Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 53, Tuesday August 22, 2006



News Flash

Bangladeshi Baul musicians overwhelm Edinburgh

Four folk musicians from a remote village area of northern Bangladesh are proving a surprise hit with nightly shows on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and impromptu open-air performances on the streets of Scotland's capital during the day.

Led by the multi-talented A S M Shafi ,known as Baul Shafi Mondol, the group typify the ancient Baul heritage of itinerant musicians. Shafi Mondol comes from a Baul family and has music in his blood. Inspired by his parents, both of whom were popular Baul singers, and grandfather he won local renown with performances of songs based on the poems of the great Lalon and proficiency with the Dotara.

The group hails from villages in the Kushtia region not yet reached by electricity or other amenities of modern life. All the group's traditional wooden instruments are hand-carved from materials available locally. Shafi Mondol's prowess as a performer, lyricist and composer of more than 50 songs attracted the attention of another native of Kushtia making a home visit from his business in Dhaka. Md. Shahria of Ambee Pharmaceuticals persuaded Shafi that his talents deserved a wider audience. The result was a programme on Radio Bangladesh and appearances on Bangladesh Television and several private TV stations.

They also caught the attention of Edinburgh entrepeneur Tommy Miah on one of his regular visits to his homeland. In Edinburgh, Shafi Mondol acknowledged that the uncompromising passion for folk music of the three younger members of the band, Mukulur Rahman, Habibur Rahman Bishu and Taufikul Islam was a vital factor in his success. “Without them I am a tree without branches and beauty,“ he said.

"Nature's Secrets" of Sri Lanka now in Bangladesh

The Export Development Board (EDB) of Sri Lanka, in association with the country's High Commission in Dhaka, organised a four-day Sri Lanka single country trade fair at the Public Plaza of Bangladesh China Friendship Conference Centre (BCFCC) from July 13 to 16, 2006. The aim was to explore the mutual business opportunities between the two countries.

The exhibition showcased items from 33 companies and services of two educational institutions. Items ranged from the very famous Sri Lankan tea, to herbal/natural medicines, electrical and garment accessories, cables, food and beverages and canned food items, air ducts, fishing utensils trawlers, nets, rubber products such as tires and tubes, cosmetics, telephone units, color products, education and banking.

Nature's Secrets, Sri Lanka's leading herbal cosmetics manufacturing company, exhibited their versatile and comprehensive range of personal care products for the first time in this trade fair. The glamorous Nature's Secrets stall attracted the visitors and the Nature's Secrets staff assisted them in interested areas of beauty culture.

Nature's Secrets is a range of world class genuine herbal cosmetics from Sri Lanka, and is now available with leading super shops in Bangladesh.

-LS Desk

Dear Diary,
Life, time, generation, is constantly changing. And changing way too fast for my liking. Every generation thinks the next generation has it better. Well, who am I to argue with experienced thinkers? I agree. My grand-mom told off my mom about how lucky she was, my mom always reminds me how privileged I was, and I always point out to my son how lucky he is to be born as “my” son. How come? Well here goes. My mom was born in a family of thirteen siblings. If that wasn't enough, there were six other relatives also residing in the same house along with their parents. Whew! The words, house full here, does not remind me of a cinema hall. Anyway as my mother reminisced how they had lunch in three batches. First batch-the men (obviously!!), second batch-the children (yippee!!), and the third batch (finally!) the women. They didn't need friends… there were enough cousins, arguments, rivalries, activities, secrets among themselves anyway. And if they wanted a breath of fresh air, a stroll in the emerald green moss covered roof was just what the doctor ordered. So, when my mother was whisked away by my glamorous, Gregory Peck, look-a-like air force pilot father, things sure looked good for her. He pampered her, indulged her, introduced her to the good life and, hence the comment from my grand-mom comes back… the next generation always has it better. Then we came along. So from thirteen siblings to three siblings. We were given convent education, along with other perks as traveling, tutors, birthday parties, toys, new clothes, but all in a limited way. Abundance was an alien word. It was a typical suburban life. Where the father went to work in morning, the mother, the perfect housewife, waiting for her brood to be back in the evening for tea, kettle and all. And by the way, the children had to be home before the Maghrib azaan from where ever we were. Our once a week, Hawaii 5-0 and Solid Gold pop-show were the most awaited telly programs. Lazy afternoons were spent on the guava tree, munching on (believe me) sun ripe tomatoes. Home grown and organic all the way. Boys were a big no-no. So when I got married and left home, it was hard for my parents to let go. Letting go of someone you love is so hard. Anyway then my mom came visiting, and after observing my life after sometime, the generation comparison reared its ugly head again. Her take on our life was, how lucky we were that our husbands discussed, listened, shared, agreed (mostly) with us. We had access to credit cards and ATM machines!! She couldn't even cash a cheque. Not that she couldn't, but, because she was afraid to do the whole “bank” thing.

And then came along my one and only “shahebzada”. The first alien concept was that he had such a hands on his father, who not only fed and burped him, changed his nappies, made up “babul” stories as long as the great wall of China, bought him gizmos, sided with him when I fought with him, basically, there for him all the way. From my side I'm ashamed to admit some of my spoiling techniques. At one point, when he was around 3 or 4, I made him wear new clothes everyday. How weird was I? Begged him to go to 'Toys 'R' Us' to buy the newest teenage mutant ninja turtle on the shelf. Had to be politically correct most of the time in case I psychologically damaged him. When we had dinners to go to, his favorite meal had to be cooked for the deprived-of-his-parents, child. Entertaining his friends were run of the mill, and taking out girls for lunch were so passé. Not only would I not think anything of it, I had to found it too. His best was, once, the night before Valentines Day he called me and asked me to get two cards, one, on a friendly note and one on a mushy note. Normally with my child of the nineties I take everything in my stride. But that day even I faltered. Visions of my dad kept re-occurring. Those visions…after so many years…I think I could have done without. I think this generation really has it good. But, let's wait and see what my son says in future. I sure wish to God that we will still be around to agree or disagree on our choices.
So diary, adios for today. Have a good day the Sam Q. way.
Today's recipe is tried, tested, and tasted many times over. A favorite with all my friends.

Garlic prawns in hot sauce
1 kg medium size prawns
2 onions (medium size)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tsp shredded ginger
2 fresh red chillies, sliced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp water
1 tsp corn flour
A bunch of basil(tulsi) leaves
1) Peel prawns. Cut deeply down centre back and remove dark vein.
2) Slice onions
3) Stir fry the onions, garlic, ginger, chillies in oil till softened. Add the prawns and stir fry until they change color.
4) Mix sweet chilli sauce, fish sauce, water and corn flour together. Pour over prawns and stir till thickened
5) Pick leaves from basil and stir into the dish


The sun is set, the world feels cooler
Another day has come to an end.
The sounds of azan echo in the lanes,
People rushing for prayers.
Feels like just another day,
Another day coming to an end.
Feels like nothing has changed
And morning's just hours away.
Yet in another part of this city,
Another sun has set forever.
Friends and family stand grief-struck,
Hundreds of eyes are glued to the TV.
No one wants to believe what they heard,
No one will accept those words.
The poet - as they called him -
The poet is no more.
No longer shall that hand scribble
And cross out, and scribble again.
Never shall we see those long white locks
Calmly falling across his forehead.
Who shall recite his works
When victory is celebrated next?
Who shall we all wait for
When the martyrs are remembered next?
Whose gentle steps will now adorn
The stalls in Bangla academy?
Who shall we all look up to
Every time we jot down our hearts?
The sun, his name meant;
And the sun he was.
The sun has set forever
And all we have is dark.

By Hammad Ali


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