Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 21, 2006

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

‘Z’ is supposedly the most popular alphabet in English. Starting from 'boyz', 'galz', 'chikz', 'sportz', 'addaz' and 'hahaz'; the vigorous use of this particular alphabet is strangely amusing. Apart from our MSN chat conversations and SMS, it's fascinating how 'Z' has sneaked its way through every wall and table in town. It seems for a split second that every youngster out there 'rulz' be it 'warriorz', 'd-12z' or 'devilz', they all proclaim their reign over the walls in Dhanmondi and around Dhaka in faded red-and-black spray paint. Dominance has just found itself a new definition in Generation-X.

If 'rulerz' weren't making a statement enough, then watch out for one of those 'learn guitar/gitar' (followed by mobile numbers) in red paint and a terribly disfigured drawing of a guitar next to it. I completely sympathize with the person(s) who put these up since he cannot afford an ad in any of the dailies, but hark, presenting yourself as a desperately disgraceful commodity on walls (of all places, that too) is quite 'bold'. I wonder how many 'eager' students he picked up with his 'advertising in abundance' scheme.

Followed with an equal spur of enthusiasm are vague forms of graffiti (if graffiti at all) where God-knows-who draws miserable and equally, ridiculous drawings of wannabe-Satan, the capital F-letter abuse before and after Y-O-U, words that one won't normally find in any dictionary (since they don't even exist) and just about anything. I remember this particular one although I did forget what the word was which was written in bright orange paint on Academia's gate, and many of the kids from school simply assumed it was a new orange-flavoured drink, trying to compete against Fanta and Mirinda with low-cost advertising. Talk about korny 'jokes'.


Anyway, considering that walls have terribly failed to substitute the purpose of paper, tables are never quite out of fashion. It's very difficult (almost impossible) to find a table at any named or unnamed coaching centre and educational institute that doesn't have something written on it. Love stories, hate songs, sexual orientations of classmates, dead and disfigured flowers, band names, self-composed lyrics you name it, they've written it. Who 'loves' who, who is the female version of a dog, who one should avoid to stay away from perversion or molestation, whose face resembles those perfectly-shaped half-moons that lie at the base of the hip, whose parent is having an extra-marital affair with whose best friend thirty minutes of table-writing reading and you know enough about the people to start writing your own table statements. I remember this one school whose name starts with the letter 'M' that is near Metro Shopping Centre in Dhanmondi which has a particular classroom that I personally find exceptionally pathetic and amusing. Every individual desk is decorated with a label, such as Captain Diaper Pants, Bangla Apu (the era of Bangla Bhai, sigh), Hati (elephant), Fartbomb, Poo-Poo King and similar titles on the back so anybody sitting on these desks automatically gets labelled as something of the sort. The handwriting is identical for each desk, so somebody needed to be either extremely bored or extremely pathetic to label sixty desks in his/her classroom.

Table-writings are also a very effective source of learning obscenities. I personally learnt very creative (and sick) abusive language simply by reading tables at one of my coaching centres; and successfully impressed my male counterparts with my vocabulary and intensity. Knarf knarf.

Moving from walls and tables, the back of public transport, especially bus seats are another popular location to show-off your handwriting or creative expertise. I understand the part about walls and tables, but seat hands and back of bus seats who can miserable enough to write love stories there? I remember how Ratan loved Morjina, but Morjina loved Abul and Abul was a b***** since Ratan couldn't get Morjina because of Abul......Dhaliwood just couldn't get any more dramatic and public again.

Look. It's sad if somebody doesn't find enough paper or 'space' to expose his/her creativity. I understand that Bangladeshi paper mills have gravely failed to meet up with the country's literacy demands. There are many poets, writers, artists Dhaliwood movie directors and rickshawalas among us, waiting to be recognized. But seriously, stooping down to the level of desks, walls and public bus handles for 'junk artwork' is beyond my 'inferior' capabilities of comprehension. I mean, really, how more wannabe-ish and useless can one become? Geez.


By Asifur Rahman Khan

Getting teenagers to get interested in a conversation regarding politics is as futile as trying to get their parents interested in the latest heavy metal album, which is top rated as far as any teenagers is concerned. Why wouldn't they? After all, politics is the dominant force in every nook of our life, if one is living in Bangladesh. Is it because logic is not a part of politics here, or is it because nobody cares about the aftermath of every political decision that further endangers the fragile economy of Bangladesh? The reality is that teenagers are becoming more and more conscious about the fact that the world is changing, and politics is not the answer to survival anymore.

If you think about it carefully, the actual people involved in politics in the past few decades or so were students. Before the independence war, it was the students instigating all kinds of political revolutions that saw us, in the eventual run, winning the war. After that, it was still the students who were involved in politics, with good intentions of improving the country. Somewhere along the line, politics turned to be an arena for people to suck dry the country's revenue, abusing power right and left for their own benefit, using students as mere puppets and a place where academic importance had no… well, importance. Now there is a clear distinction between the students in the country; students involved in the mayhem of politics and students who are suffering in their academic progress because of the formers activities. Despite all these, there was quite a significant economic growth during all these transformation. The major factor behind this is that students have slowly become aware that politics can no longer be as survival tool as strong as education.

The world is changing drastically, where globalization is seen as a vital turning point for the economies of the world. Countries which have let their political parties ravage the country for their own interest have seen out losing out on globalization and the economic development. It's not merely a game where you can enter later and still win the game. With globalization, if you resist it or make it difficult to enter your country, the consequence is that other countries will advance far from you in terms of economic development. Bangladesh has been one country that has been seen sacrificing economic development for the miniscule tug of war for power between the political parties, resulting in making quite a few headlines in the world news; being the most corrupt country for three years in a row, terrorism rising out of government rearing parties for their own use and overruling many economic development decisions based on logic that can be fathomed by just those parties. In any case, all these changes are rapidly translating into one thing; education is far more important for survival than politics.

The direct consequence of this awareness is the change in attitude towards politics by majority of the students. Students used to get into heated conversations about politics, now its students getting into heated arguments about which academic institution is better, which college offer higher reputed degree and so on and so forth.

Politics used to be the dominant feature in a lot of students conversation, now its something that you occasionally indulge, but not for long. As more of English medium establishments sprouted up through the years, the number of students opting for private universities becomes larger and larger as admission in the public universities seems to be of a lost cause because of politics plaguing the system there. Ask any student nowadays, and you will see that the number one reason why a student will go for NSU or AIUB instead of Dhaka University is because of the vast difference in the presence of politics in the two counterparts. After all, what is the logic behind spending nearly Tk50000 each semester when you can get better education from a public university at a fraction of the fee charged by the private universities. Although prospects of getting a job by graduating from private universities have improved quite significantly, the truth is that public universities are still regarded higher than private universities. The situation is changing, for now the teachers from the public universities are taking classes at private establishments. Multinational companies and other financial institutions know this fact, and slowly the reputations of private universities are increasing with respect to that of the public universities.

As politics remains a driving force in causing havoc in the education system of most public universities, the consequence is that students are taking much more time in getting graduated from public universities than in their private counterparts. In these times, where time dictates competition, a student has the urge to graduate as quickly as possible, just to meet the competition. In this respect, although degrees from a public university are higher reputed than its private counterpart, private university students are slowly taking over the jobs because of their lesser time in getting graduated. This fact is known to all, and especially public university students, who have now started to concentrate more on education than politics.

Competition couples with globalization, it seems, has become the driving force behind this change in perspective of politics in students. The reality is that education offers you the independence to survive in this competitive world, something politics can't offer anymore.




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