Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 78, Tuesday, July 28, 2009




When Cafe La Verandah beckons you

THE allure of Cafe La Verandah is immense. Found on the ground floor of Alliance Française, it is the meeting place of not only French students but also culture activists and experts. Foreign and local experts of films, books, drama, dance, music and numerous other branches of not only arts but also sciences are found as well on the premises. The cafe is almost always buzzing with life, seven days of the week.

Young students of music, painting, dance, translation and astronomy are seen here with their older counterparts and guardians. During period breaks, the aspirants sip on warm and cold beverages along with slices of cake, warm "veggie" and mince patties. Sometimes sandwiches are washed down with fresh fruit drinks, the in-charge of the café Francis Biswas, says.

Along with piped music -- which includes jazz and French favourites -- the gentle tinkling of the piano forms the backdrop of this cosy place, with mirrors, framed with golden intermingling leaves of muted gold metal. Potted plants with large fleshy leaves, superb photographs of jazz experts framed in maroon and gold, paintings that reach the ceiling, black wrought iron chairs with matching cushions and drapery, go hand in hand with the paintings' galore. This is separated with sliding glass doors from the large inviting art gallery.

Almost all throughout the year, here, are held nonpareil exhibitions in different mediums -- of both local and foreign painters, printers and photographers. In the adjoining gallery are held numerous cultural presentations. The audience naturally wish to help themselves to the mouth-watering delicacies. Homemade, hot or chilled, the snacks are irresistible. In case of opening of the exhibitions -- such as print making by Kalidas Karmakar, or Wakilur Rahman, the delicious contents of the circulating trays are lapped up by young and old-- who make a beeline for the goodies, as if the tarts and chocolate biscuits, were the last of the reserves.

Speaking to Zia Hyder Khan, the chief librarian -- who helps supervise the smooth functioning of the various sections of Alliance Française throughout the city, for actually ages-- one realises that the Café la Verandah is the heart of cultural programmes making this café the hubbub of the old and the restless. People, from various walks of life flock to watch films in the theatre and to study at la bibliothèque. The library contains books, magazines and newspapers in both French and English.

The English ones incidentally are marked with a yellow tab at the bottom. Current news and views with large photographs, deal with local and overseas reports. Naturally the readers drop in regularly to the adjoining Café.

Viewers of the second venue of display, the corridor housing the Zoom Gallery, often rush in for the scrumptious snacks and thirst quenching beverages. This is vouched by Olivier Labé, the European lute expert, who has visited Dhaka many times, to present not only Baroque but fusion music as well.

Labé has intermingled with Bangladeshi musicians and dancers, in order to present in-vogue mixes of dance and music, which were seen at the Dhaka University auditorium, in the recent past. Giving dates and citing the directors whom he has encountered, like the other authorities of Alliance Française de Dacca-- Labe too tells us that the renovations of the café done under the popular directors through the decades: France Lesnier, Miriam Bassinot and Salih Le Fevre, have been welcomed by all enthusiasts of the warm, welcoming café. Subonto Rokho, the Secretary of the programmes of Alliance Française, concurs with the enthusiasm for this meeting place of the intellectuals and the enthusiasts, situated in the heart of the metropolis.

By Fayza Haq


Wall Décor

"The strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes."
- Confucius

What Confucius recognised and acknowledged thousands of years ago is the significant role played by our "home sweet home" in moulding the person that we turn out to be. Home, the place we learn the nitty-gritty of life and the art of living, is where we come to be loved, cared for, forgiven and accepted for the way we are.

While the floors form the ground, which holds us safely where we belong, the walls curve in to form a safe cocoon to nestle and protect us along with our loved ones. These walls form an integral part of home décor as they can be embellished with murals. Each mural tells a different story, a story based on the people who live in the house and make it their home.

Art has always been a passionate choice when it comes to adding décor to a plain wall. While choosing art for wall décor, several things need to be kept in mind. It is important to ensure that the art piece synchronizes with the overall décor and theme of the room. A mismatched piece of artwork might serve that quite opposite of the desired purpose.

If the room is filled with antiques, the vintage feel can be further brought out by placing the painting in an antique frame. The colours within the painting should not clash against the hues of the wall itself, otherwise the sight may turn out to be an eyesore.

Paintings should also be hung in a place where the lighting is such that the beauty of the art is accentuated and not muted. Sculpture and tapestry belong to the enhancing range to add up to the décor of your walls.

Once again, may I take the opportunity to remind you, to ensure that they are harmonically tuned to the overall style and feel of the room. If not tuned in appropriate measures, the room will end up looking clustered and clumsy. Several shops in Gulshan-1 market carry stylish and affordable tapestry wall pieces, which you might want to glance at when you happen to be on that block. For paintings and sculpture, you can visit the various exhibitions held at the different galleries or the several shops around the city that cater to this need.

Photographs are often displayed on the wall to add a personalised touch to your abode. A picture at just one glance radiates a thousand words; conveys a million emotions, shades and moods. A single photograph can be enlarged and placed as an attraction in solitude or a series of small pictures can be grouped into a kaleidoscope of colours and memories to accompany a lonely wall.

If you want a minimalist and futuristic theme, then black and white photographs are the way to go. Whatever your call might be, it is important to see whether the placements are in proportion to the width and breadth of the wall. For example, an unusually large frame will be an absolute misfit from any direction for a relatively small wall.

The lighting is also an important factor if you want to maximize the impact of the photographs to add to the beauty of the room. Make sure that the lighting is tranquil and does not glare right into the pictures.

Adding inspirational and motivational quotes, poems or sayings is a wonderful way of jazzing up bare walls and turning them into conversational pieces. Simple yet sweet quotes about life, love and family can be pasted onto the walls. These reflections will portray your outlook and go one more step into personalising your home.

Quotes and poems like these are easily available at gift shops such as Archies and Hallmark. Another customised approach might be to get coloured printouts from the Internet or to draw out your own ones and display them in merging frames. Also,if you prefer a trendy touch to the walls, you can choose from a range of chic fabric wall mats readily available these days.

By Wasia Mehnaz Minna

On The Cover

At Star Lifestyle, we're not really bothered with which came first, between the chicken and the egg. Our concern is with how we can cook either and both. Indulging in our inner gluttons this week, we bring you some of our favourite egg recipes. Flip to the centre for the egg-stravaganza.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayeed


Fiesta of flavours

One of the advantages of the Daylight Savings Time scheme is that it's usually still light outside when you clock out of work and that adds a spring to the step when one makes plans for the evening. Thursday last brought a reason to look forward to sundown though, as BETSS brought out their second Aficionado event, a tasting dinner where the chefs go play.
This time around, the playground was set at the Sublime restaurant at the Radisson Water Garden Hotel, and featured the talents of Executive Chef Chef Kai Uwe Klenz, who rocked the Italian Food Festival last year. For this event, he delved into his experience of twenty years and vast knowledge on Italian, Romanian, Argentinean, Mexican, Japanese and Asian cuisines to bring a menu that went around the globe, literally!

Kicking off with the steaming Australian Rock Oyster on spinach and fennel chips, which combined the bitter and savoury flavours to a pleasant effect, the meal proceeded towards a rich Tartar of Yellowfin Tuna, marinated with wasabi and soy sauce, for that kick. This was followed by the savoury and sweet combination of Pink Smoked Duck Breast on chilli-apricot compote, which preceded a Cannelloni with Black Tiger King. The interlude of Cherry Sorbet was a little bland, but cleared up the palate to receive the full arpeggio of taste that was the Steamed Tasmanian Salmon, which was served with a ragout of saffron perfumed sea scallops. This was followed by two full-bodied meat dishes in quick succession; A rather pungent piece of Port-Marinated English Stilton Cheese on Crackers gave way to the sindulgence of the poached pear, wrapped in dark chocolate and served with red wine ice cream.

This culinary revel comes ahead of the launching of BETSS' own fine dining restaurant in Gulshan, The 8 Fold Path, which looks to open its doors to the public in October. Drawing from the cuisine of eight Asian countries, the restaurant aims to provide Dhaka with fine dining like it's never seen before. Inspired by the principles of Buddhism, The 8 Fold Path will also be focusing on the ambience and surroundings, so as to provide a dining experience that is as much about relaxing and having a good time as it is about the food.

For more information on upcoming events by BETSS, write to betssevents@gmail.com

By Sabrina F Ahmad



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