Saturday, October 23, 1999

Speaking 'Spoken English' in Bangladesh


A joke goes about our circle of friends. A 'khyat' (translation follows as you go on) returns from England in a state of culture shock. Nudity, obscenity, loose morality, premarital sex, post marital infidelity, violence in disproportionate proportions have laid waste to his sense of 'values'. 'However the greatest thing about England' he allegedly tells one of our friend 'the average man in the street is very educated and cultured - they all speak fluent English!'


Those were the days of bellbottoms and tight tee shirts, which we wore, tucked in - for no other reason but just to showoff a 2 inches thick monstrosity around our waist called 'broad belts'. Boys and girls wore 'platform heel' shoes - which were literally covered with the pants bottom. You could add atleast four more inches to your height. The 'flares' or as the bottoms were called, could be 40 inches and your thighs as tight as you wanted them to be.

My friends and I had one other thing in common. We speak most of the time, which was all the time: in English. It was a fashionable snobbery we indulged, as speaking anything, but the Queens language decided whether you were with the 'in' or 'out' crowd. We spoke with an American twang. We were always 'in' with our English jargons and appropriate mannerism. You did not say 'cool' in those days, you were 'hep', you did not smoke a cigarette - you 'fagged', and you did not 'party' like they say it these days, you went to 'mixed parities' - where girls and boys sort of 'mixed'.

The 'mixed parties' were really daytime affairs. The venue would usually be a friend's house, their parents 'conveniently' absent or 'abroad'. We covered thick curtains or stuck black papers to all the windows in a bid to blacken and smother mother sun out to bring in a 'synthesized night' when it was like three in the afternoon! In comparison, 'parties' of today are vibrant dusk to dawn affairs.

We danced with ceiling, pedestal fans and music systems (the term 'turntable' and 'tape deck' had just entered popular usage replacing record, cassette players) on full blast. Very few people had A/C in their houses like they do today: unless they were filthy rich (we avoided them) so that, when we danced cheek to cheek, we were not having a 'close' dance or 'dirty dancing' as is referred today, we were 'sweating into each other'!

And ofcourse, we all spoke in English!

The year was a turning point in my life. For my fashionable friends and me the students of Arts College looked ...well almost like us. To be dressed otherwise was to be termed 'khyat' - literally 'paddy field' translated to mean rural, rustic, peasant stock, and village like - backward. One more year in college, and then - where? I have an artistic bent of mind or so I thought. The Institute of Fine Arts or popularly called, Arts College beckoned me, but the future - what does it hold for me?

Somebody asked me to 'go check out the Arts College. My friend Yasmin Moni Lashkar's eldest sister my most affectionate Nurun Nahar Lashkar (Papa bu for me ) was convinced that I could make 'something' out of the bum I was, by evaluating the random psychedelic painting I had done in my room. She volunteered to let me 'get a hang of the place' and asked me to come over the next Saturday, at eleven in the morning and to behave.

"Allaher Kosom bubu" I said.

I went over appropriately attired - and found a ravishing beauty coming my way. Wow, she was our kind, her dress said it all. ' Ahem?..Excuse me, I am looking for Nurun Nahar apa of the second year, can you help me find her?'

A very simple sentence, which I articulated as carefully as possible, and hurled at the 'hep gal', spiced with the twangiest American accent I could muster. I had to impress her.

She looked devastated and smiled wryly, exclaiming in pure Bangla - "Amee apnar ekta kothao bujhlaam na - Banglai kee bolben?"

My ego and pride both took a thud on the face. Good God, this one is a 'khyat'? I got around finding Papa bu, and met more of the 'out' lot dressed up like the most fashionable 'in' lot in town, who were no one else but 'us'; No English? Unreal.

Papu bu later put me through one of her lovable lectures - "Dekho Maqsood shob jaigai oto Ingraji fotor fotor korbaynaa - Bangla tao khub RICh bhasha".

My dreams of becoming the Picasso of Bangladesh died the same evening!


I join the University of Dhaka (bombastically dubbed Oxford of the East!) in the Department of English. My friends join equally fashionable departments: International Relations (IR), Management, Finance, and Business Administration - however English remains our lingua franca. I join the band Feedback in Hotel Intercontinental as the lead vocalist - my reputation of being 'hep' gathers further momentum!


I finish my Honors examination and start hunting for a job. The WANTED column advertises jobs for people with 'experience'. I have no proverbial maternal or paternal uncle to help me! I am on the verge of giving up when friends shock me by saying, 'don't worry about experience, you can speak fluent English - you can always apply'.

Taking their timely advice, one afternoon I walk into a Travel Agency looking for Sales Executives, where I lay on my 'twang' on the Sylhetise speaking boss.

An hour later, I walk out with an appointment letter - Takas one thousand to start with - and lunch and tea on the house. A lot of money and perk in those days guys!


I meet this strange guy going back to the UK. When I ask him what he does for a living - he tells me he is a banker? There was an LTI (Left Thumb Impression) in place of the signature in his passport and I could tell that this guy was lying - I was also responsible to check for fraudulent travel documents - so I begin to question him closely.

He senses my apprehension and goes on a comic defensive. 'Ah - I don't like really 'work' in a bank, but I have to go there every week to deposit all that I earn as unemployment benefit. Believe me, I have experience that can be any bankers envy!' - he chortles. It was heavily accented with the Sylhetise dialect - but you guessed right it was English that he spoke - so I write him out his British Airways ticket to London and ta ta !!

A brave Bileti Bekaar - bit hell do I care - he speaks English, that is important for me!!!


I meet this smashing young lady at a party in Baridhara, who tells me that she has known me for years. Now this is a bizarre situation as I have my wife for company, who I thought knew most everything that she needed to know, about my well not so 'checkered past' as a bachelor!

I wreck my brains trying to recollect without luck. A second clue - we went to school together - Shahin School? Good grief - more trouble I still can't figure out. I apologize profusely for my blurred memory but still no luck. A while later I realize that this is good old Halima who went away to the States with her parents in 1976.

She is a fabulously 'brand new person' (straightened her slanted eye as also her curly hair!) - and has a brand new, very foreign sounding Bengalee name: MALIHA!!!

Phew! I breathe easy.


I am at the Head Office of Biman Bangladesh Airlines in the room of my friend Yousuf Ali, then the District Manager - Dhaka. There is tension in the air as shocking news comes in. Pilots and ground handlers at the Airport have gone all out and had a rollicking fisticuff.

Now the literal 'punch line'.

An 'Ingraji gaali (English expletive) leads to an altercation and a 'punch-up' brings all operations of the national carrier to a grinding HALT. No flights coming in our going out. Those already in the ground do not have stairs for the passengers to disembark etc etc.

It seem a pilot not getting the better out of a ground handler, used the 'Ingraji gaali' IDIOT, meaning as the Dictionary states 'a person too deficient in mind to be capable of rational conduct' - and that was it!

High-level management intervention defuses the situation. Peculiar but true - Bengalees react violently if 'Ingraji gaali' is used.

Yousuf asks me to take a lesson and warns me; "Mac never in your life use English words like Stupid, Nonsense or IDIOT if ever you are in an argument with a Bengalee. Use a proper 'your mothers so and so?' or your 'sisters so and so' etc in proper, proper, Bangla - never in ENGLISH, now do you understand" - he exasperatedly barks at me!!

'Yes Boss' I nod and leave! The wisest counsel I could have ever had, as times would teach me.


It is 10:30 a.m. in the morning and Dilkusha Commercial Area (where I then had my office) - has a treat. Everybody stares at members of a heavy metal band who walk in to meet me - ostensibly about a concert they were organizing where I am one of the participants.

Smart young men - they are dressed in a veritable mix of John Bon Jovi, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Mettalica, G&R etc. They wear leather in summer and chains, sport unshaven faces, shoulder length hair, belts with studs, dirty high boots and bandanas, and smell of after shave and cannabis. They also wear an ATTITUDE - which is okay with me.

I enjoy talking to them which reminds me of my non-conformist 'hippie days' of the mid seventies. But wait a minute - they speak a Bangla, which is quite foreign sounding but then intelligible.

I notice a 'twang' in the way the sentences are phrased. Hey, I tell myself, the landscape of Bangladesh has gone through immense changes - this 'sounds' like the tip of the new 'soundscape'! So much the better - but there is one small problem that bugs me?

While they could talk in details about their heroes, down to the minutest details of Joe Satriani's guitar 'licks and riffs' and also sing - in well, tolerable English. their language of preference however is this new foreign sounding Bangla - not English! I am more than slightly disappointed.


A candle that burns twice as bright extinguishes just as fast.

Zafar Iqbal (R.I.P) movie actor and 'star' extra ordinary, former rock guitarist and lead vocalist in the late sixties band at Hotel Intercontinental -- "Time A Go Motion" which later became "Rambling Stones", departs from planet earth quite suddenly. He was a hero who could transcend generations and while he was my eldest brother Mahmoodul Haque's friend - he was also mine, down to dirty talking, smoking cigarretes and pot - and hard drinking.

A restless yet wonderful soul, he was ladies heart throb and gents heart burn, with a life long penchant for the theatrics in his 'real life'. He lived his life - as he acted and it was only natural that he became anxious when I told him casually one day that I had never witnessed a film being shot on location or at a studio. He promptly summoned his secretary who looked up the 'stars' appointment book and announced that indeed two-day later was to be the 'muhurat' of a film.

Now the nuts and bolts.

The location was a stately suburban mansion with a huge green lawn behind the shooting range in Gulshan - not a regular studio. A 'muhurat' for the uninitiated with the 'filmy' world is an occasion where the first shots of a film are shot, and the first clap stick 'clapped'! It calls for raucous celebrations with an assortment of cinema crew, hero, heroines, 'junior artist' (extras), sycophants (chumchaz), make-up artists, lightman, cameraman, the press and a human species mysteriously called 'PRODUCTION".

Anyone who was in anyway remotely connected to the incumbent film was there. Sprinkled into this masala or salad are fans, producers, their relatives, and relatives of relatives and so forth.

'Lights', 'Camera rolling and ACTION' - the demure Babita appears from nowhere, and does her bit. A fly pesters in from somewhere destroying the perfect frame the director had composed. He flies into a rage screaming 'PRODUCTION' as two helpless souls go at the fly with a can of repellant. 'Madam' as the crew reverently refers to Babita, remains unperturbed and prepares for her shot again.

The second time around a pretty little girl with a neatly tied hair bun lunges on to Babita and the frame, red rose in one hand and an autograph book on the other. 'PRODUCTION' somebody shouted, and immediately a petty fellow in a petty uniform of a policeman, promptly took charge of public order. A third attempt was made and aborted for some technicality.

Time for a break and I again heard someone screaming 'PRODUCTION' and bottles of cold drinks hot tea, samosas, singaras etc materialized from thin air. Make-up artists were furiously at work on the face of the 'Boss' as Zafar Iqbal was lovingly called. As I stepped in he gave me a bear hug which was so typical of him and made me feel more than a little important. He began introducing me to his friends, colleagues and important people in the movie business. However something did strike me as very peculiar. The 'Boss' was jabbering continuously in English - not that there was anything wrong with his English, (he spoke it perfectly -- almost to a fault) the problem was he was talking literally with 'everybody' in the Queens language.

I was convinced that other than a handful, nobody understood him, yet 'everybody' nodded their heads 'yes,yes'yes' or no'no'no' and there were some weird cats who interjected 'ofcourse, ofcourse, ofcourse'. The least interested just smiled or betrayed a blank expression: LOST!

Zafar Iqbal's English was progressively beginning to annoy me - so I pulled him aside and asked him somewhat irreverently - 'what the hell is going on…why aren't you speaking in Bangla Boss?'

With a look of shock writ large on his face, he told me ever so politely -'boy don't you realize, that 'this lot' will respect you, consider you 'hep' or 'mod' (read fashionable) only if you speak in English? Don't you realize what power you wield with the English language? Now come on don't be silly - and don't you utter a word of Bangla around me while you are here'.

I didn't have much of a choice!

Having made his dramatic monologue, he went ahead with his shot with Babita, which was thankfully perfect this time around. Before disappearing into the wintry night - 'Madam' did her bits in English with the 'Boss. 'See you', 'good-night', 'ta,ta' followed with BYEEEEE!!

Everybody present CLAPPED hard and long?

As the evening wore on the sycophants warmed up to Zafar Iqbal who was ofcourse 'addafying' (to use his expression) in English! Six Heineken later, I bade farewell. In parting he said 'take care my man, stay and play safe - will you'.

Everybody present CLAPPED hard and long?

Out at the portico I overheard the 'PRODUCTION" lads talking among themselves of how 'educated and cultured ' the BOSS was and what impeccable English he spoke. Since I was the 'bosses' friend and could communicate with such ease with him, they thought I must be equally 'educated and cultured', they wondered aloud - and I was well…….PLEASED!

Little did I know that would be my last meeting with Zafar Bhai. His last words in his dying hours to doctors attending him were also in English! A hapless, helpless, 'I love you doc, you've tried your best' followed by ---'can I have one last BEER?'


An open-air rock concert at the RAOWA club where a rookie band is making its debut. The object of curiosity, their Bengalee lead singer who has come in all the way from the 'U S of A'. He is a head banging rockers who jumps on stage, grabs the nearest microphone and screams 'F*** Ya all' in English, I repeat in English? He gesticulates with his middle finger raised upward and demonstrates what he calls, his 'cool attitude'. The motley crowd of six thousand or so reacts violently to his 'ingraji gaali'!!

The show ends in a pandemonium and a mob starts chasing our debutante with chairs, sticks and, Lord behold those very, very embarrassing bamboo's!! On duty Police at the very last minute extricate him to safety - otherwise rock in Bangladesh would definitely have had its first martyr that fateful evening!

The message sent loud and clear to the rock fraternity - English songs are passe in that the audience has no clue about the lyrics being 'screamed over' as they do not know more than the name of the cover artist being 'covered' - but replicating 'Ingraji gaalis' ala Axle Rose is still a far away thing in Bangladesh!!

Brave attempt nonetheless.


A pesky journalist from a vernacular daily questions me as to why all Bangladeshi bands have these English names - while they all have songs in the Bangla language? Being a singer for a English sounding band, I reply tongue in cheek, that very few bands with Bangla names have survived like us for eighteen years.

'Why' - he presses on, hoping that I would 'intellectualize'. I engage in some Bangla verbosity and tell him - 'I believe we Bengalees as a race have this foreign fixation, and anything foreign sounding is more acceptable to us than others. Anybody that has English name affixed to his band or his name is expected to be - well 'hep' 'cool' etc and his standards are judged accordingly'.

The journalist is disappointed with my answers - but knows I am telling him the truth.


Two students from the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation tourism school are assigned to a familiarization course in the office I work. I am to train them? The male student has a neatly tied knot on his business like shirt and blue dress trousers - there is however no trace of intelligence in his face! His two toned pair of shoes shine to a sparkle. The frame on his eye is Christian Dior (?)- and he gives me an over dressed complex. The female student wears an exquisitely motiffed Pakistani dress - she looks horrid.

The male does most of the talking - which is in outrageous English, which I digest for about ten minutes before reacting. I ask the two of them if they would prefer to speak in Bangla with me - because my English is unfortunately not 'as good' as theirs! 'No, no, no' the male blurts out - our instructions are, always, always speak in English - twenty-four hours if necessary'.

Their instructor in the school is a foreigner, and it is the local teachers in a bid to make their jobs easier are the ones it seems - given them the 'local instruction - SHUN YOUR NATIVE LANGUAGE'.

They were wasting my time and I insisted that I speak to them in Bangla, and understanding their limitations, I could well figure out that they would never ever pass a written English test. I wanted them to understand everything that I was teaching them while they were my 'students' - exhausted as it was; teaching them in English during office hours and retranslating into Bangla during lunch break or after office.


Dinner at a suburban Chinese restaurant, where the ambience is mellow and the food delicious. The stewardesses are extremely polite and helpful - only problem - they speak in English - even when what you have to ask is in Bangla! I ask the one taking my order if she is a foreigner - to which she reacts with a dumbfound expression 'no no Sir, I am a Bengalee' was her proud answer in English!

My next question freezes her. 'Can I have your permission to speak to you in Bangla please?' 'By all means Sir, after all we are all Bengalees' was her answer, again in English. I ask her as to why she has to continuously jabber in English.

The blunt answer again in English 'Sir, customers have a very low impression and often question the standard of any restaurant where stewards or stewardesses do not speak in English. Management instruction's SIR - please do not mind'.

I slurp on my soup and think about the bill.


First published October 23 1994

Friday, October 01, 1999

Man: An Unphilosophical Enquiry

For millions of year man lived like beasts - then something important happened - he started to talk, and instantly his imagination, both individual and collective was triggered, that led on to what we have inherited today, a communicative world. A world where man, even the deaf and the dumb have a mean of communication with his fellow man, a world where a blind, though not witnessing the events around him can still have a clear perception as to his environment. The exact year when man learnt to talk is not known, however as he talked, he also made great strides that led on to civilizations, society, philosophies, culture, commerce - indeed all that we hold dearest to our heart at the close of this century, are all products of mans collective imagination.

The ability to talk or power of speech, offered its own strength and opportunities in mans development, much as it also had weaknesses and threats. Improper communication of thoughts, philosophies created misunderstanding and tensions that perhaps led on to the first human conflict and wars.

Nothing more mysterious, more unexplained remained in man, than his mind - and once the mind started acting - i.e. thinking, man grew conscious as to his immediate needs. What came first - man or his mind is as debatable as the hen or egg! Survival perhaps figured most prominently in mans first list of priorities. Man learnt to survive natural extremities - wild beast that preyed on man for food, illness, hunger and whatever else you want to add to that list. Survival meant fighting all odds so man learnt how to survive without a teacher, without a guideline. The survival instinct came naturally to man. Nature was his greatest teacher, his greatest friend and philosopher. He probably learnt how to fight from beasts as he did not consider himself any different than beasts, other than his ability to talk. He took lessons and passed it on to his fellow man, a simple process that over years created experts with skills. Expertise led on to collective replication, duplication and improvisations. Improvisation led to many ideas being condemned of being obsolete and discarded. New ideas evolved - man discovered competition. Man moved on. Creativity charged mans imagination and led on to inventions to make life a lot simpler and easier. Man became conscious that he is condemned to a life of hard labour - whether physical or mental. He wanted to change his environment, to make labour more easily, more pleasurable. The pursuit of pleasure has always been mans greatest vice. Man has never enjoyed a monopoly on virtues!

As man moved, he also learnt the skills of oppression - the continuation of that meant annihilation of other man - for material or other gains to himself and for others who relied on him or his imagination. Leaders were born - superior man who propelled themselves into position of power and authority. Weaknesses in one leader created other leaders. This was mans check on another beast: man ! This was his way of restricting another mans aspirations. War came naturally to man - as a survival instinct. War ensured trophies and bounties. The vanquished wealth and women became immediate possessions if a war was won. Man made his fellow man slaves and bound him in chain and shackles. The human mind also derived grotesque and perverted pleasure to see his once powerful enemy at his mercy - his slave. To see ones enemy capitulate was a great accomplishment, so man took it another step further. He played God, slaughtering his fellow man. The process of decapitating and torturing an enemy sometimes continued for days on end till he died. By watching misery an enemy endured at his death throes, man discovered a new trait in his imagination: cruelty. He also learnt about the power of human endurance, and learnt the differences between, painful and painless deaths. Inexplicably as a continuation of cruelty he also learnt collective carnage: genocide. Man also became the ultimate survivor against his fellow mans ignominy and insensitivity. The vanquished also had a voice and resurrected themselves over time. Man moved on.

On the flip side, man learnt about death without dying, so that it meant killing his fellow man to take that once step further to: knowledge. He ate his flesh and dissected his body to learn the intricacies of his bones, nerves and veins. The experience he thus gained taught him how pain was to be dealt with. He discovered among others a remedy to end human misery: medicine. Planet earth was and still is a biological laboratory and man will keep paying the ultimate price - himself - to ensure that his species does not go extinct. Man still had not learnt how to dissect the human imagination. It remains the most mysterious and potent unknown in his existence. Man aspired for peace, for freedom from the shackles of oppression. War was always a double-edged sword, it created opportunity for peace by annihilation for those that did not share one mans imagination, his thought process, his concept of right or wrong. It also created for those that survived a war - the victorious, a semblance of peace with all the bounty Mother Nature has to offer. For those that lost wars, man discovered humiliation that led on to tolerance. Tolerance is a trait for those that have suffered and lost most in life.

It was perhaps at this juncture that the third thought process evolved - the free thinkers. The free thinkers believed that mans greatest enemy was his mind, a mind that only saw two colours - black and white. He represented the grey segment of the natural canvas. He believed that only a combination of black and white would ensure that the human species did not go extinct. The first free thinker, were also the first liberals and had to pay a price, with their lives. The greatest tragedy of man has been that its free thinkers were discovered posthumously. What they had left behind for his fellow men were however gems. Genetic time capsules that faithfully encoded the basic human trait: goodness. Man among his many natural attributes has arguably goodness in the highest dosage. Yet given circumstances, man can commit evil more naturally than he would goodness. What makes him commit evil will forever remain mans investigation: for now there is no answer.

Man argued that peace couldn't be found if war is considered a solution - but that argument never ended wars. He therefore fine-tuned his thinking and communicative skill to invent a compromise philosophy to replace a subordinate philosophy - so that man can continue to live and let live. More colours were painted into the natural canvas. Nothing much happened. Man continued to argue that peace is not the absence of war, but the absence of the conditions that leads man to war. The foremost of those conditions were and still remain for man his greatest vice: suspicion. The proverbial 'keep the guard up' - is mans natural trait. Man is mans enemy, and there is no man on planet earth that does not have an individual, common or collective enemy.

Man cannot remain defensive without weapons. Tragically weapons of defense in mans history has more often been used, as weapons of offense - because man has believed that 'offense is the best defense'! So man continues to imperil the world by his basic instinct for survival. Mans greatest industry has been war industries, his military industrial complexes - which have traditionally supplied armament for mans war. Because wars never ended, the armaments industry only flourished. As the world got bigger and was divided over and over again, nations, countries, continents, sub continents, regions surfaced - and what he has inherited today is the collective result of that original human instinct: mans quest for freedom.

Guarantee of freedom for man however, comes at gunpoint, so mans war industry got more focused and organized in its singular obsession - the killing of fellow man. Weapons to kill millions at a time remains mans most sacred and secret possessions today, its bargaining chip, its symbol of freedom.

The problem with freedom is it cannot be had, if man does not have peace. The problem with peace is, man has not yet figured out how to make money out of it! If the military industrial complexes are dismantled today - if wars end, the next war will be fought by the unemployed millions from these very same industrial complexes? The fear of unemployment makes man desperate. Man demobilized from war, have found employment in other wars: mercenaries are mans oldest professional warmongers.

Man has thrived on chaos. Peace and chaos has never walked hand in hand. It has always been a tilted balance because of mans propensity for chaos is supreme, as he has not overcome his basic insecurity - translated to mean man made fear or fear of man. Fear again is the driving force behind mans energetic discoveries. Man has well realized that a peaceful planet earth would be, well quite boring. His imagination forces him to spends most of his money and energy in pursuit of real or imagined enemies within his own kind and outside. Man has set foot on the moon and has sent robots to Mars - many more planets are targeted for mans discovery.

Question: What is man trying to discover? Rocks and landscapes? The answer is man is looking for life, and when man says 'life' his intention is to discover - something resembling man. If by accident, life is discovered on any other planet, man with all its inclination for peace will actually be discovering a life form that he will construe to be his enemy. Do not expect man to go and shake hand with a green Martian and say 'Hi old chap - do you know we have been waiting to meet you guys for couple of million years?' - rather it would be natural for man, to shoot or capture such a creature, and find out what his chemistry is all about in a laboratory back home! The fear of the unknown propels man on.

When we say 'extra terrestrials' (ET) - mans mind conjures images of creatures with superior intelligence. Man has rarely accepted a superior man for far too long, its history being filled with stories of pickup and dumps - and therefore it would be a travesty to expect man to fall in love with the first ET it meets. If life is discovered on another planet - bad news for man. Man will mobilize all resources at its disposal to make war. If Hollywood movies are any indicator of mans collective visual imagination - I am sure readers will not miss the point. But is there any other intelligent life form in our solar system other than man? My twelve-year-old son believes that there is, but feels they will be discovered millions of years from today. The truth is no one knows. However mans imagination will create one, even if there is none, and man will drive himself into frenzy trying to kill or subdue the monsters. There are zillions of crackpots in the world that believe in ET's and perhaps billions more who believe in UFO's. Man has the capacity to live unto its beliefs, to the extent of creating a belief system - even if there may be no rationale. Man will ofcourse question and doubt, for that is also natural for man!

Modern man is as superstitious as his ancestors that walked planet earth millions of years ago. Superstition arose because of his basic survival instinct - when he failed to find logical answers to his question, he invented answers to suit his immediate needs. Myths were born to create and reinforce those superstitions and together with changing times man thought he found answers to many of his questions. Man discovered many more colors in his natural canvas from his first black, white and grey. His natural canvas looked more like a kaleidoscope. Mans imagination searched for answers to new questions. For man living on planet earth, it is a back and forth process. As he looked forward he also made painful enquiries into the past to find a clue as to his existence. He looked back at traditions - knowing fully well that tradition is something man has always left behind if not discarded. He looked back and picked up what he thought can lead him forward. He realized that his ancestors have left behind a value system, which has endured times because it was 'correct' and was destined to protect his, other basic instinct: goodness. Survival meant choosing the worst possible opportunities that the future - the unexplained future required him to choose. Man also learnt how to side step to dodge and weave - he learnt how to live with his enemy.

Mans experiment with death was also a back and forth process. He probably wanted to know life after death - for his survival instinct convinced him that even if his physical body died, his mind did not. He found proof of this in his sleep. As he woke each morning, he tried to investigate where his mind disappeared as he slept? Each waking morning was a invigorating experience, for his sleep took him somewhere he did not know nor did he have a clue. So he argued that when physical death occurs his mind will still be resurrected, somewhere down a vacant hollow - a tunnel at best. He believed in reincarnation and this belief led him on to search for God. The search for God perhaps became more intense when man took a step backward to find out 'where he has come from'? Man is sufficiently convinced of where he is going after death - but where he was before his birth, still remains a huge void in his imagination. Anthropologist have tracked back man to apes with scientific evidence - but exactly when man as we know him today first evolved is still unknown. There is a great 'missing link' between man and his ape ancestors!

The concept of a monotheistic God, as is mans belief system is modern. God as we know him today is approximately two thousand years old. Mans discovery of God has not been by chance or an invention. He found God when he knew that at some point he had to surrender. Man realized that his imagination was limited, and while his quest for knowledge is unending, physically man cannot survive long enough to have answers to all questions in his life. He for instance could predict the days and the nights, the winds and the fire, the volcanoes and the earthquakes, the storms and the tidal surges - but much as he tried he could not duplicate these phenomenon's on his own. Man or his imagination could not re -create nature - and it is not as if man has not tried hard enough? As he looked up at the stars at night he did not find answers to what all the darkness represents much as he did not find answers to where the blue dome ended - or who was the ultimate artist that painted the horizon with all colours known to man, in a consistently different exhibition each evening as the sun went down. Man learnt to be romantic.

Man looked at different sizes of things in his body, and this convinced him that his brain, the power house of his imagination is not designed to fuel his constant yearning. Man has many more questions, and actually fewer answers. As he procreated and created other man - his children, he learnt to calculate the months of pregnancy. The possible date and time of birth still remained outside his control, as also the possible time or death of man. Nature does not provide a definite answer - that has been natures nature.

Because mans imagination is so fertile, he has doubted the proof of his own existence. Though man believes that contradiction between existence and non existence is the greatest of all existence - yet he has wanted to know if this life, the one he has at any given moment, is not just another big spurt of the imagination - that this very existence is one big dream, and that he may wake up one morning to find himself in quite a different sphere of existence! The imagination of man has also the ability to twist his imagination.

Man burns out, man is born to die - death defies the imagination and as much as it gives food for thought, man has not been able to know much more about his ancestors than what they have left behind in records - written or otherwise. A complete and absolute record of what can be considered 'mans complete imagination' is however not available. Knowledge is the cumulative product of mans imagination - what we value as knowledge today will be rendered obsolete by our fellow man and this will happen much earlier than the time man has taken to discard the knowledge left behind by his ancestors.

Man has always questioned the accomplishment of his ancestors, whenever he has wanted clear proof, however many of the achievements in 'recent times' have left him baffled specially when he reasoned with civilization like the Mayans and the Incas - proof that modern man is never as superior as he wishes to be.

Science a man made invention provided some, if not all the answer to mans quest for rationale. Man discovered science to explain the law of nature - yet what is defined is also the hard work of mans imagination. The ultimate creator of nature has truly not been identified and man remains as baffled and frustrated than the ones that walked planet earth millions of years ago. Science's contribution has been one endless saga of good and evil for man. Science has dared man to experiment and seek new adventures, new discoveries. It has made communication a staying force - and like his ancestors, science has allowed man to miscommunicate. Mans basic nature and imagination has not gone through great changes. Although the backgrounds maybe different suspicion, fear and oppression are the mainstay of mans quest today. His basic survival instinct makes him commit the same evil as his ancestors and there is certainly nothing humane in man than what he thinks immediately as a necessary method of survival. Man takes great pride in differentiating himself from beasts - but his beastly nature is manifest in his interaction with his fellow man. That ultimately leads us to the most important question: Will man become extinct? If the social processes and philosophies that has guided man since his unknown inception continues, as it must, than mans future is suspect. The doomsday philosophy expounded by many religions is an early warning system invented by man to check that that one suicidal human instinct: fear. The progresses of science has made that fear all the more realistic - when we consider that mans armament industry has weapons of mass destruction with powers to completely alter the natural process. What a meteor did to change the earth's atmosphere and environment and led the dinosaurs to go extinct - man has now more power at its disposal with its stockpiling of nuclear and biological weapons. In the event of a nuclear war - man, will not have a winner? The complete History of The Dinosaurs has been written. Sadly, the complete History of Man will never be written simply because no man will be around to write or read it.

First Published 19th August 1997