Archive for February, 2008

Painting Ekushey

As over 400 children poured in from every direction towards the centre of Rabindra Shorobor (Amphitheatre) at Dhanmondi Lake, it seemed to the volunteers (including myself) that they would be uncontrollable. They laughed, scurried all over the place and between them, shared an energetic force unparallel to everything else. They were truly unstoppable.

This is what Chikimonkey-Phulkuri Art Competition felt like on that sunny morning of 21st February 2008. Organized by the children’s organization, Phulkuri Aashor in Dhanmondi and sponsored by Chikimonkey, a product from Akij Group; the competition catered to 425 participants from different schools, of which most were aimed at underprivileged and autistic children. They were divided into three groups: Ka (for autistic children), Kha (for Nursery to 3rd Grade) and Ga (4th grade and onwards). The subjects were as follows: Group Ka “Ja Icche Aaki”, Group Kha “Gourobmoy Shahid Minar” and Group Ga “Rashtrobhasha Bangla Chai”. But, beyond the groups, subjects and rules was the enthusiasm the flowed within every individual present at the occasion.

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After the participants scribbled their names and respective personal information in the entry forms, and the volunteers managed to place them at their designated rows with art papers; the competition finally began at quarter to ten. Pencils scratched the images of Language Movement and brushes stroked colours of freedom, mutiny and sacrifice. Many of the children forgot to bring boards, pencils and colouring materials; and it was great to see Phulkuri volunteers pulling things out from their own reserves to help them out. We watched the kids pour out their hearts on the white canvas and carefully recreating the spirit of Ekushey. They were their own art critics, silent observers and rule setters. Some asked for a second opinion from one of us, and when we encouraged them about their talents; they would scrutinize us from head to toe and then say, “Nah, I still think the people in my drawing don’t look real enough!”

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In the midst of the paintings, Shandhani was handing out low cost services to the awaiting parents and representatives from different schools. Anyone interested could get blood grouping and screening done at Tk.50 only, and many of the university goers present at the venue decided to step up and donate blood. Of course, pricking needles through their child’s skin wasn’t a very appealing thought to most of the parents, even if it meant knowing the blood group. Many parents even shooed us away with angry looks and shocked expressions!

After an hour of drawing, scribbling and criticizing, the announcer finally ended the competition. The volunteers walked between the rows, collecting the paintings and opening Chikimonkey sponsored drinks and chips packets for the children. As they posed excitedly for a moment on some of our cameras, the remaining volunteers counted and categorised the paintings. The 2-hour long event officially ended with the much spirited Phulkuri song echoing in everyone’s voices and the surrounding air.

Although the results are due on the 29th of this month, it was obvious that most participants were least bothered about it. They remembered the fun and excitement of the event, and somehow, it was all that mattered. The remains of wax colours on their fingernails and brush strokes on their noses carried a sense of satisfaction. As one of the volunteers puts it, “It was truly an amazing experience!”

Published on 28th February 2008 in Rising Stars

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Mama’s Garden from Heaven

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Music Mantra for Your Valentine

Amidst the shades of red, heart-shaped candies and fluttering lovebirds; Valentine Day is incomplete without the best love ballads humming a warm fuzzy feeling into you. Moldy Peaches’ “Anyone But You” is a cute number to begin the day with, guaranteed to bring a smile on both your faces. “Piazza, New York Catcher” from Belle & Sebastian is an engaging storytelling track with too many ideas crammed in one piece. Follow up these with “Days Go By” from Dirty Vegas and John Denver’s “Annie’s Song”. The modern ballad written by Robert Smith for his fiancé, “Love Song” is a romantic milestone from The Cure released in 1989.

Sun and rain have always been a musician’s favourite romantic metaphors; and Tim McGraw’s “She’s My Kind of Rain” is another addition to the list. A similar subtle sweetness is carried off by Ronan Keating’s “When You Say Nothing At All”, a much loved number that topped UK Charts in 1999. “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer is a Grammy-nominated sensuous sing-along that can be coupled with the beating number about crushes, “You Really Got Me Now” from the Kinks.  If you’re planning to propose to someone this Valentine, “The Suffering” from Coheed and Cambria is a lyrically perfect song, where a guy asks a girl to marry him.

“November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses follows the short story of love and life through death and the funeral of the bride. The classics “I’ll Be There For You” by Bon Jovi talks about giving love another chance, while “Please Forgive Me” by Bryan Adams is a musical depiction of evergreen love.

Our local countdown of the best loved songs about love kickstarts with Ornob’s “Tomar Jonno” from his second solo album, and secured 3rd position amongst top 100 songs of 2007. Follow it up with Aurthohin’s “Amar Proticchobi” and “Tumi”, which are soft, melo tracks about being around and there your loved one. “Mone Pore” from Warfaze is a classic reminiscing the times shared by two people in love.

One of my personal favourites would be Artcell’s “Tomake”, a unique blues-and-fusion number with guitars beautifully complimenting Ershad’s lyrics. Pair it with “Amar Shathe Aye” by Cryptic Fate, a down-to-earth, simple track about finding and following love. Yaatri’s “Ei Ki Beshi Na” is a lyrically sensuous masterpiece about two people with love and being alive being the only things common between them. It discovers how people can be complete opposites, and yet, shares a feeling that is unparallel to anything else.

“Diin Gelo” and “Esho Brishti Namai” are both chart toppers from Habib. Spice it up with Shironamhiin’s “Hashimukh” (from their album Jahajee) which has a street-like feel to it. “Tero Nodi Shaat Shomuddoor” is an upbeat number by James, or more commonly known as ‘Guru’. With an easy-flowing guitar solo, this one uses sea, sun, rain and elements of nature as metaphors to chase love beyond borders.

To sum it up, love is the focus of the majority of musical numbers, both popular and unpopular ones, across the globe. Compiling a list of the best is nearly impossible. Each piece deals with different agenda and sharing the same feeling of receiving, remembering and returning love. Let this Valentine celebrate that love we feel everyday!

Special thanks to everyone who sent in their picks for best love songs. God loves you all.

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