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Not the beard!

- Gimli the Dwarf, Lord of the Rings [movie]

Last week, there was an article in the RS about beards, written by what seemed to be a very knowledgeable and tolerant young lady. But there were certain points of her article that really made me stop and take a good look at my beard in the mirror. Was I trying to hide behind that layer of “algae and bacteria” growing out of my face? Naahh! In the end I came to the conclusion that she needed a much overdue visit to a “moja pukur” or at least to a biology lab; because, clearly, she has a deep-set misunderstanding as to the appearance of a bacterial colony.

Her article was very well written, I'll give her that; what with examples of people confused about their gender and everything. She made it out to seem that all males are confused about their sexual identity. For your information, we are very confident about and proud of our manhood, thank you very much. That's why we like to show it off by keeping beards. And women aren't much different either. They like to show off, too. You don't have to scan Dhaka city to find a girl wearing a tight outfit, now, would you?

In the article, she also gave some of the responses she received to the question “what is the reason for the fanatical desire to have facial hair?” Apparently, a guy with a goatee told her that it was “Punk Rock” and a guy with a French cut said that it was “Hip-Hop”. She said, I quote, “I always figured you have to get up on stage and test your vocal cords to be the above mentioned things.” I think you missed a point. We guys say a lot of things in a sentence and we are also devoted, at least in our hearts, to whatever creed we choose to follow. To him, having facial hair, namely a goatee, is a symbol of punk rock. It doesn't necessarily mean that he actually is a rocker. Same goes for the hip-hop guy.

She mentioned that Johnny Depp could have any kind of beard he likes because he is “one of the most gorgeous creatures that ever walked the earth”. Indeed, Johnny Depp looked very good in his interview for the promotion of the Dead Man's Chest, with his French cut. But clean-shaven, on Oprah, he looked like a fool. And allowing Depp a beard just because he is handsome simply goes to prove the writer's shallowness. And as for Shaggy, I'll be hard put to find one person who honestly didn't like Shaggy when they were young.

As for moustaches, don't tell me you don't like Eddie Murphy? What about Kazi Nazrul Islam? Rabindranath? Or are they excused just because they are famous, too? You forget the reason for which Nazrul, Che, Einstein, and many others, are famous. They changed our lives, our perspectives. And silently, unbeknownst to us all, they changed our style.

Aesop (who just happened to have a beard by the way) told the famous tale of a fox and a vine of grapes. A tale we all know. “Sour grapes,” the fox had said when he couldn't reach the grapes. Maybe my lady friend is jealous of the fact that she can only show off the hair on her head. Tough luck, mate. My sympathies are with you.

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Girls Corner

I remember my old haircut. My hair was long and all I did was tie it up into a bun every time I went out. I didn't have time to do anything to it. Tying it up into a pony tail was much more easier. But just the other day, I went to the parlor with a friend who needed to get some things done over there. One of those things was getting a haircut. So as I waited for her to pay her bill she suddenly shrieked out and said, 'why don't you get something done?' I just stared at her, not bothering to reply. A few seconds later she said, 'I know…get a haircut!'

As I walked out of the parlor with a new haircut, I suddenly realized that I was walking with an extra bounce in my steps. I just felt so happy! Both of us got into a rickshaw and a small thing as going through Dhanmondi with the breeze flowing through my hair made my day. I felt like I was a new person and I was more confident of myself. All because of a simple change in my hairdo!

So then I went on thinking, if a haircut has this affect on me, then why not share it with others? To all the girls out there, let's do something different for a change! Why stay stuck with the same old boring hairstyles? Why not try out weird and crazy haircuts that will look good as well as make you feel good too?! I dare you to try such hair cuts! It's high time we dump all the hairstyles copied from Hindi soap operas (it's not a cool thing to do!). Happy haircut!

By Nayeema Reza

Book Review
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Continuing with the Harry Potter Countdown, we look at what is probably the most popular Potter tome: the Prisoner of Azkaban.

What makes the third entry so succulent to the palate of the discerning Potter fan is the eponymous Prisoner of Azkaban - Sirius Black. Black is such a melange of personalities, it's no wonder everyone falls in love with the guy. Simultaneously Harry's Godfather, James' (Harry's father) best friend, a purported servant of the Dark Lord and a bloodthirsty, deranged cutthroat... Black inhabits so many levels of cool, it's ridiculous.

Now having been branded a traitorous pariah by those that thought they knew him, Black's erstwhile ties with the Potter family create a maddening air of mystery and one that our Harry finds irresistible. Whispers of darker rumours reach the pubescent orphan's ears: Black betrayed his parents to Voldemort? Before the “This is madness!” jokes break forth, Harry is inexorably drawn onto the path of retribution, yet a confused one at that.

This is where Book Three succeeds so beautifully. The torments and nuances of the personalities are handled with delicacy and brusqueness where needed. Character synergies deepen and intertwine and many a seed is planted for the then unwritten books. This is a darker novella and one where the garish colours of the magicks in Books One, Two and Four give way to shaded undertones and inclemencies abound.

On more esoteric terms, this book also has the unique distinction of lacking the presence, however contrived, of the Dark Lord Voldemort. This time, evil has not been personified or bound to a single entity. Rather, the various nuances and permeations are explored from the feral to the downright insidious. This is certainly a book steeped in atmosphere. The pacing is such that you will be required to remind yourself to breathe once in a while. The narrative hardly lends itself to any form of slack or respite; the plot rushes on with clever and winding twists and turns that will leave you huffing, puffing, gasping and whooping.

This book was, in many ways, a true precursor to Books Five and Six. It's an engrossing, chilling piece of charcoal art that takes a subtle, more profound direction from the heartfelt crayon scribbles of its predecessors. In a world saturated with memorable characters, the Prisoner of Azkaban gives not just any unforgettable personality, but an astounding, resonant one who will be remembered and not merely recalled.

By Le Chupacabra

Growing up with Harry Potter

Several years ago, when my age was still a one-digit number and when my reading world comprised largely of books filled with pictures, my elder brother told me to borrow a book from Young Learners' Centre (YLC), British Council. He said it was called 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone', that it had created waves and would be an enjoyable read. I brought it for him, and read it after he did. It didn't impress me much.

About two years later, I stumbled across the book again. By then I had begun to read a little more mature stuff. This time, I liked the book quite a lot - liked it so much, in fact, that I reread it several times before returning it. Since then, years have passed. My brother has moved on to university, and I shall be finishing school in two years, but my fascination with Harry Potter has not diminished. Rather, it has increased tenfold times.

I have, and I know millions of other readers out there have been eagerly devouring every written word of the HP series. We have marvelled at Harry's ability to withstand countless dilemmas, been enchanted by Hermione's brilliance and Ron's wit and baffled with Dumbledore's wisecracks. Our world crashed when Sirius Black died, just like Harry's did. We watched Harry grow mature from an angry weary boy to a calmer, more rational teenager.

In our silent journey with Harry Potter and company, we have evolved. Let others say what they may, but to people like us, the Harry Potter series will always remain close to heart because it represents a large chunk of our childhood. It represents the dreams we never dared to dream and a world, which is so out of your touch, yet so very similar. July 21st looms nearer everyday. The final instalment is scheduled for release that day, and I don't know whether to smile or cry. I want to smile because this is the book I've been pining for all these years. Yet, after almost a decade of HP, it's hard to say goodbye, and I want to be waiting again; for this book signifies to me an entrée into adulthood - the termination of my childhood. The end of an era.

By Anika Tabassum


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