Thursday, November 30, 2006

Zero Vacation Plans And Movies (Ranting)

So it looks like my trip to Bangladesh is not going to happen this Christmas.

My dad was watching the Bengali news (only person in the house to be remotely interested in any news from Bangladesh) when they showed a mini-riot in progress. Apparently some marchers decided to rally outside a shopping store and the police physically charged at them. Two people were shot dead, and a few other broken bones.

How a culture that prides itself on being Muslim can shrug off the loss of life is beyond me. No inquiries will take place about this 'incident'.

Now my dad is usually the most optimistic person about Bangladesh. If at any time someone comments, "Oh, I don't know how people live in Bangladesh", he will reply, "Why, is 150 million people not living there?" And so on.

Even he now thinks it would be a bad idea to visit at this time. It's Eid, it's elections, and it's a political mess. I was speaking to my cousin in Bangladesh and she of course was adamant that there is no danger, but then she's a local. I remember going shopping with her one time, when I was very young.

We were shopping in New Market and all of a sudden I start crying. I am horrified, why am I crying for no reason, that too in front of GIRLS? And then I turn, and I see that everyone was crying. It sounds like something out of a cheesy 80s horror movie but then someone whispered 'Tear Gas'.

All I remember was being dragged by my cousins into a nearby shop, where they downed steel shutters, and waiting while police battled - yes battled - some rioters outside. So if I go to Bangladesh, I will get to attend FOUR weddings (and hopefully no funerals). However, my plans to visit Rangamati (a nice, beautiful Kashmir-like place in Bangladesh) or Sylhet or any other city will be hold. And since my cousins all have hugely worrying parents (runs in the family) they won't be allowed to accompany me on my shopping spree (which is no.2 reason why I go to Bangladesh). Not to mention it will be much cheaper to go in February.

So NOW, thanks to the political imbeciles in Bangladesh, I have zero vacation plans. THAT IS A BIG PROBLEM. Yes I know people are starving somewhere else but I can't stop being pissed off at the moment.

Anyone attending RIS?

I saw Dhoom 2 and Casino Royale over the weekend. You know times have changed when the men show more skin than the women in the movie. The girls were just drooling.

Dhoom 2 was a classic bore. The first half was pretty good, and fast paced, so I didn't realize I had gone through 1.5 hours and 3 samosas by interval, but boy did it drag after the interval. Some people said 'well, it had style'. That is did - production values were top notch - but the script had no logic.

Somethings never change. It is a Bollywood movie after all. I would give it a 2.5/5.

Casino Royale was good in the sense that it was a different type of Bond. Man is that guy built! The scene where he rises from under the water on the bridge, it looked like he was inflated, muscles (or as one of my friends call them "mus-kels") all over the place. And the stunts in the first half of the movie blow you out of your mind. Pierce Brosnan was a pretty Bond but I would rather have Craig's Bond beside me in a street fight. The last one third of the movie drags though. Good thing I play poker so I knew what was happening in the middle one third of the movie. And the Bond girls? Hot as ever. Over all, 3.8/5.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Brass Crescent Awards


I am humbled. My post Better Than A Thousand Months" on the last night of Khatam-e-Quran during Ramadan has been nominated under the 'Best Post or Series' for the annual Brass Crescent Awards. You can take a look at all the categories and nominees and vote for your favourite blogs here.

Vote Here

You can vote till Sunday.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Of Breaking Relationships

I was the witness to a friend’s wedding recently, and accompanied him to City Hall when the couple went to obtain their marriage license. When they were filling out the form and I was proof reading it, I noticed something strange.

Gone are the two distinct columns where the left side said “Groom” and the right side said “Bride” and asked for their respective information. Now it said plainly “Applicant” and “Joint Applicant”. And they say same sex marriage does not affect heterosexual marriages.

And yes, since the wife filled out the form first (she had the pen) she was the “Applicant”. [PDF]

Too many relationships are breaking up recently. Having played the role of listener and wanna-be Dr. Phil over the last couple of weeks, I ventured over to the original ‘relationship expert’ of Toronto, a Valerie Gibson. She writes for the Toronto Sun, and according to their site, is “married (and divorced) five times”.

Now why would someone take advice from a person who could not make a successful go of it five times, let alone one, is beyond me. Having surfed through her web site and the advices she gave, I have come to the conclusion that people like her are a part of the problem. Here are a few questions people have asked her.

My wife and I are in mid-life and been married for over 25 years. She has, to my surprise, recently become very sexy.

Err... this is a problem?

When we're at home alone, she gives me wonderful hugs and kisses, fondles me …

Ok I am stopping here, as I don’t want this post to become the top link for weird Google search terms (believe me, I get enough of those – who the hell searches for ‘bhabi fair and lovely’ and how do they end up on my blog?).

Gibson takes the hubby down a notch by replying

Don't want to pour cold water on a hot situation but it might be possible she's having "guilt sex" because of an affair. [link]

I would have said just hold on and enjoy the ride. Why cast suspicion without any reason? Now rather than enjoying his good fortune the man will be keeping tabs on his wife's cellphone calls.

Then there is this gem.

Our 19-year-old daughter is at university and has asked if her boyfriend can visit at Christmas and stay in her bedroom. I know they have sex and practice safe sex and I feel it would be okay because I see her as an adult.

Well, good for you.*sarcasm*

However, my husband disapproves and says he doesn't care what they do elsewhere, but they're not going to sleep together under his roof. He feels it would set a bad example for her 15-year-old sister.

Twenty years ago this question would not even arise in the Canadian society. Three cheers for the man. People lived the Christian values rather than just talk about it. Gibson’s response:

It's hypocritical of her dad to accept that she's having sex elsewhere but isn't allowed to in your home. At 15, her sister can understand that there are different rules at different ages.

Yes, what a great way to encourage a budding relationship between daughter’s boyfriend and her father. Whatever happened to "my house, my rules"?

While I understand different values exist for different people, you would think as a boyfriend you would be a bit smart. If you are getting the bagging for the rest of the year surely you can go without it for a few days. Nah, do it at her father’s place and you will get none of the bagging and all of the nagging.

At least she didn’t ask me. I would have said make sure your father doesn’t believe in honor killing.

Most of her ‘answers’, and indeed most of the answers in similar columns in Now and other such tabloids, end with the statement that “it’s time for you to evaluate the situation and consider whether you want to continue this relationship, or if it’s time to move on”.

Its apparently easy to move on.

Love is all about self satisfaction.

Relationships are all about ‘me’.

Marriage is about benefits. When it hits troubled waters, "evaluate".

Husbands are not worthy of any special respect.

Compromise is a sign of weakness.

A father is just a bank.

No wonder divorce is rampant in our society and the institution of marriage is breaking down. It's not just same sex marriage.

It's the fact that now everyone wants to be the "Applicant", ALL THE TIME.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Need To Get Out Of Here

Anyone who knows someone who can score me cheap tickets to Bangladesh over the Christmas period, with stopovers in Dubai/London/both please contact me as soon as possible. If you know someone who knows someone who owns a travel agency I will be super grateful. At this point I have not decided how you will be rewarded but rest assured satisfaction is guaranteed (mine at least).

Two Facts And The York Show

Dear Diary,

I was made aware of two facts of life over this weekend.

Fact 1: If there is a poem that makes no sense, lie like hell to girls.
Fact 2: You can be ice cool when your car is being "stolen". Again, a girl was involved.

Dear Diary, I went to this show at York university over the weekend. It had suddenly become the hottest ticket in town, with every young Bengali in T-dot (and even from remote outposts such as Hamilton) rumored to be attending. In that show, there was this cultural part - a poem/dance/song combo.

The 'story' of the poem was this. Three girls are singing near the river. Apparently in Bangladesh it's customary to sing and dance when you are a female, bathing in public near a river. Three princes appear to see them, and propose on the spot. Each prince promise their respective beauties lots of gold, silver, land, slaves and palaces. Each of the village belles refuse their advances because the princes only love their beauty, which is fleeting.

Soon, a loser/pauper /Devdas/poet/guy-with-bipolar-disorder combo proposes to one of the girls. She bats her eyelids at him and says yes. The man marries her, but then goes off to fight in a war. And never returns. The girl now sings sad songs by the river. The End.

Guess which half of the audience was in awe of the piece. Not just awe, gushing admiration for the moral of the story (which is?). "Finding lessons" in the skit about the "metaphors of life".

And now guess which half of the audience was bored to death during this piece.

At this point, if a girl asks you what did you think of the poem/dance, what should you say?

Wrong answer: WTF was all that?

Fact 1.1. If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, then the way to a girl's heart is plain out lying.

Right answer: "You have to feeeeel the anguish of the girl's last song" or "how the poem above underlined the social contrast between the poet's perspective of royal lust and regal love".

As for the rest of the York show, man, they have some serious talent on that campus. UofT still rocks though (I have to say that, I am biased towards the institution that tortured me for four years). But York, good, keep it up. It's good to see kids do well nowadays.

Now for Fact 2. When my car got "stolen". And I was Mr Ice-cool.

Dear Diary, I am at this friend's place in the village. Otherwise known as Brampton. It's a guy's night out. I had taken my laptop there to copy some of his DVDs. I was surfing the net. Suddenly, a girl friend came online. Dear diary, please note the space between "girl" and "friend". We were just chatting casually about movies, of all topics.

Suddenly, one of my 'friends' came rushing into the room.

"Mezba, your car's missing! It's not on the driveway!"

And in his hand was the club I use to lock my steering wheel with.

Oh great! Since this friend was usually the stoic serious type, I started to inwardly panic. Second, my keys were in my pocket. So they could not be playing a prank.

But, to the outside world, I was cool. All I said was, "OK, gimme a few minutes."

After all, I was chatting to a lady. And you just don't disappear like that. So I continued to chat. She talked some more, and then I told her I will be right back. A full five minutes later, I turned to my incredulous friends.

"Holy f*** it didn't work." One of them said. The others started to bicker as to whose bad acting gave it away. And the mystery of the club? Well it wasn't mine to begin with, just another one in the house with the same colour.

All in all, a great weekend.

Here are a few pictures of the York show.

Students form the Bangladesh flag.

Heaven and Hell co-host the show.

Singers dance to a poem that is sung.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Things I Learnt From The Movie Vivah

My mom told me to watch this movie called Vivah because it is full of "cultural and traditional" values. How cool is that? I have a mom who tells me to watch movies. Then my dad told me not to waste too much time watching "that crap" and spend it wisely by either studying for my GRE or doing zikr. Hmm, studies, zikr or movie? In the end I decided Islam places a great importance on mother, so I obeyed her and watched the movie.

Apparently there are a few ground rules about desis that I was not aware of.

  • All small businesses will have an accountant, called munim, who will dress like this.

    Note the phone - and the film is set in modern times - the phone is connected to his table!

  • If you have a younger sister, you MUST name her Choti. That would be some unique name, eh? To join other unique names such Beta, Babu and Bade Sahab.

  • All families where an orphan is brought up will have an evil woman.

    Her reason for hating the orphan? She is fairer than her own daughter.

  • All Sardars are forever seemingly high on crack. They always smile with their arms locked in the bhangra position and start every sentance with 'Oye!'.

  • Only girls from towns with name like 'Behrapur' or 'Golapur' or 'Madhyapur' are good. Because naujawans from the city are losing faith in words such as 'prerna', 'shudhatya' and 'adrishta'.

  • If you are the head of a large corporation, you inform those who work under you, every one of them, of EVERY rishtaa, or proposal, that comes for your son.

  • "Girls in small towns are so good they don't even go to restaurants."

    The father tells this to the son, while seated at a restaurant.

  • You are left alone to talk with your prospect.

    You should always start with this speech "Hey I don't know what to say in this situation as we have to talk about our future life together but why don't I talk about my previous girlfriend who had 2 other boyfriends and then you tell me if you have any questions."

    After you say all this, the girl will be so enamored with you she will say 'yes' after just one meeting.

  • Good girls always keep their gazes lowered.

That movie was so corny, cheesy and bile-inducing with out-of-touch-with-reality. In short, your typical family-type Bollywood movie that your parents will love. Me? I am still trying get one Indian friend who can translate prerna for me.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lunch With A Nurse

One of my friends got into nursing recently. The first time I met him, he was picking his major for the second year. I asked him what he was choosing.

"Nursing." He replied.

I did a double take. Nursing? A brown guy?

"I am not gay." That was his second statement. "Not that there's anything wrong with that ..."

Turns out he is actually quite smart. He wants to be a doctor, but since a lot of students don't get into med school on their first try, he decided to opt for nursing as his undergradute. If he got into med school, fine. If he didn't, he had an useful degree to actually work in the hospital and getting experience before trying again.

Not to mention the fact that over 90% of his fellow students were female. And probably 3% of the remaining 10 were gay, and 2.5% in relationships ....

So yesterday during lunch hour I popped over to his facility. What I saw boggled the mind.

The mock intensive care unit.

There was a whole hospital ward full of "patient"s and the nurses were busy caring for them round the clock.

"So, these are just for the ambience?" I asked him, poking one of the dummies in the eye.

F***! I nearly jumped out of my skin as the "patient" sat up and let out a low moan.

"Yo, these are 50K apiece!" My friend hurriedly pushed a few knobs on the bed.

Amazing. These dummies, each worth over 50,000 dollars, could actually simulate symptoms of most diseases, have heart attacks, even ask for water. If not cared for properly, they could even die. The Toronto Star even did a profile on this mock ward. The Star's article shows a picture of the mock maternity ward. The baby robot could cry, burp or even - and I don't know how but my friend said so - need a change of diapers.


Monday, November 13, 2006

The Story Of Two Pictures

At the Vatican:

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaƫlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, meets the Pope [Source].

So to meet the Pope, our hot Governor General has to dress more like a Muslim woman than Muslim Turkish women politicians, university lecturers, Air Morocco stewardesses, Tunisian women, ... as opposed to when she dresses up for a toast.

My question: What will she be wearing once the Italian government bans the burkha?

Meanwhile in Bangladesh:

Egged on by other supporters, a Bangladeshi kid, aged 10, throws a rock at the police [BBC].

Today I went to vote in Toronto's municipal elections. Such elections are taking place all over Ontario today. My name wasn't on the list, so they checked my ID and had me fill out and sign a form before giving me a ballot to vote. I voted and left.

There were no policemen at the voting station. There was no army on the streets. There were no riots. The center was staffed by senior citizens and high school kids.

In Bangladesh it's not even voting day. No one is even sure when the election will be and who will run. And already there is chaos. I am beginning to think these people only understand the language of the stick.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

No Girls Allowed

Imagine my surprise on reading a research on gender-segregated classes in Canada!

When I was in high school in the Middle East, Bengali classes, which happened twice a week, was eagerly looked forward to by the guys. Our high school was segregated by gender. Boys had their own buildings and entrance and playground, while the girls had theirs - and the twain shall never meet except after school hours when most of the guys would go around to the girls' entrance on the pretext of waiting for their 'sisters'. In fact, one of the biggest reasons cricket was so popular was that if you could manage to hit a six properly, the ball would go to the girls' playground, and then the fielders would make a dash to fetch that ball - but I digress.

The reason Bengali class was so popular was that it was the only subject that was taught combined. So the scheduling would be such that Bengali boys would join the girls of the same class in some classroom for that period only. Twice a week. Apparently it was hard to find qualified Bengali teachers for the British O'Level system and our school had only one. Oh, how we lorded over our non-Bengali friends over that fact.

So there was this one student, shall we call him X. So X decided to pass a note to this girl (naturally seated across the aisle on the other half of the classroom). X therefore wrote his note on a piece of paper, folded it into a paper airplane, and while the teacher's back was turned, threw it across the room and then quickly ducked back into his books.

Unfortunately for him, Muslims and pilots are not meant to be. The plane took a dip, changed directions in mid air and came to rest - directly behind the teacher's feet. Unknown to X, who was concentrating sharply on the Amar Boi text book, the teacher bent down, picked up the paper, read it, and then turned to the class.

"X!" She suddenly announced. "I am quite impressed at your writing recently."

"Um, thanks?" X, though puzzled, beamed. Yet another chance to impress the ladies.

"Yes, not only by your writing, vocabulary, but also your reading skills have improved considerably. Why don't you come here and read this poem?"

Oh, how X eagerly stepped forward to the teacher's desk. And how his heart must have skipped a beat when he saw the unfolded paper note, formerly an airplane, in the teacher's hand.

He spent the next two classes standing outside the classroom.

Now, before you think X is me, let me tell you X wasn't me. Firstly, the teacher was my MOM, and I would NEVER dare to try anything in her class. Second, I was sort of oblivious to girls at that age. Idiot me.

So, why this piece of nostalgia? Well, today, I read this article in the Star on how this B.C. principal commented on a study they did which seemed to prove that pupils excel when boys and girls are split up. According to the study, maths, reading comprehension and writing skills all improved because "segregating has taken away social pressures". In fact boys outperformed girls in many areas after being segregated.

I leave you with a little food (a morsel really) for thought. I showed the study to two friends of mine, Sheikh and DJ. Sheikh, as his name suggested, told me this is why Islam is the solution and how UofT today are discovering that wudu washes away your sins, and now, segregating classes lead to brighter students.

Then when I was talking to DJ (who really is a DJ), and he exclaimed "maths and English are not the only skills people need to know. What about social skills? Or interaction? How many Muslim students do you know who come from such a background and then 'go crazy' once they are away from parental supervision? And how many don't but cannot deal properly with girls, or their wives?"


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hypocrisy and Facebook

So I was thinking about hypocrisy and the dual nature of many people. Let me start with myself. I will get in the car and say the prayer you need to say, right before I pop in the CD and turn up the music full blast.

So my friend and I get in the car, and I start the car. And then I start saying the little prayer.

"What are we waiting for?" My friend asks.

"Um," I reply. "I am warming the engine. That's it, warming up." Of course, it's not cool to admit you are praying.

"Dude," My friend has a puzzled look on his place. "We just stopped at this place for five minutes."

"Oh shut up. I am saying Aytul Kursi."

"Oh." Respectful silence. And then - alright, let's pop in the CD. And the music blares full blast on the speakers, where the singer describes in detail what he would like to do with his girl, and the girl replies back. Hindi or English, it doesn't matter nowadays.

I was thinking about it yesterday as I surfed Facebook.

Yes, I gave in to temptation at last. For someone who makes his living writing web applications, I am always the last one to get on any internet bandwagon. I started using Napster, just before they shut it down. I steadfastly refused to use web-banking, relenting right before phishing campaigns became well organized. I started to use torrents right before our ISP started to clamp down on them. So Facebook users beware.

So yesterday while I added a few friends and was just surfing through their pages and their friends, I came across the Facebook profile of this guy I know since after university. OK, now this guy is not your average 20 year old guy. He was always spouting religious talk. He would make you fill guilty for checking out a poster of Aishwarya Rai (telling you some line about how you were committing zina in your heart or something like that). He once sent people a ten page essay on why one must not wear ankle-length pants.

And here he was, on Facebook, in a bar, with a drink in one hand, with his girlfriend, making out. On Facebook. What do you think of that? It's not that I am passing judgement of what he did. I have plenty of friends who drink, who have girlfriends and whatever. I don't pass judgement or force my religion down on them. But I think it's the height of hypocrisy when you bug people for not wearing a cap when praying and then have your tongue down a girl's throat. A girl who is not your wife. In a bar. And then have it on Facebook for the whole world to see.

OK rant over. Meanwhile, Facebook is one cool thing. WTH is a 'POKE' though?

Tags: Tags:

Monday, November 06, 2006

We Are No. 3

Thanks to Em for alerting me to this fact.

So Bangladesh is no longer no. 1, having fallen to no. 3. While successfully kicking Pakistan and Nigeria's ass, we got beaten by Haiti (No. 1), Myanmar, Iraq and Guinea (joint no. 2). I am talking of the the list of most corrupt countries in the world (hint: scroll to the bottom).

So let's see. In a period where there were 300 bombs, judges were killed, lawyers hit by a suicide bomb (jury still out on that one), political instability where the opposition forced street protests and there was a possibility of a military coup, what did Bangladesh achieve?

We won the Nobel Peace Prize.

And we reduced corruption.

So, um, we are on the, uh, right track?


My Car Accident

I recently went through a car accident, an experience that gave me a first-hand taste of low and dirty tricks that people can pull when involved in an accident.

I was driving Eastbound on Kingston Road, a thoroughfare connecting downtown to our suburb, on my way home from work, albeit a bit later than usual. As I approached a hill, I slowed down. I knew from experience that there's usually a cop on the other side with a radar. As I crossed the hill, sure enough, there was a couple of cop cars manning a radar station and pulling people over.

The knowledge of that fact alone was to come in useful later, as I found out.

Around 3 minutes of driving past that hill, I was on the leftmost lane, going at the speed limit. All of a sudden, I see this Cavalier exit from a small side street on the other side of the road, cross the Westbound lanes and cut directly onto the high speed lane of Eastbound Kingston Ave.

The lane I was on.

It happened so fast that I still shudder to think of it. It's an indescribable feeling, as you approach a near death experience and feel powerless to do anything. Your whole life starts to flash in front of your eyes. I remember just pressing the horn until the sound of it filled my ears. I remember stepping as hard as possible on the brakes. And I remember the feeling of utter helplessness as I realized there were cars to my right, and absolutely no place to swerve out of the way.

There was a huge crack! sound, as my car came to a screeching halt. Wondering why the air bags haven't deployed yet, I gingerly exhaled and then looked around.

It seemed at the last minute, the lady in the other car, on hearing my horn blast, had managed to swerve sufficiently so she was on the thin median separating the two directions of traffic, but the side of her car was still in my lane, and that's what I had hit. Or rather, the mirror of my car had hit.

It could have been a serious accident that in the end resulted in only a broken mirror. Had she not managed to swerve out of my way, I would have hit her passenger side head on, most possibly killing the child that was seated there. And more importantly, had the speed and impact caused my car to start swerving, I now would be perpendicular to the oncoming traffic, and people would hit me. Allah had personally saved all of us.

I got out and walked to the other car. She was still in the car! Before I could reach her though, another person got to me.

"Hey!" This Indian guy in an overalls accosted me. "I am the owner of this garage opposite the road - there!" He indicated with an outstretched hand. "You come to me, I will give you good discount." Pushing a visiting card down my hand, he left.

I wasn't seconds away from an accident, and already I have a guy trying to make a buck out of me!

I knocked on her window and told her to come out.

"I need your insurance," I told her, still shaking. "We need to call insurance."

"Yes," she said, then whipped out her cellphone. Lady, why are you taking out your cellphone? Give me your damn policy number.

"My cousin works at a Nissan dealership." She suddenly got off her phone and told me. "He is saying this mirror is maximum 100 bucks to change. He is at the dealership now."

"Ya?" Even though it wasn't my fault, I wanted to avoid the insurance hassle. Then I looked at her sharply.

"It's eight pm." I told her coldly. "All Nissan workshops I know close at 6."

"Oh," she was now flustered. "Look, my cousin has same car and I thought-"

"I want to report it." I told her flatly. "Now give me your insurance details and let's go there."

I was going to call up my agent and find out where the collision reporting center was, but it turned out she knew where the collision reporting center was, and a shortcut to get there! So we took it.

Once we were there, I was to get the second surprise of the night.

"Well," the counter agent taking down my report faced me. The lady had just completed her version while I had waited. "The lady tells me she was waiting on the median lane to enter the high speed lane, when all of sudden you came speeding, swerved into her lane, hit the side of her car."

It took me a second to digest this. For a second, I was almost in awe of how the lady had changed her apologetic story to a lying one.

Then I remembered the cop radar spot on Kingston Road. A smile lit my lips. Taking a moment to gather my thoughts, I began.

"First of all, minutes up the road from the accident spot, there was a police radar in operation. If I was speeding, they would have stopped and ticketed me."

Strike 1.

"Second, the median she is saying she WAITED on, it's a thin strip of yellow line, hardly wide enough for a bike, let alone a car. So where was she waiting?"

Strike 2.

"Finally, it's an amazing version. I swerved into her, somehow the front of my car magically avoiding her side, and somehow managed to get MY MIRROR to hit her, then swerved out again so this time the back of my car avoided her side, and then stopped some distance away. Very flexible car, my Nissan."

Strike 3.

The agent was now laughing. Then he looked at me, "Are you Indian, by any chance?"

"Bangladeshi." I replied.

"O bhai amio Bangladeshi!" The man literally shouted out, and continued in Bengali. "I thought I saw you before, you used to play cricket for this league right? Me too, for this other team."

Of all the places to run into a cricket player. At a collision reporting center.

"This lady I have seen her here before." The agent continued, now looking at her with distaste. "Don't worry, I will look out for you. It's a clear case of side swipe."

He then called a cop who went out with us to look at the damage. One glance, and he knew what happened. After giving me the police report, he turned to the lady and stared to scold her for endangering her child by driving recklessly.

Thankfully my insurance agreed with me, citing me not at fault and taking full charge of fixing my mirror at no cost to me promptly. To this day I still think of how some people tried to pull a fast one on me, and thank Allah for watching over us all.

Moral of the story: Play cricket.


Friday, November 03, 2006

You Are The Oldest One

South Asian children can tackle a host of challenges that kids from other races probably don't have to go though. Our parents have the unreserved right to physically punish us, especially guys. And girls don't get off easily either. They come attached with a host of rules (most importantly curfew) that we guys fortunately don't have to go through.

Even after all these hurdles, there are some special bonus challenges reserved for the oldest child. After all, he (or she) is the "oldest one".

You Are Supposed To Be An Example.

Growing up my sister and I used to get into a lot of mischief. Unfortunately since I was the older one by just a minuscule distance I used to get most of the blame. Her defense could be limited to 'well bhaiyya was doing it' and that's it - off the hook. Meanwhile, I, on the other hand ...

"How can you do this? You are older, you are supposed to be setting an example! Tsk Tsk!"

Well, no one told me when I was five that playing football in the living room was a strict no-no. How am I supposed to know? Just because I am older, though, I am supposed to have a Book of Knowledge imprinted in me.

You are representing the family.

That's it. Bottom line. First child. Goes off to university. You are representing The Family. And if you go to a small town where there's not enough Bengalis, you are representing The Entire Bangladeshi Community. Never mind if you have not lived in Bangladesh ever. And if you ever go to a small community where there's not too many Muslims, now you are representing the entire Ummah!

Unwanted Attendee At Parties.

If you are the first child your parents are still young as you grow up, so they go out frequently and attend dawats, or parties, more often. Often very boring parties. Since the concept of calling a random person to babysit appears to be a foreign concept amongst desis, such parties always consist of a room of bored pre-teens sulking. And you would be lucky if the other house had a kid. At least then there was someone to talk to.

And now, there are some benefits of being the Oldest One.

First-Hand Toys

Prior to my birth my mom went to her mother's place. After I was born and word was sent to my father, he arrived with a SUITCASE of toys. Your parents practically dote on you. I soon learnt that whenever I wanted a new toy (which was every other week) all I had to do was mention it to my parents along with an example of a recently completed household chore that I tried to do and the toy would be in my room the next day. Legos, Matchbox cars, soldiers, The Zoo Set, I had them all.

The second child - "oh here, have your brother's toys".

Siblings Worship You

Now that I think of it, I was an extremely mischievous child. I always thought up of all neat practical jokes I could play and innovative ways to get into trouble. And my sister became an ally, a guinea pig for all the tricks and plays I thought of. For some reason my siblings took every word of what I said as Gospel truth (unfortunately no more).

For instance in one Indian movie I saw how Anil Kapoor, playing a con, hypnotized this woman by waving his fingers to hand him over her life savings. So importing this idea, I told my sister it was possible to hypnotize mom into letting us have pizza for supper. I would of course, let my sister have the honour of doing the hypnotizing.

Needless to say, results were a bit different and none of us had pizza, or any dinner for that matter, that night.

Your Father Is Called By Your Name (By your mom)

Possibly reversing the trend of many cultures, your father now gets identified by your name. "Oh father of so-and-so". No matter how many siblings you have later, he is still your father.

Books of note: The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why by Dalton Conley


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Movie Reviews


Obviously the big one. Any movie starring King Khan is big, and this was no exception. The hall on Saturday night was packed. The movie was excellent, even to those who have watched the original Don (1978). The first half was specially fast paced, with no dragging parts, and the twists and turns in the plot keep you from fidgeting. There is a welcome return of blood on SRK's face, after years of clean lover-boy roles. He plays Don with a style that only SRK can, and you leave the movie humming the theme music in your head. In other words, definitely paisa vasool.

Pyaar Ke Side Effects

I did not know what to expect from this movie - never been a fan of Rahul Bose (not star material) or Mallika Sherawat (too skanky). However this was a delightfully refreshing comedy that genuinely had me laughing at various times. It's about a guy who is stepping into marriage but is unsure of the commitment or involvement and still have doubts about losing his bachelorhood. Hitting a little too close to home at times, but by never taking itself too seriously this film works very well.


A small movie, possibly unknown to most mainstream Bollywood watchers, and even though it's women oriented it manages to capture your interest and tell a simple story really well. The director's previous work was the well acclaimed and different Iqbal, and here he maintains his caliber. The story is of two women, a Muslim and a Hindu, both of whose husbands leave for Saudi Arabia to work and send money back home, and end up as room partners. How each of them gets affected by events and manage to change each other's lives forms the crux of the story, and no - it's not as sappy as it sounds. It's really good.

The Departed

Give it a miss. One of the best ways to ruin 10 dollars. The movie had enough to keep you interested (in parts) but too many loose ends and a horrible ending that just ruins it all. It's not a normal cops and robbers as all the cards are dealt face up right at front, and there are no twists and turns, with the movie following a very predictable turn of affairs. You can't depart from the Departed early enough.