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Childhoods these Days

I'm growing old. Yes, I admit it, I'm part of an 'older generation' that knows nothing of the ways in which the newer generation operates. Why? Because I am about to embark on a spiel about the things we did 'when I was your age.'

Kids these days... when I was their age (think 7 or 8), I did not obsess over video games all day. We had much better things to do than to stare at the computer screen for hours and hours and don't get me started on how they don't even know their relatives. Hmph.

Remember how burping was a 'thing' when we were young? Kids these days, they do not partake in the old and time-honoured ritual of burping the alphabet. Even more shocking is the fact that they cannot make farting noises with their armpits!

In a way that seemed very Anne-of-the-Green-Gables-esque, kids actually used to name places - The Banana Split House, the Rickety Shack. We got creative and it was easy to refer to these places when talking to our neighbourhood friends or siblings; they'd know exactly which house/place we were talking about. And in order to name these places, we'd have to participate in a bit of discovery. Pfft… exploring is so Christopher Columbus-y; time consuming and generally useless because we've explored everything. At least, that's what two of my cousins told me.

When we were small, we were resourceful. Remember slingshots anybody? Rubber bands and Y-forked sticks are practically non-existent now. What about building forts with pillows and sheets and chairs? That was one pastime that was a staple for every kid's childhood. Maybe it's the lack of close-knit siblings or extended families living separately, but the sad news is: forts are dying out. It's true. And along with forts, spaceships, rockets, race cars, ships, caves and every other kind of adventure we cooked up with our overactive imaginations are disappearing.

I won't take it too far and say that kids these days don't climb up trees and all that, not even I've climbed up too many trees in my years of existence (which is bad). But it's completely undeniable that these kids are missing out on something important - really, really important. Like the essence of childhood kind of important. The worst part? Studies (legitimate, white coats in laboratories kind of studies) show that kids these days don't think that they're missing out on anything at all! They have the same level of confidence we had at their age and that they'll probably grow up to feel the same way we do about our childhood. Which is unacceptable; after all, our far superior childhood had forts in it. And no childhood is complete without forts, right?

By Sifana Sohail


Snuff (A Discworld novel)
Author: Terry Prachett

Reading books is often an addiction. At first you don't like it but after a little while, you begin to get used to it. But the end, you are completely hooked and when it finishes, you have that strange, empty feeling that is synonymous with withdrawal. And then you crave more, so you find another book and dive into it. But it is never quite the same. You read more and more to recreate that first high, but you never really get up there again.

Fortunately, there are writers like Pratchett for such situations.

For those who don't know, Terry Pratchett - or Sir Pratchett, now that he has been knighted - has been diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's, which, in a morbidly divine joke, is wasting away his supremely creative brain. So there was an element of apprehension when I picked up the book. Will I see one of my favourite writers floundering as he fails to keep up with his own brilliance?

No such worries. Pratchett delivers with his custom class and panache.

The story follows the City Watch arc, specifically Sam Vimes, who is currently on holiday to the Ramkin's country house. Obviously, a policeman is never truly on a holiday before things start going wrong. In this case, the wrong is the dead body of a goblin woman. Vimes starts following the trail through the various classes of small-town society and along the way, he picks up a disciple of sorts, a young village constable by the name of Feeney.

As with most of Pratchett's work, Snuff is filled with commentary on the goings on of the world. He picks at the division of class and racism, introducing the persecuted Goblin race, which hadn't made an appearance in his considerable fantasy works filled with Dwarves, Trolls, Pixies and every manner of Undead.

Vimes is his usual righteous self, out to establish justice and fair play in a world where everybody else is pretty much cheating. We have Willikins, the butler with the street fighting past, and conversations between him and Vimes are highlights in the book. In addition, we have Vimes's six-year old son, Young Sam, who is quite taken with the secrets of poo. Yes, poo. There are other cameos, of course, from most of the favourite characters of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Oh, and there's also the Dark.

Pratchett doesn't miss a beat with his story telling and it's unbelievable that the book is written by a man with a serious brain condition. He mostly dictates stories to his computer or to his assistant, since he has trouble reading and writing. The book is hell of a lot of fun. However, if you haven't read previous City Watch books, you might be a little lost. We suggest you start with “Guards! Guards!” - the first in the City Watch arc.

For the rest you, crimes have been committed [several of them, including kidnapping, murder and slavery], Vimes is on the chase [through land, sea and even a fresh water river that goes by the name Old Treachery] and there are villains that need to answer for their actions. What else do you need?

By Kazim Ibn Sadique



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