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Funky monkey & sports

“Those were the days, we used to climb up banana trees to steal mangoes, and we had all those huge paddy fields where we played Kabaddi, kho-kho and that game of kicking a round thing around, the one you guys always watch on TV; we actually used to play that with coconut shells, but now you kids just sit around all day and poke those things to make those other things move on TV” This is what my grandfather used to say. Well, I know what you must be thinking; old people just talk nonsense fifty percent of the times, snooze forty percent of the time and curse at the TV for the other ten percent of the time. True, very true indeed. However, despite his dubious memory and his claim of knocking out 5 members of the opposition team in a game of football before making the goalkeeper unconscious with one bullet speed shot, he was certainly right about one thing. We really have become a bunch of couch potatoes.

Pretty much all of us nowadays prefer to stay inside and play with our Xbox, Play station and computer rather than go outside and actually play something in the real life. The only real-life sport that kids still enjoy seems to be cricket. Ever since Bangladesh earned the right to play in the world cup of 1999, the popularity of cricket has soared through the roof. With barely any place to play, just like all the other sub-continental countries, street cricket has become the most common way of playing cricket in our country. Nearly in every street you can see a bunch of kids playing cricket with their tennis balls. I don't think there is anyone in this generation who hasn't broken some neighborhood windows or at least tried to, while playing in the streets. What's the reason behind this dramatic rise of cricket's popularity? Well, it has to be the admirable success of the Tigers in the international arena. Heck, I would even love to watch “nose bubble blowing” if Bangladesh was doing well in it. From what I have heard, there was a similar rise of popularity of hockey back when Bangladesh hosted the Asian Cup. But unfortunately it didn't take very long for that to die out. So much so that kids now know more about NHL than the actual sport of hockey. That stupid ice-hockey thing, where they skate around like figure-skaters and use a stick to hit a thing that looks like a flattened-emu-egg, and most of the times they end up fighting physically. But that's beside the point.

Apart from the street cricket craze our love for sports is apparently confined in watching and following them religiously. This specially seems to be the case for football. These days there seems to be a meteoric rise in the number of football pundits. We talk about Henry and Rooney as if we have breakfast with them every day and dinners on weekends. Fans of rival clubs become arch nemesis of each other. It's hard to believe that many of us have never even kicked that round leather thing, more commonly known as a football. By the way by football I mean the real football, not that stupid “handball-hustle-with-helmets-padding” thing that the Americans call football. For god's sake if you are going to play a contact sport then why wear so much padding like sissies? And they use a ball that looks more like an inflated-emu-egg than a football. But once again, that's oddly beside the point. My point is that we are really getting detached from actually kicking or hitting the crap out of the ball. Even in cricket, there are numerous experts and stat-freaks, who know even the number of times star players go to toilets, or the average number of centuries scored on Mondays by left-handed players between the ages of 21 and 25. Well, maybe not that specific but you get the picture.

Then there is always the gaming thing. It's quite obvious that video games have taken over sports for us. But I am never going to say anything against gaming cause, unfortunately that is the only way we can ever score the winning goal in the world cup final, make an Italian plumber destroy a monster or slaughter cute and furry animals. Still it is never a good sign that we are confining ourselves in our own miniature virtual world.

However, I don't blame us for this whole situation. Then who do we blame? The ninja-cyborg-mutant-funky-monkey from outer space? Well…maybe. But don't forget the lack of space and everything. I don't think there are more than a very few proper parks or fields remaining in Dhaka where kids can actually play.

As fun as it is playing in the streets, it can also be potentially dangerous. For example the star fast bowler, might slip, fall and then drown in a puddle (it has happened) or the owner of the house that got a window broken might come after you. Schools these days are also very much the guilty party. With the rise of all the chicken-coop schools kids in those schools barely get the chance to play. These schools might be excused but what about all the fancy schools with their extravagantly decorated interior and exterior? It's hard to believe that these schools make a fortune and seems to have all the modern facilities except a proper playground. Apparently they don't realize that sports are an integral part of a child's development, both psychologically and physically. And this is how world is like, and it's solely our duty to step forward and try to change the bads and improve the goods

By Sadman Alvi

Harry Potter: A promotional tool for Wicca?

It's unnatural for something as praised as Harry Potter to not receive criticism. When something this popular lacks enough things to criticize, people start to read between the lines. This is where logic is left behind, in most cases.

I don't mean to pick a side but I'm sure one can't possibly think Harry Potter promotes satan worship! The Harry Potter books written by J.K. Rowling have sustained consistent attack from the Christian community because of how they portray witchcraft.

According to Christian critics, the Harry Potter books encourage children to accept a view of witchcraft that is benign, even good, and thus will lead them to adopt some form of paganism or Wicca. Christians naturally object to this and thus protest the presence of Harry Potter in schools, libraries, and society generally. The Bible is strict in it's opposition to witchcraft and therefore a lot of Christians believe that parents shouldn't allow their children to associate with Harry Potter in any way. But perhaps the real complain here is, children are not reading the Bible or Christian literature and instead a book about fantasy.

J.K. Rowling has denied that she is using the Harry Potter books to promote witchcraft, but she says that she doesn't believe in witchcraft “in the sense” that critics complain about and that she doesn't “believe in magic in the way” she describes it in her books. This leaves open the possibility that she does believe in witchcraft and magic in some other sense. It has been found from her ex-husband that her plan to write 7 books is based on her belief that the number 7 has magical associations. Rowling has confirmed that she has researched actual mythology to write the books. She says that a third of what she writes about is what people once genuinely believed. This mixing of fantasy and reality in her books is extremely dangerous. When a child is inspired by witchcraft in the books, the best alternative he has in the real world is to explore paganism. Unlike Bangladesh, witchcraft is rampant in a lot of the countries in Europe and North America. Wicca is an official religion there. It's understandable how scared the Christians are about the young and impressionable delving into Wicca because of Harry Potter.

Other literature certainly uses witches and wizards as characters but they are either evil characters, they exist in an unreal world and/or they aren't human beings. The world of Harry Potter, however, is supposed to be the same as our world. Witches and wizards are mostly good, positive characters, and they are all human beings. This makes it seem very real, and dangerous, considering the age of the target audience. In book one, Professor Snape, a character from the book talks about a potion called the Draught of the Living Death, a sleeping potion so strong that it can kill the drinker.

The ingredients mentioned in more details in book 6, actually gives away how to make a very lethal potion; it's real. A child from America actually tried making the potion, with a catastrophic climax, a visit to the emergency room.

Unfortunately, extremists have a habit of misrepresenting whatever they decide is sacrilegious.

A good example of this is Richard Abanes who, in his book Harry Potter and the Bible, starts out by citing the quote that a third of the creatures and spells “are things that people genuinely used to believe in Britain”, as said by Rowling herself. Later he references it again, but in his own words: “approximately one-third of what she has written is based on actual occultism” and later a third time, “up to one-third of the occultism in her series parallels information Rowling uncovered during her personal studies of witchcraft/magick.” He twisted her words till it suited his purpose.

In one interview, J.K. Rowling said, “People tend to find in books what they want to find.” That is the case with her own Harry Potter series of books: people who are looking for something dangerous easily identify material that threatens their religious beliefs; people looking for entertaining literature find engaging and fascinating stories. Are both parties right? In the end of the day, Harry Potter promotes Wicca no more than it promotes going to centaurs for astrological readings, or running headlong into solid concrete walls. Neither does Tolkien's Lord of the Rings promote battling orcs and stealing carrots from a poor local farmer.

By Ahsan Sajid

Messing up priorities

(Saira, a year back)
She smiled sadly at the crowd of guests on her sixteenth birthday; the absence of her best friend felt like a lump in her stomach. But she understood… Sanjana hardly ever got the chance to meet her boyfriend; it was at occasions like this that she had to sneak out on dates.

However, that wasn't all that was bothering Saira. Sanjana had been missing for quite a while now; not in terms of her tangible presence … no, it wasn't that. Saira struggled to put her finger on the problem. When exactly was it that she started disappearing? As she searched her memory she realized it was around three months back when she started going out with Fahad. Yes that was it …her head in the clouds, her blank stares and occasional sighs. She used to call Saira up almost everyday just to let her know what they talked about, what he got for her…what not! Saira of course couldn't care less about which side of the bed Fahad got up from, but she heard her friend out because she could tell from the excitement in her voice that it meant a lot to her.

But then… the frequency of the calls went down. Her love sickness had been cured up till a certain extent, but she had somehow become… reserved. Even when Saira called, Sanjana was either on the other line, or she had to go, or she just didn't have things to talk about with her. Saira understood …after a certain point in a relationship, privacy must be maintained one couldn't expect her friend to discuss internal matters. Conversations now basically consisted of small talks… “The dress I saw was pretty”… “The lecture was boring” …much like the English people talking about weather just because every other topic poses a possible threat to invasion of privacy!

Yes that's how it happened … Sanjana's gradual disappearing act until now, at this point where even if Saira is occasionally graced with her physical presence, her spiritual self is almost always…missing. Saira had no idea any more what was happening in her friend's life, mainly because she chose not to share it with her. Saira understood …she probably felt more comfortable discussing matters with Fahad, and then comes the time factor…it's not possible to be on the phone for hours giving every single detail to all your friends …right? But it wasn't just phone, and parties and communication… her friend was just wholly involved in her relationship, with nothing to offer to anyone else around her.

Who was she trying to fool? No, Saira didn't understand. She felt spite at the whole situation and then felt foolish for thinking like a child and then felt hurt again. Her friend had found herself a nice replacement in her life but nonetheless that left a vacuum in Saira's. Although the latter's ego would not let her sink too far into the quicksand of emotions she knew that its depth was massive. She also knew letting herself sink into all that spite, as tempting as it is would be giving more importance to a certain 'friend' thatn she deserved.

(Sajana ….present times)
On her seventeenth birthday, Sanjana sat in the eerie darkness of her room. The tears that had dried on her face, were straining her skin. Her entire world had fallen apart, in the last few weeks. Her family did not approve of her relationship and put down restrictions, Fahad tried to cope at first but in the end he quit; “Is it worth it'? He had asked. He spoke on behalf of them both; but Sanjana could only stare at him in disbelief. Such a thought was considered heresy in her books and would had never dared cross her mind; but once uttered all her idealism fell apart. She felt lost and alone and even when

The flow of her thoughts drifted to Saira, in search of support and companionship, guilt caused her to retreat immediately. Over the months the distance between them had grown...the air had turned cold and tense. They drifted apart…Saira made new friends. Sanjana didn't feel the need; she was just so blissful in her beautiful fairytale land with her prince in shining armour, she thought that all those in the real world were just a little less important. She forgot fairytales don't really last. Sitting alone in dark reality, as this realization cut through like a cold blade she understood her mistake. She had thrown away years of friendship on a few moments' childish infatuation. She took a relationship at sixteen to be stable and reliable enough to unquestionably support her through the rest of her life…hence render her friends obsolete and insignificant in the roles that they play in her life. How could she let her priorities change with the snap of a finger? How could she let the distance grow so big…how could she not even notice!

In our obsession with myths and heavenly magic of love, or infatuation, the difference often being vague to the young heart, we often forget the realities of life. Be it due to loss of reasoning or lack of foresight, priorities are unduly changed with no valid basis. The above story is just a collage of teen events. It does not come with a moral of “Thou shall pay if thy don't give your friends the importance they deserve”… no. It simply states the occurrence of a common human mistake. It represents a single facet in the multiple-sided Prism of Priorities and an example of we how mess up at it only too often. We take for granted the seemingly bland necessities in our pursuit for the attractive luxuries, forgetting that the latter we could do without unlike the former.

By Aniqa Moinuddin


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