Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 31, Tuesday February 8, 2005







Valentine blues

So your dog died, you've lost your best friend forever, and now that silly St. Valentine's Day is around the corner once again, about to declare to one and all your permanent citizenship at Singledom, right? Wrong. Okay, so you might feel a sharp pang of envy when your colleague in the cubicle next to you gushes about the big bouquet of roses and box of chocolates sent to her at the office (she'll get fat on that calorie laden stuff anyway, and hopefully she's allergic to roses too). It might make you sad or sick just listening to gushy, mushy romantic non-sense wherever you go, be it at parks or fast food joints, but that is no reason for you to hide like a hermit in a cave, or dive right back under your quilt praying for this sappy day to end fast. So we're single, and we're proud of it too; even 'we' shall make the most of this day, and here's how:

'Single's Exclusive' trip: Plan a day trip out of Dhaka with your close, single pals. Prepare a scrumptious picnic basket, grab a selection of good music and your stereo, and you're all set to go (don't forget the camera)! Ashulia makes for an ideal trip with the long drive itself being fun. One can relax and enjoy the cool breeze near the bridge with its phuchka stands nearby. If you're not up for a picnic, you can always head out for lunch at the 'Little Italy' restaurant, with plenty of time to come back home safely before the evening's over. Can afford to give the boss a slip? Try a weekend / three day get-away and make your Valentine day's fun stretch some more. St. Martins Island makes for a fabulous little nirvana, away from it all, and this just so happens to be the best time of the year to visit. Imagine a beach shimmering with moonlight, a barbeque and one of your many single, talented friends strumming away on his/her guitar. With a fun-packed group in a heavenly island, who needs an emotional chain to drag you down?

Surprise act: Have a splashy, splotchy good time with your buddies! Let your hair down and go crazy with a day filled with extreme paintball, now in Dhaka, opposite Bashundhara City. (This will cost Tk 200 for three magazines, with 15 paintball bullets in each magazine.) It's a great way of de-stressing and distracting your single selves with such a mad colour mayhem, and you're sure to go home giggling and satisfied at a day so interestingly spent. For those who might turn their noses down at the idea, especially girly-girls, loosen up! You might be pleasantly surprised. Afterwards, you will even have enough time on hand to catch the last show that starts 7:45PM at Cineplex in Bashundhara City. Now that's a day filled with entertainment!

Pampered Queen: Not up for sojourns or physical outdoor activities? Don't fret; just make an appointment at your favourite salon and indulge your senses for the day with a lingering full body massage. The Shahnaz Herbal Intensive facial at La Belle is highly recommended, as it includes a massage of the back, foot and the head. Throw in a pedicure, a manicure, and a different haircut / highlights for good measure, and come out looking as irresistible as you can be. A well groomed you will no doubt make you feel good inside too.

Single's night: This could be a quiet little candle-lit dinner with your single pals, out at a nice restaurant like 'Spaghetti Jazz', or a fun pajama party replete with snacks and a couple of good movies on DVD.

Now that's what we call having a good time, so--three cheers for being single!

By Rubaiyat Khan

Reader's chit

In Six Years

Seasons change, people change, things change with time. That is the reality. Yet some of us want to forget that purposely. We do not want things to change. I know I did not. When I left Bangladesh it was the year 1995. I was nineteen years old. Just started another stage of my life. But my childhood memories encircled in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.

I left Bangladesh. I adopt myself with time. My surroundings changed from summer to winter. And without knowing I grew up to be a very responsible 23 years old. It was time to visit home. Even though I changed in many ways. I thought my home; the things I grew up with will still be the same. I was looking forward to it. I intentionally forgot it was the year 2001. Things were not the same, people were not the same, and my own home was not the same. Dhanmondi, in Dhaka was not the same.

The airport looked little organized, but more crowded. I took my luggage. I looked out from the airport through the window. Hoping to see the familiar faces of my mom, grandma, uncles and aunts. To my disappointment I did not see anyone. My uncle (boro mama ) called me from a distant. As I approached him, he said " nobody is allowed to stand close to the gate anymore. One of the solutions for better traffic." I smiled. There I saw rest of my family. My grandma hugged me tight. She looked different. She was short. Could it be? In six years she grew older. A tiny tear gathered in my eyes.

The car I got in was my mom's. She told me she bought a car. She said "lot of people has cars now". She started saying the names of relatives as I looked outside the car.

As we drove to Dhanmondi, I saw lot that was unfamiliar to me. There were new stores and shops on the side of the road. Shops with fancy names like "stop and go". There were new apartment buildings. The Dhanmondi Lake was half filled with water. The one mosque near the lake has Eid prayer for both men and women now, said my mom. I see a big; ugly brick divider in "shaties number road" (road number 27). The big, wide road is now divided with bricks so there are fewer accidents. I saw many English medium schools, colleges, and institutions to learn computer, typing, and many more. It seemed like I entered into a commercial road. My quite Dhanmondi neighborhood was customized, modified for better.

Our house looked different. My grandma said it has been painted a different color. The stairs have nice "mosaic" on. On the roof were I played, and danced in the rain as a child has now an office. There were very few trees around the house. The neighbors have changed, moved to a different place.

With time I found out that I cannot have "badam" and "chotpoti" like before. The vendors do not walk around with those anymore. There are fancy "chotpoti" stores with different choices of spices and toppings. The "badamwala" now sells in the park at designated hours. There are ice-cream shops where you can sit and enjoy a cone ice cream in the cool air of the air conditioner. My 1 taka orange loli is a rare item. I could not have "khuderbhat" with "kalijira bhorta." Apparently "khuderbhat" is very hard to find. People do not eat that anymore.

There are nice air-conditioned shopping malls with escalator. They have underground parking spaces; the stores all take credit cards. Your cash is secured and you do not feel the summer heat no more.

The television shows have changed. Most every body has cable and hardly anyone wants to watch "Bengali Natok." I on the other hand was craving for a good Humayun Ahmad's "natok."

It was time for me to leave home. A part of me was sad for not having my memories relived; but a bigger part of me was happy and proud. Proud of the country called "Bangladesh." In the end I was pleased to know that we are not falling behind. In few weeks I the diffident even got accustomed to the changes.

By Iffat Zia

Am I a fundamentalist?

Seriously, as I walk into my bathroom for the early morning shower and stare at what was once a much loved shaving kit, I often ask myself this question. Taking a long look in the mirror at the newly grown beard that now adorns my face, makes me ask the same question twice. At college, when we have a heated discussion on international politics and religion and I firmly assert my views against the ban on hijab in Turkey and Tunisia and advocate its new found popularity in Bangladesh, the question peeps up once more.

The post 9/11 generation faces a world of difficulties, not only in Bangladesh but across the globe. Just after we had learned to look beyond the colour of our skin, the world now perceives us by who we call our Lord, or if indeed we believe in one. The rapid spread of Islam across the globe is now termed as the rapid growth of violence, terrorism and religious intolerance. Same is the case here in Bangladesh.

With every grenade that explodes the mass people point their fingers at the growth of number of people holding steadfast to their religious belief as a sign of increase in fundamentalism. No I did not get a madrasa education, which may be considered by many as the breeding ground of fundamentalist. On the contrary, if what people believed was true, my education background should have made me 'fast', anti-social and a party animal. This once again, proves that what is popular is not always right. Wait, so do you think I have hope that I might not be a fundamentalist after all? The recent interest of people in Islam is in fact a good trend for society as a whole.

As more and more people will be studying the holy book, delve into the books of hadith and shariah, true Islam now obscured by grey clouds will emerge like a mid day sun. We will be able to distinguish between Islam, extremism and fundamentalism for they are three different things altogether. So, am I a fundamentalist? I don't think so; an extremist? I hope not; an Islamist? Let it be so!

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif


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