Archive for January, 2008
If my heart breaks into pieces
Could you put it in a plastic box?
Bury it somewhere deep enough.
If anyone asks about us
Tell them about our stupid love,
Silly mistakes, lonely and lovestruck
How we closed our eyes, and
Gave it all up.
If you can’t wake me up
Hit me hard,
Don’t shut me up;
Leave me naked at a bus-stop
Let the rain pour down on us.
I’ll remember it all over again.
How everything was never good enough
The swim in the ocean, the walk in the park
It all began from there
Once upon a past.
It’s difficult to watch certain television commercials, and not criticize them. It almost seems they’re begging for that extra bit of attention, and thus, that extra bit of humiliation. Since Bangladesh is recently growing awareness on AIDS and contraceptives, the private channels occasionally telecast one of the three ‘safe sex’ ads in the market. I’m not a feminist, but the sexist aspect of these commercials is a bit too evident. Women are portrayed as mere tools that are dangling around THE man’s neck for sex. THE man is THE saviour who bestows the woman’s virginity with some good sex.
One of these ads that come with a bizarre and hilarious one-liner had particularly caught my attention. The guy is a regular, predictable macho who’s willing to jump down mountains and swim across oceans to save the love of his life. Nonetheless, this noteworthy young man was mountain climbing when he hears the desperate scream of a girl for help. The scream triggered testosterone secretion in the man and with godlike strength and speed; he climbs the mountain and jumps off cliffs, rushing to the rescue. He dives into the foaming, rocky waterfall and saves the girl (who, by the way, is still screaming). The ad ends with a bonfire and spirited youngsters dancing around it, where our hero and his beloved are at the centre of all attention. Here comes the one-liner: “Hero Condom – Shobshomoy Ready” (translate: Hero Condom – Always Prepared).
Bottom line: our guy saves the day in return of good sex.
Maybe I’m exaggerating. In a country where a large percentage of the population is still uneducated, such ads are straightforward and will reach out to the masses. As opposed to these, the symbolic sex shown in Moods Condom – an Indian product – may not wholesomely deliver the underlying message to the general public.
But, the question remains whether the message reaches to the public at all. In a society, where the very issue of pre-marital affairs seems to burn down a ‘respectable’ family’s reputation, sex would be an unforgivable sin. The majority of the population are Muslims, and pre-marital fornication is considered to be the express route to Hell in Islam. With such religious and social restrictions, one would think oh-what-the-hell; unprotected sex isn’t an issue of concern around here. Correct me if I’m wrong, but approximately, 70 percent of the country comprises of the fearless and ruthless Google Generation, and they’re not very worried about sins and blazing fires of Hell.
Google Generation, or WE, don’t believe in luck, choose to control our fate and love bragging about how we’re better than everyone else around us. It ranges from pesky 14-year-olds in schools and streets, to the now-or-never spirited university goers and entrepreneurs. Awareness needs to reach this group before anyone else, and with the way things are run, I doubt if much of message reaches them.
In 7th grade, we were properly introduced to Biology and a very interesting chapter called Sexual Reproduction. The boys would sneer at the 2D pictures of naked adults; while the girls would feel a slight pang of embarrassment at the pit of their stomachs. From each copy of the textbooks, pages 124-126 were neatly removed and if anyone was curious enough to look up the content page, you’ll find out that those pages were on contraceptives and STDs.
Quite honestly, Valentine’s Day is the most unappealing event of the year under my set of definitions. It hardly interests me, but with such ‘intense love’ in the air, the temptation of making a mockery out of it was irresistible for me.
With another 14th of February comes another fresh ‘horde of lovers’, desperately trying to make one day out of 365 days in a year a little less miserable (or as they put it, a little more ‘special’). However, when I look at it, it seems nothing more than a fantastic day for Hallmark and Archies, paid e-card galleries and any gift shops out there. The best part, it happens every year and with it, brings more couples and a lot more money.
You might be wondering what my problem is if card stores are making more profit than usual out of the stupidity of youths for a particular day. It is not about the business inside card stores that I find so peculiar; rather, it is the fact that love can be both bought and sold that makes me wonder.
I have seen different forms of commodities being exchanged for a few extra bucks, the obvious examples being education (compliments to the increasing number of ‘English-medium’ schools and coaching centres popping up like mushrooms from nowhere) and honesty (ranging from the highest officials in government ‘services’ to the underpaid employees in small offices). ‘Love’ has not been a recent addition to a longer version of this list, but it is about time somebody speaks up about how easy it is becoming for transaction in the general ‘youth’ market these days.
Ignoring for a second about the predefined, ‘bookish’ terms used to describe this particular feeling, what immediately comes into focus is the modified, simpler, ‘practical’ and ‘more suitable’ interpretation of it. The slightest fluttering of the heart which stays for longer than a week and perhaps, if ‘unlucky’ for more than a month, seems the precondition of ‘intense love’. Added to it, the desperation to see and be with him/her, the constant urge to satisfy desires, the ‘almost perfect’ smile or the ‘nearly heavenly’ figure seem to be the assured steps towards a successful relationship. Or, as I like to put it, the next big steps in retaining your interest for a few more days after 6 months (I apologize if I counted too many days). The gifts, cards, phone calls and cell phone bills come with it like a compact package, and “bingo!” you are expected to be both lucky and happy.
What further annoys me is the ease with which our ‘prospective’ couples exchange the three most-commonly-used words in English vocabulary. It does not require a second thought, a few more days or a bit of honesty. It comes out as simply as something like, “I don’t feel like studying” (and there yawns the speaker, wearing the typical bored expression). The flexibility with which they give up their dignity and sanity and after a few weeks from an ‘unexpected’ separation, the comfort with which the memories evaporate or pretend to be without influence is what comes with the compact package of ‘love’. It is almost a routine, with minor changes. The ‘best’ part is that you can buy it and you can sell it – all it requires is peer pressure, dishonesty and lack of self-respect.
Then again, you wish it were so simple! Love, in my experience, is by far, the most complex emotion that works inside the human heart and mind. Of course, when I am saying this, I am referring to the ‘uncool’ love that people read in books (don’t rely on movies – they are pathetic). It takes a lot more than just the fluttering of your heart to make it real. It is about being a little less selfish and a little more caring; it means few sacrifices and many more compromises; it is being inspired by the same dream and giving up whatever it takes to make it happen; and most importantly, it is about trying to correct mistakes and being a little more perfect as a person for your beloved.
Undoubtedly, my ‘uncool’ definition of ‘uncool’ love will be very much contrary to the cooler, simple versions of it. With perfect consideration, I will allow Hallmark and Archies to carry on with their Valentine’s Day business strategies; the fools make bigger fools out of themselves and waste another day. This article, however does not include exceptions (where true love does occur and do last), for exceptions are never much fun being the topic of discussion. I don’t think this article will be anything more than entertainment, although my intentions were a bit of self-realization on the readers’ part. On that note and with little hope, I am eagerly waiting to watch Cupid’s wings burn down to ashes, soon.
Since private universities are popping up like pimples on the face of Dhaka, I have three surrounding my apartment. While one concentrates on Baishakh and International Mother Language Day and the other is strangely inactive, the third one is my favourite. “Law Academy” attached to some place in England, these lawless hooligans spend most of the year ’round singing and dancing over everything. To honour friendship day, their home band(s) put up some performances (followed by biriyani and unlimited soft/hard drinks). Believe me, the vocalist stole my heart away!!
The show kicked off with Bangla folk songs, incorporated with the same guitar intro for each of them. The drumline was basically the same for ALL the numbers, regardless of language, genre or any other aspect that generally would differenciate songs from songs. The cymbals sounded like the times when I was five and annoyed my parents by beating on tin paateel/haari with wooden rulers and the vocal was a refreshing mockery of the Banglish crowd. I’m pretty sure he never meant it to be that way – it was his “originality” throughout.
I was priviledged to listen to the worst cover of Elita’s “Kothay” (Raaga) and what’s best, it was a guy singing it. Imagine those girly “haah-s” and “hoo-s” from a brute’s vocal chords! Not to mention the unnecessary stretched and oddly creative (on the negative note) remix of “Bhalo Achi Bhalo Theko, Akasher Thikanai Chitthi Likho”. The never-unpopular forced “rrrr-s” on any Bangla word that characterizes poseurs and I’m-too-cool-to-speak-Bangla-properly generation on folk numbers was shockingly hilarious.
When they finally switched to Hindi pop and dance mix (and ever-famous Jhal’s “Woh Lamhey” and hoozoo-g Reshammiya), the over-enthusiastic crowd decided they should give their excitement some motion, hence doing something that can be loosely described as “dancing”. The vocalist initiated it by shouting “Ki bhai-bonera, eto chupchap kan? Moja lagtase na? Ashen, amra shobai miile enjoy kori!” All I had to do was comfortably station myself on the couch next to my window and watch a bunch of “dudes” and “chicks” waving their hands and shaking their hips (doggy-shake, if I should describe precisely) non-stop. It was worth recording on my handycam for TMA Studios!
Ow, at one point, they did sing some English songs, but honestly it sounded Hebrew-ish and took me till the third composition to figure out that it WAS indeed English. I wasn’t hallucinating. The classy vocal by then had “evolved” his accent to a strange combination of American-Australian-rrrr, while they had sirens blowing from God-knows-where for enhanced effects. He might as well have growled (or something that sounded like an unrehearsed grrrrowl) to intensify his solo performance – it was ingenius versatility.
Entertainment has taken a whole new definition in my dictionary. If giggling over the most unreasonable celebration of the year wasn’t a doze enough, then listening to some nut-crackin’ music next to my room surely made my night. I got to watch a LIVE “concert” (or, comedy) from my bedroom window and by the time it was finally OVER (thank God) around midnight, I was laughing with a 103 degrees fever up my head. The only person who suffered was my little brother who had his second-term Science exam the following day. He ain’t much of a Science-person and was studying the syllabus for the first time, while “muzik” pounded on his brain like a meteorite. Tssk tssk.
When we stepped inside the 3-storey DRIK interior, my colleague and I were equally excited and frightened. Shahidul Alam – the director of DRIK and world-class photographer – eased us into his world with modesty and natural friendliness.
“Photography, like any other profession or obsession, is all about sticking to the dream,” said the smiling Mr. Alam. “Anyone can do it as long as he/she remains excited and committed enough to it!”
It seemed we were being eased into a story. Anyone, without the slightest interest in photography would somehow still be drawn to this conversation. We talked about photography from a matter of a simple interest to the planning of a challenging career.
“It’s an exciting world out there. Everyone has some way or the other of conveying a message. With photos, the message is more powerful and real.”
What we planned was going to be a short report for RS ended up being a thought-provoking, learning experience.
To read full interview, copy the URL given below:
Photo Credit: Mainuddin/DRIK