Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, March 9, 2006

Frailty thy name is woman

by E.R. Ronny

Women are frail. Weak. Feeble. Delicate. Insubstantial?
Women can't really be expected to do much other than pose dressed, semi naked or completely naked for magazines. Heck, men with feminine features are considered weak, feeble and all the other adjectives mentioned above. So it turns out women are only good for ogling at. Right? Hmm, let's find out.

A fitness program on the Discovery channel was showing a bunch of men working out at a gym. These were all bulging muscled, belly scratching, and loudly burping men. Yes, these were MEN in the grittiest primeval sense! They were lifting weights like there was going to be a shortage of metal in the world. They were taking on all they could. In walks a woman, yes, a feeble woman along with the show host. The host asks all the men in the gym to try leg presses. Basically they lie down and lift a fixed amount weighing several times their body weight upwards with their legs. The strongest of the bunch manages about 12 presses. The frail (did I mention short?) woman goes next and whips up 24 presses. The show was all about how anyone at any age can be physically fit. This was not an extraordinarily genetically gifted woman. In her high school pictures she looked like just about any other woman; frail, weak, insubstantial. She had physical problems just like anyone else but determination and hard work got her to this level of physical excellence. Oh, did I also mention she was about 60? She also had along her 40 year old daughter who was equally fit and buff and they did all that without having to look like Schwarzenegger. The men in the gym must have gone home to cry that night.

We have examples of physical feats right here in Bangladesh. Look at the women at the construction sights who lift as much stones as any men. As if that is not enough women give birth which itself has to be one of the most painful things a person can endure. I wouldn't know cause I am a guy. But someone who gave birth recently told me that spies and Al-Qaeda men will blurt out all the truth if you can devise a way to make them go through the pains of childbirth.

Women have gone to the moon, they have led armies (Joan of Arc) and they have destroyed countries in four-year terms (our lady leaders). Frail? I think not. Every red blooded male who looks around will find some traces of female influence in his life.

Women have always been after me though not in the way I would like. As a child whenever I got into trouble with my mother which was quite often, sometimes she would give chase with a stick. Getting to the dining room and circling the table till she was exhausted was a good way of escaping a beating which was thoroughly deserved at times. All that dodging and slipping under chairs made me a pretty good player on the school fields.

During my O' levels I realised that none of the girls I knew could cook. Sure, they could make jelly sandwiches but cooking was relegated to buas. I figured if I ever got married I would have to either go hungry or eat jelly sandwiches for the rest of my life. Flip side is if I ate jelly sandwiches for so long I'd kill myself and not live too long. So I decided to learn how to prepare food myself. It's a good thing since the girl in my life so far hasn't shown any real hint that she can cook. She loves cars though so it's almost forgivable. Bottom line is thanks to the inability of women to cook these days, I know how to.

Did you notice how I mentioned a lot of facts without the relevant names or sources? That's because I forgot. Call it senility. Women on the other hand are scientifically tested to be smarter. Elderly women retain their mental capacities till very late in their lives. Men lose their marbles faster than you can spell mar.....um....marb, what was I talking about?

Men put women on pedestals for many reasons. One is so they can admire them and at times another reason is so they can push them off the pedestal into a bottomless pit.

I am neither a female or a male with female features. A true red blooded male with a black car, black dog and a wardrobe full of black clothes. I like burping loudly and scratching my belly and despite all that I say where would we be without women? All hail to women and not just for one single day but every single day.

Pondering over power-cuts

By, The Girl Next Door

Plato talks about the philosopher who goes out into the sunlight and returns to the cave with newfound respect for shadows. It's funny how this really makes sense when Dhaka kicks the bucket. The thing with days and nights in this city is that it's all relative. Sunshine is a myth when you're sitting inside a cramped flat, looking out the window at a vista composed almost entirely of tall apartment buildings. Then the sun goes down, and the neons and halogens come up, and we get the amorphous not-quite darkness that we call the Dhaka nights.

Then suddenly, the load-shedding began. The concerted cacophony of the television sets, stereo systems and computers was replaced by the roar of the shuddering, oil-guzzling generators. The deafening din went on for hours, numbing the brain, until the oil ran out, and after a few choking splutters, the generators too, died, and there was silence; and darkness - real darkness, unmitigated by the bright spotlights and neon lettering on the billboards outside.

At first, the only sounds to be heard were the whining of mosquitoes and the irritable slapping noises of the victims unsuccessfully swatting at the invisible. An awkward silence reigned, and stretched out unbearably, until…

“Now what?”
It's funny how that question would have been so easy to answer about a decade ago. Before every house (and apartments weren't as commonplace as they are today) came conveniently fitted with IPS' and generators, a power outage meant that you had to stay put wherever you happened to be the moment the lights went out. Then someone would stumble his/her way towards a candle or hurricane. Once the flame sputtered to life, we would all huddle around it like moths. Conversation flowed seamlessly; we were younger, and less self-absorbed. We'd share stories, laugh at corny jokes (back then humor didn't have to be lewd to be funny), and then there would be the inevitable sing-along games.

As if stirred by that old memory, someone started singing.
“Remember when…”
There were the familiar sounds of scuffling feet and the “ouch!” of someone banging a knee against an unseen obstacle. A match was struck, and a candle lit.

The flame danced to life and created a soft pool of golden light, and flickering, dancing shadows that had in younger, more uncomplicated days created fodder for many a ghost story. The singing continued, gaining power as one by one, we all picked up the half-forgotten tunes, fed by nostalgia. It was still too sudden, too soon, to really start talking, as opposed to speaking, as we had been doing of late, but the magic of the moment was there, nevertheless. Bomb threats, collapsed buildings and inflation seemed part of another reality.

Then, without warning, the electricity came back on.


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