Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 22, Tuesday June 5, 2007



Shop Talk

Die Bangladeshi die
Summer is a two-way death sentence here in Bangladesh. You either burn to a crisp or drown in a sudden downpour. Umbrellas become invaluable. Normal umbrellas are generally available everywhere and look as interesting as a drop of sweat. To bring about a variation look for the novelty umbrellas in New Market, Polwell Market and similar markets. There are some interesting designs like transparent (no good against the sun), tiny and literally square in shape (no good for grown ups) and coloured like the rainbow (no good for inconspicuous undercover police). But they are generally good for protecting the contents of your head from the elements. The price goes up to Taka 500. Great for those who want to protect themselves in a colour coordinated way.

A scented shower
Apparently, men sweat while women don't. Women apparently 'glow' because 'sweating' is so not feminine. Either way, this summer is making people sweat and glow more vigorously than ever thought possible. It's unbearable and standing under the shower is absolute utopia. Make a change from the boring old soap and switch to shower gel for a while. A 250ml bottle costs about Taka 200-250 depending on brand and is available in all major markets. Certain menthol gels offer that extra tingling coolness.

Face the heat
The streets are battlefields. Dust, heat and humidity combine to conspire against your exposed skin. At this rate, skin could easily become like leather. Washing frequently with soap and water could end up irritating. Soap-free facewash is excellent for keeping your face clean and smooth without irritation. It is an indispensable tool in a lady's already overstuffed purse. It is just as important for men who go out a lot especially for bikers. Tubes of the cleansing stuff cost from Taka 60 to Taka 250.

I'm a Barbie girl
While Barbie is a bit too overrated and overstretched below the waist, it is usually a little girl's favourite toy. For little girls who cannot have enough of this brand, there are several cool styles of themed sunglasses in the basement toy store of Lavender in Gulshan. At Taka 580, they are not exactly inexpensive but they do offer 100 percent UV protection and shielding precious little eyes is worth paying for. It is available in a whole range of colours known as pink. Unfortunately there are no G.I. Joe shades for the boys.

Cool bliss
Liquid intake is essential in this heat. Nothing chills better than a drink of icy cold liquid, except maybe an air-conditioned room. A small thermos flask is indispensable in this weather. Roughly 10-12 inches in height, these aluminum flasks are available at most big markets like Nandan, Agora etc for Taka 250-400. Most also come with a nice vinyl zippered pouch for carrying around.

Cool cars stay cool
While going out in this heat becomes such a big chore, those who have cars have it a little easier. But the poor cars generally suffer from the heat as well. This is especially more so for CNG converted vehicles because gas makes an engine run much hotter. It is important to top up the radiator with good coolant fluid so that you are not stranded on the side of a road with a steaming immobile car. A litre of coolant can cost about Taka 200-400 depending on the brand. Pick from a trusted service centre and not from just any roadside shop. Simple water is not a good coolant because it contains chemicals that rust and clog your precious engine.

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny

Chronicles Of Sam Q

Dearest Diary,
Can you imagine life without humour? I surely cannot. I think people who are born with wit and humour are the most intelligent and superior beings of the human race. Well, that is my opinion only. And by the way diary, though I would like to think that I am a part of the humour brigade, sadly, wit and witty remarks are not my forte. I understand humour, but intelligent quips... naaah.... "Not my cup of cake." Yes, you read that right. "Not my cup of cake" has been actually said by an uncle of my friend, Asif. I found that hilariously funny. Nobody knows why he changed the most used phrase "Not my cup of tea" to "Not my cup of cake", but now whenever I have to use this phrase, I really have to think hard before saying it. Is it cup of cake or cup of tea?? Anyway eventually I pried out of Asif certain memorable quips of his uncle which they now call "Prem's Gems." His second quip was "Fits like a blouse." Blouse, glove-same thing. Can anything beat that?? Okay!! May be the third quip will. "Now the balls are in your hands." Once again, hand ... court somehow the different seems negligible.

As Asif said, he nearly got it right every time. Nearly being the operative word. So, today diary, I am going to narrate to you certain modern day "gems" from my social interaction.

I have this friend, who shall remain nameless, had me in splits while he was explaining to me about someone who was into everything. So, how did he make me understand that?? He said, his friend was "Jack of all fruits." He said the above phrase with so much seriousness that I did not have the heart to correct him. But I have to confess, I broke down with laughter when he continued by saying that in spite of him being the “Jack of all fruits', he was also "boneless" (meaning spineless). Keeping a straight face took on a whole new meaning after that.

Then comes to mind an uncle, whom I love and respect, but I still have to share this with you diary. His daughter sent him a batch of cookies the other day that he loved. So in his excitement to tell her how much he enjoyed them, he told her that, "They were absolutely out of order" (read “Absolutely out of this world”). My friend and I shared a fit of hysteric giggles after a long time.

This one my husband got out from his archives. One of his friends always mixed up his phrases. His best was, "Stop bushing around the beat." Now, this one is kind of different. My brother-in-law has his own quirky language which is sometimes quite hard to decipher and understand. Last month while I was staying with them, he comes and asks me during lunch time, “Hungary or Budapest?” I looked at him with a look that said huh?? But then the penny dropped. Lunchtime? Hungary or Budapest? Get it? If you don't, you are not fit to be reading this column.

Anyway, before I ruffle too many feathers, I will sign off with this one liner that my son dead-panned me with.

I must have said something stupid (must have been a rare occurrence) to him, and he turns to me and says, "Mom, if you were white, you would be blonde.” And believe me diary, it actually took a full thirty seconds before I got that. Now, that was a real one liner. Smart, smooth and with the right amount of disrespect.
I can live with that.

Anyway, diary, today's write up was more about comedy of errors with words rather than intelligent quips. In reality, I love the Chandler Bing type of sarcastic one liners. And between my son, Joy Q. and Titash's quips, I am fully fed up.

Tiny Mini Chicken Burgers

1 pound minced chicken
4 small onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
½ cup chopped fresh mint
½ cup chopped fresh coriander (including stems)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 small green Thai chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil.

1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a bowl & mix well. Shape into 2½" round patties.
2. Heat oil over medium heat. Fry patties till browned & cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes, turning once.

Cheers everybody! Have a good and enjoyable day, the Sam Q way!

Check It Out

Food connoisseurs wanted

We have a whole world of food in our small city of Dhaka. We love food so much that we simply cannot have enough of it. The art of creating and consuming countless different mouth-watering dishes existed since the Mughal era and continues to this day. It is said the folk of this great country eat to live. They eat and they treat and they blow their fortunes away.

While ages have changed, so have the tastes in the choice of food. In fact, it is not so much a change than an inclusion in the menu of our lifestyle. A great advocate in promoting our food is our very own Tommy Miah who has taken our staples to the international food court.

Currently, our market is rife with scatterings of almost every kind of international cuisine. Some cater exclusively, while others create a delectable mix of food from different cultures. The big hotels and restaurants usually cater insanely tempting dishes but sadly the Old Dhaka treats are often left behind. It is a sad matter as it is no less than what other nations offer as specials. While considered exotic elsewhere, here it becomes just plain 'local' unless you look deeper.

Just take a step into the narrow streets of Old Dhaka and prepare to be assailed by a plethora of delicious scents. Small hotels and restaurants create wild concoctions almost round the clock. Chawkbazar, Lalbagh, Nazimuddin Road, Bongshal, Siddiqbazar, Johnson Road, Nababpur and BCC Road are known for their culinary creations. Traditional kebab, naan, chapati roti, nehari, tehari, chicken polao, biriyani, kachchi, curry korma, rezala, bhuna all exist albeit with the different spicy additions of different cooks.

It is not just the neighbourhood people, but also others from far-flung places of the city who come here to experience a different taste. Those who taste once easily become repeat customers. It is not just the food that entices but being in these neighbourhoods gives you an impression of stepping into a Mughal food court. It is like entering a time warp with the bright lights, loud nostalgic music and food cooked on coal. The reverie breaks with the occasional Hindi/Bangla pop song creeping out from some corner.

In the daytime the food joints remain eerily closed or non-operational. The preparations start from the evening onward with the nighttime providing the proper eating atmosphere. Places like Hajir Biriyani at Najira Bazaar, Nirob Hotel on Nazimuddin Road, Jhunu Polao Ghar and Royal Kachchi Biriyani in Narinda, Hotel Al-Rajjak at North South Road, Star Hotel on BCC Road, Nawabpur, Hotel Super Joykali at Mandir Road and Ghoroa in Motijheel are some of the places that connoisseurs of great food cannot miss. Such a miss is almost a crime.

By Sultana Yasmin
Translated by Ehsanur Raza Ronny
Photo: Amirul Rajiv
Food: Khazana


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