paper goes to bed tomorrow, what do you mean we have no pictures!"
our flustered editor yells into the phone. The rest of us can hear
the crackle on the phone, as our well-loved but temperamental photographer
reels off one of his tall tales. I shake my head and go back to proof-reading,
inwardly debating as to whether or not this would be an appropriate
moment to tell her that one of our feature writers had not turned
in the week's cover story either. I turn around and catch the anxious
look on my fellow editorial staff members' faces, and in another corner,
our sweet graphics person quietly mops the sweat off his head.
Ladies and gentlemen,
dear readers, what you have read could be any day taken from any week
out life at Lifestyle. When you read what you read on Tuesdays, you're
looking at the glamorous, uppity magazine that has the final say on
what's hot and what's not. If you take a peep into the green room
behind the show, you'll see last-minute desperation, the nail-biting
suspense, the sweat and the tears that go into every issue. Ever wonder
about the people who bring you the beat week after week? Meet the
Raffat Binte Rashid: We know her as the coconut (behind
the rough and crusty exterior of the bully who browbeats us into putting
our cent percent into every article, is a sweet and considerate person).
Readers will remember her for thought-provoking Desher Bari (her article
on a trip to the village) and for Heroines on the Home Front (her
article on housewives).
Parveen: This is the writer we lovingly call our 'Buddhijibi'
because she handles serious issues like the 'Essentials' column, as
well as heavy covers like Single in the City (on bachelors/spinsters),
Ravishing Rangamati and many more. Pragmatic, systematic, and zealous
about anything she believes in, she is almost the sole semblance of
sanity in our mad bunch.
Ali Khan: This wild child gave us gems like Arranged Marriage,
Dhaka at Night, as well as several 'Hanging Out' columns. On print,
he's the one with the keen insight on the issues he tackles, as well
as his skilful blending of Bangla terms with a varied English vocabulary
to create a flavourful fusion with his words. At the LS, he's the
quicksilver-tempered, deadline-stretching mad maverick who keeps us
on our toes and our poor editor sweating in frustration until the
very nick of time.
F Ahmad: A spillover from the Rising Stars, this grammar
Nazi considers Irksome Odd Traits (her story on annoying personal
habits), A tale of two siblings (on twins), and Marriage on the Run
(on elopement) to be the highlights of the one year she has been with
us. Whether you agree or not, you can recognise her style by her fascination
for alliterations and pun-tastic wordplay.
Raza Ronny: Wheels and Deals (his article on cars), Happily
ever after? (on elopement) and more recently, The Truth about Cats
and Dogs (on pets), as well as numerous Shop Talk columns, and translations
of Sultana Yasmin's cover stories…he's literally a one-man band. At
LS, he's better known for his wacky cartoons, corny sense of humour,
and complete absorption in anything that barks or has wheels.
I Khan: The undisputed villain of the office, as far as the
LS editor is concerned, he keeps our manicure bills low as we end
up biting our nails off every week, wondering whether we'll get the
pictures we need. Usually, at the end of the day, the photos are worth
the wait. (Let's hope he's not reading this, or he'll get encouraged).
Elahi: Our moody and mysterious graphics designer…how he
manages to complete the layout without speaking a single word to anyone
is beyond our comprehension. We've heard rumours that beneath that
unapproachable front is a friendly, amiable person, but we at the
LS are yet to see it.
Sultana Yasmin: This energetic reporter has brought
us gems like Sizzle in Summer, Adoption, and many, many more this
year. With her frankness and droll, self-deprecating humour, she is
someone with whom we enjoy a good adda.
Newaz: From across the ocean, literally sitting 'Under a
different sky' is this talented writer who uses her pen to link the
East and West. Her column is an anthem for any Bangali living abroad,
and manna for us Deshis sitting in the Desh and wondering what colour
the grass is on the other side of the fence.
Whether she's telling you what to buy, or offering tips on how to
handle a domestic mess, this immaculate young lady is the embodiment
of the Lifestyle woman suave, stylish, independent and efficient.
Moyeen: When a pimple strikes, when your hair turns grey,
when you must fight to keep wrinkles at bay, who do you turn to? That's
right, the glam mam from La Belle, with her 'Beauty Talk' and miraculous
makeovers is LS' answer to Cinderella's fairy godmother.
Ara: "It's all in your head" they tell you, and
expect you to cope. Is a little understanding advice too much to ask
for, you wonder? Our 'Interpreter of Maladies' certainly doesn't think
so. No matter what the problem is stress, anger or paranoia, she's
got an answer to all your queries.
Sattar: Money, money, money…if you have no idea how to handle
yours, this gracious lady is full of 'Banking Tips' to help you make
up your mind.
Khan: We've seen her designs dazzle on Bridal Asia. Now the
mastermind of Mayasir is here at LS with her 'Style files' to help
you add an element of wow! to what you wear.
Khan: Teething troubles? Get 'Dental Wise'. In what's probably
our most popular column, this dedicated dentist helps put a smile
on everyone's faces…literally.
Miah: The star chef of award-winning meals is no stranger
to royalty and glitterati around the globe. He's brought LS a 'True
Taste of Asia' with his mouth-watering recipes.
Haque Mimi: This creative lady, with her penchant for false
ceilings and green plants, is interior décor's equivalent of
Beauty Talk, as she effects a magical transformation on dull, drab
settings week after week.
Move over, Bridget Jones. Here we have a recipe writer who draws us
into the pages of her life and takes us on a roller coaster ride as
she relives the ups and downs of her battle against the weight scales
through healthy recipes.
Shakil: Look sharp…this elegant lady has her 'Eyes on Etiquette'
as she tells you all about the perfect presentation and helps you
bring out the best in yourself.
Dr. Lutful Aziz: This 'Agony Medic' puts in a once-in-a-blue-moon
appearance to dish out ways of escape from pain…but we haven't seen
him for so long, he's put the 'dead' in the word 'deadline'.
Choudhury (Shalil): Our man in the scanning section, he's
the only one who gets to hear the LS editor's more honeyed tones,
as his work of making the pictures presentable is probably why he
should be booking a room at a sanatorium.
Uddin: He does our black-and-white layout, and has to be
the most patient person on Earth, considering what we put him through
Joy: Once a week, we meet them with apprehension in our hearts
as we hand the wrapped up version of the LS for them to convert it
to the final form.
Mahfuz Anam (Editor, The Daily Star)
Fahim Munaim (Managing Editor, The Daily Star)
You've met the
cast and crew, now it's time to take a peek at a typical Lifestyle
The story begins
on Tuesday, when one issue comes out, and it's time to get ready for
another. The temperature shoots up as the brainstorming begins, and
disagreements are invariably part of the scene. Raffat Rashid proposes
an idea and Sabrina Ahmad will instantly agree, even before she realises
what the story's about. Shahnaz Parveen presents a socio-political
perspective that never fails to earn her a good dose of ribbing for
being so serious. Then Mishel Ali pops into the scene and either shoots
down all the proposals or comes up with a weird spin on it that causes
the editor's jaw to drop in exasperated wonder and the others to start
seeing stars. Chances are, Sabrina will once again agree on it, and
the arguments begin. At one point or the other, if Sultana Yasmin
is present at the scene, she offers to take up the assignment, which
causes Ehsanur Raza Ronny to groan, because that means translation
work for the lazy-by-nature creature.
Finally, if things
go really smoothly, a consensus is reached sometime at the end of
Wednesday, and someone gets saddled with an assignment. Sultana and
Raffat, if they are the ones working on the cover story, they get
cracking right away. Shahnaz prefers to begin by thoroughly researching
the subject, while Sabrina will prepare ten thousand drafts of her
story before rejecting every single one. As for Ronny and Mishel,
if you see them on Wednesdays and Thursdays, you would probably never
guess they have a deadline over their heads.
A lot of effort
goes into writing a report, and some of it is fun. The article Desher
Bari transpired when the writer got an invitation to visit a village
and check out the estate owned by a friend. A whole afternoon of fresh
air, green grass, and a forget-your-clock languor formed the backdrop
of the story, which was then richly suffused with nostalgia to create
the final piece. We received a call soon after the story came out,
and this elderly gentleman who made the call had a lot of praises
for the author, pointing out that young people today are gradually
losing touch with their roots. Another article Ravishing Rangamati
took the author to a week of travel and sight-seeing, where she soaked
in sights and sounds (and information) to her heart's content, and
came back with lots of magic memories that translated themselves into
the poetic article that came out not long after.
Whoever gets slung
with Eid shopping articles certainly loses a lot of weight as the
market research involves a lot of footwork. Usually the author ends
up being so psyched up after all that haggling and sniffing through
the stores, s/he cries off from shopping, and avoids markets like
the plague for at least an entire month after the story goes into
Then there was
this story Dhaka by Night, which of course, exposed the writer
to sights and sounds many of us might actually never get to see. I
think at one point, there was even a suspicious police officer involved.
The lengths to which we go for your entertainment!
Not all the assignments
are tough. One of us got to have a free makeover - a whole week of
facials, polishing haircuts, brushes and powders, all on the house
and a photo shoot and 300 words of fame (The Labelle Makeover
My story) afterwards. Finally, there are occasions when one is
seriously entangled with studies (half the staff writers are still
students) and STILL has to come up with the story, which leads to
a major writer's block, which is what happened during the penning
of Happily Ever After? (the story on elopement). Ultimately,
the writer stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, coaxing and
needling his overworked brain to help him write the article.
Saturday is the
day we do the layout, and most of the editing, and 'nightmare' is
really too mild a term to describe the experience. We occasionally
get pieces that Sabrina has to translate from Alienese to readable
English. There are some really scary instances when we aren't able
to get our regular columns because of some network glitch or communication
problem. Most often, our kooky and carefree photographer performs
one of his vanishing acts, and the rest of us are left to resort to
desperate measures, like last week, when our editor had to invite
a sandwich-eating sheep and a fancy poodle to her home for a special
photo shoot. The pictures are sent to Shalil bhai who sometimes had
to make some really kooky colour corrections.
Let's not forget
Sher Ali bhai from the Advertising Section who makes a surprise
appearance at the last minute and lands an ad on our heads, something
huge, that clashes with our layout, and we have to scramble like ants
in the rain to accommodate it.
Finally, by Sunday,
the main ordeal is over, and the raw material goes off the graphics
section to be polished into the eight-page labour of love that you
know as Lifestyle magazine. If we've been able to add spice to your
Tuesdays, it is then that we consider all our troubles to be worth
Sabrina F Ahmad