Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 7, 2006

By Shabhanaz Rashid Diya

Joruri Patro Obosshok : Dhakai boshobashroto obhijaat poribar'er ucchoshikhito, prochondo buddhimoti, poroma shundori patrir (5'2”) jonno obhijat poribar'er darun handsome, fatafati dhoni ebong khubi shohoj-shorol boka patro dorkar.
Contact GPO Box No. 007

Now that's the kind of ad I'd like to place under those “Bride/Groom Wanted” columns that earn newspapers their publishing costs. It not only gives me an opportunity to list the liars who desperately believe they match my specifications, but also takes my arranged-marriage procedures to a whole new level of commercialism. A small business where I get to pick the best from the worst candidates. Ah, can't wait to get started on my dumb and rich potential husbands!

Jokes apart, I don't remember ever being not-entertained by these little ads that take up at least 3-4 columns in the dailies. For me, it's merely a good laugh, but I wonder what the people who advertise their sons or daughters or brothers or sisters (or maybe, themselves) feel while getting sold out. With newer, more attractive business strategies that compete each ad with the other, the hunt for the most suitable life-partner never ceases.

What's interesting is the chain of VISA-s that these future husbands come up with. I remember one ad where the guy had VISA from 11 different countries (that obviously took up 80% of the space) and a 5-word description (handsome, tall, caring and sensitive) that apparently made him the most attractive commodity on sales for that day. Undoubtedly, I cannot help but pity the guardian who pushes his/her daughter towards men who're defined by the number of VISA-s they can show-off and USA or Canada, where they have immigrated.

What also cannot be overlooked is that I never really found an ad where the bride isn't “very beautiful” or the groom isn't “tall”. It's strange how “very beautiful” ladies and “tall” gentlemen are confronted with a matrimonial crisis. I mean, I have unbelievably ugly, short friends who by now, have managed to host a series of five/six girlfriends or boyfriends (and good-looking ones, too). If that's not judgmental enough, then 99.7% of these ads recommend a “good looking, smart” girl or a “handsome, tall” man, irrespective of how pathetic the person posting the ad might be. Looking at these, it seems as though not-so-good-looking and short people have little or no chances of getting married happily ever after. Wow.

Commercial ads and websites are enough, where you might as well find the “right person” with the click of a mouse or dialing seven or eleven digits, but set-ups by Ghotok Pakhi Bhai is another miracle. I don't know if he exists by this name, but I do know many others who exist by other pseudonyms. No matter how unattractive, under-qualified, disgraceful and undeserving your profile might be, people like Pakhi Bhai has a solution for you - an incomparable, 100% guaranteed strategy that can even get Aishwarya Rai or Johnny Depp on your wedding bed. “If unsatisfied, 50% money returned” yeah right, after I've been hooked with the neighbourhood, bald gangster Zooel Mama. I even heard stories about Pakhi Bhai's prominent popularity that made him so rich that he drives his own BMW and lives in his own apartment. Measuring the prospects, I think I'll switch my career planning to be a mobile matchmaker. (If unsatisfied, Happy Anniversary and Happy Mother's Day!)

I'm not completely against these “hunts”. To an extent, it might be necessary, or even unavoidable. What bothers me is the level of commercialism and marketing techniques that are employed behind these. It's strange how a close relative no longer searches for an almost-perfect life partner for a dear niece for arranged marriages. With Pakhi Bhai-s around and ads with particularities, marriage seems like another short journey in life, where it really doesn't matter if the two individuals involved are at all suitable for each other. All you need is a DV Lottery (for men) and Angelina Jolie's face (for women).

By Shadman Alvi

STrange, weird; these are the only words that come to my mind when thinking about us. Our behavior is full of contradictions. Our words express a degree of devotion and patriotism, unrivaled by most in the world. But when it comes to actually doing something for the country, we are usually not very zealous to say the least. The fact that heroes of the liberation war are spending their lives as destitute on account of our negligence, whereas traitors of the war are representing our country as ministers is proof enough of what I say. It would suffice to say that with all the high demands of our time we very rarely find the opportunity to think about our own country.

You might argue that I am surely exaggerating. Well to some extent yes, guilty as charged. Especially when considering that every once in a year we eat “panta-elish”, go to the Shahid Minar. And not to mention the organization of numerous big-time seminars on how to preserve our culture and heritage and what not. These are all terrific, but the terrible part is, these showy tributes do not usually reflect in our individual life.

Most of us belong to a new breed of “Bangalis”. We engage ourselves heavily in foreign cultures, mostly English and Hindi. Now rest assured I am not against the introduction of foreign culture, as it is something inevitable at this age of globalization, we also need this if we are to survive in the intensely competitive world of today. But as we all know anything excessive can be quite harmful. Especially the large scale intrusion of Hindi culture have reigned upon us havoc of such immense power that it would be very hard to eradicate. Be it Hindi movies, songs or daily soaps, they are all massively popular in these parts. Now, I will not go to great lengths to evaluate the quality of these “artworks”, but one thing is for sure- they are not doing us any good. This “Hindi mania” has been in our country for quite some time, and by the looks of things it's not going to seize very soon. The worst thing is that this mania has now widened its range and elevated into a whole new level. Clothes sell more when they are named after Hindi movies and stars, our national newspapers provide exclusive coverage of Indian showbiz and we frequently hear high pitched tunes like “jhalak dikhlajae…” or “babuji jara…” from passing by cars. All of these rather off the wall behaviour apparently seem normal to us. On a more personal note, I was told that I am “outdated” by an intellectually challenged mate of mine for being illiterate about Indian movies.

By now many of you might be cursing me, but before doing so please listen to what I have to say. Believe it or not, we Bengalis were once renowned for the singularity and exquisiteness of our culture and literature. Gokhele once said- “what Bengal thinks today India thinks tomorrow”. We were indeed the leaders in terms of literature and permissiveness in the Indian peninsula. To clarify that I would like to ask you, how many Hindi writers have won the noble prize? Or how many Hindi movie directors have won the Oscar? The answer in both cases is none; on the contrary Bengalis have already achieved both the feats through Rabindranath Tagore and Sattajit Roy respectively. Aside from these two we have had exquisite writers like Jibanananda Dash, Najrul Islam, and many more who have progressively enriched our language and literature (at this point if you are wondering who on earth are these people? Then I suggest you to go to your roof blindfolded and keep walking till you can no longer feel anything beneath your feet, what happens next is the end of your worthless life). But now we indulge ourselves in absurd foreign gestures which is a blasphemy to all. So obviously I am not exaggerating when I say that we have failed to uphold the legacy of our ancestors.

There is but one good news, which being now we have our own stream of daily soaps. Meaning now we have our very own “saas-bahu yuddh”, needless to say a very significant development. So once I was watching one such show when I realized in a crestfallen manner that most of the characters were speaking in a bizarre language formerly unknown to me.

This language was a mixture of mostly Bengali and English and occasionally Hindi. Now I should mention that I have nothing against speaking in English or Hindi, if they are to speak completely in either one of those language. But it's when I hear sentences such as “Ami bujhte parchi na, how your dulavai thinks Neela is right?” or “Ki hoise? why worry yaar? may hoo na!” that makes me want to kill someone (no… not a psycho, just being sarcastic). The irony of the situation was, this was being telecasted on the eve of 21st February. Such is our love for our mother tongue.

Maybe the reason behind such bizarre and surreal conducts is that some of us actually talk in this way in our everyday life! For these ultramodern and cosmopolitan folks I have only one thing to say- what on earth is wrong with you? It's not as if our language is incomplete and lack a lot words for you to be able to express your all so important vocalizations. So why the treachery? What these misguided souls don't understand is that this misuse of language is an insult not only to the language but also to the individual himself.

Most of us have been blessed with privileges of which the bulk of the population can only dream about. And now the least we could do for our country is not to make a mockery of its culture and tradition.

If you can do nothing to help your mother than at least don't do anything to humiliate her. The dreams of our nation are evidently depending upon our slender young shoulders. After all that we have gained now its time to give something in return. But if you think that the only things you ever got from this country are a short stature and a skin with a brownish tint, than I guess I have nothing to say to you.



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