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Men love hindi serials too

Story: Neshmeen Faatimah
Art: Fahim Anzoom

All our lives, we've always just assumed that the viewership of Hindi serials consists of only mothers, aunts, sisters and other eclectic assortments from the female gender. We have drawn stereotypes that women are the only ones capable of considering these soaps as archetypes of entertainment - that only the deft female mind can comprehend the 'complexity' of Hindi serials and like it. This has always been a widely accepted and time-honoured postulate. What we didn't know though, is that behind every woman who can't get enough of Ekta Kapoor, lies a man secretly enjoying himself in the background. The clever men of the Indian subcontinent have successfully avoided the limelight for far too long. Not anymore. We at RS went down to the deeps to uncover the real truth and expose the crafty men who, pretending to be victims of TV-monopolising wives and idle spare time, actually enjoy Hindi serials and go to extreme lengths to watch them.

“Dekho, dekho. Dekhe kichu shikho…” Unwary Samiha, an innocent 12th grader was just trying to sneak past her dad's room to go outside when she was met with this shocking greeting. In response to her speechless stare, her father forced the poor girl to sit with him and finish the episode of 'Saath nibhana saathiya' and later questioned her about what she had learnt from it. “I will never look at him the same way again,” she says. We don't blame her.

Mohtasin was in his hotel room in Bangkok when he discovered his father's addiction. Unable to get a Hindi channel in the hotel's cable, the fifty year old businessman struggled to stream live episodes of 'Pyar mein daardh hae' and 'Baade acche laagte hain' on his laptop.

“He wouldn't even let me use the wi-fi on my laptop,” complains Mohtasin. “He just kept on saying that I would slow the net down for him.” We managed to get a few words with the man and found out that the above mentioned shows were his favourite because “They're not like the other ones. They're good, make sense and are quite entertaining too.” We couldn't keep a straight face when we asked him what the reason behind this strange love was, which made him go on self-defence mode and say that he only watched because he didn't have anything else to do. “Don't believe him,” Mohtasin advises, “He even leaves parties early to watch them.”

This writer herself once experienced an occasion where her mother came to complain to her about her father crying watching 'Pavitra Rishta'. “He's making it awkward for me,” she grumbled. “How can one watch a show in peace when her husband is weeping in the background?” That was the first time the writer saw her father cry in years. She still doesn't know how she feels about that.

There are similar stories everywhere today in this country. Scrutinise your father's activities carefully enough and perhaps you will stumble upon such a soul-destroying scenario. What is happening to the world?


The End of Eternity
Author: Isaac Asimov

Reviewed By Sarah Nafisa Shahid

Most sci-fi fans are already familiar with Asimov; he is a mastermind in the field. With renowned best sellers like I,Robot and The Foundation Saga to his credit, this Russian-American writer has made fantasy worlds wholly from his PhD endorsed science-y knowledge. Yours truly though was fresh to the entire scene of Asimov influenced sci-fi fandom, hence the initiation into the alliance with 'The End of Eternity'.

The first two pages of the book: complete jargon which makes no sense. If you get past that, things start falling into place and soon you start picking up pace because the book really draws you in at one point. The antagonist, Andrew Harlan, is an emotionless time traveller who has been trained to be dispassionate to everything, a quality essentially required for his job. That is until he meets this woman, Noÿs Lambert, who changes everything about him and around him and makes him willing enough to put all that previously mattered to him in retrospect. Oh, the vigour of love.

Well, the plot sounds pretty cliché but as any Asimov fan will tell you, nothing is usually what it seems and the book is full of enough twists to change your opinion. Asimov's abilities lie in telling compelling a story through the overarching circumstances. While the story seems a little shallow from time to time, the ideas he talks about, weaving sentiment in between his nifty scientific logic about time travel, dimensions and parallel realities is an absolute treat to the reader.

On a more superficial basis, the writer does paint an intricate caricature of the antagonist who is an absolute hotshot to fall in love with. Not the regular jerky handsome kind, but the mild intelligent one.

I'll be honest though, the book might not appeal to all sorts of readers but as far as this reviewer is concerned, this sci-fi romantic thirller is worth a shot. Just for the record, it makes for a great reading if you are travelling; the long hours of attention helps in understanding the story better.

The story behind Durga Puja

By Mastura Tasnim

For many of us, Durga Puja brings a breath of fresh air in the form of a short vacation in the middle of the school year. This year, the Eid and Puja holidays have coincided, making sure children all over Bangladesh have more time to complain about having nothing to do. Except eat.

While we may haunt neighbourhood buildings for firni and shemai on Eid, we won't forget to line up for payesh and shondesh during puja. It would be wrong to say that only food attracts us to religious festivals, though for many of us, food alone is a good enough reason. Young men and women of all religions will flock over to temples and mondops to observe the age-old rituals carried out in deep reverence.

Says Adiba, “I love the festivity in the air. The music created by the dhak and the shankha, the fragrance of the dhoop, the various rituals such as the abir khela. In fact, since I grew up in Mymenshing, a region with a large Hindu population, the dhak-dhol has become the sound of my childhood.”

Nowshin almost mirrors Adiba as she gushes about all the fun she and her friends have when they dress up in sarees and visit all the mandaps in town. “Even the crowds seem bearable during puja”, she quips.

Shadhin's entire family go to their ancestral home each year for the puja. “The making of the statue takes a long time, and the other set-ups are just as time-consuming. While durga puja lasts 10 days, the preparations start months before.”

The statues, the prayers, the colours - it all mesmerises people, but not many of us know the story behind Durga puja that we so fondly celebrate. Well, what is RS for?

It all started with a demon called Mahishasura, named thus because he could turn to a water-buffalo or a mahish at will. He fancied being invincible, and to this end, meditated for many years to gain the favour of the great god Brahma, who finally acknowledged his prayers by granting him a boon. And so, Mahishasura could not die at the hands of any god or man.

The demon took this news very well and decided it was apt time to take over the world. And he did so startlingly well, killing everyone in his path, secure in his new-found immortality. Soon, he became the single ruler on earth, oppressing his people and crushing any man who dared stand against him.

But earth wasn't good enough; Brahma had said no god could kill him either, and Mahishasura put it to the test. He attacked heaven and secured the throne there as well, while the gods fled from their home, defeated.

The gods then turned to their only hope left - they called to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva for aid in those troubled times. The three great gods grew angry when they heard of the demon's misdeeds and their anger manifested as a pure burst of energy which shook the world and finally coalesced into the form of a young and beautiful woman. This woman was the goddess Durga. She was literally power personified.

The gods fell to their knees, begging her for help and then offered her their own divine weapons. From Shiva's trident to Agni's flaming missile and Indra's thunderbolt - she did not lack the tools of the job. And so, decked in armour and jewels, and blazing with light, she rode out on a lion to face Mahishasura in battle. The demon realised all too late that Brahma's boon did not protect him from women or goddesses and, in all his fury and despair he turned into a giant buffalo. Durga beheaded him while her lion pinned him down, and when the demon's original form emerged from the body of the buffalo, she struck his chest with Shiva's trident, and in so doing, removed evil from the world.

So the next time you go to a Durga puja and see a statue where the goddess pierces a buffalo with her trident, know that it symbolises the purging of evil from the world - and then bless your lucky stars that the only scary thing for you in the near future is university applications.



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