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By BlunderBoy™

That mobile phone you have is an investment. It is a part of the capital that you invest on yourself and that is why it is paramount that you do not choose for yourself the flimsy entertainment oriented slims and sliders, that the streets are deluged with these days. Those are done serving their time. Now it is time for the ones that are smart.

A typical student might not always prefer a smart phone over an entertainment oriented one. But here's the deal. A smart phone does not come lacking the entertainment features, it comes with additional ones. Aside from the organizer that could help you keep track of your exams and assignment deadlines, the nice phonebook they offer and their awesome internet capabilities are certainly worthwhile. Yes, the price might affect your choice, since smart phones are known to be expensive but haven't you had eighteen years to save up enough money already?

But just to be sure of its feasibility we replaced a student's basic cell phone with a brand new Sony Ericsson P1i. The result was: Handling everyday calls and texting with the 'qwerty' keyboard was just a breeze. The organizer helped, but it was not too much of a big deal. The best part was Facebooking on the go and checking emails sitting in the library. So it turns out you do not have to be a business man to use a business phone. Here are a few of our choice picks.

Sony Ericsson P1i
This is a beauty. It comes with a big touch screen and instead of a traditional D-pad or a joystick for navigation, it uses a jog dial. This navigation system is sick in a way that is gnarly, and after seeing Eva Green in Casino Royale tinker with her own version of it (she used an M600i) our hands only craved to hold a P1. But at first I thought it would prove to be a hassle for everyday use and that you might always need to use both your hands to operate it. But no! The phone survived my careful scrutiny and it turned out that it is perfectly usable with only of either of your hands. The device is anything but flimsy and it lets you know of its presence without being too weighty. Camera: 3.2MP
Price: Approx. 24000 tk.

Nokia E61i
E61i is a phone that remains true to its business roots. It is a true business phone but style wise it does send a whack. It lacks a touch screen and is a bit bigger than the P1i. It sure is a beauty though it sort of lacks the masculine look of the P1i. Camera: 2MP
Price: Approx. 265000 tk.

Nokia N82
At first glance it looked like Liv Tyler but when I went and put my hands on it, it weighed like Dakota Fanning. The phone is surprisingly light in a way that makes it feel a bit flimsy. Unlike the P1i that is hefty without being uncomfortable, the N82 is uncomfortably light. The phonebook, I didn't like, as it lacked the necessary fields of putting the contacts' address, email, job title etc. But it would be unfair to gripe since it was never meant as a business phone. The camera is the awesomest part of this baby. In pitch black darkness, or in the semi dark psychedelia of concerts or on the sunny slopes of the hills near Kaptai Lake, this snapper snapped truly breathtaking shots. As far as I have seen, this phone has the best camera. And there is a 3.5 mm jack to hook up that head phone of yours. Camera: 5MP
Price: Approx. 30,500 tk.

Palm Treo 750
So, while cruising the markets for the cute little Palm Centro, I stumbled upon the Treo 750. Look wise it is stunning but I cannot tell you any thing more, since I could not use it myself. The device feels good on the hand and it is quite small in real life which is a good thing. You can get it in BCS Computer City. Camera: 1.3MP
Price: Approx. 32000 tk.

All the phones mentioned above are perfectly capable of playing you music but it doesn't hurt to have a dedicated portable music player. I have been using a First Generation iPod Nano for the past three years. In this duration, the device survived countless drops from varying heights, it survived dashes through rain, it survived all sorts of abrasions all the tables threw at it (although the back panel now is too scratched to be used as a mirror and fix that hairdo) and it still plays crystal clear music and provides a crisp display. iPods plainly rock. So here's the deal on all the sorts that I could find here in Dhaka.

iPod Shuffle: The new shuffle looks hideous. But utility wise there should not be a problem and besides, since Apple products always come with nicely designed packages, the shuffle's package makes up for its hideousness.
Price: 5500- 8000 tk

iPod Nano:
The First generation Nanos are like Merilyn Monroe while the third generation ones that are out right now are like Nikki Blonsky from Hairspray. The designers in Apple sacrificed the sleek look for a corpulent but a cute look.
Price: 15000- 20000 tk.

iPod Video:
Can play videos, podcasts. Need I say more? But since it is hard disk based, be careful when handling it because you might regret dropping it accidentally.
Price: 23000tk (80GB)

iPod Touch:
It is sleek, definitely a fashion statement and the thing rocks.
Price: 28000- 35000 tk.
Prices as of July 2008

Anime Review by Le Chupacabra

26 Episodes
Action / Fantasy
Madhouse Studios
Ages 15+

In this nameless medieval realm, people coexist precariously with the Yoma. These are demons that can assume humanoid countenances and using this ability they live amongst us, hungering for and devouring human flesh. This hidden reign of terror is dealt with by Claymores: beautiful women with silver-eyes who possess incredible strength and agility, and are armed with the eponymous broadswords. Clare, numbered 47 in rank, is a Claymore who has a lot to learn about the world, and herself.

The Medieval era of Europeanesque countries isn't what you'd expect to be done justice to by Japanese animators and manga authors, but they revel in surprising you at every turn. Claymore is one of the more recent forays into this world.

The story in Claymore will impress you with some keen twists but simultaneously disappoint by treading previously broken ground. The initial premise is what creates the negative sentiment in the first place. Demons living in the guise of men are being hunted by beings that are half-demon themselves? Hmmm. Not as inspired as the art style would have you believe. And yes, it doesn't take long for the blatant existential inner battles to rage. But don't leave it there. At some point, the manga author perhaps realised that this wasn't enough and so, went ahead and put in some real effort.

As the tale wears on, the questioning of the self continues but becomes a lot less contrived when some rather interesting characters are introduced. These people offer natural banter, backstory that you can care about and strong personalities. There are a great deal of subtleties that are integrated into the whole Yoma mythos through the addition of the 'Awakened Beings' and the part they play throughout the series. It's this minutiae that really keep adding layers to the plot and truly captivating your interest further. In addition, the pacing is also quite even never surging forward neither lagging too much. It's quite easy to get hooked, really.

The thing is, you'll need all these qualities to see you through till the last few episodes which, quite frankly, make a mess of things. If you haven't followed the manga, it probably won't matter as much but even then you'd be fooling yourself if you think the ending offers closure or reason. It's a pity really and one can only hope that the series continues provided they make one very, very essential change. I'll get to that in a moment.

This is a rather attractive show with detailed, fluid animation that truly delights. As I mentioned before, the art is strongly stylised and offers a good deal of creativity with the character and creature designs. The battles are quite well choreographed which is pretty important in an anime where swordplay is frequent. Similarly, the audio offers an atmospheric package that suits the world and the onscreen antics. And it also may make you give up watching this. You see, early on, a character named Raki gets introduced. Now he's important for all manner of plot-related reasons by serving as a foil for Clare and being generally weak and helpless despite whingeing about how he's going to protect the lovely lass. That's the point. The whingeing isn't anything new… it's the voice behind it. You've been duly warned. Just be grateful that subtitles exist.

Where this anime eventually fails is by shooting itself in the foot. True, it doesn't exactly grab you at the beginning but when things just keep getting better, it suddenly decides to get a whole lot more insipid. Also, some of the characters can end up being derivative but not a whole lot, thankfully. Beyond the few villages and settlements, the rest of the world feels a little too barren; this often disrupts the suspension of disbelief. And like good old Suzaku, Raki is a freaking git. Not because he's actually a git, but he sounds like one.

If you're willing to read the manga alongside it (just for the sake of proper continuity), Claymore is quite an engrossing anime. The story and art segue well together in presenting a solid take on a medieval realm with improbably large swords, awe-inspiring monsters and beautiful women. It's hardly in the league of Berserk, but if you enjoy Claymore for what it is you'll find quite a bit to like.

By Naveed Nawshad

In 2005, Nemesis made a splash into the music scene with their first album, Onneshon. Since then, it has garnered critical acclaim, and has managed to hook a huge following consisting of diverse audiences. A band that uses the classic style of the past to create a sound of its own, Nemesis is sure to be a group that you will continue to hear much of in the future. Its music is a blend of soothing voice, catchy hooks, guitar riffs, and mysterious lyrics, and it moves back and forth, moving from melancholic to brisk.

Nemesis showcases talents of such gifted artists as Zohad, Dio, Omayr and Ratul, but the man of the moment for today's tête-à-tête is none other than Maher Khan.

Talented and charming, Maher Khan, the lead guitarist of the band Nemesis is often compared to the likes of Joe Satriani - even though he himself blushes at the comparison!
His melodic rhythms and intense riffs give Nemesis its own unique spot in the Bangladesh underground music scene. He's been exceedingly busy with his work on the band's next album, but I did manage to wrench an interview from this brilliant artist. Relaxing in Dhrubo's crib, in between cups of tea, Maher chats about his life and future plans.

Naveed: How did you get started?
The MAK: I was an electronic geek back when I was a kid. I knew nothing about guitars and I never knew that my dad ever played one. Then one day, my mom bought home a locally-made, cheap acoustic guitar [she still says that, that was her biggest mistake]. Anyway, she used to hide the guitar and wouldn't let me touch it. But as soon as my folks would go out, I'd start experimenting. The first thing I picked up was the plucking of One by Metallica, and the next thing I knew I was at my mom's school playing in front of hundreds of school kids.

N: How did Nemesis get together?
My brother, Saber, started playing bass about the time I took up the guitar. One day, I was hanging out with an old friend of mine, Reeshad, and his friend/cousin, Saber. Saber apparently knew a lot of people in Bangladesh, so I asked him to get me a drummer. He got me in touch with Yawar. We got Faria as our keyboardist and I volunteered both vocal and guitar. After a couple of months we got our first gig! It was at the RCC. So after we did four or five songs, [I think the crowd liked it] a newspaper reporter asked us what we were called. Since we didn't have a name, I called a quick group meeting on stage and Faria came up with 'Nemesis' and Nemesis was formed. After a few months, Yawar and Nandito had to leave and my brother left for reasons and we were inactive for about a year or so. Then, an old friend of mine from school, Zohad, wanted to do some songs with us so we took him in. Dio, Omayr and Ratul came in soon afterwards.

N: Did nemesis have to struggle a lot in the beginning?
M: No, not at all. There were very few young bands at that time so there was no serious competition, so to speak. We just did our thing.

N: Do you think breaking into the music scene in Bangladesh is easy?
M: Right now we have tons of bands, but it wasn't that hard back then. These days, say, every other kid in high school wants a band, and a lot of them actually come up with one. But it's hard because the chemistry isn't always great. If the band gels and you have a band with good music then you can get into the scene with ease. But that's just my opinion.

N: Tell us your most memorable experience.
M: Well, I was bored and I started working on a track (one of my very first ones) at home on my snail-powered PC. I didn't expect anything good out of it, but everyone worked on it and the track evolved into Nemesis's biggest hit, Obocheton. After it got released, we were performing at the RCC this one time and the crowd sang along with us for the very first time! Being on stage at the time and hearing them sing was a surreal feeling that I haven't forgotten! That was amazing!

N: The composition of Nemesis has changed with the replacement of former band members. What was it like adjusting to the changes?
M: There was little to worry about in terms of adjusting because our band-mates were all good friends from before. Everything just fell into place! I get amazed when I think about this now! We gel so well :)

N: Do you feel the sound and the feel of the band had changed?
M: I believe so. The sound has changed indeed. I feel that the sound we're trying to create/achieve (and we're almost there) is very tight and warm and that should go nicely with our newer compositions.

N: Nemesis has been around for a decent amount of time now. How have you grown and evolved as a musician? Tell us something you've learned from your experience so far?
M: Yeah, completing a decade of existence this year! Well, I've grown and evolved in many different ways that I cannot explain, but I guess the process is like a filter. You have so many options to choose from, but you'll only pick what best suits you and your sound. What I've learned from my experience is to be patient. If you're not patient, you're not going anywhere!

N: You've collaborated with other artists/composers independently. How has that been different from playing/recording with Nemesis?
M: Well, the major difference would be producing the music. Fuad and I would usually sit down and come up with something new and interesting whereas Ornob would already have everything done, and all I have to do is go and do my thing over the track. Creating Sisimpur soundtracks was quite interesting (I especially thank Farhan Bhai) as the lyrics were given to Zohad and me and we had to create the music and the tune. However, all of these are different when it comes to Nemesis. Even on a random day, you would find us in Sabin's room brainstorming! Zohad takes the ideas home and we have a tune very soon! Simple, isn't it?

N: Any interesting incidences during these collabs that come to mind?
Fuad and I were supposed to make a track for this someone and we did. The track came out REALLY great and we soon found ourselves staring at each other thinking what just happened?? We wanted to keep the track to ourselves but that someone found out and our plan was foiled! Damn it!

N: Every band is like a family, in which different members have different roles, i.e, one's the decision-maker, one's the creative guy, etc etc. What do you feel is your role in the dynamics of the band?
M: Well, I think I'm like my father and that clearly reflects on how I treat the band. I'm like the 'Monica' in the band. Everything NEEDS to be perfect! Omayr and Dio get a lot of mouthfuls from me; they're the younger brothers! Heh heh! I love them to bits! Ratul and Zohad make up the platform on which I stand, making me who I am. Nemesis is not like my family, we ARE a family!

N: Favorite Guitarist?
M: Joe Satriani, Slash.

N: In the last ten years, you must have played many different kinds of guitars. Any favourites, and why?
Oh yes! I've played a significant number of guitars, starting from Givsons to Gibsons! I'm a proud owner of a Gibson Les Paul Supreme (thanking Farhan Bhai once again) and that baby is the best guitar a guy can even get his hands on! Need a warm, kick-ass tone? Gibson is the way to go! I'm also thankful I managed to convince Omayr to buy his Gibson SG!!

N: Some people compare you with the likes of Joe Satriani. What are your views on that?
M: I have hair and he doesn't [smirks]! Sure, I've covered his songs, but that doesn't make me Satriani and I think everyone should have their own thing, their own signature style. But since it's a compliment, yeah, I'd take it.

N: After Guitarfest 08 some say that you're the best guitarist in Bangladesh?
M: What?! There's no such thing as the "best" guitarist. It's just a difference in perspective. If more people like Ayyub Bachchu, and he is more popular, then it means they love his music. Just because he's popular doesn't make him or anyone else the best, for that matter.

N: Did you always want to be known as a guitarist?
M: I never knew or thought I'd play guitar. I still don't know what I want.

N: Would you say your family played a big role in your success?
M: Sure! They got me all the gear and they were supportive in their own ways.

N: Someone you admire?
M: I admire my family.

N: Is the work for your next album in full swing?
M: It will be by next week.

N: Do you have any current goals?
M: Yeah, at the moment we're just aiming to finish this album!

N: What do you do in your spare time?
M: You know… the usual - hang out with friends, eat food, and kick ass [Dhrubo's] in Mortal Kombat.

N: Do you play Guitar Hero?
M: Hell yeah! But I hear there are kids who are better at the game than the MAK himself [looks pointedly at me!]

N: A lot of our female readers would want to know. Is Maher Khan available?
M: I think he might be.

N: Where do you see yourself in five years?
M: Hopefully, sitting in my own studio.

N: Anything else you want to say? Or anybody you want to thank?
M: There are a lot of things, which you either posses or you are constantly exposed to, that you take for granted. As you get older, you start to realize the values of all that. I have a million friends but there are only a handful of people I can take home and have dinner, together with my family. So I think what's most important is probably to take a step back and realize the values of what you have and how you always take everything for granted.
I want to thank all those people.

N: Are you ever emotional?
M: Yes, all the time, sometimes too much. But that's okay I guess.

N: Anything you want to say to your fans? Any piece of advice?
M: Without you guys there would be no prize, and there would be no motivation. And as for advice, always listen to a wide range of music.


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