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Better to hang out with a snake

Face it people. Most of us don't have real friends. Most friends are downright pesky. They steal your money, they take your DVDs, they expect you to cover for their food expenses and some have the nerve to hit on your girlfriend.

Don't start cutting contact with civilization, yet. Most friends aren't out to get you- they are simply annoying. Some very famous guy himself said, “Friends are more pain than pleasure” and he is damn right. How sad would he have been to see that friendship days nowadays are celebration of the glory of being friends, when they actually should be celebration of the pains of being a friend?

Annoying friends who give you more pain than pleasure come in all shapes and sizes. My personal 'favourite' is the guy who tries to be everyone's secret keeper. He is a classic Peter Pettigrew. He will swear upon God himself to never tell anyone your secret and then proceeds to tell half of the school about it. Of course he will make everyone swear as well conveniently forgetting that the point of a secret is that no-one ought to know about it. It's not hard to find out why these “friends” act the way they do, because they are caught in hordes all over Dhaka. One such Peter Pettigrew who was caught the other day in Dhanmondi by an angry mob of restaurant owners when he told everyone about their bhejal khabar managed to breathe this out before being squished into oblivion: “I am sorry brothers. I can't help it. Telling secrets is the only way I can make people listen to me”

Avoiding a Pettigrew is pretty simple. Just watch out for phrases like, “Allaher Kosom Dost, I won't tell it to anyone” and “you can trust me” But someone who is much more difficult to catch before the act is the “friend” who borrows everything you own. These “friends” will take your DVDs, Books and CDs for only “two days” and then forget all about it. Some of them might look sheepish when you barge into their houses to take back what is rightfully yours and some of the annoying ones will go to lengths arguing that it is in-fact their CDs. As you can see they clearly lack a sense of proprietorship. One anthropologist puts it nicely:

While forgetful followers hurt you monetarily, there are “friends” who hurt you psychologically such as those who always point out flaws inside you and “help” you change. Don't bother changing, because she/he will find a fault with everything, right down to the way you stand. Some of them are just well-meaning, but most don't know when the line between annoying and well-meaning is. And some of them just likes to back-bite about everything you have done. Don't worry about these people. Back-biting is a social activity nowadays and is done by almost everyone. But the next time when you see the annoying “well-wisher” come up and say, “oh honey, you look fabulous, but your hair doesn't really go at all”, look at her face and tell her, “yes, I know, I was just following your recommendation”

One sort of “friend” whom most find downright creepy is the Serial De-Friender. These are the sort of people who likes befriending you on a temporary basis usually for something you have which they want- such as fame, gadgets or money. The moment they find someone better suited to their needs, they will leave as quickly as a fly escapes from a toad. Generations of kids have been left awe-struck and angry with serial de-frienders. One such victim had this to say:

“When he became my friend, I though we were going to be the best of buddies. He came to my house everyday to play PS2 and later we used to drive around in my Mazda and play music really loud. But then he left me…for a guy who had a PS3 and a BMW!!..Tell me (sobbing) Did I have a chance? “

Er..umm..ignoring the incredibly gay over-tones we move on. If you have encountered a serial de-friender you also have probably encountered The Friend Who Needs. These “friends” are the ones who always expect you to be there when they need you. However despite how much you help them or how much you care for them, they won't be around when you need them. You may think they are traitors but rest assured they are not. This is because none of them have malicious intentions, as this one confused Friend Who Needs says when asked why he never bothers to help his friend:

“He needs help? Oh, well I never... realized that… I had so much trouble to deal with...Do you know that yesterday I spilt water on my shirt and…”

It is perhaps the right time to mention the Limelight Huggers, here. They are almost like the Friends Who Need but different in a sense that they don't really want your help. They just want you to listen to them and admit that they have a bigger problem than you do. It is almost impossible to talk about any thing with these people.

A simple conversation about how ill you were with jaundice, would lead them to say, how hard it was when they had viral fever. If you say you had a car crash, they would go like “oh its nothing! Last month I splashed my car in the mud. It was so hard getting it off!” Limelight Huggers are really annoying.

None however beats the Emran Hashmis. These “friends” are almost addicted to hitting on your significant other and ignoring the cardinal rule of friendship “Thou shall not hit on your friend's girl-friend” I am sure most of these friends never really mean to flirt. They are just way too friendly in a creepy way. They just can't turn off that flirty gene when needed and this can cause a lot of trouble. One troubled soul who had an Emran Hashmi for a best friend said:

“He is my best friend and he is constantly flirting with my girlfriend. My girlfriend doesn't like it, but I can't seem to say anything to him. I don't want to make things uncomfortable”

As much as I wish that such friends disappear for good, I am hit with the realization that we need friends. After all how else can we go and play PS2? How else can we sneak of with our girlfriend/boyfriend if no one else is there as an alibi? How else can we borrow money and never give it back, if we don't have a friend from whom to ask it from?

Come to think of it, we aren't any good at being a friend either. If you think about it for every ten person whom you think is annoying there are twenty others who think you are more annoying. That is not a good thought, but it does give things a unique perspective. Wonder a bit more and you realize that this mutual inability to be a good friend is in the end what binds us to each other.

With each of us having flaws, we tend to forgive the flaws in others. And this alone makes up what we call peace. So next time you become annoying, just remember that you are adding to the peace, bro. happy friendship day all!

By Reggie

The chill factor

"Buy me a chocobar…please…buy me one” I pleaded to my friend without shame at the end of school. Such incidents and I went hand-in-hand for a good part of the past decade, when the school bell rang. After all what could be cooler than a chilling stick of Igloo chocobar at the end of the day? At 2pm when the school bell rings, a chocobar becomes one of those simple pleasures of life. Yes, I know. I had no shame. But when it came to that chocobar, shame went out the window.

That was a decade ago. But with time I've travelled in the quest for good ice cream. A quest that has led me from the long lines at New York's famous Cold Stones Creamery to the gelatarias in Florence's back alley. Yet even after tasting, not some of, but the best of ice creams in the world, there is still something that draws me back to our deshi chocobar. In fact, it isn't just the chocobar, add Ego, Macho, Cornelli, Double Sundae and more to that list!

Maybe home really is where the heart is. And my heart is certainly at home with local ice cream brands. But who cares about me? I'm not cool, I'm not hip, I ain't what the gangsta kids would call “down”! And speaking of those very hip-n-happening kids, I was amazed to discover that, if you try hard enough, you can inject elitism into just about everything!

I say this because there seems to be a very established trend these days where one wouldn't be caught dead slurping away at an Igloo/ Polar/local brand stick and ice cream equates to branded ice cream parlours.

Okay before you get all worked up, I love our local but international-branded ice cream outfits. They do offer some very unique ware, albeit with some very pricey tags. I do hang out there, like once in three months, with my friends. And that's fine. But when I see these new-age-wannabe-gel-slicked-wasting-parents'-money cruisers balking at the mere idea of walking (yes not driving) down to their local convenience store for a local lolly, I find that just plain wrong. I mean, if you don't like (if that's even possible) local ice creams based on lets say taste and maybe hygiene, that's ok. [Note- they are tasty and some brands have been certified hygienic].

But if a few years ago you were Abdul Jobbar who rode a CNG to school and loved lollies and now you've upgraded to AJ who drives a convertible Merc everywhere and can't get enough of I-can't-even-pronounce-Straciatella ice cream, man you got another thing coming. Expensive cars and branded ice cream do not a Cool Man maketh.

Truth be told our ice creams, though limited in variety are just as good as the foreign ones. And while branded ice creams are sinfully delicious, eating ice cream shouldn't be about how it looks- after all you're not putting it on your resume. I find the whole attitude of “I won't try it if its local” a little weary, not to mention chick-flick clichéd and a little disturbing. After all these new joints only opened shop in the past decade. What did these brand loving people do before that? Abstain from ice cream? Or have ice cream tubs flown in from abroad overnight?

It's ice cream for crying out loud! Not Anna Wintour's latest trend report in Vogue magazine! Being chill and cool has nothing to do with what you eat, where you eat it and how much money you spend to eat it. Being cool is about who you are and how you carry yourself. And if you're hanging out with friends who put a lot of stress on the tangible things in life such as what brand of ice cream you eat, maybe it's time you made new friends.

So the next time you have a craving for ice cream, do try one of our local ones. And if you're still keen on hitting one of the ice cream hot spots, do it because you like that ice cream, not because it makes you look “cool”. Trust me, the people who really matter, don't even care!

By Tahiat-e-Mahboob

A Class 8 School Trip… to Sylhet!

We were finally going to the Sylhet Trip arranged by our school after a long time of convincing my parents and myself! Our trip was from the 15th to the 17th of March, 2007. We started off on Thursday, 15th, at seven-thirty in the morning. Silkline kindly provided us with a bus for the trip. On the bus, we enjoyed ourselves a lot. We had a joke session, played Antakshari and slept quietly and peacefully for sometime, although some ended up with nicely decorated faces!

We reached Daurachhera Tea Estate at around four-thirty. There were two cottages for us one for the boys and one for the girls. We freshened up, played badminton and indoor games, and later had a delicious Barbecue dinner. The next day, we woke up at the unusual time of five-thirty and went for a long morning walk at six-thirty. We came back tired and with a freshened mind. We ate some oranges and had breakfast. After this, some of us headed for indoor games, while others goofed off or went for walks. I chose to take a walk with two of my friends. It was extremely pleasant!

Later, we went to visit the Daurachhera Tea Factory and learnt a lot about how tea is processed. It is first made into a paste, refined and then fractionally distillated. We went back to our main cottage, had lunch, played more games like UNO and got ready to go on a jumping session. There were small, gathered islands with medicinal trees. We got from one to the other by jumping. It was awesome!

Then we were told that we would be visiting the house of the father of one of our friends. We refer to him as Taher uncle. We took a long time to dress up and look our best, but most of us had something missing, as we had not planned this. We started off at around eight-thirty. We had a great time there. The house was gorgeous. Our friend Jennifer entertained us really well. Taher uncle had prepared a delicious dinner for us. We finished eating and had a music session. We came back at around eleven and decided to go on a night expedition.

The expedition was awesome! We were all very tired, but we went for the adventure. We were told not to take flashlights or mobile phones. The only sources of light were the thousand stars above and the cute green fireflies on the pathway. We walked silently and enjoyed the sound of the insects. We did not risk talking to any strangers next to us… they might have been ghosts!

We walked a long way and some of the boys headed off to work on a secret mission to scare the other three boys who were in the cottage because they were tired. Some of us girls went on a walk and saw a fox. It just ran past us and we were all shocked. We practically jumped and screamed! Later we sat in a hut near a lake and gossiped. While we were there, I thought I saw a figure with a red t-shirt and felt terrified. Later I found out that my friend had seen the figure too, walking with us during our night expedition. That was scary!

We were all tired, so some of us went to sleep. The boys carried out their plan and scared the other boys. One of the planners accidentally slipped into a bucket and slid in the bathroom! We woke up the next morning, took pictures, thanked Siraj uncle, Hasan uncle, the staff and some other people and were off to Chittagong. We brought back many wonderful memories and a better level of fitness! Thanks to Bono Gopal sir (head of our Chemistry Dept.), Susmita and Mahreen Miss (English Teachers and our good friends), Monem Sir (now abroad) and Murad uncle (father of Mahreen Miss), we had the best weekend of our lives!

By Ariza Tasneem,
Student of Class 9,
Chittagong Grammar School.


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