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A 40-minute bus ride

We skipped two of our weekly meetings at the RS because of the bombings and the protests that ensued. Working conditions weren't favorable for some time. But the hustle and bustle and boom of Dhaka city just never fades. Even though my midterms were just around the corner and I was suppose to be on a study-leave I decided to attend this last meeting before my exams. Since it was winter and the weather was gentle I didn't mind taking the bus to the office. Typical in Dhaka, I waited for fifteen minutes and within this time a horde of other pedestrians joined me at the bus stop. When the bus came I hopped on. The double-decker was crammed with passengers in every seat in the lower deck. I went up the stairs hoping to find some seat in the upper deck. Must have been luck, there was only one seat left. I sat down beside the elderly person sitting there and sat silently.

The milieus within a bus weren't new to me. The first thing that will draw your attention is the cell-phone advertisements. They displayed the means to receive jokes and tips on love to your mobile. I tried the jokes once. They were anything but funny. And as far as hints for a love relation goes, if you take the suggested approach you are probably doing it the wrong way.

I glanced about at the people around me. Most of them were middle class and there were a few working class people. Most of the passengers were men with only a handful of ladies. It made me wonder why women are not allowed separate compartments. I have seen many females standing the whole ride and I even offered my own seat. But they feel uneasy to seat beside men. Knowing the average Bangali man I can't really blame them.

After a while I noticed that there was a couple in the seat behind mine. The guy was speaking in an accusative tone about something the girl did. The girl was futilely trying to defend herself. I got some of their conversation. The girl was probably an SSC candidate and the guy was a bit older. She didn't know how to use her cell-phone that well and the guy was quibbling on and on about how stupid she was. Then he started interrogating her about where she was at some particular time. He said he called her friends and found out that she was skiving class. She insisted it was her friend who was bunking off, which didn't suffice. He only became more aggressive. At one point he took her cell-phone and started checking the list of people she has been calling recently. The girl didn't complain. Finding no other way to deter his girlfriend the guy asked her the translation of the word “pusti”. She correctly replied, nutrition. He then pointed out the window. We were passing the Jono Pusti Kendro in Mohakhali. It was interpreted Institution of Public Heath Nutrition. He started calling her names and said the translation is not nutrition it's health, which was wrong. She persistently murmured that it should be nutrition but it was no match for his loud rants.

I will never understand girls like her. Are they so helpless that they have to bear with such pompous idiots? What is it that keeps them together? If you go for a boyfriend at least choose a decent one who has a slight sense of humility. Maybe even a sham that seems the type. The couple got off a few minutes later. When they were leaving I caught a glimpse of the girl. She was beautiful. The guy I saw looked worse than a pug. I pondered again, what is it that keeps them together?

The rest of the ride was quite uneventful. I was worried about how late I was going to be. I arrived at the meeting thirty minutes late and was relieved to find out it hadn't commenced yet. Throughout the whole meeting I was unnaturally silent, as TGND puts it. It was not because I felt sorry for the girl. It was because I felt sorry for myself. I really wanted to tell that guy something but I couldn't.

Another similar incident happened a few months ago. Sad thing is I knew the girl who was being rebuked by her boyfriend, for no plausible cause of course. He was yelling at her in a public place. Any sensible citizen should have opposed. But none did. If we can't object these minute problems how can we prevent the verbal and physical abuses millions of women endure in Bangladesh? Females in our country have always faced acute discrimination and oppression. Thousands of women are beaten and molested everyday in incidents of home-violence and hundreds are murdered. In reality are we so powerless that we cannot counter this injustice or ignorant to the point where we don't even notice it? Or are we just willingly letting such heinous acts of atrocities go unpunished?

By Knafice-Man

The critic's column: Mosquitoes

Ever wonder why mosquitoes even exist? I mean why were they even created? What purpose do they serve? What was God thinking when he created them? Of course, maybe his main intention was thinning down the population of the human race (mosquitoes kill over a few million people every year with the diseases they spread) and thus he came up with the most contagious being of all time. Or maybe he was suffering a hangover after creating alcohol and mosquitoes are the result.

Other than spreading diseases mosquitoes also just plain annoy. Let me create a scene for you: It's the midterm exams and your sweating your way through a physics mock sitting beside a open ground floor window. Every 5 minutes you viciously whack your forearm trying to get at the little six-legged flimsy blood sucking freak who's doing nothing but destroying your concentration on E=MC2. The result is that you come home with bad marks and your parents throw you out, all because of that miniature vampire with gossamer wings.

Yes, you've been through that haven't you, coming home with bad marks. But don't worry; you can always blame the mosquito, that's what I do. But let's keep on bitching about mosquitoes shall we, I'm enjoying this.

The problems we face because of mosquitoes don't stop at us slapping our arms, no, there's sleep loss connected with all this as well. The hassles of erecting mosquito nets, spraying the room with Raid, lighting one of them useless coils, plugging in one of those Good Knight thingies, smearing yourself with mosquito repellent lotions, is quite tedious. By the time your finished taking all them precautions it's already one thirty. The outcome is that you arrive at school a good fifty minutes late. Then there's the prospect of sitting in class getting bitten by the pests all day long while trying to understand electrolysis. They make our already hellish lives all the more worse.

Then there's the whole problem of getting infected with dengue, malaria etc. I know this guy who missed his entire O' Levels because one disease ridden insect happened to bite him a week before January. (Those of you who are already so riled up that you want to read a line full of slang directed towards the accursed insects please put in your choice of profanity here. I want to get this article printed, that's why I've restrained myself.)

The mosquitoes are just damn idiotic; I mean they risk getting squished for a drop of blood, and they get on your nerves in the process. They annoy you so much that you let of cuss word in the house, which your father's delicate ears witness and you get all your privileges revoked. I just damn hate mosquitoes… And sometimes your made to look extremely stupid because you just slapped someone hard on the back to kill a mosquito and when he/she looks around the damn bug is nowhere to be seen.

There so many reasons to hate mosquitoes, here's one: You go on vacation to your desher bari, wishing to enjoy the good weather, the quiet surroundings, trying to learn how to swim in the village pond and embarrassing yourself in front of the whole village by drowning but not really doing it properly. However, the evil critters are there to. I've done some research (by research I mean that I've been bitten quite a few times) and found out that the mosquitoes in your respective desher bari are always of mutant proportions and there bites itch infinitely more. It turns out that your vacation isn't all that enjoyable (although that could be because of the swimming lessons dished out by your ever present dad who is never there when your halfway out in the middle of the pond and you briefly drown).

Another reason to hate mosquitoes is when your trying out for your first job and your sitting in the waiting room. You get bitten a thousand times and out of exasperation you venture the question: “ Can't you use some aerosol in this dump?” to the guy whose interviewing you. Trust me, it's a surefire way of getting yourself kicked out, I mean literally. You can blame the mosquitoes here to for your lack of skill at restraining yourself from asking stupid questions.

Yet another reason (I'm full of reasons) to hate mosquitoes is when you're on your first date and you're in a park and instead of holding the girl's hands you keep on swatting at the contagious bastards. The girl tired of being ignored brands you as insensitive and goes home. You've failed once again. Here to you can blame the mosquito for being hopeless with girls.

By Tareq

Hired help

People always say “it's so hard to find good hired help these days…” No one knows that better than I do, with some of the experiences I've had; and all within a month!

Just the other day, I was going over to a friend's place after school in his own car. After repeatedly blasting the horn at the gate, it finally opened to reveal a bad tempered guard who glared at his own employer! Not only that, he refused him entry! Funny as that was, I accepted the fact that he was new, and let it go, but what happened the very next day proved him just as empty skulled as I thought. I went over, but he failed to recognize me! There was another guard who didn't recognize me within a span of 10 seconds! He held the gate open for me when I went outside (having gotten change from my friend) to pay the rickshaw, and when I turned around, he insisted I materialized from nowhere! At yet another friend's place 4-5 guards couldn't tell where apartment 1E was, until one finally figured out “oh, ew howann? Yesh, yesh in howann floor”

Then there is my recent string of ridiculously brain-dead drivers, which is something worth mentioning. After my driver got fired, I had the extreme misfortune of test-driving the new ones, because I was the first to use them to go to school. The first was a mullah who continuously tried to preach me on my so-called moral shortcomings. Why I shouldn't talk to girls. Why I shouldn't go to a school that teaches English, and has girls, etc. What got him fired? Perhaps it was the fact that they didn't teach him to drive at the marassah, apparently. Then there was one whose vocabulary consisted solely of “yesshar” and “nho”. He didn't know his way around the city, so I had to direct him, in English no less! Problem was he got confused when I said “take a left” instead of “left” and nearly went head to head with a trolley. So he got fired too. Another one nearly drove into the Gulshan Lake at broad daylight, and was stopped only by a tree. Another got so nervous when I told him to turn take the next right that he practically brake turned into a wall. I also had a few others who were also equally stupid, but along similar lines.

The final came to us with credentials like 'passed HSC 1st division, 20 years work experience in UAE', and some other pretty impressive stuff. I was thankful to have a smart one for once, but Holy God was I wrong! This guy had no idea where Dhanmondi was! I had to direct him all the way, while he tried to drive down the wrong side of the road. He then got lost inside my school's lane! It took him an hour before he could find me and then remember where he kept the car! On my way back home, he went to refuel, and I found out he didn't know where the hatch release switch was! He then proceeded to rev in neutral and burnt out the battery in the middle of Tejgaon. Afterwards I had to get down and push the car no, it was a microbus, actually. I told him to park the car in Gulshan 1 market and stay with it while I tried to get help, but it turned out he never found it. Instead he put a full-length gash along the side. When I told him off, the grown man started crying! I was forced to simmer down. In the end however, he also never got the job.

I suddenly see The Apprentice and job interviews in a whole new light. One thing is for certain. I'm never being the guinea pig test driver again, and I don't think I'll ever forget the exact directions to school. Also, I have learned playing free roaming games and Need for Speed actually improves driving skills. No more drivers for me.

By Grim Reaper


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