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The streaking Tigers

BANGLADESH becoming a regular feature in international cricket has been a double-edged sword for many, including yours truly. The wild fanaticisms over various different teams have faded, to be replaced by a greater combined fanaticism for Bangladesh. If we lose, our faith, our hopes take a beating and we have been beaten pretty much continuously for the past 12 years, with occasional glorious flights in the sun. And that is when we win. And in that moment, all of it, the pain, the disappointments, the near heart attacks and almost broken TVs, all seem worth it.

Recently, we have been basking in a glow of warmth hitherto unfelt, the warmth of winning both a test and ODI series abroad…and whitewashing the opponents. The West Indies was totally decimated, discounting that last T20, where it seemed like the Bangladeshi cricketers were playing just for fun. That should not have been the case though. They should've been more professional. But the fans are looking at that quite kindly. The wins were important for us; even though it was Windies' second [some say third] string team, which had been fielded overnight, due to the problems with the sponsor of West Indian cricket Digicel. It wasn't much of a surprise that Bangladesh came out on top, with its greater experience.

What was more interesting was the change it wrought in this team. Suddenly things were clicking into place. We lost Masrafe to another one of his knee injuries [poor bloke!] but Shakib rose brilliantly to the task that was assigned to him. He lead from the front as both he and the team achieved new heights. Although the whole series might seem like a one long Shakib Al Hasan show judging by the man of the match and man of the series trophies, but in reality, every part of the team knew what was asked of it, and performed that task well. The team is finally, a little cohesive.

Then came the Zimbabwe series. Despite Zimbabwe's best tries to reconcile old players, Bangladesh followed through with its current destructive mood and blew the Zimbabweans away…in the first two matches. Then Shakib faltered for the first time. He won the toss and chose to field first in a perfectly good batting track. The inevitable happened. Bangladesh was buried beneath a huge amount of runs [target: 323]. While it was not impossible to chase that score, Bangladesh lost wickets pretty quickly, folding under pressure. In the end, the day was saved by Mahbubul and Roquibul, who played two wonderful innings to give Bangladesh a total somewhat respectful. This loss of course spiced up the series and it seemed Zimbabwe might still have a thing or two to say before all was over.

So far, the series highlights would include a lot of mental pictures. How to drop the easiest of catches, how to score a hundred from 63 balls, how to collapse like a house of cards. But we'll remember almost none of it, except for this fourth match that won us our series. First thing that'll probably come to mind will be the unearthly maiden 194 not out from 156 balls [that's more than half the deliveries in an innings] by Charles Coventry, equalling that of Saeed Anwar's classic versus India in Madras as the highest individual score in ODI history. At one point, it seemed certain that Coventry would score a double hundred. From a purely romantic cricketing point of view, that would've been ideal: The maiden centurion scoring 200. But that didn't happen [thank God]. What did happen was that Zimbabwe put up another 300+ total. Fully expecting Bangladesh to collapse again, we saw Tamim Iqbal's cool, unperturbed counter. After falling under other people's shadows after the first two matches, despite his fifties, Tamim played purposefully to score 154. A wonderfully paced innings, it was a mixture of aggression and defensiveness, with Tamim breaking loose for an over or two if the run rate started to creep up a bit too high. There were many similarities between the two innings by Coventry and Tamim though, including both of them getting a couple of lives each, as well as both of them sharing the man of the match prize.

Of course, Bangladesh has won the series, just like they were expected to. They've done it in relative style, Ashraful, Shakib and Tamim getting hundreds. It looks like they've learned control, team spirit and are now capable of doing their job. Yeah, right! This is Bangladesh we're talking about. Beating a weakened West Indies and a helter skelter Zimbabwe doesn't really prove anything [easy for us to say. We'd have torn them to shreds if they had lost]. But real tests are yet to come. And we only hope that Bangladesh comes out of them singing, “Amra korbo joy” which has become their victory song. And while we wait, we take up the necessary insulating masks of pessimism of a Bangladeshi supporter, hiding our optimism inside.

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Of deshi soaps, shampoo and detergent

SO basically, people who live in Gulshan always wear kotkota make-up, flashy jewellery, God-knows-what kind of hairstyle and live every moment of their dramatic lives conspiring against family members.

Now before the inhabitants of Gulshan start chasing me around swinging kitchen cutlery and brooms wildly (my senior-most bookworm colleague taking the lead), please watch the series “Gulshan Avenue” on Bangla Vision (and spend the rest of your lives cursing me for ever suggesting this. I welcome you.) Seriously, 'nokolifying' could NOT get any worse than this. We have information from reliable source that the director Nima Rahman (an appreciated actress herself) went to India for special training purposes concerning this series, which actually shows- through the visual assaults of chokchoka garments, overly dramatic dialogue/ script and the infamous Hindi soap trademark same-expression-shown-from-different-angles-for-a-whole-minute including the ghastly sound effects.

“The series in itself is unrealistic. I don't think people in the Gulshan area have lifestyles such as these,” comments Dr. Mahmuda Hossain, who sometimes follows the series on weekends because, in her own words, the excessively twisted story intrigues her. So is that the real objective of making Bangla-version Hindi soaps, drawing deshi audiences towards Bangla channels and away from the Hindi ones?

Noble though that may be, plagiarism can hardly be called a true form of art and so the effects remain the same. The Hindi series-watching housewife aunties' community still continues to indulge in foreign soaps, shampoos and detergents and all such products, with only the illuminated exception of a handful- the real life drama fanatics and the viewers of numerous talents shows.

“I just LOVE 'Houseful'on Channel I, that fat guy is so funny!” squeals one of the fans. However when asked, “So what does he do?” she became puzzled, “Dunno, just looking at him makes me laugh…” Another viewer, however, commented more positively, “I find the plot and characters realistic enough to make comparisons with my own life. That's why I like watching the series.” One of the viewers also mentioned the series “Tomar Doay Bhalo Achhi Maa” shown on ATN Bangla, “The plot is really heartrending. These things actually happen to our unfortunate illegal immigrants. I find the storyline interesting to follow.”

However, while Mostafa Sarwar Faruqi may vigorously argue the logics of applying realistic 'kortesi-khaitesi' dialogues to create a revolutionary genre of TV drama and while titles like 'Ekannoborti' and '69' may continue to sky-rocket in popularity, here's something as an ending note.

MY TV's test transmission aired a special telefilm on Saturday noon, August 15. It was a Liberation War-themed old project by the late Abdullah-Al-Mamun titled 'Bhuli Nai' which, with the bold storyline and acting skills of its characters, left this reporter speechless and questioning herself, “Wow, where's acting like that in the soaps?” It makes one seriously wonder whether 'washing materials' actually have what it takes to rival the true arts of drama, or
are merely 'entertainment for the moment'.

By Raisa Rafique

Book Review

Catcher in the Rye

EVERY classroom has one of them; one character, sometimes labeled as a 'loner' or a 'rebel' that somehow cannot fit in, the bane of the teacher's existence. You might even have a friend or two that fits in this category, the kind that your parents warn you about, intelligent, but so disenchanted with everything around him as to appear 'aimless'. You might even fall into that category, in which case, this book would appeal to you.

“Catcher in the Rye”, perhaps the best-known amongst JD Salinger's published work, tells the story of a young boy, Holden Caulfield, who narrates his experiences one summer, after having been expelled from the latest in a string of college preparatory schools, when he decides to delay going home and facing the music. The story spans just a few days, and follows Caulfield as he spends his last night at his old dorm, and then sets out for New York, where he spends a few nights in a hotel before returning home. During this period, he attempts to get in touch with former acquaintances, his awkward communication skills souring those experiences and compounding his feelings of loneliness. He tries to drown these feelings in women and alcohol, with little success, which only serves to make him more depressed.

Through his rambling, disjointed, and inarticulate speech, Caulfield conveys a perspective that is remarkably jaded for one so young. Possessing what a friend of yours truly described as a 'low bullshit tolerance', he is brutal in his assessment of the hypocrisy of social niceties, referring to everyone as 'phoney'. At the same time, he is touchingly honest about his own insecurities and shortcomings. Salinger draws a painfully realistic character as disillusioned and alienated as Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver”, with a charmingly sentimental side. He reels you into Caulfield's world, until you're hurting for him, and when the boy finally goes home, you cannot help fearing that the world at large will try and tarnish his refreshing honesty, to make him into yet another 'phoney'.

If, like so many others, (including, until recently, yours truly) who have been convinced by the book's long-secure position in the recommended reading lists for Literature students that this is yet another textbook, you don't know what you're missing.

By Sabrina F Ahmad



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