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Unblock This

It is the classic writer scenario. You are sitting at your desk looking all around for inspiration. But try as you might YOU JUST DON'T FEEL ANYTHING HAPPENING IN YOUR BRAIN! It is very annoying. It is so annoying that you end up typing all sorts of rubbish just to fill up the blank white screen. It is white paper for those of you still living in the prehistoric age.

Good thing about paper is that you can crumple it up into a ball and do many interesting things with it. For example, you can try getting the paper ball to land inside that black pair of shoes by the bed. Keep practicing and you can become a professional basketball player in no time. Maybe even impress Michael Jordan with your fine tuned accuracy. If not that, at least you will be able to impress the tiny lizard looking at you from on top of the door. As a last resort, you can end up writing a book on how to become a skilled shooter-of-paper-balls-into-shoes type of athlete. In fact, I will do that myself.

But what do you do when you HAVE to write something? When your life depends on it. Especially when your editor has returned from a trip to the most violent city in the world. Who knows whether she has managed to smuggle in a gun or not? It is times like these when us, Rising Stars writers, have to fall upon desperate measures. We need to try something new. Something innovative. Something that has never been tried before. YES, we need to use our heads. We need to think. However, nothing turns up after two long minutes of hard thinking. So back to square one. Maybe daydreaming might help. After all, it is a form of thinking, right? Right? Come on, say yes.

So there I am driving a shiny black Corvette over a smooth road. The convertible top is down. The wind is in my hair and the sun glinting off my 500-dollar Ray Bans. Then the dust gets in my face, the exhaust fumes in my lungs and a cursed bird does the doo-doo on my head. As if that is not bad enough the car phone rings and the voice of the irate RS in-charge blares out of the speakers.

"Ronny, where is the damn article?" I used to be his boss. Now he's my boss. Call it revenge. But we're good friends. Sometimes.

Hmm, time to change to a different scenario.

I am covering a major hostage situation. A child is holding another child hostage with a gun. I am about to save the day with a heroic act. It is all very safe because the gun is a toy. After all, where would a kid get a real gun? However, the cops surrounding the house do not know that. I am about to remove the gun from the child's clutches. Just then, a policeman calls out my name using a bullhorn. It is the voice of an irate editor shouting, "Where is the blasted article?"

Change of scene, again! I am at a hospital about to perform a revolutionary operation. A patient had his head stuck in a vase and doctors all over the world were baffled. No one could figure out how to free the poor man. I walk in confidently and pick up a surgical hammer. I position the hammer above the clay vase. Just as I am about to deliver the blow, the intercom buzzes. The voice of another sub editor screams out, "Where is the bloody article?"

Let me try once more. This time I am a villainous villain. I have all the props in the right place. Beautiful assistant by my side, beautiful heroine tied up in a room full of dengue mosquitoes and a plan to destroy the world. The plan is to clog the sewage system. The overflow would somehow change all the humans into slimy mutants (don't ask me how, I failed science without attempting it). Just as I am about to push the big red button, another heroine rushes in and shouts like yet another sub editor (how many are there in RS?), "Where is the freaking article?"

Sigh! There is no escape. I am doomed. But surprise, surprise! My article is complete. Who ever said nothing can be done by dreaming.

By E. R. Ronny

Eid Wishes and More

As Eid Holidays come around, The Rising Stars Team would like it's readers to know that we too need holidays, despite popular belief. The days of Fasting have dried us of our dried up, rehashed ideas. Therefore, there will be no issue of the Rising Stars on the 1st of September, but we will be back on the 8th of September, 2011, again, having had ample time to steal ideas to create more awesome issues for your pleasure. And thus we bid farewell. Eid Mubarak, folks. Hope you have a wonderful time and decide to send some salaami our way.

The RS Wardrobe (because we sold our desk)


Before I wade too deep into this topic and risk causing offence, I must confess; the whole concept of Ramadan seems strange to me. Why choose to starve yourself for the long, hot and humid days of August? What benefit does it bring? You can't even lose weight as you then spend the evenings feasting.

In my first few weeks of living in Dhaka, and indeed many times since, I have been shocked by the stark differences in culture between here and my home country, Scotland - the land of bagpipes, haggis and light, constant drizzle. The unapologetic, unforgiving stares and pictures taken not-so-surreptitiously on mobile phones, I at first thought rude and insulting, is a hostile reminder of my foreignness. As I have grown used to it, they have come to serve as reminders of how glad I am not to be famous. Also, the spitting - does it really have to be done so noisily and so often? As a Brit, I don't think I have ever really attempted a real spit, other than when brushing my teeth, let alone done it in public. Nonetheless, I have grown immune to this too. And of course there's the poverty. How do you learn to live with beggars constantly crowding your car - mothers and infants, children, often horrifically maimed? Yet somehow I have - it makes me feel guilty to admit it but I have become used to the beggars. I have learnt when to give and when not to; how to look vacantly into the distance and pretend no one's there and when I think about it, this seems to me to be callous, unfeeling. However, like all other adjustments, it's a defence mechanism, a survival tactic - to live here I have had to adjust suitably.

Of course, having been living here for four years, I have committed many a faux pas: believing the rickshaw wallah when he told me that my ten minute ride indeed cost 80 taka; addressing my friend's parent by their first name rather than as 'aunty'; wearing a short skirt. Yet it is of my most recent cultural mistake that I am most ashamed: while sitting in a traffic jam the other day I opened my bag, took out my water bottle and took a long and satisfying swig. When I suddenly realised what I was doing, I hastily stowed my water bottle out of sight and turned to my fasting driver, apologising profusely. He waved away my apologies, but when I returned to staring aimlessly out of the window, I saw my jam neighbour, a young, male passenger on a crowded bus, staring at me with open resentment and hostility. And I don't blame him, because here I forgot the most important rule about being in a foreign country - respecting the culture.

I have of course seen proof of Ramadan's more negative effects in the increased rates of road rage and irritability among the population, displayed to me the other day in a shouting match which almost came to blows between a took-took driver and his passenger.

At many other times in my residence here, I have been humbled. Being cheered on by a group of rag-clad street kids during my first driving lesson, being reminded to turn off the lights after leaving a room by a flower delivery girl, watching boys my brother's age playing football on the side of the road with a ball of scrunched up newspaper. In a country so full of hardship, the practise of self-denial is humbling to see. I believe my home country, especially the ever-growing obese population (excuse the pun), could learn a lot from the self-control and will power exercised in Ramadan. And little by little, this form of abstinence goes on to make more sense and soon we all, regardless of religious backgrounds, feel a little drawn towards the spirit of the month, for our own reasons.

By Iona Gaskell


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