Sumaiya Ahsan Bushra
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
The small student community is probably the best thing about some universities in Bangladesh. Most of the faces are familiar and everyone seems to know everyone. University of Liberal Arts is one such university which fits the definition of such a community. The canteen which is located quite 'under the ground' is one of the hangout places for the students. Not much could be said about its location apart from the fact that it is fairly congested and limited in content, yet a lot could be said about the buzzing activity, brainstorming sessions and the eating that take place through out the day.
Just like other canteens, ULAB's eatery is nothing exclusive. Students most of the time eat the nation's favourite snacks, shingaras and samossas which are available at six taka each. A number of other fast food items are also available including, beef and chicken roll, pasta, noodles, sandwich, pizza and some others. For those, who are slightly conscious about their health yet enjoying eating outside often opt for the vegetable roll. The roll, with its hot filling containing carrots and other winter vegetables, is a perfect snack for a class early in the morning or late in the evening.
Paired with this hot and healthy snack, could be a cup of coffee or tea for this chilly season. Since, no particular winter food of such is available at the ULAB canteen, the canteen supervisor Ebaduzzaman who is pretty well known in the student community as under different aliases like sir, uncle, bhai, states the reason behind not having a winter speciality. He says, “The university remains closed most of the winter. Even if the administration office is open, very few students come to the canteen to enjoy the day long adda sessions.”
With regard to lunch plans, the canteen supervisor says, “At the moment we have only a few lunch items. We do not have the traditional Bangladeshi menu, containing bhaat and daal yet, but we are hopeful that as the number of students increases, we will start introducing variety.” However, currently the canteen serves the students vegetable fried rice and crispy chicken fry at Taka 80, while an extra side curry will cost one an additional 75 bucks.
Sharmin Akter, a student of BBA says, “The food here is affordable. But unfortunately it isn't that tasty. Most of the time, we are tempted to eat outside due to the quality of the food at the university.” On this note, Akhter states that she is in her last semester and nothing has been done so far to maintain the standard of food. Akhter is optimistic that the condition will get better with the development of the canteen itself. On the other hand, Nazmul Hasan, final year student from the BBA Department praises the food while having a delicious plate of assorted vegetable with paratha. He says, “I mostly eat breakfast or brunch at the canteen. The cha here is really good. It is the ultimate energy booster and is cheaper than outside.”
The ULAB canteen is unique in nature to other private universities, because of the limited number of people. Sometimes, the students of campus A come to campus B to hangout in the canteen and to avail the food facilities which are not present in campus A. The students sit in circles in their canteen and enjoy long sessions of adda during normal class days and cramming sessions during examination. Some times, the slackers are found idly wasting time playing table tennis and carom. The sitting arrangement in the canteen gives the sense of a shabby yet cosy lounge. Nothing posh though, but the ambience and the friend circle of the ULAB canteen will immediately strike an individual.