Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 7, Tuesday July 15, 2003







The right way and the other way

Legally you need to be 18 to drive. There are some other prerequisites as well. For example, you need to know how to drive. But what happens if you can only jerk the car across short distances and still want a license? As the saying goes, where there's a will there's a way.

The regular, lengthy, legal and hardly used procedure is to apply for you learner's permit and wait about three months. During this time you LEARN and take all the tests to prove your ability. That's the right way. The other way is known as 'The System'. If you are a Matrix fan you will know that the matrix is all around you. The system is a bit like that. It is all around you the moment you step through the gate of the BRTA office in Mirpur. People will come up to and politely ask if you require any help just like the headwaiter of a ritzy restaurant. If you are there for your license then they will ask you, "apni ki system kore kaaj korben?" (Are you going to follow The System?)
There are five tests that you need to pass. The first two are written and oral tests checking if you know anything about traffic rules and cars. You often get outdated questions and irrelevant matters like 'how is a motorcycle engine cooled?'.

The rest of the exams are practical ones where you get behind the wheel. There's the dreaded zigzag test where you basically zig and zag. It displays your parking and navigating skills. A ramp test checks whether you can stop on an incline without rolling into the car behind. The last is a road test where you drive on the road and try not to hit anything.

That is the gist of the whole deal. Now comes the actual wheeling and dealing part. Children take exams in schools and they need pen, eraser, calculator etc. Here you only need a wallet. The motto is 'money talks'. You really do not need to know how to drive. More than 90 per cent fail the zigzag. During my test there was a woman who made a left turn and completely forgot to turn the wheel right again. She almost ran over the onlookers. Three people passed that day out of more than 30. A tip is to use a small car with auto transmission and power steering. Better yet, use the beat up little junk Toyota Publicas belonging to the driving schools. These are tricked out so that they run without any input. All you do is turn the wheel.

Generally it takes not more than 1500 taka to process all your papers the legal way. It takes about 5-6 months till you get the plastic card with your funny picture on it. Money makes things move faster. Failed exams can be passed for a few hundred takas. Exam and card delivery dates can be moved depending on how fast money moves from your pocket to theirs. You can even get your license without ever being there. It costs about 5000-7000 Taka. Everything depends on how well you can bargain. Tips include not going there dressed in designer labels riding a Lexus. Look cheap and act cheap for a better bargain. If you do not have a car you can rent someone else's for very little. You might get air con and power steering as well.

A few of the BRTA officials were asked about this rampant profiteering. You see, you can't call it bribing. They all hemmed and hawed. One gentleman gently chewed his paan and smiled. That's all the answer you need. It's great business. Hardly anyone knows how to drive and someone has to pass them thorough. The result is drivers who do not know how to control their cars. You see the evidence on all the damaged bodies of cars. As if that is not enough think of all the drivers of heavy vehicles. Bus and truck drivers especially drive like maniacs.

The lady who almost ran over the people during her test walked out with a smile and her new license. It's the day I started to become very wary of all the other drivers on the street. Sure, everyone owns a license but how many actually know what to do?

Change the old saying to "where there's money, there's a way."
PS: Motorbike engines generally cool using air. Only the high-powered super cool bikes use liquid cooling systems. Yes, it is pretty irrelevant isn't it?

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny

RECIPES my way

By Mahjabeen Khan

Let's not assume

A friend of mine was relating an amusing story about herself when she was a newly married woman and struggling with the hazards that came with her current status.

One day she was braving to cook her first "karai chicken", following a recipe she had borrowed from her much experienced cooking expert, bhabi. She was quite confident she had done everything according to the recipe and was understandably taken aback when she realized that although the chicken was done (in fact the meat was falling apart!) there was still just too much 'shuruah' left and it didn't look like 'karai chicken' at all!

In a state of total panic she called up her bhabi and said, "Bhabi, the chicken is done but there is too much water left. Should I throw away the extra 'shuruah'? " Needless to say her bhabi knew exactly what was to be done and saved the day for my friend.

Very often when people talk about/on their own field or share their expertise with others, they assume that the new learners know at least the basic steps. Goes for cooking too. For example, the simple 'keema' curry. With little imagination one can make a whole lot of delicious variation with keema. And yet the preparation differs from one kitchen to another. I know from experience that some people wash the keema (bought from the bazar or even supermarkets) before cooking. By doing that you are throwing away all the juices of the meat and the end result is a tasteless, rubbery keema curry.

I know what you are thinking. How can you cook something without washing. The only way to solve the problem is to have your own keema grinder (the old fashioned kind or a compact electric one). Buy the meat, wash it properly, mince it and then cook. I am afraid this little column is going to carry a few tips. I am sure the experts are already looking at the next column!

Back to my topic, the whole world is striving to stay healthy and in shape. So many of us are changing our eating habits, thus putting a huge responsibility on the person in charge of the way food is prepared in her/his kitchen. Cutting down on all kinds of oil and fat (including butter, ghee, margarine etc.), salt and sugar is the first and most important start. There are numerous ways of cooking great dishes with very little or no oil (remember all kinds of meat and fish have their own natural oil).

You can marinate chicken/ fish /lamb/beef in a mixture of your choice of spices, lemon juice with plain fat free yogurt (yogurt made from skimmed milk) and broil or bake in the oven. Excellent when you are trying to shed a few kilos! You will soon realize that you do not have to use oil for all your cooking; nor do you have to swallow insipid, boiled vegetable or meat when you are on a restricted diet. Instead of frying eggplant slices in gallons of oil you can rub them with a little oil and some spice and bake in the oven turning the slices once.

However, one has to remember a few basic rules about oven cooking. Because gas/electricity consumption is comparatively higher try to plan and cook more than one dish at the same time. While following a recipe (the oven remains on ALL the time until your cooking is done) make sure you use heavily padded oven mittens to protect your hands from severe burns when you need to open the oven, pull out the baking tray, do the necessary i.e turn the food, baste, add sauce or just check. The heat has to be constant unless or until the recipe tells you to reduce it and then finally switch it off.

Oven proof dishes/utensils are not microwave proof and vice versa. But we tend to forget and are sometimes shocked when one of our favourite ceramic dishes breaks into two, (with all your labour in it!) when we shove it into an oven! Whereas we put it in the microwave every day and nothing disastrous happens. Anyway, to end this sermon-like column I would like to repeat once again that with a little bit of imagination and creativity we can make sumptuous meals for our families without going overboard with too much oil.

With all the exotic spices that you might be having in your kitchen cabinets and the aromatic herbs in the market how can you possibly go wrong?

Garlic Broiled Chicken
Make a basting sauce with the following:
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard (or freshly ground mustard with 1/2 tsp sugar)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper salt
1 whole chicken breast, skinned and cut into halves (approx. 1/2 kg )

Mix all the ingredients for the basting sauce in a small bowl. Brush over chicken. Set it aside for half an hour. Broil for 15 minutes each side, 2 inches from heat, brushing frequently with the sauce. Allow a few extra minutes if necessary.


Skin softening secrets

Rosy cheeks

For mature or any skin type for that matter.
* Get a handful of fresh rose petals and wash them well under running water.
* Put the petals into a small, clean bowl.
* Pour boiling water (almost) over the rose petals.
* Allow to cool.
* When cool, pour into your clean spray bottle.
* Use liberally, whenever, wherever.
* Keep refrigerated and use it up within a day.

Refreshing cucumber
Good for all skin types.
* Wash a small cucumber and blend it with a cup of distilled water.
* Strain into your spray bottle.
* Refrigerate and use liberally to cool off; but make sure to use it up within 12 hours.

Orange yoghurt mask
* 1 teaspoon plain yoghurt
* The juice of quarter of an orange
Stir the juice into the yoghurt and then dip fingers into the mixture and smooth onto the face. Leave on for five minutes, then rinse off. While yoghurt cleanses and nourishes, orange is full of vitamins and AHAs. The perfect mask for sluggish skin.
Give me beans
Mash up some green beans and add a little yoghurt. Massage onto the skin and leave on for about 10 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water for smooth skin.

Hanging Out


Want a place where you can quietly play some pool, take a break, grab a bite and play pool again? Well Boomers is the place for you. Situated on Kamal Ataturk road, competing right next to Helvetia, Boomers is the ultimate play-eat place. Sporting the whole expensive and suave yet seedy American pool joint look, Boomers is far from actually being seedy. Clean, dimly lit and above all spacious, it's a great place to go with friends and hang out for a while.
The food and price are comparatively ok but how well one likes the food depends totally on relativity and one's own taste buds. Thus, I won't make any particular recommendations but they make most of the things that are more or less common but nevertheless very popular with Dhaka dwellers. As I said, the décor is very classic but I truly think that they could make the most of their space if they thoughtfully shuffled furniture - that way a lot of space which seems to be lying idle could be put to use.
But for you to agree or disagree with my observation you would have to hang out at Boomers wouldn't you? So for now that's what I suggest: give Boomers a try. You might just like it!

By Tahiat-E-Mahboob


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