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



Style Files

Monsoon Madness
These are lazy days if you are unemployed or on holiday. In that case, you can look out your window and take in all the beauty that the earth has to offer. Have your flavoured cup of tea or coffee, turn on your favourite music and simply enjoy the moment. The rainy days are here for a while- fun for some, but a cause of great discomfort day in and out in the pouring rain for others. It is especially difficult if you need to commute a long distance in a city with a poor or a non-existent public transport system. What do you wear to work or wherever you need to go and look decent and presentable even after you have been drenched with a sudden downpour of nature? This is a question you might want to ask yourself during the monsoons in Bangladesh.

Rain Coat: Bizarre and wacky as it may sound to us, in reality this is a must-have accessory to make use of. Be practical- you should be able to find a smart one in the local market. If you can't find one, make one. There are loads of water repellent fabrics available in Dhaka. You can get colourful or get one in a neutral colour. But always pick the ones with belts. Avoid looking like a drenched crow. Get a compact carrier for your raincoat and take it along wherever you may go. It could turn out to be your most essential accessory this monsoon season.
Umbrella: Don't shy away from carrying an umbrella at all times. It can be extremely handy to use when the need arises. It is quite common to find young men and women out in the streets getting all wet without an umbrella just because they lack the wisdom to brave the rain with this great invention. There is an array of designs in nifty styles and sizes available in Dhaka.
Shoes: What can you wear when Dhaka streets are knee deep in water and you are on a rickshaw, the only vehicle that can make way through completely inundated thoroughfares? Every August you can easily find yourself under such conditions. I guess the last things you would be worried about are your shoes. You need to be prepared for the worst situations. I am thinking of 'Wellingtons' knee high rubber boots, which are ideal but could be a little extreme for Dhakaites to grasp as a fashion or necessary item to wear. Good alternatives are beach thongs, rubber sandals, rubber-soled platforms or even sneakers. Please avoid your fine leather slippers and dress shoes during this time.

Rain bags: A bag says more about you than you can imagine. You are defined by the type of bag you carry. Shoulder bags are ideal in the rain as it gives the freedom to manage many things while you are on the go. Sitting squared on the shoulder this bag is a winner. Backpacks are great if you are an adventurer or plain practical. Your laptop, wallet, books, and other essentials will reside well in these. Moreover, your hands will be free to carry more bags or the essential umbrella. If you are like me then you would be carrying a vinyl tote bag. With this you can try out various shapes and sizes. You need larger than you totes in prints or colourful solids. Be style-conscious and carry everything in it.

Ensemble: Keep your outfit to a minimum. Don't go for those oversized baggy pants that drag on the floor or flared volume skirts in the monsoon. Instead the key is to keep it simple. Ankle-length salwars or pants with short or medium-length tunics with scarves that can alternate as belts make a good ensemble. You could also wear Capri or overturned full-length denim with tee or short kurti. The idea would be to dry of as fast as possible under the circumstances. If you are the sari kind of person, then I would suggest you go for the synthetic georgettes or light crepes that evaporate moisture fast and effectively. This will have you going in no time without exasperation over your precious work time.

Monsoon months last between July and September. These are trying and frustrating times, for every day is a struggle for most of us who are going across town on inadequate public transport. Prepare yourself for the worst weather conditions, even flooding. You will see you have solved or won half the battle. Protect yourself from the sun or the rain. How comfortable you are with something should always come first. Take control baby. Just do it.


Identifying emotional and physical PMS responses

For most women, common Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS) responses are cyclical and fall into two different, general categories: emotional or psychological, and physical. Common emotional responses include temporary uncharacteristic irritability, depression, sadness, feelings of "fogginess," difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, forgetfulness, stress, anxiety, disinterest in sex, and lack of control or impulsivity. On the job or at home, many women feel that the emotional responses of PMS sometimes influence their ability to perform at their best and can even trigger relationship conflicts. Some women say that PMS responses cause them to feel temporarily antisocial, avoiding friends and rejecting invitations. They say they experience cyclical feelings of low self-esteem, tend to have negative thoughts and experience a transitory lack of enthusiasm and energy.

It is very important to understand that the vast majority of women with PMS do NOT have underlying emotional problems. They lead normal lives and experience PMS responses only during the premenstrual phase and recover quickly, even though temporary depression and tension can lead a woman to think she is mentally or physically ill.

As one patient described, "PMS is a gigantic mood swing. Not only do I dread what happens to me emotionally and physically, sometimes I think I'm losing my mind! My reactions to common occurrences are dramatically different from other times of the month. I burst into tears or want to argue over the slightest things. I can't sleep, I eat too much of the wrong foods because I'm starving. I feel depressed and lethargic and avoid my usual physical exercise regimen. PMS responses affect me about ten days out of each month. That's a big chunk of my life, and I'd really like to find something that can help me."

This personal description of PMS is very real, and modern healthcare has found numerous ways to help patients who experience similar challenges. As this particular patient noted, there are both emotional and physical responses to PMS, which often occur in combination with each other. Patients and physicians alike have an important responsibility to identify and evaluate each response carefully. Let's take look at the most common physical responses.

Physical PMS responses include cyclical discomfort and pain from tender, swollen breasts, bloating and weight gain, painful cramps, abdominal swelling, constipation before the period, insomnia, headache, stiff neck and a marked appetite increase with cravings for carbohydrates and sweets (especially chocolate).

In addition to common physical and emotional responses, there are rare but more extreme cases and conditions linked to PMS. PMS is known to amplify other underlying challenges such as clinical depression, anxiety disorders, paranoia and even rare psychotic experiences. Mitral valve prolapse (a mild heart condition characterized by irregular heart beats, chest pains and anxiety) is common among women with PMS, and these responses are often exacerbated during PMS time. PMS has also been identified as a contributing factor in the increased incidence of migraine headaches, obesity, sleeping disorders and acne.

-LS Desk

By the way

To keep ants out of the house, find out where they are entering the house and sprinkle a 'barrier' of cinnamon or any type of ground pepper to block their way. The spices are too hot for the ants to cross.



Workplace politics

SARA entered her office feeling unhappy and helpless. These days the office looks like a fortress to her, a concrete-glass citadel without an exit. It's only her seventh month here, but it feels as if she has already spent seven decades inside these four walls. Over the last three months, she has seen a sudden transformation in some of her colleagues from sweet friends to green-eyed fiends. Her high performance, praises from bosses, air and personality made many others jealous. Sara was given a promotion on the last day of her probationary period- a rare practice in the company she works for. She felt she deserved it. She graduated from one of the top business schools of the country with flying colours; her extensive participation in debate, sports and community services all through her student life made her smarter and bolder than most people her age.

In some of her teachers' eyes, Sara was an all-rounder. She got a couple of good job offers right after graduation. She went through a tough time choosing the job that would suit her most. She opted for the telecommunication industry considering its growth and the attractive compensation packages offered. But soon she realised that a handsome pay can never give you the desired job satisfaction. You need a lot more than just money to be happy in your workplace. And Sara missed the other elements…

The first month was bliss; there was always the urgency inside her to surpass herself. She came to work before anybody else, sipped a cup of hot coffee, and rearranged her desk before plunging into work. Sarah made sure that her tasks were done long before the deadlines. Doing every given office task meticulously became her one and only aim. The hard work did pay off; she was promoted to a higher position after the end of her provisional period. People started to feel that she had the power to get everything right and assume the role of a leader in the highly competitive industry their company operated in.

Things went smoothly for the first three months but then they started to change. The resignation of the old boss and the entry of a new one left the entire division in a topsy-turvy situation. Groups began to form. A small division with only 20 people was now segregated into 4 different groups! Each group hated the other groups. Some people started to butter up the new supervisor for a good evaluation, quick promotion and pay rise. Constant bickering changed the entire floor into a living hell. The greed for power and promotion could be overwhelming...

Sara was caught up in this ugly rivalry of her colleagues. Being the newest member of the division, a group planned to get rid of her before it was too late. They knew that it would be difficult to eliminate her considering her high level of performance. But they also knew that it would be difficult for them to climb the ladder if Sara stayed in the company. But her power-hungry co-workers knew that it would be impossible for Sara to execute her responsibilities on time if they didn't cooperate. So that's what began to take place in the office. Sara's colleagues stopped cooperating with her resulting in delay in every work process. Sara's boss admonished her for being sloppy and careless. She knew that her boss was to behind this plot to eradicate her from the office. Sara sensed the coldness in the tone of her co-workers as the omen of an imminent disaster. No matter how nice she tried to be with the seniors, they paid no heed to her requests and concerns. The entire office had changed from a happy place to a gas chamber suffocating her every moment.

Sara is now looking for a new job. But like everyone else, she also knows very well that getting a good job is anything but easy. Spending long hours in the job websites has become a part of her daily routine, she browses all the leading news dailies for suitable career ads. She's filling out online job application forms of all the top companies of the country with that one hope i.e. someone would call her up and give her a chance to prove herself once more. There are millions of people like Sara around us; people who have fallen prey to workplace politics. Hope there will come a day when we would all learn to value honesty and hard work.

By Penelope


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