|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 14, Tuesday April 10 , 2007|
Stereotypes often limit our knowledge and cripple our ability to dig deeper. Thus, it is no surprise that when we think Dhakaiya we think “Kutth-ti” and when we think Sylhety we think “Shutki”. Shutki- a unique Bangladeshi concoction of what is in reality mere dried fish! But Sylheties aren't the only ones who have boldly gone where no other men have gone: into the dourly fragrant yet delectable world of shutki. Chittagong is another district that can just as easily boast about its connection to shutki.
It is common knowledge that it is the smell of shutki that makes it so identifiable. But for shutki connoisseurs that is merely overlooked. And thus in many menus it is considered a delicacy. Popular shutki entrees among Chittagong locals include mashed shrimp shutki, loitya shutki and bean curry and chhuri shutki with vegetables to name a few. Chittagong is a popular place for shutki trading. Chaktai and Khanthungang are famous shutki wholesale markets in the city. Scores of people are engaged in this trade.
Shutki is prepared by drying the water content in fishes in the sun and stunting their enzyme and micro-organism activities. This is the most common way to make shutki, but is dependent on the weather. The process is set into motion as soon as the fish are caught. The drying depends on the size and the species of fish. The fish are categorised and dried on mats or hung from racks. Fishermen often use smoke to dry the shrimp caught.
Dublarchar, Saint Martin Island, Rangabali, Sonadia, Moshekhali, Cox’s Bazaar and Ibrahimpur are important spots for shutki trading. The local people of the seaport are deeply attached with shutki. With its distinctly unique taste, shutki is considered to be an integral part of their everyday menu.
There are several places to buy shutki in Chittagong, the most popular being the Kazir Deuri, Karnophulli and Razuddin markets which are open from 8am to 10pm. Loitya costs between Taka 180 to Taka 200; Chhuri costs between Taka 220 to Taka 240; Lakhua costs between Taka 900 to Taka 1000; Rupchanda costs between Taka 600 to Taka 700; and shrimp (depending on the size) costs between Taka 600 to Taka 700.
So the next time you're in Chittagong and in the mood for some shutki, go visit one of the local markets and get yourself some good old shutki!
Reported by Sultana Fauzia
Happy Hearts, perhaps Grameenphone's most emphatic show of the value they place on their employees and their overall well being, is a day-care centre inaugurated especially for children of Grameenphone's employees. It is located on Road Number 113/A Gulshan-2 that also houses several other Grameenphone buildings. Having a day-care centre catering to children from the age range of newborns to three year olds located so closely to their work places means that not only do Grameenphone's employees have a safe, secure and quality crèche for their children to attend while they work, they are also spared the mental discomfort of always having to fret over how their children are keeping at home in their absence.
The day-care centre operates on a full working hour schedule and sometimes even stretches their closing time until 6 or 7 in the evening depending on when the last child is picked up. Since most of the children are there for the whole day, Happy Hearts offers a comprehensive and holistic child-care package including feeding, bathing, sleeping and basic education.
The premises are decorated in bright hues with each interior wall depicting a full-wall image from an array of Disney cartoons such as Aladdin and Snow White. After crossing the small reception cum administration area, the first two doors lead to the 'bedrooms', one of which is designed for toddlers with normal beds and the latter with cots for the younger children. Both of these rooms are attached with fully equipped bathrooms as well as wardrobes with drawers for each child, containing their clothes and other basic necessities.
Just outside these two rooms is a spacious, carpeted playing area with toys, a television and a reasonably large swing tucked away in one corner. Displayed on the walls are easy-to-understand educational posters that are changed regularly as well as photographs from the field trips the children are taken on once a month. At one end of this space is the feeding area and aligned to that is a kitchen where food is stored and heated (the children are required to bring their own food from home) and next to the kitchen is a room where breast-feeding mothers can come at regular intervals to feed their babies. A small square cubicle has also been made to house a library for the infants with books that they may be both read while they are at Happy Hearts or alternatively take home for the day.
What is most impressive about Happy Hearts is the surgical precision with which they operate. And only one of their many practices needs to be drawn upon for emphasis. As explains Shormin Akhter, Officer, Health Safety and Environment, 'Separate information sheets are maintained on the bulletin board for each child everyday that contain information like when the child was dropped off, what food they had and at what time, their activities of the day, the time at which they bathed and slept and a section for special comments in case the child in question was sick while at crèche or something equally worthy of mention. This way, parents can keep track of the minute details of their children's day-to-day activities.' Such intricate efforts not only allow parents to feel wholly aware and integrated into their children's lives, they also go a long way in terms of child development.
In conversation with Dr. Mohammad Shahnawaz, Head of their Health Safety and Environment department, he mentions that initial inspiration behind the day-care centre concept was that although they appreciate that such institutions cannot be substitutes for home, the fact that Bangladesh is increasingly characterised by working mothers who have trouble making arrangements for their children while they are at work is a problem that demanded serious attention. Since not all couples are lucky enough to have relatives to attend to their children, childcare is a dominating disincentive (or concern to say the least) when women decide to join our corporate arena. Bearing that in mind, Grameenphone pioneered in catering to the mental satisfaction of their female employees of knowing that their children are being well taken care of, and that too just a block or two away.
With Happy Hearts’ anniversary coming up in two days, we can but raise our glasses in commemoration of the attempt made by Grameenphone and hope that other organisations will follow their example.
By Subhi Shama Reehu
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