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Musings while stuck in a Traffic Jam

I am composing this piece while stuck in a traffic jam on the way home. I am pretty sure, that given the increasing rate of traffic jams in Dhaka, I would start doing a lot more (DON'T start imagining) in traffic jams other than writing pieces; and not only me, but nearly just everyone who are concerned to carry on with the activities of their life through thick and thin (and in this case I mean traffic jams), would follow suit. So following is a few pointers that might prove helpful during a quite rough traffic jam (no, I haven't ripped off Spongebob Squarepants' Things not to do During a Traffic Light essay):

1. Like I said before, get working on pieces of text like writeups, assignments or even long text messages on your cell phones. Time will fly.

2. If you're using a portable electronic device to access the Internet (note: don't attempt this on a rickshaw/bus/CNG autorickshaw, or bid adieu to your magical device) and particularly your social networking account, be prepared to hear from surprised friends why does your Status still read “Stuck in Traffic” since the last 2 hours or so. You will get used to it.

3. And why only must you spend your miserable life (no offence) on the Net? Take this time stuck in traffic to mingle with other real people (start with the driver of the vehicle you're in) caught in the jam with you. Share your woes of being caught in traffic and being the good conscious citizen that you are, complain and curse the government away like there's no tomorrow. Before long, people sitting (or standing) in buses, CNG autorickshaws, rickshaws (depends if it's a “VIP' road or not), taxis, and even private cars will join you in unison and you will get to swap some amazing traffic-related accounts of equally amazing people.

3. Discuss and compare with other people about the faster vehicle, the rickshaw or the new fancy electric autorickshaws. Even better; compare which is faster- the electric autorickshaw or the hardly moving traffic you're in. Traffic wins by a landslide victory.

4. Catch up on reading (like the Rising Stars) and learning a new language. I mean, ditch those foreign language classes, people! It's a waste of both time and money. As it is, you won't be reach there in time (unless you start a day before), so you might as well utilize the time to crack books on French grammar or even English literature. You could also be generous by buying newspapers and pirated books from hawkers. I don't want to sound geeky, but with your collection of books, you may be able to give the term “Mobile Library” a whole new meaning. Except of course in your case, your books might not get stolen.

5. A trend among nearly anyone and everyone stuck in traffic is to start an extremely loud conversation over their cell phones to “someone” with sensitive topics like politics, sports and of course money. Well, if you can't beat them, then join them. Out of dead boredom, prop out your cell phone, and start a conversation; first in low tones and increase the decibels as you proceed. To talk about politics, name any bigshot (if you don't know anyone, just have a look at the graffiti on the walls either side of the road for reference); sports would be easier and figures for money is all upto your imagination. For best results, do this while stting in a rickshaw.

6. Traffic also wreaks havoc on your stomach as well; since before you realise your stomach seems to be roaring with hunger. Well, look no further than your right (or left) because just then, as an answer from above, may come along a guy selling dried fruits (read: “badam boot”), carrots/cucumbers/ raw mangoes wrapped in newspapers, and to wash it all down with a bottle of cold water. It may not satisfy your growling stomach, but it would keep you feeling rather full for a while. However, after all this, we don't guarantee the well-being of your digestive system.

7. Traffic jams tax on your lifetime, so since you're too poor to have a decent life insurance and no one would care if you died anyway, your last resort would be to write down a will. Leave your precious belongings to those who you loved (us) and state how the traffic was your reason of death.

8. As a last alternative; stare at people (under the name of honest observation). It's simple. Pick any person and/or weird vehicle (Dhaka has no shortage of those) caught in the jam you find interesting and stare until your eyes start bleeding. Curses from both sides will follow and keep you engaged.

9. Music, download as much as you can and take your Ipod and educate yourself about music. You might just find that there are other good musicians other than the Beatles.

The traffic has started to move, FINALLY. I better end this, after all I have an extremely important call to attend to, regarding the very future of Mankind.

By Wahid T. Khan

Spoof Review:

Soape Formulae

The idea of movies most probably started with some dude imagining himself lounging in a dark room, in a reclining chair staring at moving pictures. These days, what with art films and Cannes, movies have become things you lead political campaigns with, like Hillary Clinton, or a way for Al Gore to feel good about himself after losing to someone like Bush.

Because we happen to be art critics, in the sense that we love Dadaism, we will continue and review something, which is not in real terms a movie per se. It's one of those TV soaps. For the purpose of artistic critique and finding meaning in madness, the reviewer plopped down with his mother for the best part of two hours and subsequently had to refer to a psychologist.

Most of these soaps start off with feminism, at least that's all we were able to figure out. There's always a young wife of an appropriately idiotic and rich yuppie who happens to descend from a long line of similar yuppies. How he ever managed to go through business school baffles us because he inevitably strikes a deal which is the equivalent of selling one's soul only he happens to trade the family wealth in somehow. That's when the wifey steps in, clad in all regalia. She cooks; she raises children and manages to strike a hostile takeover to save her husband's failing yuppie career.

The plot follows the tried and tested rule. The rule which states that as long as pictures move, preferably pictures with enough good looking young starlets, its good enough to watch. Other than the whole hapless yuppie saving, the series does take the liberty of killing characters, resurrecting characters (quite like the Resurrectionists except they did it for scientific reasons), marrying characters off with each other, making them run away etc. The viewer has to be of quite reasonable intelligence to keep track of who's dying, who's new to the scene, who's back from the dead and who's preparing to run away.

In terms of film art, these series have none. Other than that, art is only evident in the sense that the producers use the series as preliminary testing fields to try out tentative fashion experiments by making the characters wear eight colours of the rainbow at the same time.

The actors follow the three acting rules; a) don't laugh in front of the camera, b) don't look at the camera and finally c) say the words right. The performance is actually very commendable, because following the three acting rules while saying all those corny lines has to be hard. And the reviewer actually found this one thing astounding, the actresses all go to sleep wearing make-up and jewellery but when they wake up, nothing is SMUDGED! THEY STILL LOOK THE SAME, AS IF THEY NEVER SLEPT AT ALL. Such natural acting can't even be found in Cannes.

The reviewer, for the sake of his sanity, and because he doesn't like the Beatles, will now retire and listen to the Stones. It's all about preference.

By Tareq Adnan





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