Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 33, Tuesday August 21, 2007



Chronicles of Sam Q

Dearest Diary,
August is a month of melancholy for me. You may ask me why, and the reason I will give you may make you feel sorry for me, but then with a sigh of resignation, you may want to comfort me by saying, it happens to the most of us. But... knowing and understanding everything still doesn't make it any easier.

I'm sure many of us have faced the death of a loved one at some point of our lives. The pain of loss is excruciating at first, then slowly with time, we come to terms with the inevitable acceptance of fact that the person is gone. And to me, the only thing which makes me see sense in the whole situation is my belief that, one day, I will get to see all the people that I have loved and lost, and be one happy family again.

I lost a very special person this month, five years ago. Diary, today I would like to tell you about a very different kind of a human being. I do not know whether I will be able to do justice by writing about him in my limited spectrum of vocabulary, but I just have this huge amalgamation of emotions inside me, which need to be put on paper. So diary, please excuse my amateur-ish attempt at trying to portray a person I was lucky to know and have in my life for twenty years. This exceptional person did not choose to be my relative; rather, I forced myself upon him by getting married to his brother. He was a doctor by profession. The world knew him as Dr. Ruhul Amin, but to me, he was just my... Dada.

Dada, the person- Just how does one attempt to describe a person who was perfection personified? A person who was the perfect husband, father, brother, and son. His perfection leaked out in so many ways. He was the person who bought the soggy bananas from the vendor because nobody else would.

He was the first person to raise his hand in Salaam, regardless of the receiver being young or old, rich or poor. He was the only one who offered that security money to my husband when he was flying to the U.S for higher studies with only $180 in his pocket, and a fellowship. When I was unable to take the helper of my house up the stairs of the hospital, guess who offered to take her and sit with her in the reception area for hours? Everybody mattered more to him while he himself came way down the line.

Dada, the husband- He was such a romantic! Even though he came from the old school of thoughts, he was pretty in-sync with the modern generation. He loved buying saris for his wife and hiding them. I think he enjoyed the gentle chiding my sister-in-law gave him after discovering yet another buy.

On windy days, he would spirit his wife away in the midst of all the cacophony for a rickshaw ride down Gulshan Avenue. I once spied him during one of his romantic jaunts and the memory of him, saying something to his wife's smiling face, said it all. It was hard to keep envy at bay that day.

Dada, the brother- He was truly the "bhai-shahib" to his nine sisters and three brothers. Did the taxes for his sisters, picked up the jewellery en route to the airport, did hospital duties whenever required, picked up and dropped everyone of us, every time, from the airport. He was simply unstoppable and infallible.

And finally,

What Dada was to me- He protected this nineteen year old from the very beginning. Be it angry or critical relatives, or flying cockroaches, or injections. I always felt I was especially special to him. He had this unique quality of making everybody feel that he or she was a special person with a special relationship with him. When I went to perform Hajj, he gave us a booklet which he had written and highlighted all the rituals and prayers for our convenience. It was such a clear medium of instruction that we had to sleep with it under our pillows, in fear that so many people were clamouring to get their hands on it, and that it might get lost in all the confusion.

He may not be with us today, but his life is truly an inspiration to others. Though we keep on saying, "There will be no other Dada," if we try to emulate him in any small way, that will be reward enough for mankind.

And Dada…I miss you.

Kerala Beef Curry
Beef cubes-1 kg
2 medium onions-chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon garam masala powder

Dry roast all powders together and then mix with a little water. You can even put it into the mixer to make it an even paste. Sauté onions and then add garlic and ginger after the onions become glassy. Then add masala paste and sauté well. Add beef pieces and sauté again. Then add water and salt, cooking in the pressure cooker allowing most of the water to dry up. When it is cooked and you open the lid of the cooker, make a gravy by adding some thick coconut milk into the curry. Boil well and add some curry leaves.

Spot light
Flood relief- donations and more
Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain

With the city inundated by murky water, and life (figuratively and literally!) going under water, the flood is taking us by full force. The crops that the peasants have toiled for have been destroyed; people have gone into starvation; those who, with their last attempts to hold on to tiny strands of life, do scrape up something barely edible for supper, end up diseased, end up dead; apparently God has forsaken His people; at least so it seems when one looks into the faces. Faces trying to cling to a waning faith.

As the rain continues to pour and add to all the misery, more and more people and organisations are coming to the rescue. Donations are coming in. Charity organisations are running off to the high-water-rise zones for emergency field-work, while many corporate figureheads are helping to collect and disburse the funds. Here is a list of some of the organisations that are rolling up their sleeves and digging in:

Action Aid, Bangladesh and its partners are distributing water purification tablets, oral saline solutions to treat diarrhoea, carbolic soap to protect against fatal snakebites and are working towards restoring clean water supplies and safe sanitation.

Save the Children has set up more than 70 shelters to help families who have lost their homes. It is also supplying pure drinking water, dry food, and so on and erecting temporary health clinics to distribute medicines to the victims.

BRAC has launched Tk.20 crore flood operations. To help by donating, please send in cash, dry food, clothing to any BRAC office.

There are also several expatriate Bangladeshi organisations that are helping out.

Change Bangladesh is collecting donations. For more information and to donate, please contact: info@changebang ladesh.com or cgmpservices@yahoo.com.

SpandaanB along with the usual distribution of relief, has a further post-flood resolution- once the flood recedes, it is planning to help with the rehabilitation programs.

Badhan and Hunger Project Bangladesh are acting as its partner organisations. Both Change Bangladesh and SpandaanB are US-based expatriate organisations.

Australian High Commission has stated that Australia would provide Aus$1.6 million to help the flood victims on an immediate basis.

WFP has already distributed 142 tonnes of high-energy biscuits worth Aus$1, 06,000.

Heidelberg Cement Bangladesh Ltd. donated Tk.1 million to the Chief Adviser's Fund. Alongside it is also involved in the distribution of food and setting up of free medical camps, particularly in Manikganj, Shirajganj and Demra. Also mentionable is The Oriental Banks Ltd's effort in the collection of funds.

Water levels are rising. If the rain keeps up, yet many more areas are going to be flooded. It is praiseworthy what the aforementioned bodies (as well as many others that might have been omitted) are doing. Remember, lending a helping hand does not necessarily mean dictate involvement with an organisation, individual efforts, however big or small, will contribute just as significantly. Please keep in mind that this is our country, our people. So open your heart and show your spirit for charity.

By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky

High water- Are we doing our best?

Flood washes away hopes; flood washes away new beginnings- no matter how much we label ourselves as resilient, flaunt ourselves as charitable, put ourselves on a hail-high pedestal, there is no escaping the hard facts.

Talking about disaster management in Bangladesh, the system has been heralded as unique internationally. Its policy measures are indeed encouraging for a nation. But this again, leaves the question of implementation. Are we, as a nation, focusing too heavily on curing the anathema the flood leaves in its wake, rather than prevention? We see people gathering donations, flood victims queuing up like tame sheep in front of the relief providers. Is the scene really this way?

People are crowding up; some are getting more than their share while the others are left with nothing. Such discrepancies for time and time indicate heavy mismanagement. Relief bags are lost.

Flood has also destroyed harvest. People are starving, and supplies in the market are running low. While normally, flood recedes fast enough, thus allowing replanting of crops, this time the rainfall is too heavy and it appears that such a resuscitation is not possible. Prices are already high in the market with the inflation galloping mad. If supplies are short, prices will sky-rocket. It is like a vicious cycle.

We have, further, done nothing to prevent the flood. Why should we all scamper off to help when the country is already submerged? Why can we not just arrest the situation before it goes out of hand?

On a more professional note, Star Lifestyle is writing to bring this fury of nature to people's attention. While we do talk of perfect dates, eating out, dancing, gadgets and the likes, it is also important to us that, as people of the media, we get some important public message across. Flood is sweeping us all away in its tyranny and the scenes are harrowing. In response to some of the letters we have received regarding over-emphasis on “trivial” lifestyle issues, we would like to remind you that the entire Daily Star and all the supplements are covering the flood from their own angles. The same goes for most other newspapers and even electronic media. Hypocritical though it may sound, flood is also part of the lifestyle issues- simply put, it affects people's lifestyles and livelihood.

At this point, there is a long distance to go. But with some hope, both on an individual and organisational level, the distance can be overcome. That day we all await…

– LS Desk

Check it out
The parlour comes home

In this age of spiralling health and beauty awareness coupled with frenzied schedules, today's women are left in a dilemma between the need to take care of their appearances and balance out all their appointments and responsibilities within a 24 hour time frame. In such situations, having the capacity to expertly do one's own make-up would be a life and time saver. In response to just that necessity, Zerina Asgar, one of the pioneering names in the Bangladesh make-up industry and proprietor of the largely popular parlour in the 80s, Living Doll, is offering basic, short courses on make-up. The courses will take no more than a couple of days and are suitable for all those who prefer to have their make-up look like it was professionally done but do not always have the time to avail such facilities as well as entrepreneurs of prospective parlours. The courses can be tailored according to personal needs. For details please contact 01913390761.
-LS Desk

Dancing off those calories

How many calories will you burn dancing? That depends on the type of dancing. Here's a range of some of the most popular varieties, based on a 150-pound person, per hour:

* Swing dancing: 235 calories/hour
* Ballroom dancing: 265
* Square dancing: 280
* Salsa dancing: 420+
* Aerobic dancing: 540+

Ballroom Dancing

* Conditions the body
* Helps keep the heart in shape
* Builds and increases stamina
* Develops the circulatory system
* Strengthens and tones legs and the body
* Increases flexibility and balance
* Helps with weight loss
* Relieves stress

-LS Desk




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