Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5 Issue 17, Tuesday, April 27, 2010



Summer blues
Summer seems to be a popular season only in the western world; those who live in the sub-continent have no love lost for the heat. I really don't understand why some look forward to it; perhaps they like the sticky, wet, burning feeling that accompanies the heat.

Compounded with our power cuts this season we can count on a sizzling summer. Just as winter was unusually cold this year, summer will be second only to hell-fire! It's only just knocking on our doors. I don't know about you but I'm melting into a puddle already.

The heat has a terrible effect on skin and hair. Most people in Bangladesh have oily or combination skin types and the weather takes its toll on them as it speeds up metabolism, which translates into more active oil glands and hence oilier skin, accompanied with all the blues of pimples, acne, rash, pores, etc.

Protection from summer sun is crucial. Always protect your skin and hair from overexposure to the sun when you venture outside for more than 20 minutes at a time. The safest time to go out is when your shadow is taller than you, in the morning before 10 and in the afternoon after 3, because the sun is not directly overhead and at its strongest.

The sun emits harmful ultraviolet rays of two types .UVA rays penetrate the dermis (the second layer of the skin) and contribute to sun damage and premature ageing. UVB are the burning rays that turn skin red and give you sunburn. Use a good sunscreen everyday for protection and apply it generously 15 to 20 minutes before heading out.

Cleaning the skin 2-3 times a day with a mild astringent or toner will make you feel fresh. Increase the use of facial masks; cold sour cream makes a fantastic mask too. Cleansing scrubs also unclog pores allowing the skin to breathe easily.

Fresh fruit packs are also great and very refreshing. Fruits like strawberries, papayas, peaches can be mixed with sour cream or yoghurt with a bit of cornstarch. They soften the skin as well as rid the skin of dead cells.

Strawberries also have a mild bleaching effect and it heals blemishes. Papaya smoothes the skin and is also good for pigmentation.

Mashed ripe peach with sour yoghurt gives a fresh glow.

Cucumber juice is a natural astringent that also makes a mild tonic for sunburnt skin. Fresh cucumber juice is delicate and spoils easily, so if you add hazel (2 tbsp) with 1 tbsp vodka to ¼ cup of the juice and 2 tbsp distilled water, it will extend the shelf life of the astringent and last for a few weeks.

Drink plenty of fresh juices and lots of water for a clearer skin as it washes out the toxins from the body. Do avoid drinking the vodka in the astringent though!

What can be more inviting on a hot summer day than a dip in a cool blue swimming pool, I often ask. Swimming is a complete exercise, which involves the use of all your muscles thereby making it so much easier and so much more enjoyable than gym where you are huffing and puffing and sweating like a pig.

Well, I always get the same response from everybody when they say that they worry for their hair due to the chlorine in the pool and don't want to get tanned in the sun so therefore don't swim.

Well everything has a solution, for starters find an indoor swimming pool and don't swim in the sun. Apply moisturiser to your face and neck; it will keep the skin supple. Tie your hair back into a pony tail and apply a few drops of oil on your palm and run them over the front of the hair to the pony and tuck your hair into a swimming cap for protection.

Use banana hair conditioner weekly. Bananas and honey make excellent conditioner because they are both rich in potassium and Vitamins A, B and C. These essential elements help to replenish lost moisture and shine. 1 ripe banana and 1 tbsp of honey should be mashed into a smooth paste and applied to wet hair, maybe even after a swim. Wrap the hair for 15-20 minutes in a plastic wrap or towel and then shampoo and condition as usual.

So a swim session 2-3 times a week is quite possible without affecting your hair.

There is not much we can do about the shortage of power, or the blazing heat of the sun. Neither can we stay indoors all day and work at night. What we can do is strike a balance that not only caters to needs that require addressing but also works great for the skin and hair. Have a blazing summer!

You are thinking chocolate mousse, right? You are thinking a nice slab of chocolate, rich with cocoa butter, right?

You are thinking a tempting slice of cheesecake, with a butter cookie base and sinful cream cheese filling, right?

You are thinking a piece of black forest cake, with a glistening cherry on top and shards of chocolate around it, right?

Basically, you are thinking of dessert. Rich, sinful, comforting desserts that sends signals of glee through the taste buds.

Boy, do I have a story for you!
My work, thankfully, lets me interact with a plethora of products. From the mundane, everyday soap and shampoo to the über luxury of cigars and single malts.

And in course of one such work I encountered my first melt-in-the-mouth moment of my life.

I always thought of that moment as part of lore, like umami, the elusive fifth taste.

But now that umami is being demystified and clearly defined in Wikipedia, lore such as melt-in-the-mouth has no reason to be mystical any more.

I was at a luxury product launch in New Delhi, at one of the iconic hotels.

The agenda was to invite some of the connoisseurs of luxury over a lunch and introduce the product to them.

Being a part of the development of this product, I have met and dined with most of the connoisseurs and knew very clearly that they expect and indulge in only the best of everything.

The stage was set. A menu that reads very foreign, with not a single Indian ingredient included. The entire wine menu was on display. Single malts were kept so that no one goes thirsty.

I had the honour of introducing the product and hence was a little preoccupied that day. I had not read the menu carefully enough. Just saw some very French sounding items and left it at that.

As the day progressed, the product was duly introduced, duly clapped and welcomed. Business out of the way, we sat down for lunch. It was a five course sit down dinner, as befits a luxury product, with matching wine for every course.

Obviously, after the first couple of courses, my brain became a little slower than usual. All I remember is that the soup had something called “edible soil” and the salad was a brilliant combination of sweet tomatoes and soft mozzarella.

Crawled through the risotto, which, I'm told, was infused with truffle oil and had black truffles shaved over it. The next course was grilled lamb chop. To be precise, the menu read, “cinnamon and demerara macerated lamb chops with caramel mash and roast vegetable caponata.”

A considerable piece of meat arrived, on a bed of mashed potatoes. The dish was decorated with a half moon of balsamic reduction and had some buttered veggies as well.

I cut into it. Even through my alcoholic maze, I could see the bright pink inside, promising a juicy bite. I bit into it and my entire world came to a standstill.

Till then, lamb to me was gamy, little tenderer than goat meat, and heavily spiced in a curry or a kebab. This was fork tender and in a strange way, sweet. Very faintly perfumed (yes, I am deliberately using the word) with cinnamon.

And it was truly melt-in-the-mouth. None of the fibrous feel that most red meat leaves you with. A prominent aftertaste of, well, lamb. And for me, my first melt-in-the-mouth moment.



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