Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 69, Tuesday May 26, 2009



Dearest diary,
Last week as I was flying out of town, feeling very light hearted and giggly-happy, sister by my side, visualizing all the fun things we would be doing, I was suddenly brought back to earth with a resounding 'thud'. The reason for this 'thud' came in a very slim and svelte form...the airhostess! In a sweet and polite tone she asked me..."M'am, would you like an extension belt?" And I was like...man...there goes my holiday. Diary...when will people learn? Insults, such as these, however veiled or well meant, do not cut any c--p with the person concerned. So, after my disgruntled reply, which was luckily.... a.... no, my mind went into an overdrive, thinking how many other times I have been the butt of such insults?

I think the worst one was right after I had my baby. And I really wasn't really even fat then. Anyway, there I was preening away, basking in my new found prestige of being a mom, and my first night out from feeding, changing, burping and more feeding, this lady comes up to me and asks, "So when are you due?" Diary...that saccharine sweet question just did it! All my suppressed post-natal depression reared its ugly head with full force. Apparently, this is one question you do not even ask if the woman is on the delivery table pushing with all her might. It is that sensitive! But being all of 23 years at that time, I had no quick or witty repartee for her, only sad, salty tears to quickly brush away and beseeching looks towards my husband for some support. I was no match for the 50 plus wrinkly socialite who was a pro at making young moms feel wretched. Wish I knew where she was now. Now, I would go up to her myself and tell her that I was having sextuplets, the second time round and the Guinness World Records was giving me $100,000, every time to get back into shape. Beat that, woman!!

My next encounter was not so bad, but worth mentioning. Picture this...new bride...new hubby thinks his wife has some culinary expertise.... calls another couple for dinner.... expecting a somewhat reasonable meal.... but, rude awakening for the guests and hubby...but not-so-rude mad dash to the supermarket for a crash course on proper usage of spices by hubby and guests departing by saying, "Dinner was good, but the God given onion salad was the best." As I was picturing my hastily cut sliced onions with some salt being the best dish, I suddenly heard the sound pssssssss of my already deflated ego.

Oh diary you will love this under-the-belt-insult. You do know my preference for having only slim and good-looking people around me. I abhor fat people clamouring for my attention. So, whenever I walk in to a party with my beautiful sister or any of my gorgeous gal pals, like on cue I will hear them being rightfully praised from head to toe. And then like a scene out of any American high school movie the mean brigade will then turn their attention on me, and murmur... um...err...what a nice sari you are wearing. Poor things, I do put them through such traumatic what-to-say-moments.

You know diary, all I can say is, I am really glad that I have developed such an el-supremo confidence at this point of my life. Otherwise I do not know how I would have managed to 'thwack' these life's little punches right back into oblivion.

Human minds are complex. Let us not even try to analyse, rationalize or justify why people say such things. We will be only entering one confused maze of a mind with no exit sign. Better, let's just try to find the humour in these situations and get on with it. And the best part of getting older is, things as stupid as these which mattered so much before, does not have the power to hurt anymore. I never want to be in my twenties or thirties again. The mental freedom, which I have gained in my forties, is amazing. I truly am enjoying being wrinkly and smart rather than being young and miserable. All I want from life now is to be a sprightly 50, 60, or a 70 year old and to enjoy life to the fullest. And on this note, though I am straying away from my rantings, I want to introduce to you diary.... a special person who I call, T.Q uncle, who is in his seventies. I just love his take on life. He enjoys life with such vengeance that even a hormonal teenager on his spring break would be put to shame.

He still celebrates his birthdays and any other festivals with such joie de vivre that one would want to grow and evolve like him. To sum him up in a nutshell with a bushel full of appropriate adjectives, would be...well-dressed, fit, patient, caring, wise and an intelligent man.

So diary, to wrap up my monologue today, I want to finish up by saying (a) people sometime knowingly or unknowingly say things which hurt (b) when we are young it matters and as we mature these trivial things get easier to handle and lastly, (c) uncle T.Q makes growing old look so much fun.

So diary, have a good day the Sam Q. way.

Chocolate-filled French toast
3 eggs
185ml milk
1tbsp caster sugar
15g unsalted butter
8 slices white bread
100g milk or dark chocolate, chopped
Icing sugar, for dusting

Whisk the eggs, milk, sugar and a pinch of salt in a flat dish.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Dip two slices of the bread into the egg mixture turning them over until they are completely coated. Put them in the frying pan and sprinkle each one with a quarter of the chopped chocolate.
Soak another two slices of bread in the egg mixture and put on top of the chocolate bread in the pan to make sandwiches. Press lightly with a spatula to seal the edges.
Cook for 3 minutes each side or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and serve immediately, or keep warm while you make the other two sandwiches. Serve dusted with icing sugar.


Kay Kraft's summer fest
As per tradition, Kay Kraft has once again arranged their much-awaited annual Summer Fest'09, from Tuesday, 26th May.
As the name suggests, the collection will consist of outfits that will complement the season, which is why special care has been taken in choosing the most comfortable material. The colour palette also includes the various soothing warm, yet subtle shades of summer, the likes of light pink, sky blue, peach, lemon, and of course, white. Each creation is different, and made to portray exclusive works done, such as hand and machine embroidery, tie-dye, screen print, etc.
The line includes sari, panjabi, shalwar kameez, t-shirts, kurtis for both men and women, as well as children's wear, and will be available at all outlets throughout the country.

The first edition of 'Moviana', a publication by Moviana Film Society on contemporary cinema is out. The compilation features nineteen essays on film and film making. Priced at Tk 100 the edition is available at bookstores at Aziz Supermarket.

Menz Klub
Their latest collection presents casual polo shirts, jeans, fatua and also formal wear including shirts and pants. The polo shirts are a special attraction designed mainly in stripes and also in a fusion of colours. Available at all Menz Klub outlets.


The 'no' problem

HOW difficult can it be…to utter a two-letter word? A lot, apparently, if the word in question is spelled 'N'-'O'. The word 'no' does not exist in my dictionary. I simply can't refuse people; translate that to: I'm pathetic!

“Hey can you do a 'tiny' portion of my presentation tomorrow?” I shudder. “Let's go on a trip this weekend”. I smile nervously: the weather does not look good. “What she did to me yesterday wasn't fair, don't you agree?” I tilt my head, almost nod: No, I don't agree, but I'm too polite to shatter your gusto. “Could I borrow some money?” O my God! Kill me!

Why is it so hard to say 'no'? I ponder… I ponder endlessly; one of the great mysteries of life. I know I am not weak to refuse someone. Then is it that I'll feel sorry and sad for the person who got rejected? Or, is it that I put other people's needs before mine? “It's good, you are unselfish”, I calm myself.

But I understand it's not about being unselfish. It's not a matter of selfishness. It's about doing things you don't want to do, going to places you don't want to go, giving things you don't want to give away. Again, translate that to: being pathetic! It's about being just that!

Refusing someone- anyone- is not my best skill. I get badly injured. But the predators never stop asking for more favours. I did my own research and categorised the predators. Your true friends don't fall under any of the following, because they don't 'hunt' you, usually you are happy to help them out, and if you can't, they usually understand.

The 'emotional' blackmailer
This breed is usually successful when hunting for softhearted souls. An Emotional Blackmailer will beg you until he persuades you. He will talk of all the good times you had with him and also show how desperate he is for getting the things done from you. He'll melt your heart down to hear the 'yes'. You end up thinking low of him.

The persistent
Beware of this breed. He won't give up easy. He'll keep on requesting until you get irritated and agree. Like the 'Emotional Predator', you tend not to like him.

The boss!
It doesn't matter if you like him or not. Allow me to introduce you to The Boss, the finest breed of all. If you work for a 'Boss', or if someone somehow has an authority over you, say, for example, he's your teacher (of course, not all teachers and superiors are like that and fall under this category), you know you are in hell.

The Boss hunts in an aggressive fashion. He directly asks for something, and you know escaping him will take a lot. He is like a seagull attacking its prey- it takes just a few seconds; the force with which he attacks gives you little chance to fight back. You're finished even before you can begin.

The charmer
I genuinely respect this category. Usually good-looking hunters, they catch their prey by playing with words, waiting for the right moment, being nice with you, even flirting with you, and then, all of a sudden - boom! They attack. They know the weaknesses of their victims. They apply them subtly, maintaining a 'million-dollar-smile' on their faces while they are at it. But you continue loving them anyway.

Refusing a 'favour' is downright art. It takes courage, toughness, honesty (or sometimes, dishonesty), frankness (or sometimes, tact). Playing the right card at the right moment is the trick. And guess what? I am not doing a good job of it!

By M H Haider



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