Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 15, Tuesday, April 13, 2010

 

Fiction

The Kalboishakhi

WE were caught red-handed near the mango tree. Mr. Baten was an awful character. He was just a landlord earning his bread and butter from the house rents, you know! But he was so mean that even the sparrows, which had built their nests in his building, were compelled to pay rent: he was that nasty.

We, meaning Boltu, my ol' pal Ruman and myself, despised meeting Mr. Baten who was seldom seen without his panjabi and lungi. I mean in any other attire. But we loved his mango tree. With the arrival of summer, the tree was full of green mangoes. So we ventured to steal some mangoes from Mr. Baten's tree.

Little did we know that Mr. Baten, who claimed to have seen Lord Mountbatten in his childhood, had installed a close-circuit TV in one of the branches to catch thieves like us! When we climbed the tree, Mr. Baten along with his 'neri-dog' Bhola raided us.

“Shoo! Stealing my mango? Come down at once, I'll teach you lot a lesson”, he screamed from down below.

“But we have tutors to teach us lessons,” Ruman, biting his green mango said.

“No, no! Don't bite my mango…. ugh! Better kill me,” Mr. Baten became agitated. Bhola started barking.

But we ignored his pleas. We were caught and bound to get some black and blues. Whatever we eat, that much was our profit.

Mr. Baten was a desperate case. He started picking pebbles, throwing them at us. However, he had bad intentions. So instead of hitting us with the pebbles, he shot down some green mangoes aggravating his grievances. At last he gave up, sweating and panting. But he started to climb the tree himself!

We started climbing the tree upwards. We could hear the demonic laughter of Mr. (fat and dark) Baten. “I will roast you alive. I will expose you to the public…he-he, ha-ha-ha (cough! cough!).”

We were doomed. There were no more branches to climb upon, and Mr. Baten was only 10 feet below us. Oh God, save us from this monster.

Suddenly we felt the cold wind. The outrageous sun suddenly hid its face beneath a sweeping ocean of dark clouds. The dark clouds coming from nowhere must have been one mile thick, for the whole world seemed to have been engulfed by a mystic darkness of a premature night.

“Kalboishakhi!” Ruman screamed in joy. Mr. Baten froze. So did I. The hot, humid air had suddenly begun to escape from the earth. There were waves of cool air. We felt the mixture of hot and cold air for a while. Then our nostrils were filled with the scent of the soil, which is usually buried underneath the everyday hot, stinky air.

We could hear the humming of the trees which already began dancing with a violent vigour to the tunes of the powerful, ever-sweeping 'kalboishakhi'. Now that the light had almost gone, we started climbing down the tree. Mr. Baten, who is clinging to a branch seemed spellbound by the storm and seemed to have forgotten us.

We got down from the tree safely, because Bhola had retreated to some shelter nearby. But Mr. Baten had forgotten where he was! So we started calling him. “Come down Mr. Baten… there's going to be a big storm.”

“Why you… shoo shoo… get away from my plot… get away from my property… I will get you #$%^” and again Mr. Baten started screaming. The storm brewed rapidly, the clouds from heaven had assembled in the sky for a war among themselves. Clouds started charging the sky with thunder. And their wars released the bag of air through an explosion. The whole sky, roaring, started falling down on the earth. The frozen rain clouds broke into fragments. Hail (Hitler!). It's a hailstorm. So we ran to a shelter.

The next ten minutes were full of fury and rain. The wind swept away many tin sheds. The hails covered the earth with a celestial whiteness. The trees danced together in harmony. And the dusts were all blown away to India (may be). The cool big raindrops soaked us completely as we dared to pick hails from the ground.

At last and all of a sudden the rain stopped. The sky became bright again. There was a rainbow in the northwest horizon. We rushed to the mango tree, which is naked of any mango now. Suddenly we noticed this white cloth peculiarly flying from a treetop. “Where did it come from, who raised this 'flag of truce' over there?” we asked ourselves.

“You criminals, don't come near me. I will kill you if you come near me,” we heard Mr Baten's voice from up the tree. We could not see him for he was hiding behind the leaves.

Suddenly there was a wind. The white flag, the gesture of peace, fell from the treetop. We picked it up just to discover that it was only Mr Baten's lungi- blown away by the sweet 'kalbaishakhi'. And sweet victory of course!

By Sharier Khan


TIPS

Beating the heat

SUMMER is known to bring a range of excitements with it colours, celebrations and festivities. However, along with those, come the less-than-thrilling summer heat and the increased possibility of heat strokes. Especially now that summer has reached its peak, how to beat the heat seems to be the main concern on everyone's mind.

Drink Fluids: It sounds like a cliché but this really cannot be said enough. Regardless of your activity, keep your fluid intake as high as you can. Keep a water bottle nearby and utilise it at all times! Don't wait until you're thirsty.

Avoid Sugary Drinks: Sugary drinks often make you lose more body fluids so during this time of the year, it is best to keep them to a limit. It is also best to avoid drinks that are too cold as these may cause stomach cramps.

Stay Cool: If it is absolutely necessary to pursue an outdoor activity, keep those for the early mornings and evenings. Otherwise, stay indoors. Open the windows, use the fans and switch on the air-conditioner. Just a few hours of the air-conditioner can help your body cool down. Alternatively, a nice, cool shower does the job too.

Although absolutely anyone can suffer from a heat stroke, certain members of the population are more susceptible. During extreme heat conditions, check regularly on:

Infants and young children: People aged 65 and over;
People who have physical illnesses such as heart diseases or high blood pressure.

A heat stroke can be dangerous if not properly taken care of but if these tips are followed, it can be easy to prevent a lively season from becoming a dangerous one.

By Mahareen Khalid

 

Summer hair care

Summer sun, heat and humidity can damage your hair's cuticle and result in dry, drab, split, brittle or frizzy hair and ends.

Limit your time outdoors. Spending a lot of time outdoors in the sun can both dry out and damage your hair. Split ends are especially a problem during the summer. To avoid them, you should have your hair trimmed on a regular basis during the summer months.

Most hair stylists recommend getting your hair cut every six weeks. By getting your hair trimmed often, you can eliminate a lot of split ends and damaged hair. You should also purchase a leave in conditioner for your hair if you will be exposed to the sun for several hours.

There are many hair products available that contain SPF protection for your hair and scalp. If you have colour treated hair, using a conditioner with SPF protection will prevent your hair color from fading.

Use hair products that contain SPF protection. Hair can get sunburnt just like the scalp. Hair products that contain moisturisers and SPF protection will work wonders for your hair. Hair can get sunburnt just like the scalp. If hair becomes severely burnt, you will have to trim the damaged sections off.

Do not use peroxide. Stay away from hair lighteners that contain peroxide. Peroxide can cause damage to your hair and change the color drastically.

Take special care of colour-treated hair. Hair that has been dyed or highlighted is especially prone to UV damage. Color-treated hair is already damaged, the sun will make the cuticle even rougher which makes hair more fragile and dried out.

Take care of colour-treated hair by deep condition your hair using a product containing keratin, jojoba oil, wheat germ protein or other natural ingredients that increase moisture, shine and elasticity.

Wet your hair before swimming in a pool. If your hair is wet before you enter a pool, it won't soak up as much chlorine.


I don't think there are many people on the face of this earth who do not fear the dentist. I used to be petrified of the dentist's drill more than the dentist himself. The first time I had a toothache and a severe one at that, my father took me to a dentist. The insufferable man took a quick look and told me to keep my mouth open. As I gaped, literally open-mouthed at the overhead light, he quickly mixed something and deposited the concoction into the gaping hole in my tooth.

The moment the stuff landed in my tooth, I felt as if a ton of something was in there and the toothache multiplied many folds. As I screamed in pain, the dentist asked me what was wrong. I felt like hammering his tooth out. When I controlled my anger and told him, he immediately took his drill and started boring into the filling that had already hardened. It was a nightmare as he drilled and chiselled the filling out of my poor tooth. He continued the process till all the filling was out. By then I was a nervous wreck with a tremendous toothache to boot.

After he dug out all of it, he had a proper look and exclaimed that I had an infection. In truth, he should have given some antibiotics to heal the infection first and then put the filling in.

He eventually wrote down the name of the antibiotic and asked me to come back after a certain period. I just refused to go back and on top of that the drill left me traumatised. I went to another dentist, a family friend. He was very gentle and often called his wife to hold my hand while he used the drill. During every dental session, I beat him up several times. He was also very humorous and continually cracked jokes while attending to my mouth. At the end of the sitting, he gifted little things, gave me medicine, offered us tea, refreshments; and on top of that never charged me any fee.

In spite of all the care, my childhood phobia of the drill stayed on. I would look at it and start screaming, till I went to Dr. Milan Mouskala at Adventist Dental Clinic in Dhaka. I was taken to the dentist's chamber and made to sit on “The Chair”. The white-coated dentist came in and looked at my offending tooth. He told the nurse something and she readied a syringe. He sprayed some anaesthetic and then gave me an injection.

Soon I felt my cheek growing...I touched my cheek but there was nothing wrong...actually, the injection was doing its work, numbing my gum. In the meantime, the nurse sat with me and listened to my sob tale about my great fear. She tried her best to pacify me. The dentist returned after what seemed like ages and took his drill in his hand.

I had an inexplicable urge to run away. It was sheer will power that helped me stay glued to the chair. But, lo! There was no discomfort and I didn't feel any pain. The drone of the drill seemed quite musical to my ears. And my old filling was out to accommodate the new one.


Pop Up

Go for detox!

Detoxification is an effective way to wash out all the body toxins accumulated through the consumption of processed food, non-nutritional food, overeating or binge drinking. Detoxification of the system should be practised at least once a week.

During liquid detoxification the consumption of fresh fruit juices, water and herbal tea is a well-known way to return to an optimum level of health.

Drinking lemon water and aloe vera juice are both options you can choose for their soothing effects. Refrain from drinking coffee, consuming sugar, smoking cigarettes and drinking sodas. Other detoxification includes vegetable detox and fruit detox. As the names suggest, vegetables and fruits are the main ingredients to the respective detoxes and are effective in pushing out wastes and toxins with the fibers.


Travel

Holidays at Cox's Bazar Hotels

The beach borough of Bangladesh, Cox's Bazar has always been synonymous with the words "holiday" or "vacation". It is noted for is exotic natural beauty and breathtaking beaches. It is the longest uninterrupted beach and is also called the "Beach Capital of Bangladesh".

It presents great tourism and excellent tourist facilities. It has emerged as one of the most talked about destinations for holiday and tourism in Bangladesh. It appeals to tourists and vacationers from all over the world.

At Cox's Bazar, tourists flock to see the Aggmeda Khyang, which is a mesmerising Buddhist monastery, and a place revered by around 400,000 Buddhists of Cox's Bazar and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The main sanctuary is posted on a series of round timber columns. It has a prayer chamber and an assembly hall along with a repository of small bronze Buddha images and a number of very valuable ancient manuscripts.

About 10 km from Cox's Bazar, Ramu is a village with a sizeable Buddhist population. The village is famous for its handicrafts and homemade cigars. Here there are monasteries, 'khyangs' and pagodas containing images of Buddha in gold, bronze and other metals inlaid with precious stones.

This beautiful tiny emerald land of Bangladesh promises vacationers a wonderful vacation that is completely comfortable, peaceful and relaxed. It removes the stress of the visitors and makes them feel completely rejuvenated, re-energised and invigorated.

It has many gorgeous beaches, luxury beach resorts and hotels offering holiday-makers an entirely peaceful and comforting setting to calm down and simply relax. But for the more adventurous, there is also the option of going for any of the various thrilling and exhilarating water sports.

There are many hotels in Cox's Bazar, which offer outstanding accommodation conveniences with friendly ambiance to soothe the visitors. This beautiful seaside place has many luxury and deluxe hotels and budget and economy hotels to provide accommodation needs for all vacationers.

Cox's Bazar is very popular among newlyweds and honeymooning couples with its romantic ambiance and excellent facilities. Therefore, luxury hotels here entertain a number of newlywed honeymooning couples who have chosen this gorgeous land as their destination for a romantic honeymoon break in Bangladesh.

If anyone wants to be away from the hustle-bustle found on the main harbour of Cox's Bazar, then Himchari, located about 18 km south of Cox's Bazar along the sea beach is a great place for a picnic. This picnic spot is famous for its waterfalls. The road to Himchari runs by the open sea on one side and hills on the other, which makes the journey to Himchari very attractive.

Laboni Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Cox's Bazar. The Burmese market spread across the beach and held every holiday is a major hit among tourists. You will find just about anything in Cox's Bazar- get yourself a haircut or feast on some delicious Cox's Bazarian seafood or take photographs with nature that changes according to day and night time or get yourself a cool and funky tattoo.

So, if you too are planning to spend your holidays in gorgeous Cox's Bazar, reserve the right hotel according to your need and budget and relax or relish sightseeing.

By Mohammad Shahidul Islam


Review

Touhin's poignant paintings

Touhin Hasan, who has taken part in several joint ventures at UDA University and at the Department of Fine Arts (D.U.), held his solo exhibit at Alliance Francaise main gallery. The large, impressive acrylic paintings were done on canvas and paper. There were about 30 works carefully displayed and art buffs strolled in an hour before the scheduled opening. Touhin dealt with man and other flora and fauna seen against nature. He brought in the overwhelming walls of the Dhaka metropolis, to present the crammed effect of pell-mell civilization and its disastrous effect--seen not only in the capital city but the world over.

Touhin Hasan's father being in civil service, going from place to place, gave the artist a good idea of the impact of mindless man-made development and its evils. Naturally, this exhibition is a clarion call to arrest the evil results - of war, mindless industrialization, with little or no concern for the health of animals, flowers, fish and fowl.

Using subtle strokes and subdued hues, with symbols and juxtapositions of his images of man, animals and birds - along with the cement jungles of Dhaka, Touhin Hasan has gone ahead with showing the haplessness of creatures - specially women in any society, unless matriarchy and polyandry prevails.

When the painter began, he brought in the stifling multi-storeyed houses of gigantic, overwhelming nature. The giant multi-storeyed buildings contained unhappy and hapless living creatures that were crammed and going crazy and were physically and mentally disturbed. Tortured and twisted beyond possible repair or hope, the living beings moved on somehow, anyhow in their unbearable, pathetic existence. The curling, twisted living beings did not, in their earlier depictions, bring images of cruel and ugly existence of women in particular. The curling discontented cats and desperate owls with the crescent moons in their mouths drive home the pathetic position of man. And also the cruelty of man to man.

Like many truly creative, who perseveres to present one's vision, imagination and hope; with a soul pitch to stir up the world; to arrest the disastrous nose-diving into a hellish existence -- with not much possible hope in sight. Touhin Hasan departs from the idyllic dreams, and is apparently couched in dreaming gentle dreams of one's world: He stirs up his viewers by gentle images like the moon, owl and the pussycat. Having travelled extensively, and having enjoyed what the good Lord had to offer him and his companions, he does not rest on his laurels of success. He goes to bring in agony and cruelty with his carefully thought out brush strokes, and combinations of colours that wake one up from any sense of contentment.

The compositions, the choice of purposeful dull hues, has screaming clarion cries for halting the mad rush to get somewhere in the get-rich stampede of modern existence. This indulgence in resting on nostalgia has been rampant with so many of our creative artists since mankind grew bitter with natural and manmade disasters.

Hats off to this thrust into reality and search for truth no mater how bitter it may seem.

By Fayza Haq

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