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Kaleidoscope of bus journey

Standing in a long queue in the scorching summer heat and waiting for a bus was not something I thought I’d be doing. A university student with a lot of miles between home and campus, I had no other alternative but to take the bus route, an activity that has over the last couple of months become an important part of my daily life. Prior to this, I’d often heard that it's quite an experience traveling in a bus. But never had I thought that I would be having such an experience.

I have always been an observant person. Riding the bus has given me plenty of interesting sights.

The ticket counters are mostly located on the pavements and generally, each has an umbrella with the name of the bus written on it, drawing passengers. Once you go near the counter you will see different coloured tickets, each for different destinations.

I have seen people buying the ticket and almost everyone ask the same question, “When will the bus arrive?” In a very mechanical manner the seller would say, “fifteen to twenty minutes later”. Then the next few minutes a different scenario is observed.

A long queue is formed in no time and people try to get under the umbrella to save their precious skin from becoming tanned, (especially girls.) I once got the privilege to stand under the 'heavenly' umbrella and had to ignore the glares of a lot of passengers. I then saw the seller taking out a small cotton bud from his pocket. To my great surprise he put the bud in one of his ears and started to work on it.

I was so baffled, it didn't occur to me that he could do such a thing in public. It was as if he was detached, oblivious to the world around him, and enjoying a different taste of life. Turning around I saw a couple quarrelling in almost a whispering tone. Then there was a person who was glued to his cellular phone, probably outfitted with one of those special-package sims.

He spoke softly and I had no problem in understanding what the person on the other side was feeling. I then saw two music obsessed people. They had earphones attached and constantly were fiddling over the small device which I'm sure was priceless to them. Nowadays these music players are available to everyone and have become a trend to carry anywhere you go. It has become a necessity in our life and can't be part from it.

I saw another person shouting at the top of his voice on his cellular phone, ordering someone to do some task, businessman no doubt- got it from his outfit. Then there was a mom with her two very pesky children. The elder one was talking to his mother, who turned a deaf ear to his words, and at point he started yelling at her for not listening! The younger one was nagging about her clothes and chocolates. If criminals need punishment, they should be forced to spend two hours everyday with these kinds of kids in a cell!

Anyway, I looked at my watch, fifteen minutes already passed, and the twenty-minute mark was approaching. I knew that after twenty minutes the attitudes of the passengers would change dramatically. They’d start accusing the ticket seller for the delay, and as usual there’d be verbal abuse or even some gestures which you all can easily imagine. And the seller will exchange the same actions, cotton buds forgotten for the moment.

My thoughts were interrupted by the honk of the bus, which had finally arrived. I was fortunate to get a seat, having stood at the front of the queue. Most of the people had to stand. The bus was not air-conditioned but had small fans inside. There was a melodious music playing on the stereo, something like this,”Moner majhe hoglar beraa”, (My heart is shielded by bamboo). It was pretty hard to comprehend the rest of the lyrics but nobody seemed to bother about it.

In fact I even saw few people tapping their shoes and nodding their heads to the beat. The couple took the back seat, their fight was still continuing. The music lovers were exchanging information about music, I just overheard names such as Tiesto, Nirvana, and Green Day. The mother was having great trouble managing the kids. One of them paced along the aisle, making others feel uncomfortable. I then looked at the person sitting next to me, he was quite tensed. He tapped on my back and said, “Are we in Mohakhali?” I said “No”. After five minutes the man again asked,

“Is this Mohakhali?”
I smiled at him and said, “No”. He gave me a weary look. Then I understood he had never travelled to Mohakhali before and was feeling worried that the bus will not stop there. I assured him that there would be a stop at Mohakhali, but he didn't trust me. He said, “How far is it?” I told him it will take some time, and he got more upset.

All of a sudden the bus shuddered and came to a halt. My neighbour became even more anxious. The driver informed us that the bus broke down and will take sometime to get fixed. My frustrations knew no bounds. To add to my misery the fans were turned off to save energy. However, the music was still on, as if it was the only source of entertainment. All chaos broke loose. One of the kids then started to wail, and the pitch of her voice rose to an ear-splitting crescendo. I looked around, and saw everyone frowning silently, perhaps out of pity for the poor, flustered woman who was the mother. I am sure she might have thought for once, “I'll never get on a bus again, had enough with these two…” .

When almost everyone was losing their patience, the driver returned to his seat and turned on the ignition. The engine roared and everybody had a sigh of relief, some also clapped. The fans were switched on and the melodious music created a soothing environment. The person beside me was sweating profusely at the beginning from nervousness, but now he too started enjoying the moment. The bus reached Mohakhali, the man got down and before leaving he thanked me,;I did not understand the reason behind it. I just smiled. And after ten minutes I reached Banani, where I got down.

I still travel by bus, and to tell the truth I don't mind or even hesitate to take this option anymore. The journey of course is not always pleasant but hey that's what life is all about, take it the way it comes. As I have learnt, life shows us different situations, the ups and downs, and expects us to see the brighter side- our desire for survival, and it happens everyday and in every way we may consider. Sometimes we just need to see both sides of the story. So, how about a ride from Farmgate to Mohakhali? Anyone?

By Yamin Tauseef Jahangir

Book review

This week, I travelled over the Silk Route along the Himalayas. And I did it right in my room, curled up in my bed, humming in time to Story of the Year as they belted out 'Sidewalks running away from the streets we knew…”. My guide and travelling companion was none other than the indefatigable Michael Palin, better known for his Monty Python series.

His book Himalaya chronicles his adventurous trek from the Afghan-Pak borders, through Pakistan, across India, past Nepal, into Tibet, through China, Assam and the Nagalands, over Bhutan, and finally Bangladesh. Accompanying him was his photographer friend Basil Pao, who's done pictures for Monty Python and most of Palin's travelogues, as well as a BBC film crew to document this trek. To my knowledge, the BBC has already aired the series.

The 70-something Palin takes to this trip with a child's curiosity and willingness to try anything. He is rewarded for his adventurous spirit by some memorable encounters; an interview with Imran Khan in Pakistan, an audience with the Dalai Lama, and many more. He rides a houseboat in Kashmir, climbs part of the Everest, spends a delightful evening with a sultry Chinese songstress, and finishes this unbelievable undertaking with a boat ride to the Sundarbans. Along his travels he picks up, and passes on some interesting trivia.

Did you know that the name 'Pakistan' is actually an amalgam of the states they wanted as part of the country? I didn't. P = Punjab, A = Afghania (a romantic synonym for the North West Frontier), K = Kashmir, Stan = contraction of 'Baluchistan. Unfortunately, Kashmir, one of the Princely States, elected to remain part of India, and since during the Partition, Pakistan was being set up as a Muslim sanctuary, Kashmir with its Muslim majority became, and to this day, remains as a sore point between the two nations. Interesting, isn't it?

As a writer, Palin has a remarkable eye for detail, and peppers his notes with a sardonic, self-deprecatory sense of humor. He is easier to read than Gerald Durrell, but retains that famous zoologist's sense of fun. There are moments, though, when he becomes very introspective, like on the night before he is to climb a the Everest, and he is suffering from mountain-sickness, and is seized with a sense of panic as he believes he will fail. This adds to the real-ness of the book; the way the author is able to convey everything to the reader; from the sights and sounds to the issues at hand and the troubles and concerns.

It's almost as good as being there. If I have one complaint though, it's from a patriotic standpoint. After seeing a number of exotic sites elsewhere, he describes his sojourn through Bangladesh as something of an anti-climax. While I cannot fault him, seeing how his itinerary and travel route took him through the less picturesque parts of our country (jams of Dhaka, ship-breaking yards of Chittagong), I can't help but feel that foreign readers of this book will miss out on the magic of rural Bangladesh.

I got my special-edition copy from the UK, but as Palin is a fairly well-known writer, I think you might find the book in the 'Travel' sections in Etc or Words n' Pages.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Appeal for help

She dreamt about growing up to be an English teacher and work with young children, and getting into the Srimongol Degree College was her first step in that direction. At 19 years of age, with a sunny disposition that spread happiness amongst all those who knew her, Lina had everything going for her. Until she was diagnosed with leukaemia and everything came crashing down.

Confined within the four walls of Cabin no. 6 at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), she struggles to retain her optimism.

The head of the Haematology Department of DMCH, Dr. M. A. Khan has said that Lina will have to undergo a bone marrow transplant at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. At 35 lakh takas, the price tag attached to this operation is way beyond the means of her family. Lina's father Juned Ahmed Chowdhury is a small business man who has already borrowed much of the 7 lakh taka spent for the chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments he has already undergone. The cost of going to Mumbai and getting the treatment is more than the family can bear.

Here's where YOU come in. Your generous donations have saved little Sakib, and meritorious students like Mukul and Nonku. Let Lina live too…

Account number to help Lina is:
Shahed Ahmed Choudhury
Bank account: 9191,
Uttara Bank Limited, Dilkusha,
Sobuz Sylhet
Dhaka office: 14, Link Road,
Banglamotor, 6th floor , Dhaka

Funny answers from real students!

1. What happens to your body as you age?
When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.

2. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.

3. What is artificial insemination?
When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow.

4. How can you delay milk turning sour?
Keep it in the cow.

5. How are the main parts of the body categorized?
The body is consisted into three parts - the brainium, the borax the abdominal cavity. The branium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels, A,E,I,O and U.

6. What is the Fibula?
A small lie.

7. What does "varicose" mean?

8. What is the most common form of birth control?
Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.

9. Give the meaning of the term "Caesarean Section."
The caesarean section is a district in Rome.

10. What is a seizure?
A Roman emperor.

11. What is a terminal illness?
When you are sick at the airport

12. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas.

Compiled by Critico Nino


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