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Chronicles of Sam Q

Dearest Diary
Is it really true? Is what I am reading in the newspapers every morning, really happening? Am I dreaming, or am I just about to wake up with a little help from my adopted mosquito?

Anyway, first let me clear up one thing diary. I am no political activist or advocate. I am just an average housewife, with an average 3 pound brain, who understands only things which are black or white. I get lost in that grey area. So to me, things were like...

(a) We are a poor nation, normally referred to as a third world country.

(b) Our country has been dubbed as the most corrupt nation a couple of times.

(c) The majority of our population lives below the poverty level.

(d) Two major political parties fight for the reins of the country.

(e) There is a huge gap between the poor and the rich.

(f) Writing about the environment, land encroachment felling of age-old trees falls on deaf ears.

So, basically, every morning while reading the newspaper, the above mentioned topics were more or less my staple diet of information.

I felt, even God had deserted us.

Do not get me wrong diary. I am not being "holier than thou" here. Me, sitting in my air-conditioned car, with tinted pares separating me from reality, does not make me a better person. I too have to answer to my conscience.

But in my defence, all I can say is, "monkey see, monkey do" (a line which I have taken from my son's vocabulary).

If the head of the household is strong and straight, the people of the house automatically become pieces of the saroe pie.

As we can all see, we didn't have such role models.

At the moment, all I can gather is, the masses are euphoric and exhilarated by the clean sweep in the world of dirty politics. The other day, a chatty salesperson told me, "I do not know about "you" all, but "we" are very happy with the current situation". Hmmm!! This rather pointed 'you' and 'we' is something to think about.

So diary, as I was saying with the help of my 3 pound brain, I am really happy that God has forgiven us and hope that whatever has started, should end with a thunderous applause and not in a fizzle. For the fraction of the population who are corrupt, the other half should not bear the brunt on their behalf.

We are a beautiful nation, with such talented people. Heck! We have got a Nobel Prize!!

We have finally gotten a chance to rectify things and ourselves. So let's utilise this opportunity and make our country the way 'we' want it to be, not the way 'they', want it to be.

So, as the Nike ad says, "Just do it".

Mutton Rezala
Mutton 2 kg
Minced onion 1 cup
Minced ginger 2 tbsp
Minced garlic 2 tbsp
Cardamom 6 pieces
Cinnamon 2 centimeters
Yoghurt 1 cup
Oil or ghee 1 cup
Sugar 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Milk 1 cup
Green chilli 16 pieces
Rose water 2 tbsp (optional)

Apart from the milk, chillies & rosewater, mix all other ingredients with the meat and cook in low heat. Stir after 1/2 an hour. After the meat is cooked, add rosewater and stir. Then add milk & chillies and cook for another 1/2 an hour in low heat. Serve hot.

Happy cooking the Sam Q way!

Calendar Review

Twenty-four seven

As we fast approach the end of the second month of 2007, the words 'new' and 'year', especially when used together, are slowly becoming taboo inside our square cubicle and across our eight pages of print. This will probably be one of the last columns to bear any reference to the New Year but fear not- this will not be another round of dos and don’ts or another line of resolutions. This article serves to commemorate one other aspect of every new year that is widespread but less talked about-calendars.

An inflow of both desk and wall calendars is one of the chief reminders that we are about to embrace twelve new months and now that most of the sending and receiving is done, let's take a quick look at what the calendars this year look like.

This time around variety is aplenty and perhaps the only two calendars with like themes are by leading make-up houses, Farzana Shakil's Makeover Salon and Persona. Both calendars sport pictures of models in glitzy evening-wear and eye-catching make-up, done at the respective parlours themselves. The Persona calendar has four small black and white pictures just above the listing of day, date and month and a full-page colour photograph on the opposite side while the other calendar in this category has subtly coloured pictures right next to the date and month listings.

Innovation this year has probably best been served by Scholastica, their calendar an impressive amalgam of creativity, history and patriotism. The pages of Scholastica's calendar bear imprints of the earliest stamps of a liberated Bangladesh and the transport through yesteryears makes for interesting comparison between then and now.

In terms of artistic standing however, Banglalink has covered most ground. Their theme line, mirrored in both their calendars and diaries, is paintings by various artists of our country. The depictions are extremely rich in colour content portraying a wide range of scenery such as flowers, villages, seasons and so on. The date line is given in horizontal alignment below the pictures, but catering to much usefulness, the flip side has the same dates in decent-sized square boxes to scribble notes in. The Banglalink calendar, if nothing else, provides a ‘vibrant’ opportunity to appreciate the works of artists we might otherwise never had the chance to behold.

Different organisations such as 'Ajker Narikantha' have also come up with calendars promoting their causes. Their calendar is less fancy more factual and concentrates entirely on providing pictures and information about notable women in society. Speaking of organisations, companies such as British American Tobacco have also gone all out in the themes for their calendars. BAT this year focuses on different aspects of Bangladesh such as cultural scenes, pictures of rice fields, women in tea gardens and like Banglalink, they have also provided room to pen down reminders on boxes on the opposite side.

Arguably one of the most impressive calendars this year is the one by Dr. Mahboob Ali that is a treat for those who love to travel. Each page (or each month rather) boasts a picture of an exotic location and famous monument and given below in small captions are names and details.

Although desk calendars have been made aplenty this year, less concentration has been placed upon wall calendars, the only two available for discussion being from Nokia and Transcom. Nokia's calendar, like their phones, is sleek, smooth and fashionable. Set on black backgrounds are finely photographed pictures of their phones. The Transcom calendar on the other hand, is set on white pages with reproductions of local paintings on each page.

However, unnoticed they may go, calendars are perfect reminders of the year that is to come and the need to embrace life anew.

By Subhi Shama Reehu

Check It Out  

Spice & Rice- cuisine beyond borders

Every once in a while, the soul demands a treat. The mind demands those spices and nittygritties that stir the gustatory G-spot. The heart demands some TLC (As the saying goes, “A way to a man's heart is through his stomacht”). And the senses demand a classy ambience, a quintessential atmosphere. These are the moments when the city seems to fall short of just the right place. With a five star label to flaunt, the Radisson Water Garden Hotel seems to live up to its expectations.

News of interest… Radisson has re-launched its well-famed restaurant Spice & Rice on Monday, 19th of February.

While it was tainted with very limited publicity, the atmosphere was cozy and indeed amiable. The tables were subtly spotlighted, offering sufficient privacy to the diners all the while allowing one enough light to enjoy the meal. (I have a strong phobia of those cold and clammy typical Chinese restaurants where it is too dark to see the suspicious mush you dig your fork into!). The staff was friendly, and most importantly, the kitchen was open to view. (Out-of-view kitchens preparing meals is another phobia of mine). The casual get-up even allowed an informal chit-chat with the chefs.

Then comes the food, which is always the best part of any event. The traditional Spice & Rice buffet focused on Sub-Continental food. The concept was that of a food journey beyond borders. The meal included dishes from all the sub-continental nations. Here, the chef developed a different plan everyday ranging from 12 to 16 courses.

The re-launch was primarily to bring some alterations to the menu. The new A La Carte menu is somewhat interesting. Instead of being confined to the chef's choice as in the Journey, it allows you to select a cuisine from one particular country. In other words, you can channel all your concentration on a range of food from the country of your choice.

The menu embraces food from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Korea, China and Vietnam. The items are as follows: Thailand (Thai green curry, chicken, beef, fish or vegetarian with sticky rice, prawn toast and chutney), Indonesia (nasi goring served with sambal olek, grilled chicken satay and soft deep fried poached egg), Singapore (laksa, chicken, beef, fish or vegetarian prepared with coconut and lemongrass with glass noodles, pickles and prawn crackers), Malaysia (malay beef rending served with fragrant cocnut rice), japan (mixed platter of tempura, prawns, beef and vegetables with soy dipping sauce and teppanyaki chicken), Korea (fragrant spiced chicken stew with cinnamon rice and kimchi vegetables), Chinese (chow mein, beef, chicken or vegetarian noodles with vegetables simmered in oyster sauce and served with spring rolls) and Vietnam (roast duck with orange, ginger and spring onions served with steamed rice and Vietnamese pancakes)

So, if you are prepared for your taste buds to set sail, drop by Spice & Rice. The Journey costs Taka seven hundred seventy five, and the new A La Carte cuisine costs Taka six hundred ninety five.

By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky


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