Types of people you see during puja

It’s that time of the year again when you will have to go through your closet to find sarees and panjabis that shoutout “Amit Ray” and “Labannya” from “Shesher Kobita”. Yes! It’s time for this year’s Durga Puja and all the festivities it brings along with it. During these festivities, it is hard not to jump into the celebrations like everyone else. Any event or occasion in Bangladesh is as hectic as they come, and you will meet a wide spectrum of peoples in these five days. Somehow we all have a particular role to play. So, here are the handful of the different types of people you will probably bump into this puja. So which one of the following types will you fall under?

The ultimate mandap hoppers

Durga Puja-HiFi Public

If you live in Dhaka there are a host of options for you to choose from for your puja hopping adventures. Almost every neighbourhood has little their mandaps set up for the occasion. However, there will be some who won’t be satisfied by going to just one or two mandaps. They will not leave out a single puja mandaps in the vicinity. From Jagannath Hall to Dhakeshwari Temple to Banani to God knows where they will be there battling through Dhaka’s traffic. Where do they get the energy?

The social media fanatics

Durga Puja-HiFi Public

These are the bunch who dedicate their lives to social media. You will see them in the perfect puja attire going to fancy restaurants with the best offers for this holiday. Also, they will not leave out any of the typical puja rituals either. From dressing up like Aishwarya Ray in Devdas to ringing the puja bell to playing with siddur, you name it. They will have done it all as you can see from their Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds. And don’t forget the hashtags #shoptomi, #oshtomi, #nobomi, #doshomi, #PostPujaShenanigans.

The unfortunate hosts

In every circle, there will be one or two unfortunate beings whose homes become the ideal spot for post puja hopping hangouts. Your close one or two Hindu friends will be there as your saviour and accommodate you after a long day of hopping around. They will have to feed all the hungry ones that end up in their doorsteps while also managing to juggle their ongoing family responsibilities as well. But can you really blame us? Luchis are love, luchis are life.

The ones that are never there

Durga Puja-HiFi Public

AKA the getaway groups. These are the individual who always either makes plans or are the most hyped about it. But when it comes to actually appearing they somehow always manage to go out on quick one or two-day getaways out of town. Because no matter what you plan on puja it cannot measure up to their special getaways. Plus they somehow always have the perfect excuse that ends up saving their sorry asses. I must say these people are the smartest and are the ones winning at life.

And last but not the least, the people who never get any puja vacation

Durga Puja-HiFi Public

These are the guys who belong to the institutions (ahem ahem, private medicals students) or workplaces in which they never give any vacation during puja. They are the saddest bunch. They will have to work hard all day and after getting home will have to tolerate the social media fanatics online. If you are one of them take my advice and avoid social media for a few days.

So here’s to all the different type of people we will be meeting during this puja season and শারদীয় শুভেচ্ছা ও ভালোবাসা.

A guide to falling in love with Darjeeling

The majestic Kangchenjunga in the backdrop of a bustling small town, the echoing sound of the old steam engine train running through its streets, the captivating smell of momos and warm tea. Welcome to Darjeeling. 

People who grew up listening to Anjan Dutt and reading Satyajit Ray have an irresistible fascination for Darjeeling. Even if you’re not into any of those, the appeal of a small town lifestyle in the backdrop of the mighty mountains, the Tibetan culture, the sound of prayer bells and the colourful prayer flags is sure to call you back to Darjeeling over and over again.

Does this not want to make you go to Darjeeling right away?

Also, a trip to Darjeeling would probably cost you less than your usual trip to Cox’s Bazar. Did I get you hooked yet?

Is winter in Darjeeling a good idea?

Some people have an extremely low tolerance to cold. So, if you sleep with heavy blankets in 25 degrees, you probably should not go to Darjeeling in December. But winter in Darjeeling is beautiful. The temperature usually stays between 12 to 13 degrees, so with enough warm clothes, you will be set. Don’t forget to take multiple pairs of socks, gloves, and winter caps. Load up on moisturizers and dry shampoos. Also, make sure your hotel has a constant supply of warm water and a proper heating system. Checking on these before your trip will help you get the full winter experience in Darjeeling.

Darjeeling: An experience of a lifetime
A bustling city at the foothill of the Himalayas

Bon Voyage!

The route to Darjeeling is fairly simple. Want to go by road? Take a train to Panchagarh. The border is about an hour away from the rail station. Cross it and you will be able to enter through the Phulbari port. Make sure you apply for Phulbari while applying for the Visa. The immigration will not be too hectic, and you can reach Shiliguri in about another hour. From there, it is a two hour drive to your destination.

Another way to go to Darjeeling is by air. You will be dropped off at Bagdogra airport, and from there it will take a little more than an hour to Darjeeling. Pay attention to the fare, though. Everything in Darjeeling is a rip off if you are not careful.

Everything that Darjeeling has to offer

As tempted as I am to recommend that in Darjeeling, the best thing to do is just find higher ground and keep staring at the majestic Kangchenjunga, there are a lot of other things to see in Darjeeling.

A bustling city at the foothill of the Himalayas
An unworldly view from Tiger hill

When going to Darjeeling, take the long way through Mirik, and you will be amazed how organized and colourful everything is. It almost feels like someone handcrafted this entire place, and the creator put a lot of thought into the design.

You’ll see colourful little cottages decorated with flowerpots. You will see a billion types of flower bushes. The air will make you feel as if you haven’t breathed in years. The spiral roads, the echoes of the toy train, the colourful temples, the valley with a million tiny lights, and people with the friendliest smiles- everything about Darjeeling is heartwarming and perfect. Once you get there, hire a car with a package. The car will take you to all the tourist spots in Darjeeling. You can go paragliding/river rafting in Kalimpong too- so there will be plenty of food for your adventurous soul! But these sports are not always open. Ask around before you head out to Kalimpong.

Beauty and culture

Darjeeling has a beautiful Tibetan culture to show off. You’ll see colourful prayer flags hanging around from almost every other establishment in Darjeeling. Contrary to popular belief, the Tibetan prayer flags do not carry actual prayers or mantras to particular deities or Gods.

Darjeeling: An experience of a lifetime 40

It is believed in the Tibetan culture that the mountain wind will carry the messages of peace, compassion and wisdom that’s written on the flags and bring peace to the world.

And the best part? On every turn you take in the mountainous roads of Darjeeling, Kangchenjunga will peek out and welcome you. And that is a sight unforgettable.

Pro tip- Do not miss out sunrise on Tiger hill, as the first ray of the sun touch the peak of Kangchenjunga before dawn breaks upon the city. Visit Ghoom Monastery, Mahakal Temple, Rock Garden, and the zoological park. If you are into history, check out the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute Museum. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes because there will be a lot of uphill walking.

Eat like there’s no tomorrow

Darjeeling is a heaven for food lovers. From fancy English breakfast to street style Maggie- you will have way too many options and not enough space in your stomach.

Start your day with mouthwatering breakfast from Sonam’s Kitchen, a small cafe run by a lovely couple who’ll fire up a conversation with you. Treat yourself with momos, pakoras and other street food at Batasia Loop. Warm your stone-cold heart with a bowl of steaming Thukpa at Kunga restaurant. Lose yourself in the live music at Glenary’s while munching on delicious food and enjoy a scenic mountain view from their wooden deck. For such a small place, Darjeeling has a lot to offer. It’s your job to take full advantage of it.

Shopping in Darjeeling?

Darjeeling has a lot of souvenir shops and old Tibetan art shops. You can buy beautiful winter clothes, breathtaking silver jewelry, and simple trinkets as gifts. Go to mall road and take your pick. If you want branded stuff, go to Big Bazaar. But if you’re shopping from the streets, make sure to bargain. Otherwise, you will be ripped off, and you won’t even realize it until it’s too late.

Darjeeling: An experience of a lifetime 35

The night life!

Darjeeling at night is exquisite. But unfortunately, everything usually closes down by 9 because of the cold. This is the reason why, you will not get to dance your night away at clubs. However, you can still enjoy your evenings at a number of cafes, pubs and restaurants.

But that’s not it. You’ll experience an unworldly sight at night if you’re looking out of your hotel window, balcony or rooftop. You’ll see a sky full of a billion stars. And the entire Darjeeling city on the hills with its flickering white and yellow lights in the dark offer an illusion that the stars have come down on the dark hills.

In the distant, the white snowy peak of the Kangchenjunga will still be visible in the dark.

And you’ll hear distant sounds of prayer bells and hymns from temples. Words fall short in describing this ecstatic and unworldly experience.

Is it safe to roam around alone?

The thing I loved about Darjeeling was how safe it was. The people are helpful, and they will be kind to you as you are a tourist. As a result, travelling alone is not gonna be as hard as you might think. But even if you are alone, chances are that a kind stranger will help you find your way. Again, it’s India. It doesn’t hurt to stay on your guard.

Go easy on the ol’ wallet

Last but not the least, do not worry much about the money. As long as you have around 15,000 BDT in your hand, you can have a comfortable, three day tour (minus the shopping, of course).

What are you waiting for? Go explore this piece of heaven on Earth! And don’t forget to let us know about your experience!

Where to eat in Dhaka after midnight

Midnight? Hungry? We have all looked at our clock, hungry, thinking its too late to get food. Feel no despair at the next all-nighter, missed bedtime. Press yes for ‘Are you still watching?’ on Netflix, because there are selected places to get food from, in Dhaka, after dark. Yes, the options during these hours limited, but here is a list for the night owls with unusual appetites:

Pizza Roma

Pizza Roma Dhaka late night

Pizza is a safe bet for night cravings. Pizza Roma serves (arguably) the best pizza in town. They stay open until midnight. Pizza Roma takes late night orders through their Facebook page or through their website for delivery in Gulshan, Banani and Dhanmondi. Try their Pizza Diavola while you’re at it. Thank us later.

Tel: 01755660039

Tehari On Wheels

Where to eat in Dhaka after midnight 14

Don’t want the usual pizza or burger? Craving overflowing plates of rice and Bengali food? Tehari on Wheels serves traditional Tehari . They are open 24 hours. They also offer other items such as beef khichuri, hasher mangsho bhuna, etc. A plus, food delivery is available all day, all night. Find them on Facebook or give them a call for delivery services.

Tel:- 01902363697

Tehari Avenue

late night dhaka food

Tehari Avenue in Gulshan Road 119 has a simple straightforward menu that consists of tehari/chicken pulao and water/coke. The price tag does not take a toll on the ol’ wallet and it tastes amazing. They stay open until 1AM on Thursdays and Fridays.

Tel: 01617-138138

Herfy

herfy banglaesh late night food

Herfy is the latest in a long line of international food joints setting up shop in Bangladesh. This Saudi Arabian fast food joint offers up Burgers, Rice Meals, and Combos, French Fries, Chicken Fries etc. Their Gulshan outlet stays open till 2:00AM on weekends and till 2.30AM on weekends and holidays and offers both dine-in and takeaways. They offer free delivery service within Gulshan, Niketon, and Banani from 10PM to 1AM.

Tel: 01709-991000

Premium Sweets

Premium sweets late night dhaka

The Gulshan 2 branch of Premium Sweets is open till 2AM. Get delicious khicuri, kala bhuna, walimar roast as well as the usual sweets. Combo meals start at BDT 795.

Gulshan 2 Tel:  01759115124

Gulshan 1 Tel:  01755997678

Uttara Sector 7: 01796632672

Gloria Jeans Cafe

gloria jeans late night dhaka

For something light or just coffee, go to Gloria Jeans. The Australian coffee chain stays open till 1:00 AM. Other than coffee, the chain serves sandwiches, light meals and baked goods such as lamingtons, chocolate mousse etc.

Gulshan Branch Tel: 01929-333999

Star Kabab and Restaurant

Star kabab dhaka late night

The most obvious choice is Star kabab, a landmark institution in Dhaka City. Get your fix of rice, fish, veg, mutton to kebabs 2 AM and offers late night dinner and snacks.

Nazirabazar, Old Dhaka

nazirabazar dhaka late midnight food

As always, we saved the best for the last.

If you’re hungry AND in a mood for adventure, head out to Nazirabazar in old Dhaka.

 There is no traffic at 2 AM, So, it matters little where you’re staying. Given, you have a safe mode of transportation, of course. These buzzing lanes in old Dhaka stay open till very late and arrays of street food stalls and local cafes remain forever crowded. Chicken kebabs, beef chaps, lassis, fire paan, you name it. Fancy a cup of tea? Even the tongs will stay open. Eat to your heart’s content, the world is yours.

Check out the fanfare of Nazirabazar here.

One thing to note here is that if you plan to order takeout at this time, only Hungrynaki offers their service around 3: 00 AM. Foodpanda and Pathao foods are closed during those hours.

Thank you for reading this article. If you like our content, support us and help us grow by sending your feedback, suggestions, stories and questions to [email protected]

Marvel, Netflix and the future of streaming

If you subscribe to a video streaming service, it’s quite possible that you don’t have much to complain about regarding things to watch. Online video streaming services have firmly and quite rightfully put the nail in the coffin of cable TV service for a long time now. Having a lot of movies and TV shows on demand is quite appealing, it turns out. The cable model was too inefficient and expensive compared to streaming, and thus a mass exodus occurred which saw a millions of viewers switching to streaming services, completely disrupting the cable market. And now the streaming market is about to be disrupted as well. The irony is it’s doing it to itself.

Shutting down beloved shows

Marvel, Netflix and the future of streaming 1

It wasn’t too long ago that Luke Cage and Iron fist, both parts of Marvel’s extended TV universe, were pulled from Netflix. These cancellations could have been attributed to the shows’ quality, which didn’t exactly agree with everyone. But the shock came with the most recent cancellation of Marvel’s Daredevil, the oldest and inarguably the most popular of Marvel’s TV shows on Netflix. And that it occurred after a critically acclaimed third season added to the surprise. “Why is this happening?” is the question that haunts the viewer.

Well, a statistic from Jumpshot suggests despite the great quality of Daredevil’s third season, viewership for the show had gone down by almost a third compared to the earlier seasons. But thing is that viewership was still nothing to ignore. It would only get more popular because of how good it was. The real reason lies in a much larger issue. Disney, Marvel’s parent company, plans to launch its own streaming service, Disney+.

Disney pulling out

A direct competitor to Netflix?

Disney’s plans to launch their own streaming service constitute a multitude of problems. First of all, Disney+ will be a direct competitor to Netflix. This makes having one of Disney’s shows on their platform basically serves as an advertisement for a rival company. Moreover, Disney is adopting an aggressive approach to this service. They are gobbling up all the IPs it can get its hands on. It is unlikely that we’ll get to see these shows on their streaming service. Disney has made it quite clear that Disney+ will be a PG-13 rated family friendly product. No R-Rated movies or shows on it, those will be released by Hulu of which Disney currently owns 30%.

Too many services

Disney’s decision gives light to a bigger issue, the influx of streaming services. Netflix has always had solid competitors in Amazon Prime or Hulu, but now it’s about to have a lot more. Disney has already announced its plans. Then there’s NewTV by DreamWorks which plans to provide original 10-minute shows, DC Universe, the heavily rumored Apple TV. These along with existing services like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon and HBO are about to flood the streaming service cyberspace and seriously confuse your wallet.  

The struggle for consumers

Statistics from PCMag.com

Now all this competition should sound like a win for the consumers. Yet, there are multiple reasons why this might be actually very bad. For a person with varied taste, this is actually the worst kind of news. The most recent struggle between Disney and Netflix indicates that the streaming service industry is becoming a zero-sum game. Relationships between distributors are already evidently getting worse and it will probably morph into a battle for distribution rights. Disney’s acquisition policy is just the tip of the iceberg of how studios are looking to acquire rights to distribute movies and TV shows exclusively. Every studio seems like it has tied down some product and it’s only available legally if you are subscribed to their streaming service. If you are a fan of both Star Wars and Narcos, you need to have both Disney+ and Netflix subscriptions to watch both.

Loss of variety

Netflix has attempted to produce originals for their subscribers that one couldn’t watch anywhere else. They’ve spent around $13 Billion in 2018 only on original content. And for a while, each competitor was producing original content that was great. But as the industry grew, virtually every premium channel has its own paid subscription app.

As competitors increase, the world of entertainment is becoming more partitioned.

There is no all-in-one solution anymore, not even a most-in-one solution. Of course, there are a lot more choices now, but each choice is becoming more decentralized.

This will only worsen in the future. Each competitor will attempt to launch its own unique variety of shows and movies. No entertainment entity will have a wide choice of entertainment in one place. There has already been an increase in piracy which can be partially attributed to this cause. There might be many more adverse effects we will observe as the golden age of streaming comes to an end.

Not good news for users

More competitors may sound like lower prices, but there’s a bare minimum. Below this amount companies aren’t willing to produce, so costs won’t be lowered too much; at least if Disney+ and the rumored Apple TV models are any indication. The future is still uncertain. For now, all we can do is give a nervous welcome to the Punisher and Jessica Jones series continuations as they reach their second and third seasons respectively; and bid a confused farewell to Daredevil, where the journey began and apparently has started to end.


Finding feminism in the pages of literature

For as long as I can remember, I have been an intense reader. Throughout middle school and high school, my best friend and I bonded over “book-hunting” in the school library, and over the years we fought minotaurs with Percy Jackson, went on undercover spy missions at Cherub, fawned over Artemis Fowl’s criminal mastermind, hated Katniss Everdeen with a passion, and, of course, devoured page after page of Bella’s description of Edward Cullen’s perfect 45 degree angled nose (don’t pretend you didn’t have a Twilight phase).

In early 2017, I was reading a particularly popular novel by a particularly popular (male) author and I was reading through a paragraph (which was completely irrelevant to the rest of the plot of the book) in which the male protagonist lustfully described the only female character in the book, who just happened to be incredibly sexually appealing in all her intelligence and physique (but very careful as to not be too intelligent or too attractive so as to threaten our protagonist, of course).

As I suffered through the unnecessary account of how well she pulled off a white tank top and jean shorts, it dawned upon me that in my almost 20 years of life, I had not read nearly enough novels by female authors. It was at this point that I, utterly disgusted by the one-dimensionality of every female character I could recall in almost every novel I had read (however much I loved them), decided that 2017 would be the year that I would consciously choose to read more books by women.

Now before you go on calling me a feminazi and whatnot, I am not claiming that every book ever written by a man is inherently sexist or that men, by some default, cannot create complex female characters. I am only saying that there is an entire realm of emotions and experiences about being a woman that male writers have never experienced and therefore their writing does not reflect it.

Consciously reading books by female authors exposed me to a whole new representation of my identity as a woman. There are tiny bits and pieces of the life that only women know sprinkled into the details of each story that I had never before found in literature.

It was in Esther’s frustration with everyone around her waiting for her to turn her mind around about not wanting marriage and kids, in Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Bell Jar’. It was in Scout from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’s constant battle with her neighbours’ expectations of her to wear more dresses and stay in more as she grew older. It was in Francie’s observation of how women around her shamed other women for their sexuality in ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ – the cold hard reality of how women themselves pose obstacles to other women in a patriarchal society. In Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple’, it was the simple remark on how a lot of men talk to women – ‘mansplaining’ – which is sadly still relevant to a lot of our experiences today – “…they listen just long enough to issue instructions. They don’t even look at women when women are speaking.”

The unceasing struggle that I as a woman face against the patriarchal and conventional roles set for me has been experienced not only by women that I personally know but also by women before me – in 1930s Brooklyn, in 1800s England, in pre-Civil War Georgia – this discovery was both painful and wonderful to experience. As if the tiny secrets of survival that I have had to bear my entire life, that I never thought had space in literature, were being spilled out to women from all over the world and all timelines – getting together in solidarity and whispering, confessing, consoling, ‘Me too’. Yes – remember that hashtag? You’ll find traces of it in Austen and Bronte and Woolf and Eliot – forget not that some of these authors had to adopt male pseudonyms to have their work taken seriously, and some, such as George Eliot, are still known by their male pseudonym.

Long before they had the right to vote, these female characters defied sexist social standards in every way, most of all by thinking for themselves and being complex, intelligent, independent characters. In a world where women are still struggling to be heard and validated as full persons – through #metoo and #talkaboutit – I think that being a complex and independent person is the epitome of empowerment, and it is incredibly inspiring to see such empowered women splattered across the world throughout history, as if in some undisclosed unanimity.

If you are female, reading more books by women will connect you to the unmentioned little struggles of women who lived lives so vastly different from you. If you are not female, reading them (which I hope you do with the utmost respect to their experiences as women) will give you some very interesting and crucial understanding of the lives of all the women around you. For the #metoo era, to gain a full understanding and therefore validation of women’s experiences, the effort to consciously read more books by women is one that will move us forward. We must trace back to how the same patriarchal system has been poisoning our lives to as long as women have broken silence through the defiant act of writing.

5 Reasons why you should volunteer

Volunteering is about more than the impact one makes in the lives of those who are less fortunate. Volunteering can play a pivotal role in making a person more tolerant and more empathetic. It can be a practice in selflessness or can be motivated by advancing career goals. No matter what, volunteering improves and inspires individuals and communities.

Here are 5 reasons why you should volunteer, at least once.

Community involvement:

Volunteerism is one of the easiest ways to get involved with something that is bigger than yourself. It leads to many other opportunities. Besides, it’s easy to start with! You can start regardless of your academic score. If you are enthusiastic and have a will to make a difference by being an active part of the community, you already have everything that a volunteer needs to be.

“I was just a first-year college student with no prior experience when I first volunteered. The feeling that I am a part of a greater community working for a cause is so inspiring!”

Nawar, a volunteer at It’s Humanity Foundation (IHF), a non-profit organization based in Bangladesh, told us,
5 Reasons why you should volunteer

Career booster:

Volunteerism is an excellent way to boost your career prospects.
Recruiters and future bosses appreciate the skills, especially in leadership that you build by volunteering. It helps you make a positive impression. You are enriched by a wide range of useful skills. While you become a better version of yourself, your CV look more attractive and creative to prospective employers.

“I was so anxious when I was applying; I have heard how hard it is to get a job these days. To my surprise, my CV almost never got rejected and I always noticed how the employers were so keen to know about my volunteering experience,”

Said Adiba who has been an Executive at IHF where she started as a volunteer.

Learning new skills:

This is exactly why employers love a volunteer’s CV. Volunteering enables you to work in the field and gain a wide range of soft skills in the process.

“Facing problems on a daily basis, having to deal with a mix of personalities, all while adjusting to life outside of my comfort zone. All of that added up and helped me improve my teamwork, problem-solving and people skills,”

Said Nusrat, a seasoned volunteer at JAAGO Foundation and other organisations.
5 Reasons why you should volunteer

Building a network:

You meet people from all walks of life when you volunteer. You meet fellow volunteers who may be like-minded, but outside your current social circle. A conversation over this shared interest can have a lasting impact on your life. As you come across volunteers with different skills in different organisations, your professional circle expands.

“I got to surround myself with charismatic people through volunteerism and that changed my life!”

Maisha, who started as a volunteer at IHF and currently leads a women empowerment Project Protibha as the CEO told us,

Making a difference:

Volunteerism gives you a chance to contribute to your community on a daily basis. You can build towards the world you want to live in. You get to use your skills and civic responsibility for the greater good.

“How awesome it is being a part of an impact and actually getting to witness it? I would have never known if I hadn’t volunteered!”

Shams, who had previously volunteered at several organizations like Mastul Foundation and other local schools for underprivileged rural children.
Organizations you can donate your unused warm clothes to 3

Get started today!

If you aren’t currently volunteering, or have never volunteered before, it’s something you should try at least once in your life. Most organizations seeking volunteers often post online so a little bit of researching can help you find an opportunity. Even committing as little as an hour per week can have a profound benefit on your own life, and the organizations that rely on volunteers will be able to thrive. You can also reach out directly to an organization that you support and ask them what you can do to help. Just try doing something for a community that needs help and you will get back more than you can ever imagine.

Cheers!

What sets Brooklyn Nine-Nine apart from contemporary sitcoms

After nearly getting cancelled by Fox following their (incredible) fifth season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is making a comeback tonight for season 6, thanks to NBC! The show has evolved so much in the past five seasons that the description on Netflix almost feels terribly inadequate. It is no longer a show about “brilliant but immature detective Jake Peralta learning to follow rules”, but rather about a precinct full of people who are all individually quirky and complex, and together, a wholesome family. So in celebration of getting some more Nine-Nne in our lives, let’s take a look at all the things about this show that we love so much.

The diversity

While there exists many shows of the same kind – Parks and Recreations, New Girl, etc – Brooklyn Nine-Nine is one that shows off one of the most diverse casts. Of all the seven main characters (not counting Hitchcock and Scully), only two of them are white males. Two are black males – both of them in roles that are superior in rank to the white males – and two thirds of the females are women of color. This certainly makes the series all the more appealing to a wider range of audience, and is a major win for women and people of color everywhere!

The wholesomeness

There are shows where characters do horrible things to their loved one and are genuinely terrible people sometimes. In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, however, there is nothing of the sort. Each character is unique and yet all of them are essentially good people. While characters do hurt each other occasionally, and there are ups and downs in their relationships, it is usually minor things and they do their best to correct their bads. In summary, this is one of the most wholesome shows, where all the characters are genuinely loving in their own ways and trying their very best to be good people and to be good to each other.

The complex and well-developed characters

Nine-Nine is one show that definitely does not care about gender stereotypes. Of the two male characters, Charles Boyle is explicitly feminine at times and incredibly emotional and caring – something we rarely see in male characters. Jake Peralta is constantly trying to better himself and take accountability for his own actions. One of the black male characters is openly gay and in a loving marriage with a white man, and yet the show does not exploit his sexuality for humor or storylines.

The other black male character is a loving father who proudly bonds with his daughters and spends time with them without making that seem like a big deal. Rosa Diaz is a bisexual woman of color. Her parents reject her sexuality at first. Amy Santiago is a badass woman on her own and in one of the Halloween Heists openly challenges the idea that she is “Just Jake’s girlfriend”. When it comes to creating characters who challenge all kinds of stereotypes, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has done an incredible job!

The contemporary relevance

Why we love Brooklyn Nine Nine 1

Even as a comedy TV show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has done a lot to highlight contemporary issues. In recent times of racial profiling and police shootings, the show had Terry go through a horrible experience of a similar incident. The show didn’t even try to sugarcoat that reporting these things – as Terry did – can actually harm the survivor’s own career prospects at times. Captain Holt being an openly gay black man is very open about both the administrative and personal hurdles he had to face for it. In one episode, Holt actually refers to a recent incidence of an overachieving minority student who had made a clock which was thought to be a bomb. So Brooklyn Nine-Nine not only outdid it in terms of humor, but it has been incredible in terms of starting conversations about contemporary issues across the U.S. – where the show is based.

The cold opens

The biggest debate across the Nine-Nine fanbase – after “Is Kelly Scully’s wife or dog?”, which cold open is the best? Is it the one where Jake does the full bullpen? Is it where Scully drinks his own goldfish? What about where Charles gets a “Diane Wiest” infection? Or – my personal favorite – the one where all the perps sing “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys? Brooklyn Nine-Nine has given us some of the best cold opens, and there are plenty of compilation videos of them on YouTube to prove it.

It feels like fans have been waiting forever for season six, and the day is finally here! So tonight, we are staying in, we are popping some corn and putting on our pajamas for the long awaited sixth season. I’m so excited to see more development on these characters, and I hope the nups are getting even more toit this season.

Choosing the right foreign university

So you’re all determined that you’re going abroad for higher studies now but have you picked the right university yet? With hundreds of educational institutions to choose from, picking the right one may seem like a monumental task when you first begin your search.

The best way to start your search is by making a shortlist of all the institutions that you might want to consider. Then you can start narrowing down the list of potential institutions by weighing up each institution according to certain factors that are important to you. Here’s a list of some key considerations that will help you find the right fit.

Field of study:

Choosing the right foreign university 3

What would you like to study? What are you passionate about? It’s important that you pick the field of study at first. Remember that it has to be something you want to study and pursue in your career life. It’s alright; it doesn’t have to be a specific decision right away as you can find various courses under your favorite subject. For instance, if you like Science, with a bit of research, you can find a wide range of subjects that universities around the world are offering like Astrophysics, Biophysics, Biochemistry etc. Once you pick out your favorites, you can simply find out which universities are offering the courses you listed down.

“I started by picking my preferred courses first and it made my life easier!”

Said Ishrat, a first-year Biotechnology student at the Technical University of Munich, Germany.

Location:

Choosing the right foreign university 6

Now, that you know what you want to study, and you have a list of the hundreds of universities offering the courses, it’s time to filter out the ones situated in the locations that fit your criteria. Yes, you do need to set your criteria for the location in order to narrow down the list of the universities. We often think that we can adjust once we get somewhere but it’s not entirely true if you’re going for studies.

“There will be so much going on already, like dealing with the never-ending nerve-racking paperwork, the new lifestyle and you need to make friends too! What if you can’t tolerate the weather and get sick?”

Noshin, a Computer Science student at Texas University, Arlington told us

So, if the location does not play well for you, you will be in trouble.

You can pick your desired locations on the basis of factors like climates, cost of living, lifestyle etc. For instance, in the U.S., the Southern region is known for its humid summers and mild winters with a low cost of living whereas the Western region is known for its geographically diverse area, it’s very mild and damp climates to very hot ones and the slightly higher cost of living than the Southern area and so on. Once you pick the zone for you, you can then choose among Urban, Suburban and Rural settings that differ in population, accessibility, environment and cost of living.

Tuition fees and scholarships:

Choosing the right foreign university 1

Now, that you have the list of universities located in your preferred settings, it’s time to sort out the ones that match your budget and need. Don’t get overwhelmed with the numbers because universities around the world provide a number of scholarships to international students like you. Scholarships can vary; they could be based on your previous academic scores, test scores, achievements in extracurricular activities & sports, leadership activities etc. So, don’t forget to list down your achievements; you never know how something you did for fun could help you embark on a life-changing journey towards a future you always dreamed of.

“I remember how the really high tuition fees made me think I could never afford it, but I still pushed myself and with just a bit more research, I found out I was already eligible for a scholarship because of my test scores!”

Mou, a Human Resource Management student at Monash University, Malaysia told us

So, it is essential to check the university websites and make the most out of the information provided. If needed, you can also contact the representatives from the admission offices of the universities. They will be more than happy to help you out.

University ranking:

Choosing the right foreign university 2

Pick the universities that have a better ranking because they are there for a reason”

Said Dyuti, a Computer Science student at Auckland University, New Zealand.

Better universities not only have better facilities, on-campus part-time jobs, and assistantships that match you, they also have a better environment and will add more value to your career.

If you think you are an extraordinary applicant and your previous achievements can really light up your college application, these criteria should be the first one to consider for you. Although top-ranked universities might charge higher tuition fees, yet they give away a huge amount of scholarships every year to talented and charismatic students.

Other things to consider:

Choosing the right foreign university

Other than the basic criteria, there are things you cannot possibly avoid like the type of on-campus living facilities, diversity of the students attaining degrees from the universities, on-campus job facilities etc. The importance of these factors depends on your preference and way of living. All these information are usually available at the university or college websites. However, if not, you will always find the contact information of the college representative who is there to answer your queries anytime.

Finding the right fit for you can be really nerve-racking and time-consuming but you need to trust yourself and make the most of the time spent on the research with a clear direction.

Talk to people who have been there and learn from their mistakes. Remember to always keep your research game strong to stay updated.

Good luck!

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an ignorable chapter for the series but a giant leap for entertainment

You either like Black Mirror, or you hate it. Even if you don’t hate it, it can leave a strong distaste in your mouth.

Sometimes, the show can feel like it’s being vile for the sake of being vile. Other times, however, it tells excellent cautionary horror tales about technology run amok.

The illusion of free will

Credit: Netflix

Bandersnatch is no different. An interactive 90-minute movie with multiple branching paths and endings, Bandersnatch contains a total of 312 minutes of footage. Set in 1984, Bandersnatch is about Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) who is trying to adapt a choose your adventure novel into a video game. Struggling with childhood trauma and the frustrations of coding the game by himself, he soon runs into a wall as he tries to meet the deadline.

The choices start off relatively easy, from choosing your breakfast cereal to what song you are listening to on your morning commute. They get increasingly more diverse as the story continues.

Why this is different from video games

Making a multiple choice interactive adventure isn’t exactly easy.

“WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO DO WAS WHAT STEFAN WAS TRYING TO DO,” SAID CHARLIE BROOKER, CO-CREATOR OF BLACK MIRROR. “THERE WERE MANY POINTS WHERE WE FELT IT WAS DRIVING US CRAZY.

I think that’s the challenge games have. You’ve set up a character, they’ll have cutscenes where you see their motivation, and then they sort of say all this stuff. But you can make them turn around and beat everyone to death, if you want to. Which means you’re playing the most mentally disordered figure there could be. When you’re writing a script, your characters are defined by what they do, more than what they say. As soon as you’re ceding that control to the viewer … it becomes a very real challenge.”

This isn’t Netflix’s first foray into interactive storytelling. It tested waters before with an episode in its Puss in Boots series, aimed at an younger audience. Bandersnatch has a more complicated narrative, that takes a metatextual turn and questions the extent of choices and free will both the protagonist and the viewer has in the narrative.

What works (and doesn’t work)

Credit: Netflix

There are times where I wished that the story was more open ended. We are often rerouted to certain paths that advance the story. However, the metanarrative kept things interesting. There’s a point in the story where two choices are equally valid, and I was pleasantly surprised .

Fionn Whitehead does well as the increasingly more paranoid Stefan. Director David Slade, who previously directed Season 5’s Metalhead, kept things relatively straightforward.

I discovered four endings on my first couple of playthroughs, and it took me the next day to get the final ending where the game receives the highest rating. Like I often do with video games, I discovered that while crawling through articles and Reddit, and then worked my way back through the episode to discover it. The story, it turns out, is based on an actual unreleased game called Bandersnatch.

THE ENDINGS VARY FROM BEING BLEAK TO POIGNANT TO BEING FOURTH-WALL BREAKING AND BATSHIT INSANE.

It did disappointment me a little that there was no ending where Stefan had a happy ending, but then again in Black Mirror, those are hard to come by.

Bandersnatch isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot of fun. As an experiment, it largely succeeds. If it’s a sign of things to come in regards to more interactive content, then it’s a very welcome addition to Black Mirror and Netflix in general.

“We are telling stories,” said Carla Engelbrecht, Netflix’s Director of Product Innovation. “We think we are onto something that could be really exciting,” added Netflix’s VP of Product, Todd Yellin.

Originally published on UpThrust.

An ode to deshi winters

Other countries get snow and all the wonders that come along with the soft white stuff, but having a mild, temperate winter means we Bangladeshis get a very different kind of experience. We have our own ways of celebrating and staying warm; our own culture and heritage define a lot of what we do in these months.

The fashion

Dust off the kombol suitcases and bring down the woolen sweaters tucked away in the back of the closet. You can spend away on faux leather jackets and Kashmiri shawls, how more often than not, winter clothing is strictly a fashion statement rather than being absolute necessities. It just doesn’t get that cold. Bangladesh’s mild winters mean the thermal underwear that you’d typically need to not die in the barren, frozen wastes of Canada is not needed. There is plenty of room to mix and match your winter style. Winter—the best season in Bangladesh 4 Anything goes—from the traditional shawl wrapped over a suitably ethnic Panjabi, to hoodies emblazoned with the logos of your favorite English Premier League football team. Winter is a chance for already expressive Bangladeshis to show more of their style with each additional layer of clothing. The cold can still get to you (2018 saw the lowest temperatures in nearly 50 years), especially at night. It’s a good idea to cover up and take extra protection in the form of mufflers. 

The weddings

Summer weddings in Bangladesh are a terrible idea. Who wants to see the typical local aunty’s face-paint melting in the sweltering heat? How do you get around that? You shift the wedding plans to the end of the year and minimize the heat. Everyone has the same idea, and as a result, come December, you’re flooded with wedding invites and calls for holud dance rehearsals. It can get chaotic, but the serial wedding invites make winter a festive, happening time. Winter—the best season in Bangladesh 2 It’s also prime relationship forging time. The single and ready to mingle crowd emerges. Winter weddings are a fortuitously romantic time to pine after well-dressed people you’ll never meet again.  We almost relish the hundreds of hours of ridicule from friends and family as you repeatedly claim that that the good-looking boy/girl totally smiled at you when you looked at them.

The winter sports

The Bangladeshi version of the Winter Olympics consists of hundreds of hours of badminton and some more badminton. People all over Bangladesh take to the streets and the fields, draw up badminton courts and pull out tattered nets, racquets and corks to jump, run and keep their bodies warm. Winter—the best season in Bangladesh 3 Like everything else we Bengalis do, access to the court is determined through seniority and how well connected you are with the local boro bhais. If you’re just a young thug trying to make it big in the world of badassminton politics, you’ll probably be banished to a side court with no net and no lights. You’ll be lucky to get your hands on a racquet. Count your stars that you actually get to play some form of badminton each winter. Nonetheless, badminton is more of a community sport than anything else, and the strong sense of Bengali togetherness comes out in full force in winter.

The food

Does anything attain a special corner in Bengali hearts without some mention of food? Winter is no different. Winter means weddings. Weddings mean steaming plates of kacchi biriyani with a mouth-watering aloo on top. Winter—the best season in Bangladesh 1 If that doesn’t make your mouth water, how about the plethora of different kinds of pitha? Cooked in oil, dipped in pungent shutki or wrapped in a sickly sweet coating of heaven, these diverse delicacies are something to look forward to all year. The melting mouthful of gur conjures up images of a simpler time and fill you with an incredible warmth in the winter chill. 

The empathy

Winters in Bangladesh may be mild compared to much of the rest of the world, but it does induce a lot of suffering in the less fortunate. While charity is far from the best method of alleviating that, it does play its part in bringing together people. Winter—the best season in Bangladesh 5 Every blanket and donated clothing counts. It might just be the line between someone staying warm or suffering needlessly. So stack up and donate as much as you can, because that’s what we try to do—look out for one another.