and researchers would be able to decipher the meanings and themes of Leonardo da Vinci's works. He had a unique mind and only he would have known what his paintings truly were.
I realize now that every thing has its own beauty and significance. The last leaf of autumn could mean resignation or fulfillment, or the first blossom of spring could symbolize hope or triumph. The world is full of such symbolisms that can mean anything to anybody for any reason. That is why the message conveyed by all true artists is 'Look harder. Things are not always what they seem.' Yet the fact that I had to stare at a painting of the back of a canvas to realize this still amazes me.


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