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The week in re(ar)view

From bananas to riches
We have decided that earning a decent living is not adequate for living decently. So we want to earn an indecent living by becoming a banana vendor for Biman. Apparently a dozen bananas of the normal yellow variety sell for about 40 taka. Biman procures the same for 140 taka. It is no wonder that passengers often complain that they get stale bread and cake on the planes. Do they (passengers) seriously expect that they will be served such fine and expensive fresh bananas? The passengers must be bananas.

Money is spent in many other creative ways such as a $56000 repair of a inertial navigation system (INS) which costs 12000-15000 dollars brand new.

Then how about an Airbus 310-300 purchased for 75 million dollars when it actually cost 42-49 million dollars for other airlines? We figure there must be a swimming pool somewhere on the plane to add to passenger recreation. More likely the plane will end up landing in a pool. You see engines are sometimes sent off for repairs and then when they come back they are found to be inoperable still. At this rate, just imagine the cost of toilet paper used by Biman. Passengers better sit tight till they land.

Break cars to generate electricity
October 4, Dhaka-Teknaf section witnessed an agitation. Yep, 'agitation' is a very important word in our vocabulary. People demanding power blocked Tongi diversion road at Tejgaon causing one-hour gridlock. People came out of mosques after iftar (apparently well fed for a good fight) demanding relief from power outages. The transmitter blew a day ago and authorities did not look into the matter. So they (the people) decided to break cars. Is it our imagination or does breaking cars generate electricity? Papers say 5 vehicles were broken but we went to Bangla Motor the following day and saw at least 10 cars being fitted for new windows. Cause? Agitated people.

Waiting for the ice age
On October 8 Rajshahi City Corporation Mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu managed to solve the acute power crisis and suffering of the general public in one fell swoop. Even Newton would be relatively impressed.

He asked for his people to wait for winter. That is how he plans to solve the problem. Apparently there will be less demand on electricity in the winter and life will be liveable again. In the meantime he will be able to complete other projects like that of water supply deals. Maybe, just maybe, if we can hold out till the next ice age all our problems will be solved. Of course, then we will be needing power to heat our homes and people will get back to breaking cars. At least breaking and burning cars will generate usable heat.

By Gokhra and Mood Dude

Experiencing ramadan

Ramadan has always been and will continue to me one of my most favourite times of the year. I remember when I used to fill up those oh-so-popular 'slam books' in the sixth grade, I always used to list the month of Ramadan as my most favourite month of the year. Born and brought up in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, visiting the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah was no new thing for me but whenever I used to go to either of the cities I used to fall in love with the places, and honestly with my religion, all over again, And of course going in Ramadan to Makkah or Madinah was a wholly different thing although larger crowds at the mosques were guaranteed. Growing up in the capital city, I could almost feel a change in the atmosphere when Ramadan used to roll around the corner. It was like everyone understood this was a special month and tried to uphold the same spiritualness in their daily lives. At school all the adolescents who 'rebelled' by using bad words whenever they could, quieted down, a feat no teacher could do. Everyone became a bit more or less sober. This meant that you were less likely to be 'accidentally' pushed to make your books fall down on the stairs and that you were less likely to encounter young smart jackasses who made eve-teasing a favourite pastime of theirs. These things combined, with the fact that school hours were shorter during Ramadan made me think of my school less of a place to suffer in and more of a place where I could draw a breath of peace.

Of course there were all a myriad of invitations during Ramadan! Both from our Bengali community and non-Bangladeshis. Ah, those iftar and Sehri parties! Iftar parties were commonplace; I used to make sure I had at least one each week to one of my friends' houses or the other. It allowed me to observe what other Bengalis ate during their iftar and what my other Egyptian/Ethiopian/Pakistani friends ate. And after all how many times can you eat the same thing at home (no offense mom)? It helped me to understand that as Muslims we do have a lot in common with other Muslims but perhaps our cultures may differ. I still remember my Egyptian friend, whom I had once invited over for iftar, became puzzled when she saw muuri or on my dining table. 'Erm…you actually eat that?' she asked in response to my statement that it was puffed rice.

The Sehri parties were more enjoyable for me. I used to eat my iftar and sleep until 12:00 am (knowing full well I wouldn't be able to catch on my much needed shut eye later). Then at around 3:00 am or around then, my parents and I used to go to attend our Sehri party. It was just like a dinner party except it'd take place in the wee hours of the morning! The hosts and guests would all eat Sehri together; there'd be a bit of a rush to drink water or some sort of sherbet just before the Fajr Azan; it would sound then we'd all pray the Fajr prayer together and then I'd come home to fall into bed again(don't you just love going to sleep after you've offered your prayers during the last part of the night when its all cool and dark outside, knowing that all is right between you and God, at least for then? I know I do). Anyways, not to be sidetracked, those early morning get- togethers were entertaining. It made me feel united with the people who were also sacrificing food and drinks from dawn to dusk just like me, for the sake of God. And that is a good feeling.

Eid was also celebrated with as much as pomp and splendor in the Bengali community as here in Bangladesh. There was that scramble to get the best looking outfit to wear on the special day. And of course there was that unofficial scrutiny to check out who sported the best designed mehendi based on a number of factors, i.e. how dark it is, how much skin has been covered and of course what sort of swirls and flowers are drawn. The first day would be spent mainly with friends, the second and third day probably with relatives and family.

The way Bengalis observe Ramadan and celebrate Eid is the same thing as is done in Bd. 'I don't see any difference in the way everything is done, either here or in India' says Tania, a 15 yr old Bengali who lives in India. 'Its like we're basically Muslims and the other things like what is eaten and stuff during Iftar is the same since our parents are khaati Bengali and want us to grow up in the same sort of environment that they did.'

So, here's wishing all Muslims all over the world, whether you're a Bangali, American or Indonesian, a Very warm Ramadan Mubarak!

By Nisma Elias

Cell phone industry aims to reduce pollution

Nokia said it and other mobile industry players have agreed on measures to reduce pollution from the manufacture and disposal of mobile phones.

The group has agreed to reduce energy consumption, stop using some hazardous materials, improve the amount of phones collected through take-back schemes and recycled, and give consumers more environmental information about products, Nokia said in a statement.

"It is important that the mobile industry continues to provide ways for customers to return unwanted mobile phones," Charlotte Grezo, Vodafone director for corporate responsibility, said in a statement.

The voluntary group also includes companies and brands such as Motorola, Matsushita Electric Industrial's Panasonic, France Telecom, TeliaSonera and Intel.

The efforts are part of a pilot project in partnership with the European Commission. In a similar move, French retailer Carrefour and other manufacturers agreed to make a type of wooden garden chair more environmentally friendly with design changes.

"Looked at globally, the production and consumption of products have a huge impact on our environment through the use of resources, energy and transport, and the creation of waste," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in a statement.

"I applaud the leadership shown by Nokia and Carrefour and warmly welcome the commitments made by the participating companies. I urge others to take similar action to green their products."

Helsinki/brussels (reuters)

How about some golf quips...

Jack Benny: "Give me the fresh air, a beautiful partner, and a nice round of golf, and you can keep the fresh air and the round of golf."

Hank Aaron: "It took me seventeen years to get 3,000 hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course."

Paul Harvey: "Golf is a game in which you yell "fore," shoot six, and write down five."

Tommy Bolt, about the tempers of modern players: "They throw their clubs backwards and sideways, and that's wrong. You should always throw a club ahead of you so that you don't have to walk any extra distance to get it."

Unknown: "Fifty years ago, 100 white men chasing one black man across a field was called the Ku Klux Klan. Today it's called the PGA Tour."

Chi Chi Rodriguez: "After all these years, it's still embarrassing for me to play on the American golf tour. Like the time I asked my caddie for a sand wedge and he came back ten minutes later with a ham on rye."

Tommy Bolt, toward the end of one of his infamous high-volume, tempermental, club-throwing rounds, asked his caddie for a club recommendation for a shot of about 155 yards.

His caddie said: "I'd say either a 3-iron or a wedge, sir." "A 3- iron or a wedge?" asked Bolt. "What kind of stupid, #*!~%^* choice is that?"

"Those are the only two clubs you have left in the your bag, sir." said the caddie. "Danny? We thought you said Daddy!"


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