Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home



twelve and sixteen…
are they different anymore?

“When I was your age my pants were never slipping off my waist you know. Girls just don't know how to dress decently these days…they are just so paka…" blah blah blah…I'm always hearing these kinds of things from the nagging aunties who seem to have an opinion on everything. I never pay attention as I feel the conversation is always directed to people at my age. I soon realised that I had been wrong…we were not the paka ones.

A few days ago I went out to have ice cream with some of my friends. As it was nothing formal I decided that it wouldn't matter if I wore my jeans that swept the floor and my t-shirt that was too big for me. There were some kids there. The girls were in full makeup, starting from eye shadow to blush and they were sitting on their boyfriends' laps. Hey I'm not the one to judge, kids can do whatever they please and I know well enough that I'd never want to be lectured on what I wear or who I'm seen with when I'm out. But these kids couldn't have been older than thirteen. I turned back to my friends and said "When we were that age, we never dressed like that did we?" Suddenly I had aged another twenty years. I couldn't believe that I had just said that. I was officially a part of the nagging aunties club.

I suddenly started noticing that pakami was going on all around me. At school too. We only have till the 10th grade, and as I look at the kids in the lower age groups, I realise that the kids seem to get worse. Up till the 8th grade, most boys in my class were afraid to sit next to girls or even talk to them, let alone have boyfriends or girlfriends. Now in my school I hear stories of how girls in the 7th grade have boyfriends who are eighteen or nineteen.

I was sitting in a beauty parlour waiting for someone to come cut my hair when I noticed this girl sitting next to me. She had a green facial mask on her face, foil in her hair, someone was giving her a manicure on her left hand while her right arm was getting waxed. Sure she'd look beautiful in the end but how old was she anyway? My curiosity aroused, I asked one of the women working in the parlour. She told me that the girl was 11 years old and she came regularly every alternative Saturday to get something or the other done to her hair, some part of her body waxed and her eyebrows shaped. At eleven, are all those things really necessary?

And it's not just the girls. Boys are also becoming way too paka. I went to this concert once and I was standing around with some friends when this boy asked me whether I'd like a cigarette. This kid was no older than twelve and he was fat and round and incredibly adorable, like a baby. He held a full pack of cigarettes and he was offering them to anyone who was interested. I decided to play along and asked him if he had been smoking for long and he said, "Oh I've been smoking for a year and now I'm totally addicted." I watched him smoke, he never inhaled the smoke properly. I laughed…but I also felt kind of sad to think that these kids would need to pretend to be something they are not, just so others would think they are cool. Along with the smoking, there is the unnecessary swearing, under aged driving, wearing clothes that features some more unnecessary swearing, and I could go on and on...

Where are the parents? Do they not see the changes in their children? Of course parents can't always control what their children might be doing when they are not being chaperoned, but still they should have some idea of what going on. There are also some parents who really encourage some of these things. Like mothers and daughters going to parlours together and getting matching manicures and pedicures.

So how come younger kids these days are not like what we used to be when we were that age? I'm only just sixteen. Could times have changed so drastically in the past four years? Kids nowadays are almost exactly like how we are right now. They wear the same type of clothes, wear the same amount of make up, and use the same lingo. So are these kids just mimicking what they see in the boro bhaiyas and apus? Are we setting a bad example? Also, if I at sixteen feel it a need to comment, what are the nagging aunties saying? WHERE HAS ALL THE INNOCENCE GONE?! Where are the Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes? Is it not okay to be child at twelve anymore? I feel old. At sixteen, I have joined the nagging aunties club where I am commenting on the behaviour of kids younger than me. Now, if I feel old at sixteen, there has to be something wrong with the world.

By Preeti

Book review

Digital fortress

Dan Brown may have catapulted to superstardom with his critically acclaimed The Da Vinci Code, but his earlier books are by no means any less sensational.

Digital Fortress takes you into the fast-paced world of cyber nerds and code-breakers, where a passkey isn't just something that prevents other people from snooping into your mail: it's a matter of national security.

Those who have already read some of Brown's later works will notice a pattern. There's your academic sucked into a fast-paced deadly plot, a sinister assassin hell-bent on destruction, a secret organization holding a few surprises up its sleeves, and of course, loads of mind-boggling puzzles to solve along the way.

Susan Fletcher is the head cryptologist for the National Security Agency (NSA). Her plans for a romantic getaway with her fiancé, the handsome young linguistics professor David Becker, are put on hold when she gets an urgent summons to her work. An ex-crypto from the NSA has developed an unbreakable code, called the Digital Fortress. If this is sold to the public will cripple the US government's counter-intelligence programme, and he is using it to blackmail the NSA. Unfortunately for the NSA, things go terribly awry when Tankoda, the creator of the Digital Fortress, dies of a fatal heart attack. This is the signal for his mysterious partner, 'North Dakota' to go public with the passkey to the code.

An unsuspecting David Becker is dispatched on a seemingly innocuous mission to Spain to try and retrieve the passkey, and the whole thing develops into a heart-stopping race to get the passkey. Will N. Dakota beat the NSA to it? You read and find out, but prepare to expect the unexpected.

A gripping page-turner if ever there was one, this is definitely a book to look out for. It should cost around Tk 600 at the major bookstores, and a lot less on the streets, but beware of the pirated versions; a misprint or missing pages right in the middle of twist can prove detrimental to your reading pleasure.

The RS Readers Forum invites your thoughts and theories on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and on the Harry Potter story line as a whole. Mail them to teteatete_tgnd@yahoo.com or rs.readers@gmail.com . The coolest theories will be printed in a special issue at the end of the month.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Snapshots from Toronto

Every time I'm in Toronto I discover new things. And that's no big surprise because I visit Toronto, or rather my friend Trisha, who lives in Toronto, twice a year. In my three visits in the last eighteen months I've come to realize a few things. For one, Toronto probably has the saddest weather ever. It is perpetually cold all the time and even worse, grey. I mean it would have been a beautiful city had there been sunshine. But even the air smells and feels grey. Another thing I discovered is that Toronto is a lot like Singapore. If you stay there for a week, you've seen everything. Personally I think the Canadian National Tower is a bit overrated and Fort York seems to have been assembled at the Lego factory. What makes Toronto special are the things which aren't on the Tourist Guide.

Meeting the Addict…
Trisha and I discovered the Addict when we decided to step down from the streetcar one stop before China Town. As we wandered around we discovered a bustling side street that sported the name Kensington Market. It turned out to be a mishmash of Portuguese and Japanese market with a few Jamaican twists thrown in. And it is here in Kensington Market, that we discovered the Addict. No it's not a person. It's a shop called the Chocolate Addict. It's a chocolate boutique- the ultimate dream-come-true of any Chocolat fan. One wouldn't be surprised when they saw the two us stepping out of the shop with blissful smiles on our face. That night we were definitely having chocolate.

An old orange sofa…
It was on our second trip to Kensington Market when we discovered Shai's. It was a café right across from the Addict. That afternoon it was snowing and the warm orange paint and sheltering awning beckoned to us. As we walked in I had a flashback of the set of Central Perk in Friends. There were window stools with the view of the street and more importantly a comfortable old, orange sofa. Like most things in Toronto we expected the café to be a rip off. But it wasn't. My fifty cents toffee cookie and Trisha's dollar fifty cuppa coffee was definitely a welcome respite after the cold outside. Shai's was definitely on our list for my next visit.

Of witches and wizardry…
On my second trip to Toronto during Thanksgiving, we decided to visit the beach. The beach was actually the lakefront of Lake Ontario. As we got down from the streetcar I felt like I had come to a different country all together. Gone were the contemporary high rises of the metro. In their place stop wooden beach shops and antique cafes. The air smelled of sand, grilled sandwiches and freshly baked muffins. As we walked down the street I spotted a shop called the Wicca Shoppe. You know me. I just had to go in! The shop smelled of burning incense and sold everything needed in the art of witchcraft and wizardry. It also had small curses displayed all around that warned shop lifters of impending doom were they to act. Trisha was perfectly composed till I shrieked and scared the bejesus out of her. On investigating she discovered a massive dog sleeping inside the shop. I had almost stepped on its tail and toppled over. It wasn't that I was scared of dogs. But this one was simply HUGE!

Trisha and I always laugh about one thing. All the places we discovered are perfect for a little romance and a lot of dating. Yet I always managed to discover them with her. It was a sure sign that my love life is doomed. But if you happen to visit Toronto do check out these places. And if you like them, well then, the next time I'll tell you all about She said boom, Eat more Amato and captive mermaid!

By Tahiat-e-Mahboob

A tear drop

Look deeper into the darker portion and you will see a lucid reflection of yourself. Focus into the tantalizing pupil and when your own sight disturbs you beyond capacity, a layer of droplets will humid around the pure dark linking to the white which is branched with delicate veins.

When the eyelids shut and the lashes intertwine, the concentration within will be at the verge of overloading thus the strips of hair semi-circled around each other will damp. The foundation of wetness will build up to a point where a crystal clear ball of the purest life, shaped like the perfect rain drop, will simply hang off the tip of the end lash waiting. Waiting for a little more weight to finally lose strength and crash to the nearest membrane.

Sliding and descending across the highs and lows, you may think you have predicted its ultimate destination where the finale would be the materialist lands, but somehow this very drop of human mist gently fools you and instead of running towards the dimple, it sometimes diverts and slips into the cracks of your lips. The self-made salty fusion carried with the flow may taste bitter sweet, perhaps even reflecting your inner emotions, but somehow right there and then, you won't even care.

A Path commenced by one teardrop may be the definite journey of the rest that follows. However, the weariness within will slowly pressurise stress around your leaf shaped eyes. This aching, at a snail's pace, will crawl around the forehead and work its way around the veins making you drowsy but too drowsy. You may end up feeling too weak to move physically. You may feel too frail to even go to sleep. You may feel too fragile to think about the real cause of this unforgiving progression. Then when time passes without concern, you will feel too feeble to even cry.

By Shayera Moula


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2005 The Daily Star