• Sunday, March 01, 2015


In Praise of Chintito - a 'Stir' is Born


The challenges are on. Book list, ice bucket, sand bucket...

The ice bucket challenge (and maybe the sand one) are about donating money to a very good cause, and the initiators have raised 10 million dollars in a short while. They expect to collect an awesome figure as much as 90 million at the end of the campaign, although critics point out that not all that is frozen is gold because the ultimate beneficiary will receive a paltry percentage of the take. Does there have to be a wolf lurking behind every tree in a forest where the birds chirp and the paths are laid with rose petals?

About the sand bucket challenge, there may not be too many enthusiasts because one will need buckets full of water to get rid of the gritty stuff. One would suppose the sponsors were into the sand thing because of a shortage of water in the area. But you never know? Crazy ideas are innovative, fun, often dangerous, but not always logical.

Incidentally, neither of the bucket challenges could make their mark in Bangladesh, mainly due to the difficulty of transferring ten dollars per bucket to the overseas promoter. Also, we have many of our own causes to which we donate.

As for the book list challenge floated on the Facebook, local authors who have perhaps never ventured seriously into the social network (out of prestige) are now logging on rather aggressively and frequently to see if their title made the grade. If yes, then their further query is, among how many of the FBians? If not, why not? I did too; with no luck this far. I wonder if again this is one of the sinister ploys of the 'Western' (some are well into the East, North and South) world to again extract by stratagem vital information from the unassuming innocent members of the public.

As with all other challenges some of us may not be willing to participate, here reveal their read (or unread) list of books, for fear of baring their inner selves, mostly weaknesses; because the strengths of one's psyche and physique are usually obvious to the keen observer, and aren't we all! Weak, I mean? Observant, too!
Although in the challenge an honest narration of the top ten books that has affected one's life is sought, under the circumstances, a few of us may even conceal for various reasons some of the books that we have read. We are not here talking of the daredevils.

For instance, we may have borrowed a book from a friend (or not) and never returned it. And lo! The friend, probably now former, finds out presently from a surprise list the possible whereabouts of his long lost book, or books. Or, worse still, we may have taken a book without telling the owner, which in the case of books, some would say, is not stealing.Again, the book we list may be political and so upset some others of the opposite view, and there are as many biased views as people.

What if someone has not read ten books? It is possible. Don't stare at me.
The major books I read, whether they affected my life or not is questionable, but some may suspect so, is limited to maybe less than ten. I can vaguely recall Mario Puzo's 'Godfather', Frederick Forsyth's' The Day of the Jackal', a 1970s book on King Farouk of Egypt (title I cannot remember), 'Shadhinata Ekattur' by Kader Siddiqui, 'Bangladesh, The unfinished revolution' by Lawrence Lifschultz, 'Ekatturer ghatak o' dalalera ke kothay', and in my early teens detective episodes from the Perry Mason series by Erle Stanley Gardner, and tiny thin books from the Sri Shawpan Kumar series in Bangla, and also as a full-grown adult a whole load of comic books, Archies, Tin Tin, Peanuts, Superman, you name it. I would be lost if the challenge was about ten comic books only. Yes! Comic books too can affect and shape and enlighten your life.

You are right, I am not listing here the ones that will tell you the Hyde side of my personality. Who does?
I once purchased a book called, 'How to be ridiculously well read in one evening', which has over a hundred of the major English books, each encapsulated in one page by a few hundred words with all the important characters and events briefly mentioned. It was supposed to make the reader (me) well conversant with the well-read without having read that much, or at all. Someone did relieve me of my first copy of that book. I purchased a second copy about a year back. Sadly, I never got to reading it. Well-read is not my cup of tea. Pssst! The book is still available on Amazon.

It is amazing how varied the choices are for the literally challenged as they meticulously complete their list from one to number ten. Books range from 'War and Peace' to 'Goldilocks' for one reader, and from 'Roots' to 'Incredible Hulk' for another. Interestingly, I have not seen a single Shakespeare title as a favourite of anyone. There goes your hunt for good literature. Text books are taboo, as far as the list in the challenge is concerned; no one seems to consider any of them to have influenced their life. But, in reality, and perhaps unknowingly too, we choose our career and our line of studies based more often than not on the classroom books that we love to hate. But that is how it is with almost anything in our lives, the unknown influences, the un-recorded effects, the un-thanked inspirations. Do we all acknowledge often enough our parents?

P.S. Yours Truly has a book Chintito- a 'stir' is born, a compendium of all Chintito weekly articles of 1995-1997, published by the Daily Star 2006 on the occasion of its 15th Anniversary. Obviously it is still available. Who is going to buy it? That is another reason why the collection of articles from 1998 onwards never got published as a book. The future of this column is in your hands. Please do not shake it.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, September 05, 2014

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