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Fear Is The New Faith

What would you do if someone told you that there is a show on radio that supposedly can make you wet your pants in the middle of the night? Well, off course, if you were a believer, you would give it a thought, shake your head, rub your hands together and decide to keep your ears extended on the next Friday night. If you happen to be an unbeliever, you would stare at the person with big wide eyes, wonder where he came from, and laugh him off; but, you would still decide to keep your ears fine tuned to the channel the next Friday night. Well, that is how Bhoot FM, our truly deshi show of paranormal activity is currently spreading its wings.

Of course, none have wet their pants yet; other than a few kids maybe, but the show has garnered a huge collection of fans through its unique subject of discussion over the past few months among the youth in Bangladesh. According to the producers, it is a real life show about paranormal and supernatural activities, containing live presentation from the Bhoutist Club, a collection of gentlemen who have dedicated much of their time in their search for paranormal activities in order to give scientific explanation to them. The show also contains in-studio accounts of listeners who have experienced ghostly "baparshapars", which I would basically call a waste of time because they mostly concern shadows, beheaded cats, odd sounds, and sometimes very good background music.

But then again, do not form a bad impression in your mind all too soon; it is not that all of the listener's stories are bad, just that some of them are, which is what makes listening to the show cumbersome, because you have to go through them before the good part starts.

The good part starts when the Bhoutist team comes up with their big sack of stories; to tell the truth, their stories which are mostly based on village myths and commoner's beliefs, are actually good enough to make your hair stand up on end, if not at least good enough to scare you. They tell you about their own experiences at these places, which create a visceral fear in the mind of the listeners, who admit that they actually do get scared when they listen to the show at night.

Fayeka, a student, says that she does not necessarily believe these stories, but is forced by her intuition to listen to it just for the fun "in getting creeps all over your body". According to Suhel, "the fun comes when you start to get the creeps from listening to the story for a long stretch in the middle of the night with the background music adding a flavour to the story, not necessarily from the story itself".

The stories of research in haunted places all over the country and of debunking ridiculous claims of haunted-ness actually do sound good when you listen to them with red eyes and with your head buried deep inside your pillow. You are requested not to laugh at my claims until you do listen to the show, which is actually very difficult to listen to; because they tend to go on for long hours, and because listening to ads every now and then is no fun.

Good news is that the Bhoutists are also gearing up for their first reality TV show regarding these paranormal activities - a one of its kind show in Bangladesh - which will air very soon. So, keep your ears clean and point it to 88.0 FM next Friday midnight; you are about to be "bhootified"!

By Eshpelin Mishtak

Sunbeams Brings International Glory

CA soda almost cost me a chance to perform on an international stage.

Sunbeams was the first Bangladeshi team to participate in Lucknow's prestigious 'cultural fiesta' Celesta International 2010, a golden opportunity for Asian teenagers to showcase their talents in the fields of choral singing, traditional group dance, choreography, dramatics and orchestra. The events took place from the 17th to the 21st of November and Sunbeams sent a team of seven students and two teachers to take part in choral singing and traditional dance.

We left from Dhaka on the 15th and had a blast in Kolkata. The next morning was our flight to Lucknow and I woke up to find a lump in my throat (from the soda at McDonald's) when in two days , I had to sing as if my life was on the line.

City Montessori School (CMS) holds a Guinness World Record for the most number of pupils in one school (40,000) in a single city. Not in one campus, though. Still, we were taken to the host Aliganj campus and it was big. The first day was basically all about looking around and admiring the place, as well as going down to the basement dining hall for lunch, tea and dinner.

I didn't rehearse with the team that evening but lived on constant cups of tea. Usually I hate 'chai' but on that day, it was my saviour.

17th saw the Celesta opening ceremony and CMS displayed its versatility by presenting various acts based on patriotism, peace and universal brotherhood on their huge stage and in the Introduction of the Teams, we saw our 40 fellow competitors all determined - the locals, the nationals, the Sri Lankans and the Nepalese. We were also introduced to the founder of CMS, Dr Jagdish Gandhi, a celebrity in his own right. (Google him, he has his own website!)

Our serial was number 19, and we grew impatient, and my voice seemed unreliable. We watched the rest of the teams perform and they were good. Each team brought something unique to the stage and as our turn approached we all went backstage and each had our own little pre-performance preparations. For the next 3 minutes, my cold disappeared. Onstage that day, in our Grameen Check saris and our 'Kolo Kolo Chholo Chholo', we weren't Aporajita, Nusrat, Padya, Sabrina, Saraf, Shababa or Tasnia. We were Sunbeams, we were Bangladesh. Once done, I coughed, and laughed as well. I had no regrets.

The next day was the Traditional Group Dance. That was a fun competition to watch, we saw a variety of colours and traditional acts including the Bhangra and the Sri Lankan peacock dance. Sunbeams' "Komola's" were brilliantly co-ordinated and I had a great time cheering for them. On the 3rd day we had to give feedback and I gave my first ever speech. We all spoke with pride but I barely remember it, probably because I was very nervous.

The closing and award ceremony was on the 21st and we wore Jamdani Saris to the auditorium. The Special Category awards were announced first which weren't first, second or third but the Most Outstanding awards.

When announcing the Most Outstanding Award for Choral Singing the Vice Principal said “Sunbeams” - we didn't react immediately because there were three other schools called Sunbeams! We held our breath and when the “Dhaka, Bangladesh” was finally heard, we jumped and cheered. Receiving the award, I knew that we weren't just cheering, the auditorium wasn't just cheering - the whole Sunbeams family was cheering, our family was cheering. Bangladesh was cheering.

We couldn't have done it without our wonderful leader Selena Mustafa or the ever-supporting Quader Sir who also taught us “kolo kolo.” We are also grateful to our chairperson Niloufer Manzur and the technical assistance of Iftekhar Sir. It was a complete team effort.

We reached home safe and sound with lots of stories to share and lots of pictures to reminisce about. The trip was certainly one I will never forget. Despite the 5 am wake up calls, lack of meat and long speeches we certainly had a blast.

I am proud to be part of Sunbeams' first international glory. Since we won, I don't regret the soda at McDonald's.

By Padya Paramita



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