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Love or something like it

Grant that kids nowadays don't have time to be kids anymore. They have careers to build and grades to score and admissions to gain into Ivy League universities. But teenagers can only be stretched so much. Someway along the line they're sure to snap, and do something 'rebellious' and 'forbidden', they might get into drugs and smoking, or they might just start dating.

Bangladesh is still, by and large, a conservative country. Teen dating is still frowned upon. Most families have a no-dating rule, though some parents are more liberal than others. But teens being teens, will do anything they can to break some rules. And because drugs aren't as easily available as members of the opposite sex, the easiest way to rebel is to get into a 'relationship'.

This relationship isn't love. Far from it. This is just time-pass. You can put another name on this crazeTeenage Infatuation Commonly Mistaken as Love. And sometimes, it can get ugly.

When the going gets rough
Teenage years are supposed to be the best time of our lives. We have fun, we grow up, we learn new things. We get new experiences. Shockingly, though, one of these new experiences might be dating violence. It's not a far-off reality, either. Studies show that 1 in every 5 girls have been in an abusive teen relationship.

Teenage abuse can be in the form of mental, physical or sexual abuse. And some cases, it can even lead to homicide. The violence doesn't even have to be physical. It can be mental and emotional abuse, in the form of jibes and jokes and snide comments. Abuse can occur in both casual dating situations and in serious, longer-tem relationships. The abuse can often get worse when the victim tries to terminate the relationship. The isolation that teens face in abusive dating situations often makes it hard for them to develop mature relationships with peers and/or stay focused and engaged in school activities.

A study conducted by "Children Now" in 1995 saw that a full 89 percent of teens have been in dating relationships and a whopping 40 percent of all teenagers know someone their age that was beaten or abused by a boyfriend in a relationship. Another study, conducted by Silverman, Raj, Mucci and Hathaway in 2001 showed that young women who were in relationships that involved violence were more likely to abuse substances, develop eating disorders, conduct risky sexual behaviors, get pregnant, and even commit suicide.

So, what do we do? Do we be kids and stay away from relationships? Or do we get involved anyways? It depends on the person, really, but a word of advice: When your parents tell you to look both ways before doing something, listen to them.

By Shehtaz Huq

Of parodies and paradoxes

Don’t know how many of you have had the privilege, or in some cases the pain (honestly depending on your perspective) of watching any Bangla or Hindi spy series. My reaction upon stumbling upon the fact that they exist at all (thanks to my brother) can be described as skeptic, yet curious. After watching the first ten minutes of a certain 'thrilling' episode of New Files, I was hooked and the family had a second Eastern Spy Series enthusiast!

That episode introduced viewers a to certain interrogation technique and in the process I learnt some precious rules of the Charter of Eastern Spy Series that I will try to the best of my ability to explain in the course of this article. Because believe me trying to understand them really strains your innate logic sense. The 'disguised' Detectives (Lesson #1 Spies-cum-Officers travel in large packs and in their efforts of camouflaging themselves into the mass of public by wearing diversified costumes, they actually appear as a rather suspicious lot: men in Hawaiian shirts, football jerseys, coats, women in saris and westerns. This lot will henceforth be referred to as Detectives) gathered in Ramna park and took into custody a man who was strolling in the park. The Interrogation is reproduced as follows:

One of the Detectives asks suspiciously while others huddle around the victim: “And what were you doing at 4 in the evening in Ramna Park??”

Victim, terrified: “I…I….I was walking…”
Detectives exchange knowledgeable looks, the question certainly revealed the valuable information they expected form their brilliant question.

Detectives: “And where do you live?”
Victim: “I live in Dhanmondi 9/A”
“Hmmm….” Replied the Detective with furrowed eyebrows and an expression that continued to say… 'That certainly adds a new dimension to the case'

The session continued with questions and answers that although appeared to be quite shallow and unrevealing to the average viewers were in fact serious progress in the case. Later it turns out that what started off as a baseless arrest gave way to a case that was so complex that it escaped the ordinary intellect. Finally it turned out that the one who was questioned was in fact the culprit. The case had been solved thanks to the instincts os the detectives and their cryptic interrogation process. (Lesson #2 the mysteries don't have a clear cut plot and hence details are not important. All one needs to know is that there is a crime, a culprit, an investigation. When one does not understand certain bits of the process it just means that the logics and technologies are too complex)

When talking about techniques and technologies it is definitely the brilliant CID series that I feel compelled to recollect. Their imagination and superficial tech-knowledge never fails to make my jaws drop and my stomach ache. One of the best illustrations (literally) of this fact comes in a rather memorable episode. An eyewitness was asked to describe in details to an artist the Biker-Bank-Robber-Person, whom she had seen at the scene of the crime. With her help the artist produces a detailed sketch of the Robber in his bike. Upon careful investigation of this sketch the CID chief exclaims… “What is this…I see a license plate'. And then to my awe and amazement he says “Daya, Zoom in” (!) We may think to ourselves “Senile man! That is a sketch! Not a real life photograph. If anyone knows the 'technical details' of the sketch, it's the artist…ask him for the license plate number” But of course we must understand that the simple words of 'Zoom in' must refer to a complex process unknown and incomprehensible to us simple civilians that can actually help reveal secret of the sketch. (Lesson #3 Technologies that are at the Detectives' disposal have advanced beyond the scope of an average viewer's understanding)

Another very important aspect of being a detective is that you must trust your instincts. For instance, if the culprit left tracks in the mud and the detective gives absolute priority to that clue then it will turn out that those tracks are of a special brand of shoes available in only one showroom in that city and by coincidence that showroom sold only one pair since the last 20 years and fortunately the salesmen who sold those shoes still works for that shop and also has an immaculate memory capable of recording and recalling all his customers and purchases; thus giving the CID quite a lead at their chase. (Lesson #4: No matter how far-fetched, impractical or permeable your original hypothesis is, it will lead you to solving your mystery).

Last but not the least is Danger Man. This is a Bangladeshi spy movie, probably the first of its kind. It is absolute entertainment! However the only element of suspense that it contains is the suspense of what nonsense twist the non-existent plot will take next. The acting is… surreal. The range of emotions that these actors showcase is of such detached nature and so not relevant to the particular situation that it leaves you in a state of confounded amazement that says 'How do they come up with that!' . Although I will leave the 'story' veiled for the readers in case you want to check out the movie, I feel tempted to relate a certain dialogue. A girl with bright red lipstick and more than ample proportions asks the 'hero' in what she believes to be a seductive voice 'But tell me who you are before you leave.' He looks at her for a while, turns his head away and says 'Man…' looks at her again…..DANGER Man'. Classic! A fan comments 'Danger Man certainly deserves more exposure than it gets'…indeed. Those of you who are as bekar as I am and enjoys a bit of whacky humour could certainly try out this movie; I promise you won't be disappointed

Now we know that spy movies have not lagged far behind in the trend that the media has followed since its invention and evolution, with the East imitating the West and the Further East imitating the Not-so-East. It is the movement from Hollywood to Bollywood to Dhaliwood and what is most interesting is the sort of distortion that occurs during this transition process; quite evident from the above 'reviews' of some not so popular television shows and box office numbers. Well until these Eastern spy shows reach the stage of real thrilling plots, flawless actors and practical theories, it certainly is entertaining to witness the journey there.

By Aniqa Moinuddin

Book Review
Witch of Portobello

Even as I wait for lady luck to send a copy of The Deathly Hallows my way, I can't help feeling happy that I have my column back, after all my Potter-philic friends had their fun with it.

Since we have been on the subject of witches and wizards for a while now, I thought why not take a deeper look into witchcraft or Wicca. As luck would have it, it was around this time that my good friend Kimi handed me The Witch of Portobello.

My first reaction on seeing this was…Coelho writing about witchcraft…this has to be interesting. I wasn't disappointed.

The book centres around the life of Sherine Khalil, or Athena, a young woman who earns the epithet of the 'Witch of Portobello' after she displays seeming powers of prophecy, and then mysteriously disappears. The story is told as a series of interviews with people who knew Athena.

Sherine was a gypsy child adopted by a Lebanese couple and brought up as a devout Catholic. From a very young age, she seemed to be unusually canny and sensitive adopting the name of 'Athena' for herself, and her mother was a little disturbed by her ambition to be a saint. Married, divorced, and left as a single mother at a very young age, she was rejected by the very Church she was devoted to, and lost her faith. This loss of faith rendered her very restless, and this set her on a spiritual quest that would forever change her life and those of the people close to her.

Threaded through the story are the usual Coelho themes of love, divinity, and faith, interwoven with his flair for depicting diverse cultures and their various politics. Although the author manages to blend the interviews together to create a smooth narrative flow, he hasn't really been able to make the multiple perspectives work; even with the many voices, you get the sense that it is really one person talking to you. The twist at the end is a nice touch, though.

If you were intrigued by the concept of the goddess cults that Dan Brown introduced in his book 'The Da Vinci Code', then you are bound to be fascinated by this book.

The Witch of Portobello is available at the Nilkhet bookstores.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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