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How Time Flies

By Ibrahim

Imagine a land of fantastical possibilities, where all your wildest dreams today are but trivial, everyday stuff. Speed-of-light cars? Yearly vacations to your condo on the moon? We always think all that and more when we think of how life will be in the future (Or we used to, before we brought the planet to the brink of environmental destruction). Thoughts like this might make you bummed out about living in the present, or your inability to time-travel but the fact is - it's all hilariously wrong. Well, most of it anyways.

Time capsules are little pockets of information that are left deliberately for the future generations. They have been in use since the 1900's because people always believed that 'people of the future' would find it amusing to see their messages and archaic technology. Beginning from 1937, many time capsules have been buried and some even dug up to test how accurate people have been in their predictions for the future. Most of them have been widely off the mark. A time capsule planted in 1959 in Burbank, California predicted that we would have flying cars and ballistic missiles would be totally eradicated. Wrong on both counts, especially the latter. Another one in San Diego due to be opened in 2063 predicts our life expectancy will be increased to 150 years. Lucky us.

Apart from guessing things wrong, time capsules are also full of stuff which might give a better idea of the times gone by. Which brings us to the important question, what would we put in a time capsule if we had the chance to make one? Obvious things would include present day technology, pieces of our culture, apology notes for leaving nothing behind and even a can of gasoline just to rub it in. It still might end up a better effort than the Oklahoma capsule, which included a car to show what people used for transport back in the day. The vault however sprung a leak and when it came out in 2007, it looked as if people used to drive around in compressed trash cans. Waste of a classic car, that.

There are time capsules scattered all around the world set to be opened at different times, some a hundred years from now and some even a thousand (there's a satellite time capsule scheduled to return to Earth in 50,000 years). While the sentiment seems great now, when the people of the 31st century do open one and find extravagant predictions, they're more likely to look around and go, 'What the HELL?!'. That's because, barring an unprecedented Darwinian evolution of our species, we would still be our same flawed selves, be it in a robot-enhanced reality or a post-apocalyptic zombie world. So if you are thinking of burying a time capsule in your backyard or something, go easy on the predictions and remember the future is not some magical utopia. Share what your life is like, the perks and the pitfalls. This way you have a better chance of connecting than by sharing a few material things. Just like time-travelling, if you will. Oh and make sure the container is airtight.

After that, it all depends on the ridiculously long-odds of someone actually digging in the exact same place many years later.

Note: To learn more about some of the famous time capsules, Google the KEO satellite, the Crypt of Civilisation and the Arctic Vault. These are pretty cool.

Hi-Tech Toilets

By Shaer Reaz

One of the things that separate the rich and the poor is the way they take a dump. Some have comodes made of gold. Some have a stream, a river or a lake. Yet others do it a mile high, dropping their smelly contents over oceans, to be forever lost in the depths (or so we think).

A common complaint of people going abroad to study/travel is the lack of a certain “cleaning tool” in foreign bathrooms. Hell, I'll just go ahead and say it: Bodna. If you are a true Bangali, you will have missed this extremely useful thing while abroad. No one really misses things until they're taken away from them.

We may have piles of poo flowing down our streams, but we at least have better personal hygiene. In the land of the educated and the free, otherwise known as Europe and America (respectively), personal hygiene is insanely stressed upon. Why they don't have a concept of using water in the bathroom for purposes other than taking a bath completely eludes our uneducated kamla minds.

“At first it was the nastiest experience ever. I had to use a bottle or plastic cups as a bodna. It's not really as cleansing as using a 'hand-shower' but it sort of gets the job done” says Mohona, studying in the US. She also tells us it's a good idea to keep baby wipes with you at all times.

It's not all bad though. Some places have toilets that will blow minds. They render the bodna useless, making it seem like a Neanderthal's choice of cleaning behinds.

Salsabeel, coming from a gas station toilet in Germany, had this to say about her toilet-going experience: “It flushed automatically. Fine. The norm I guess. BUT THEN, the entire toilet seat-cover spun around, 360 degrees, to clean itself. It became all shiny, like my butt was never there! I was spellbound. Speechless. I was so happy I even got a cookie from that gas station.”

Cookies or not, you can get a similar experience in Dhaka too. A reputed hotel in Dhaka, a hotspot for cool people during Eid, has a water jet toilet. When you're done with your business, just flush. A stream of water shoots out, cleaning your you-know-what. Just make sure you're not facing the toilet though, because no one wants what might happen (you can guess what happens, we're not desciribing any of that here).

If you want something similar in your home, Kohler sells a toilet called “Numi”. It costs $6,400 USD and has a motion-activated lid and seat, integrated bidet, air dryer, deodorizer, heated seat, and illuminated panels for ambient lighting. Speakers let the user set the musical tone for the best toilet going experience.

Pressalit's intelligent toilet seat is the one used by Darth Vader. Its black, has red lighting along the sides, and can detect users and automatically lift/close its lid. Using the Force. Images of Darth Vader giving Luke swirlies and dunking his head in a toilet come to mind.

No matter how hi-tech your toilet is, if it can't get you to the Ministry of Magic through the Floo network, we'll take our bodnas and be happy with them. They look funny, sound funny, and are fun to use. It's thee Bangali way, so keep your bodnas close.

Weekly Ramadan Munchies

Fresh from the Aquarium

By Halcyon

We Bangladeshis like pretty things. It's sometimes insanely disconcerting how shallow we can be. We flock and ogle pretty faces and pale haired foreigners. We are enamoured by crap cars that look good. Sometimes, it's all borderline psychotic. I was at Bashundhara City the other day and - I swear I'm not making this up - there were two guys staring at a mannequin. When I say staring, I mean they were really focused. A mannequin!

While it is easy to laugh at these clearly disturbed individuals, it's a little more difficult to see the big picture. And the big picture is that we're shallow to the extreme. Take the formalin thing for example. We wanted fish that looked fresh and tasty. We looked for redness in the gills so the folks selling fish made sure those gills were the bright crimson of a B-list Dhalliwood actress's lipstick. Nothing is ever supplied without demand. We wanted spotless bananas, ripe-looking mangoes. Population rose, so people wanted more milk, so cows needed to be fatter and deliver more milk, so farmers and dairy contractors gave them protein shakes, and they needed cheap protein shakes, hence melamine in milk.

Not that there aren't people trying to make amends. The scientists at BCSIR, the very real and actual scientific laboratory that is situated at science lab, have come up with a chemical that you can use to test whether there is formalin in fish and they are working on making something similar for fruits. It's cheap, too; tk. 250 for roughly 15 tests. When I told my father about this, he laughed at me and said, “You go take it to the market and test out the fish. See how the fish-sellers treat you. 15 million people in Dhaka City, with hundreds of restaurants. The fish at the market, regardless of the formalin scare, never ever remain unsold.”

It all sounds very doom and gloom. But you have to hope that people change. Hey, you changed. After that rather horrific head-long one-sided crush on the prettiest person in high-school, you eventually developed some sense. You realised you can't keep putting people on pedestals and that life is actually quite long and you'd better go for someone whose company you actually enjoy.

Recently there was a picture in the papers of a man was selling live fish in aquarium near Paltan to prove that he didn't have preservatives and formalin in his products. Why did he do that you think? Because there was a demand for formalin-free fish. Oh look, change.


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