Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 63, Tuesday April 14, 2009




Going (coco) nuts!

My earliest memories of coconut go back to my home-village, where palm trees were ubiquitous. Our house was surrounded and secluded by tall trees that always had drinks to offer. I, for one, could not wait for the subtle, heavenly taste of sweet coconut water, especially in summer.

You are my Everest!
Getting access to coconuts was a big challenge. I tried and failed endlessly to master the mysterious, vague art of climbing up a palm tree. And I never made it past a few feet.

I frantically used to search for a Kasem bhai, the master of the tree-climbing art- our farmhouse caretaker. This old, seemingly weak, and incredibly thin and tall man was my idol.

He got half-naked, tied up the end of the lungi to his waist, opened his shirt and achieved my Mission Impossible. And after the remarkable event that I had witnessed, came the best part: the coconuts themselves. After a few drinks I again got ambitious. “One day, I'll climb to the top”, I used to say. People aim for the stars; I, aimed for coconuts!

Coconut talk
The benefits of coconut seem to be infinite. So much so, in Sanskrit, coconut palms are referred to as 'the trees which provide all the necessities of life'. In Malay, it's called 'pokok serbu guna', meaning 'the tree of a thousand uses'. Philippines, the largest coconut producer, gave the title 'Tree of Life' to coco palms.

Coconut drink
Coconut water refreshes you, saves you from dehydration; and it contains more potassium than most sports drinks. It is a common sight to see athletes having a sip of coconut water during breaks. It also assists in fading the rashes you get from chicken pox, etc.

Drinking coconut water with one teaspoon of olive oil for three days will kill intestinal worms, which will ease your digestion. Here's another reason to drink coconut water- it can help you lose a few pounds. Try substituting soft drinks with coconuts. Coconut water is a filling drink, with almost no fat.

Coconut oil
Coconut oil also helps in weight loss and, clarifying a common misconception, it is not a threat to your heart. People think that the huge quantity of fat is harmful. But actually the fat found in coconut oil is beneficial. Instead of circulating throughout our bloodstream, it directly goes to the liver, where it is converted into energy (like carbs) instead of being stored as fat.

The fat also speeds up the body's metabolism, thus burning more calories. It also assists in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. Also, the enormous benefits of coconut oil on your hair and skin should never be underestimated.

Coconut milk
It is made from the flesh of mature coconuts. This also comes with a series of health benefits. For example, it fights up a lot of harmful bacteria and viruses.

Art it is!
The coconut also has a whole lot of other, non-culinary uses. The hard shells of the mature coconuts are polished and meticulously handcrafted to make art pieces!

Aarong has a collection of accessories made out of coconuts. Among them are spoons, banks, etc. You can also check out a set of two 'cups' (coconut shells) attached with a couple of bamboos surrounding them, making an easy to carry serving tray. These elegant, unconventional and innovative coconut products come with quite reasonable price tags.

And if you think that this is the end of all the uses, think again. After all, it's the fruit of the 'Tree of life'. Coconut oil, extracted from a staggering 150,000 coconuts, was used as an experimental program in search of alternative fuels, to partially fuel a commercial airliner owned by Richard Branson, owner of the brand Virgin. Indeed, people are going crazy- absolutely nuts- for coconuts, and they have every reason, or need, to do so!

By M H Haider

check it out

The sweet escape

Dhaka, for all its shiny malls and concerts and daily drama, finds a way to stifle you. Stay too long within the city walls, and you will find yourself suffocated by the pace of life here, the endless traffic jams, and simply the shackles of daily routines. Sometimes you just need to get away, even if it's just for a day.

In searching for a solution to the point mentioned above, while many people seek out vacation homes in some faraway, exotic place, many others may not have the means to afford such lavish plans. Which is why an equally lovely place just near home may seem like the answer to everyone's prayers.

Just an hour's drive from Dhaka, and just off the Kaliganj main road lies 'Major's Manor', a place that will most certainly capture your heart. The tranquillity that permeates the atmosphere will immediately engulf you the moment you step within the gates.

As you step further, you will find yourself walking along a dainty trail, laid out with bricks and surrounded with flowers so vibrant, it will truly take your breath way! No wonder that, given that the owner Naseem Iqbal is the President, Bangladesh Orchid Society.

The trail leads up to a two-storey building. The ground floor includes one toilet and a sort of store room, while the rest is an open space, strewn with garden chairs and a table; an ideal place to relax and revel in the beauty of the surrounding natural environment, or, a perfect place to spend a few fun hours of board games or cards with close friends or family.

Beyond this family space is a swing for all to enjoy, especially the younger members of the family, while the elders chat away in unison!

As you climb the wide staircase, you will come across a foyer, on each side of which there are two separate bedrooms, completely furnished with a bed in each room, and even an extra mattress for the extended family!

With one of the rooms comes an attached bathroom and balcony, and when you walk onto it, you'll find bright bougainvillea flowers, gently swaying in the breeze on one side of the balcony. The other bathroom and balcony, is on the other side of the foyer. Both upstairs bathrooms are completely tiled.

The entire place has an aura of natural peace around it, with vegetable patches surrounding the lovely flowerbeds and, with a cowshed in one corner; it even has the appeal of a cosy farmhouse to it.

At the end of it all, there is nothing quite so relaxing as a getaway, that is conveniently near home, and at the same time, cosily tucked away among peaceful flora and fauna. 'Major's Manor' is available for rent at a wonderfully convenient rate of Tk 5000 per day.

So, if you're in need of the perfect hideaway to soak up some delightful natural senses, please contact Naseem Iqbal or Major Iqbal Ali. Address: Rd# 95, House-CENC2, Gulshan. Tel# 8821144.

By Farina Noireet

On The Cover

Red is a popular colour this week, particularly during the Pohela Boishakh fever. Worn by itself or as an accent to a more muted hue, it's sure to turn heads.

Model: Iffat Nawaz
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Make-up and hair: Farzana Shakil Hair and Makeover Salon
Location: Major's Manor, Kaliganj


Insecurity blanket

I remember being shocked awake one morning in April 2001 by the news that there had been a bomb blast during the Bangla New Year celebrations at the Ramna Botomul. It really shocked all of us to see footage of festively decked people stumbling over each other to escape with their lives. Nothing seemed the same after that.

The Udichi bombing, the 2005 nationwide synchronised bomb attacks, grenade attacks, are all terrible events in our history, yet with the passage of time they seemed to have merged into each other to form this giant cloud hanging over us.

The latest instance at BDR Headquarters, although on the surface not a terrorist attack, reminded us of how thin the veil of security is that we take for granted.

The fear of terrorist attacks is very hard to control, because the thing being feared is itself impossible to control or predict and prepare for. At its heart is the tragedy of the loss of innocent lives; the tragedy of a wife saying goodbye to a husband without having an inkling of the dreadful finality of the farewell. The fact that a terrorist attack may claim anyone's life engenders a fear that we have all experienced.

This year, we have celebrated our Independence Day without a parade for the first time in our history. The parade was called off for reasons of security, a fear stemming from the volatile situation the country was thrown in after the Pilkhana carnage.

It is time for us to stop living with this cloud, by letting it be known that we will not stand for our freedom being compromised, and that we will celebrate our blood-earned freedom without fear.

We do not have to go to war for this; we can be more vigilant and communicate with the authorities if we hear or see anything suspicious, we can persuade others to do the same. It is time for us to set an example of responsibility, no more taking it on the chin and moving on.




home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2009 The Daily Star