Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 72, Tuesday, June 16, 2009



Reader's chit

Sudden downpours

One short glance outside my window told me I would not be able to find a more appropriate time to sit down and complete my assignment. I had the perfect weather, which worked as the necessary stimulation. So, I sat comfortably beside the window with my laptop and started typing…

Mother Nature provides its perks, now and again. Also, she loves to surprise us, I believe. She showers at us when least expected, or, perhaps at a day when you felt it would be the hottest you have ever gone through. She loves to trick you, and also, to soothe you, by the sudden drop in the temperature, thus permitting you to escape the cruel heat.

From where I sat, I could hear doors banging due to the furious wind. I again gazed out the window…

Few things are more exciting than observing the 'welcoming' of rain. The whole system of nature around you works in perfect synchrony and coordination- how the grey clouds shield the sun and thus make an otherwise bright afternoon look like dusk, how the wind goes wild and the trees respond to that with all their passion, the sudden fall of temperature, the angry thunders and the flashy lightnings and above all, you, who's either excitedly witnessing the events from your verandah or running for shelter!

Rainfall started at full enthusiasm and speed. I pulled my window a bit so that water does not enter my room. I continued with my writing…

What is it with rain and emotions? The first shot of rain on the heated streets and the soil that gives you the earthy and heavenly smell, and the sight of rainfall and the sound… rain provokes so many emotions - deep sorrows, true happiness, nostalgia and what not.

It persuades you to have an extra mug of coffee with some 'deshi' snacks to complement, makes you crave for khichuri, or, allures you to snuggle under the blanket with the person you love…

My 'musing' was interrupted by a sudden and excessively loud thunderclap. I almost jumped up. Now, my thoughts journeyed through the corridors of the past…

School hours become much more fun when it rains. Each thunder is followed by a roar of hooting and yelling together in the classrooms. Rain's always more enjoyable when you are with friends!

Indeed, it is. Exhilarated friends who dash over a field with a football during rain know it. Perhaps that's the optimum way to enjoy rain. The heavy rainfall on your head, and also the chilling water that's washing away the clay all over your body and face that you acquired during the game, the coldness- all add up to the excitement of football!

For the less sporty and more romantic folks, riding a rickshaw with its hood down, accompanied by a couple of friends, singing together (maybe with an old guitar), all the way down the road, leaves a memory that they'll cherish for the rest of their lives.

The rain has slowed down into a drizzle now. You never get enough of the good stuff, I thought. Now I fully opened my window and stare out…

Everything looks so clean after the rain. Also, the wind and the trees appear to be calm and quiet, as if they have become exhausted from the fierce performance they just gave, or as if a powerful force has been snatched away from them.

I noticed the people who were anxiously taking refuge in the building in front of my house now restart their daily chores again. I stretched out my arms; there was no more rain; the show was over, and so was my writing.

By M H Haider
Photo: Munem Wasif


The sound of weaving

THE art of clothing is intrinsically associated with civilisation and today's fading handloom industries are a silent bystander of those bygone days when clothing was regarded more as a means to cast off barbarism than as a mere tool of fashion. While some say that the history of handloom in Bangladesh dates back to seven to eight hundred years, there are those who claim that the “Muslin” that the Egyptian mummies were wrapped in came from the ancient city of Shonagora or Shubornogram which is where the present Narsingdi district lies.

Claims aside, Bangladesh has a very old history of handloom, as old as farming, and the Baburhaat of Narsingdi where the main trade of handloom yards used to take place was once proudly known as the “Manchester of the East.”

But the emergence of powerloom has cast a dark shadow over this exceedingly traditional industry that is rapidly dwindling into obscurity. Although there still exists a local demand for handloom lungies, gamchas, saris and bedcovers, the sheer presence of powerloom clothes in the market pales it into insignificance.

As a result, the once affluent weavers who passed on their trade to future generations have sought some other line of profession and the villages behind which hid the drone of handloom can hardly boast of a single family still engaged in the profession.

In order to raise awareness about the traditional values associated with this ancient industry and to revive its popularity, Anjan's Boutique, in a rare endeavour organised a nine-day-long exhibition on the handloom of Bengal in the National Museum from 8 June, 2009 where the general public could watch old weavers at work on colourful yarns to produce the crisp handloom fabrics with the “thak-thak thak-thak” sound of their looms that really transports one to those bygone times.

It was stressed by Sultana Kamal, a guest speaker in the inaugural ceremony, that handloom is an integral part of the Bengal tradition and as such must be nurtured and valued at all costs. She urged the young generation to promote handloom fabric saying if one has five outfits in his/her wardrobe then let there be at least two of handloom.

It is important that our youth lean towards handloom in their fashion tastes as the future of this sector lies in their hands. With some help from the government sector in the form of subsidies and private by providing training facilities and the means to compete with international designs this fading industry could indeed revive. However, a word of gratitude to the Dhaka fashion houses like Aarong, Arannya, Jatra, Kumudini and Anjan's among others, for their quest to keep the handloom industry alive and celebrate its beauty.

By Shaily Fatima


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