Prithibita ekta railgari, cholche to cholche to cholche!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Probashi immigrant intellectual is like a dog fetching sticks

By Sajjad “Stu” Rahman, Foreign Correspondent

Washington, DC. 

For the Bengali, a visit to the United States evokes many strong feelings. He sees so much in contrast with his experience of Dhaka or Chittagong—the immensity of the riches, the width and depth of women’s hips, the variety of sexual possibility—that he can not help but be changed. But what of the children of Bengali immigrants, those born in America and called Bangladeshi-Americans? What is life like for those with one foot firmly rooted in the traditions and customs of the Subcontinent and another planted on the soil of Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald?

One of the great success stories is Reihan Salam, columnist, editor and author. After a long career in journalism, Salam, a Brooklyn, NY native and a Harvard Graduate, recently made waves with the publication of his book, Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream. With co-author Ross Douthat, Salam articulates his cogent vision for the 21st Century Republican party, a theme that he regularly sounds for The American Scene and in his weekly column for With a plate this full, it is remarkable that Salam finds time to serve as an associate editor of The Atlantic Monthly, a storied American publication renowned as one of the most influential in the English speaking world.

Salam’s writings extend beyond the political and intellectual—often he casts a keen eye on popular culture, and his unique insights prove, contrary to the repeated assertions of Professor A. F. M. Ruhul Haque, that brown skin in no way impedes one’s ability to comprehend, understand or even enjoy the musical works of Fall Out Boy. Indeed, it is these forays away from the main road of his remarkable career which have brought Salam down a side-path familiar to his fellow Bangaldeshi-Americans.

Consumed with a fever-pitched fear of being unaccepted by his fairer skinned colleagues, Salam has begun posting a series of YouTube videos in which he demonstrates his extensive reading of Shakespeare. In a typical video, Salam sings and dances in an exaggerated manner intended to heighten his colleagues’ sense that their chum is one of the many—after all, if a brown man can laugh at himself, hasn’t he shown not only his good spirit but the basic rightness of being American?

For Maleeha “Mary” Chowdhury, 26, of Bethesda, MD, Salam’s videos struck a chord. “When I saw the one where he pretends he shit his pants,” she says, “I knew exactly what he was up to. You can try grandstanding with Whites, and telling them impressive lies about your lineage, but in the end, the only thing that works is humor. They seem to really enjoy it when you roll around on the ground like a monkey infested with lice.”

Detractors of Reihan have voiced criticisms of his videos. “If you look at this chandu motka,” says Muhammad Faisul, 19, of Queens, New York, “what you see is another afraid to live on his own terms in the white man’s world. Bengalis have been wiping the asses of Americans since the glorious War of Independence. Is this why our forefathers fought and died? Is this why our intellectuals were massacred by the Pakis? To birth a generation of clowns? Can anyone imagine Rabindranath Tagore or Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay eating their own vomit from a bucket on YouTube in the hopes that some white person somewhere might validate their written work? Reihan Salam is like a beggar throwing his shit in the street—he does what is necessary to be noticed. People like him make me ashamed to be Bangladeshi-American.”

But Maleeha Chowdhury disagrees. “A person like this Muhammad Faisul probably lives in the ghetto and doesn’t understand the pressure of fitting in with the real world. There is a lot of stress on minorities. If Reihan has found a way through deference to make Americans respect him as an intellectual, then I say more power to him!”

The reaction of Salam’s colleagues bear out the truth of Chowdhury’s words. Known sodomite blogger Andrew Sullivan linked one of Salam’s YouTube videos, and included the comment, “Look at brownie shuck and jive! He reminds me of a blackamoor, except utterly non-threatening and more likely to lick my boots than steal them!”

Salam’s co-author, Douthat, had this to say, “Reihan is a real intellect, an American original, but until I saw him perform ‘Disarm’ by the Smashing Pumpkins in a falsetto and dance out a foxtrot, I didn’t really like him as a person. Now he seems like a cat with his claws removed, a brown little beastie waiting to have his tummy scratched. I think that this was Salman Rushdie’s real problem—he forgot how to be funny!”

For his own part, Reihan Salam offers no formal comment on his videos, preferring to let the work stand on its own. But we imagine Salam smiling somewhere, surrounded by his scholarly papers and plotting his next move, knowing that he is two Judas Priest songs and one Macarena away from earning the respect of his betters.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day and one boy's search for love

AKM Pavel Jonathan, Foujdarhat Cadet College: Valentine's Day is a day of excess propagated by American television shows like Baywatch. It excites our country's youth into taking liberties with the opposite sex. As such, it should be banned and outlawed. Unfortunately, this celebration of so-called non-marital, non-commercial "love" is like other Jewish conspiracies as Israel, George Bush, the concept of free speech, Warner Brothers, and Christianity (which is just another guise for heathen Jews to practice their black magic). It is an evil we must live with.

Being a student of Cadet College, I am not a stranger to love. I am, however, a stranger to most women aside from the usual psychosexual trinity of mother, sister, bua. Today, with a spirit of discovery and the usual joubonjala in my loins, I set out looking to find the secret of this crazy little thing called "love".

My first interviewee was Ferdous Sir, our games teacher and Cadet from the 37th Batch, Shahidullah House. I will present the interview in a question-answer format.

Q: Sir, what is love?
Ferdous Sir: That is a difficult question, the most difficult to answer. Perhaps we must look to the ancient philosopher Aristotle. He would walk about the gardens with his beloved students, much as you and I are doing right now.
Q: So, sir, are you saying that love is taught in the classroom?
Ferdous Sir: Perhaps not, although in love there is often a teacher and a student, much like you and I.
Q: Sir, are you saying that love is not just limited to men and women, but is a wider thing, such as friendship?
Ferdous Sir: My friend, love is definitely something that can happen between a boy and a man!

At this point, I realized that Ferdous Sir was possibly referring to what we Cadets call "Krittodasher Nirban" or the cry of a slave. This refers to a sweet-term who is made to do the bidding of his senior, in every manner possible including mouthal and anusal. Since I am a senior and not a sweet-term anymore, I ran away saying I had incomplete prayers.

I did not know any better what love means.

So I went to see the local poet, Abdul Hitlar Khokon, and find his opinions on love.

Q: Hitlar bhai, I have come to ask you a question.
Hitlar: As the bird's wings fly, so ask questions of the sky.
Q: No actually I want to ask about love.
Hitlar: Love is a feeling quench my desire, but sometimes love is a crow on the wire.
Q: Hitlar bhai, how does one find love?
Hitlar: One finds love not by looking, and love turns into marriage, cleaning and cooking.
Q: What do you think of love and the celebration of Valentine's Day?
Hitlar: Valentine's Day I met the love of my life! She was a tight maal but we were found out by my wife.
Q: Oh no! What did you do?
Hitlar: I gave my wife my child and a packet of mouri, she went back to her parents' and left me the dowry.
Q: Did you end up marrying the love of your life?
Hitlar: Yes, I did, and what a happy year! But the next Valentine's Day came true my worst fear.
Q: What happened?
Hitlar: I tore off a rojoni gondha, I said "Baby I am think of you", but alas her eyes wandered, and she found her true love too.

I learned the most important thing about LOVE. It is different things to different people. To our Ferdous Sir, love is the feeling of a tight boy's legs in the squash court. To Hitlar Khokon the poet, love is adultery.

But what is love to me? Who is the girl who will one day win my heart?

It is none other than Angelica, the mute girl from the famous telefilm OFFBEAT. In the telefilm, the members of Bangladeshi Creed cover band BLACK are lafangas who seek nothing but free Pepsi. (This telefilm is the most famous example of product placement achieving a negative effect in the third world, more so than the case of Marlboro-sponsored school uniforms that we have seen recently). They steal Pepsi, but Tahsan Khan steals the heart of the mute Angelica Alauddin, who is probably simple-minded as she cannot speak, and who also lacks the power to say no (also for the same reason). However, we find out that she cannot have Tahsan or ride his cycle to a place far away from captivity, as she is engaged to her brother Intikhab Dinar. Intikhab Dinar speaks two lines of English in this telefilm, including the immortal "I just love you" and "You have just screwed mewap". The telefilm also features a cameo by a short man in a Superman costume, most likely a hanger-on of the band BLACK.

The magic moment truly comes when Tahsan goes to offer Angelica a Hallmark card of love. She doesn't say yes, she doesn't say no (being mute). But her brother and fiance, Intikhab Dinar, explodes at Tahsan in English. But all is well--Tahsan does not find love but the two men shake hands and say "Happy Valentine's Day". This is the lesson we learn.

The fabulous clip is here:

PICTURED: Ferdous Sir, Abdul Hitlar Khokon, Tahsan

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Top 10 Responses to Telling People You're Divorced

By Hunter-walli, Mohila Correspondent

1. (The case being that you're fairly young, female and Bangladeshi) Random nurse at a hospital remarking upon the fact that the former husband was very good looking (i.e. forsha) and the wife wasn't (i.e. kaalo), "It's a problem if you marry men who are too good looking. They don't want to stay with you for too long.

2. A "well-wishing" neighbor assuming that the wife was the dumped instead of the dumpee, "It happens. Men do go after prettier women after a while. Why don't you enroll in a gym?"

3. A relative of the former husband who had no idea of anything that had been happening, "Divorce? Oh, poor thing, he's alone now! I hope you left him the baby?"

4. A friend's mother, "I knew this was going to happen. Women should only wear saris after marriage and give up salwar kameezes."

5. A female relative, "Oh, how sad. You know, I told you three years ago to take another baby, and now there's no chance, you're stuck with one child."

6. A shocked newspaper editor on being told of the divorce and the causes (mental and physical abuse), "But are you sure about the physical abuse? Were you there?"

7. A (former) aunt-in-law, "Oh, that's okay. I'm sure he'll forgive you and take you back once the three months of iddat are over."

8. A college friend met after a gap of about ten years (in a wailing tone), "But I've just bought a wedding gift for you since I hadn't given you anything back then!"

9. A friend's (Jamaati) uncle: (Raised eyebrows, gunshot comments, each repeated for effect) "Oh!" Brief pause. Then. "Unfortunate, unfortunate, not to worry, not to worry, try again, try again!"

And the undoubted winner:

10. A police officer at the Thana while recording the information for a General Diary against the battering husband, "Oh, you want to do a GD, domestic violence." Looking up from the huge register book, "So are you married?"

PICTURED: May divorce be with you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In the wake of economic collapse, Americans eye Bangladeshis as new, cheaper pets

by Sajjad “Stu” Rahman, Foreign Correspondent 

Rockford, IL. January 29. To the casual outsider, America’s most bizarre custom is the barbaric practice of granting animals free range inside the home without any intent of making a meal from their meat or sucking the marrow from their tiny bones. What the denizens of Dhaka call the Elephant Road Beefsteak is stateside likely to retain full control of its central nervous system and be given a pompous name like “Fuzzy” or “Garfield.” These creatures are customarily addressed as gentlemen of good social standing, and are categorized racially as “pets.”

In the last few months, the winds of change have begun their mighty bluster. Threatened with the complete collapse of their nation’s economic infrastructure, the citizens of the United States are scaling back spending on luxury products. The doldrums of money woe have impacted every consumer outlet in America, and the country’s $9.9B pet industry is among the hardest hit.

“We used to sell three dogs a day and maybe six cats,” says Mary Bloenfield, 39, the owner of Kats N Kuddles, a small pet store in Stull, Kansas. “Now we can’t move two animals a week. I don’t know what we’re going to do if these things keep piling up. Maybe eat them.”

While their money disappears, Americans maintain their premium on the horrible ennui of modern existence, a sensation best described in A-Level novel The Stranger by Albert Camus. Social scientists have long theorized that the American love for animals is the product of an emptiness that can be filled by no amount of decadence or sloth.

“People turn to animals because they’re lonely,” says Dr. Ralph Richman, a fully-tenured Professor of Sociology at UMass-Amherst. “The uncritical affection of an animal can lure a person into thinking that their existence maintains a shred of meaning or dignity. People want to own pets, even if they can’t afford them.”

Seeing an opportunity, two Rockford natives have formed a new business offering Americans the chance to adopt Bangladeshis. The two co-founders of Deshi Dogs, Johnny Talukder and Moushum “Moz” Mustakeen, traveled to Bangladesh in early September and secured the necessary business and governmental connections for the weekly importation of Bangladeshis of every shape and size.

Business is brisk. Mustakeen says he and Mr. Talukder encountered skepticism at first. Things turned around after customers saw the lovable round faces and thick noses endemic to Bengalis, and quickly realized that while a dog or a cat might be too expensive, they could own a beast almost as satisfying.

“Look,” says Mustakeen, “I’m not going to lie. They aren’t dogs. They aren’t cats. But Deshis are warm, docile and obey their masters’ commands. They’ll fetch your slippers, bring your paper and cuddle with you all night long. They’re great pets!” 

Some early adopters have discovered that owning a Bangladeshi brings unexpected benefits. Ronnie Starewitz, of Hamtramck, MI, one of Deshi Dogs’ first customers, purchased a twenty-seven year old female after a car struck and killed the family cat. His pet, which he named “Kim Kardashian,” has demonstrated the ability to perform simple tasks of addition, subtraction and multiplication.

“I don’t even need a calculator anymore,” says Starewitz. “Kim Kardashian can’t do division, but that’s OK. I didn’t expect anything from her except to play with my kids and maybe chase away intruders, so this has been a nice surprise. The only problem is that she has been thus far very difficult to toilet-train.”

As for Mr. Johnny Talukder and Moushum “Moz” Mustakeen, they plan to expand Deshi Dogs to several new locations, possibly even a retail outlet in the Mall of America.

“The demand for these things is off the chart,” says Talukder. “If things keep up like they are, we’re going to have a real problem. We only bribed enough for 100 people a week. We might have to go back to Bangladesh and meet the new Government.”