Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 24, Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Under a different sky

By Iffat Nawaz

Casual Fridays and other heavens

“OH and they have free breakfast on Wednesdays on the 7th floor kitchen, just follow the noise and you will get there!” said the 20-something-chirpy-new-professional who shares the office next to mine with another equally nasal-toned-lost-yet-found-mid-20.

“Super!' I exclaim, “Everyone loves a free breakfast!”

They nod half smiling then urgently add “oh and Fridays are casual days! We wish someone told us that when we started, but of course no one did.” They say the last bit together frowning.

“Well thanks for telling me, you guys are life savers,” I say smiling, thinking about the impact of casual Fridays in my life or the lack of it.

I walk into my room, spelling casual Fridays in my head. My office looks out to two other office buildings; luckily it also shares boundaries with a restaurant rooftop. So I get to see a bright blue June sky starting from the top of the roof to eternity. If I tilt my head I always see an American flag proudly dancing with the wind, next to people in a glass- walled conference rooms changing the world by drawing with magic markers on clean, white sheets of paper.

In the morning when I step out I join the workforce immediately. I become a part of the line of bright colours, open toes, dark suits, designer bags carrying cute work shoes to change into while the feet wearing walking shoes pace up, escalators, metro, crossing streets, sunglasses, cupcakes, blackberries and iphones in the city of policy and politics and some development.

Big computer screens, meetings, projects that reach out to every continent, I will even feel important during some days sitting right here writing up some report on knowledge sharing and micro-enterprises.

I read through power points on the correlation of malnutrition and the importance of women empowerment, I see photos of people I feel like I have met. The presentation talks about teaching thousands of families in Bangladesh about vegetable gardening, which eventually increased their daily nutritional intake starting in 1990.

I feel my eastern blood getting a little warm and I find myself saying “But we have been doing this for ages, no one had to come teach us! Just because you have foreign funding doesn't mean you can take simple and good ideas from my country and present it like it's so complex and it's yours.”

I realise I am talking to myself, and I realise the “you” I am talking to also is “me.' So I shut up and concentrate on the findings of the study. I learn ten kinds of acronyms and decide I have done enough for the day. I think of small pleasures, tiny pleasures that promise to equal up to a life.

On my way home I buy myself a cupcake, I eat it while I walk all the way home, thinking what to wear on casual Friday.


Eat your way to aging gracefully

YOU walk into your favourite superstore and casually stroll over to the cosmetics counter. You test the new cherry-red lipstick and make a note about the displayed nail polish.

You then nonchalantly look up and down the aisle and upon assuring yourself that no one is watching you, you hurriedly pick up the latest branded anti-aging cream. With the corner of your right eye still fixated on the empty aisle, you quickly go over the contents of the miraculous aging cure before your eyes settle on the price.

As your eyebrows disappear into your hairline, you carefully set down the tub of miracle dust back on the shelf and go back to your groceries.

It's one of those things that everyone does but no one talks about. We all worry about those extra wrinkle lines and the saggy skin. While the following 'superfoods' are certainly no gateway to the ever-elusive fountain of youth, they will at least help you to age gracefully. And the best part? You don't need to splurge on those anti-wrinkle creams to have the desired effect because most of these can come from your local grocery.

Olive oil
As Bangladeshis become more and more conscious about their health, the popularity of olive oil increases and with good reason too! Researchers from the Seven Countries Study concluded many years ago that the mono-unsaturated fats in olive oil were largely responsible for the low rates of heart disease and cancer on the Greek island of Crete. The powerful anti-oxidants that olive oil is laden with, as well as its natural anti-inflammatory properties, helps to prevent further age-related diseases.

People fear aging for a numerous amount of reasons, poor digestion, saggy, unhealthy skin and illnesses being some of them. And this is where yoghurt comes in.

Yoghurt is rich in calcium, which is key in preventing osteoporosis a disease commonly suffered by women as they age.

Deterioration in immunity is also common as people age and the 'good bacteria' in yoghurt can help improve immunity against illnesses.

Yoghurt can be a part of your 'high-protein diet' so that it can continue to build new cells and repair the decaying ones. And finally… because of its anti-fungal properties, yoghurt can do wonders for the skin.

Regular application of yoghurt to the skin can help with skin infections, not to mention leave your skin looking bright and healthy.

A study done by an organisation that promotes healthy living shows that those who eat nuts gain an average of an extra two and a half years and with the plethora of potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium, who is surprised?

The study further told of how regular consumption of nuts (equivalent to 1 oz at least five times weekly) is associated with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

It's easy to include a handful of nuts in your diet. Just sprinkle some on your green salad or simply throw it in your morning Smoothie. Do make sure that your nuts are not rancid though.

Fish are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is only about the best fatty acid to have in your diet. Omega-3 has anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with lowering risks of heart diseases, lowering high blood pressure, helping the brain as well as avoiding blockages in the arteries.

Researchers also found that men who ate oily fish, laden with omega-3, more than once a week reduced their risk of prostate cancer by nearly 60 percent. Even men who ate fish just three or four times a month got a significant protection from prostate cancer, reducing their risk by 36 percent compared to men who hardly ever ate fish.

Aside from consuming fish, applying fish oil is also extremely good for the skin. It is known to prevent wrinkles, dark spots, acne, psoriases and eczema and even restores the firmness and elasticity of skin.

This should go without saying but it requires repeating every now and then. We are always advised to drink at least eight glasses of water per day but how many of us can actually raise our hands and say we do that?

Water not only gets rid of harmful toxins but also effectively keep the skin hydrated.

With age, our skin produces less oil and loses its elasticity. To fight off the effects of dehydration water is key to your diet. Don't rely on thirst as this sensation decreases with age. Instead, concentrate on getting down those eight glasses no matter what.

Now that we're done collecting a list of foods that helps with anti-aging, it seems unfair to not include the foods that do no favours whatsoever for your quest for youth.

So, without further ado, keep in mind the above foods and throw out the following foods to be closer to your goal.

By Mahareen Khalid

Check it out

Indian Food Festival

WITH scrumptious and healthy cuisines from different regions of India, Radisson Water Garden Hotel has arranged an eight-day “Indian Food Festival” at the hotel's “Spice and Rice” restaurant from 10 June to 17 June 2010.

Celebrity Indian Chefs Subhash Yadav and Sunil Kumar Negi are in Dhaka for making this festival even more authentic. Their mastery of the Indian Cuisine, with a vast knowledge in combining a range of quality ingredients make their dishes unique in character and flavour.

Amritsari Macchi, Angoori Murgh Tikka, Murgh Nizami Handee, Khadey Masaley Ka Gosht, Awadhi Macchi Curry, Punjabi Pind Paneer, Kairi Ki Bhindi, Chettinad Mushrooms, Dal Maharani, Gucchi Biriyani, Boondi Raita, Khubaani Ke Meetha, Kaju Makhaney Ki Kheer are the mouth watering dishes presented at the festival.

The aim of the food festival is to present Indian cuisine to locals and expatriates alike.

For the occasion, the restaurant has been decorated beautifully with many traditional dia, antique Indian sculptures, and spices. The whole atmosphere of Spice and Rice takes to a journey through different parts of India.

GMG Airlines will sponsor an exciting raffle draw to spice up this festival. The winner will be awarded Dhaka-Delhi-Dhaka return air tickets for two persons.

By Mahtabi Zaman

Dear Doctor,
My name is Monzoor. I am 42 years old, married and a father of two. It happened two years ago. 21 January 2008 was my daughter's eight birthday and I was in my car, going to pick up the cake for the party. The chauffeur was driving and I sat beside him on the front seat. We had a near fatal accident that day; 48 hours later I woke up in a hospital bed, not remembering a thing about the accident or the day that was 21 January. Somehow the memory of the whole day had simply vanished from my mind. Although this does not affect my life much but the thought of a memory loss bugs me. Is there any reason for me to think that such incidents of memory loss may happen in the future? Your answer in this regard will be much appreciated.
- Monzoor

Dear Mr. Monzoor,
I'm happy to know that you have recovered fully except a lapse in your memory. This kind of retrograde amnesia is not uncommon following a head injury. Retrograde amnesia refers to a loss of memory for events occurring during a period of time preceding a brain trauma that caused a loss of consciousness.

However, such incidence of memory loss in future is not likely without another traumatic brain injury.

Losing a piece of memory can feel like meeting a black hole in the memory lane and the consequent inability to connect the dots can be very frustrating.

Retrograde amnesia following a head injury could be the outcome of organic damage to brain tissue (mainly temporal lobe and Hippocampus area). However brain is not set in stone, rather brain plasticity currently shows much promise in recovery.

The complex process of ongoing brain changes and growth involves multiple levels of organisation, modification in existing neuronal circuits. Cellular damage due to trauma can disrupt particular neuronal circuits involved in the retrieval process of past memory.

Memories immediately preceding the traumatic event and memories of the traumatic event itself are the most vulnerable ones. Permanent memory formation requires some rehearsal and consolidation time. A head injury can disrupt the consolidation process of permanent memory formation. Brain injury can interrupt the chemical and electrical activities of neurons and may subsequently affect cognitive performance under intellectually demanding situation.

The severity of brain injury is somewhat correlated with the duration and severity of the amnesia. The best correlate of eventual improvement is probably the degree of clinical improvement of the amnesia during the first week after the patient regains consciousness. It seems that you regained most of it after 48 hours except the immediate past memories.

I gather from your writing that you are coping with life very well except the probable anxiety linked to the lost memory. Your statement “the thought of a memory loss bugs me” needs to be further explored to assess whether any guilt, anger or grief issues are the underlying cause.

Any entanglement of these feelings with the fear of death may need to be explored too. Depression and anxiety are common after a head injury, which usually disappears in course of time. Small number of patients develops persistent anxiety, depression or personality change (particularly if frontal lobe of the brain was involved in injury). Psychodynamic psychotherapy can help to get some insight in to it.

Repeated hearing of the sequence of events that have had happened prior to the accident may eventually lead to new memory formation to bridge the gap (implanted memory). Since two years have already passed and it hasn't happened yet, it might even be wise to accept and let go of this relatively non-threatening memory loss (assuming that it has no legal, identity or relationship consequence) instead of working too hard to fix it.

Moving on with life and making best of what one has at any given point of time is pivotal to building a good life. According to Rumi, the great poet and teacher of Sufism, “past and future veil God from our sight; burn up both of them with fire”. Present is a gift, learn to live with it.

ENT problems of the season
Monsoon, with its cloudy skies and sudden downpours, makes one of the most beautiful seasons. For some, it's a special time, time to get drenched in the rain especially after the scorching heat but for other it's a dreadful period. To many, just a few drops of rain can trigger bouts of sneezing and a runny nose that keeps going on for days.

People experiencing these symptoms are usually suffering from Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, which is usually due to allergic causes. The rainwater, the damp weather or the sudden heat can be a triggering factor.

Usually if the patients are on antiallergic drugs, there is often some relief but sometimes it is not enough. In most of the cases, the patient needs to consult a specialist who can prescribe decongestant drugs, nasal drops or sometimes, steroid nasal sprays, depending on the condition of the sufferer.

Some of these patients experience a stuffy nose due to some form of chronic ailment, and the proper procedure is to treat the condition first, as the medication may not work otherwise. The patient should also avoid all allergens that are the cause of the allergy.

More often that not patients will be able to identify the factors causing the problem. If suffering from allergic rhinitis for a long time, the individual may develop swollen turbinates (tissues inside the nasal wall), which causes blockage of the nose and makes breathing difficult. This needs to be treated to get good results.

If allergic rhinitis remains untreated for a long time, patients may develop sinusitis, headache, asthma and other complications. The quality of life is compromised by these problems and sometimes it can be very frustrating.

It is very important to get treatment at an early stage to avoid further complications as the patient gets older. Consulting with a specialist and getting proper treatment will definitely help the patient to lead a better life.

Shifting to ear related problems, one of the most common ailment that we, ENT specialists, encounter is caused by etching the ear with cotton buds, twigs, feathers or even the corners of saris and ornas. What people fail to realise is that in this damp monsoon weather there is prolific fungal growth in our surroundings.

Hot and humid is the favourable environment for fungal growth and so the cotton buds or corners of the saris may all contain microscopic fungi. Once you put inside the ear, the foreign bodies are introduced.

The infected ear itches for a day or two and then the patient complains of earache. There may also be a discharge. Due to itching, there may be infection in the ear wall (otitis externa) and this may spread to the eardrum.

Aggravating the matter further, some people opt to treat themselves and put mustard oil inside their ears. Sometimes, the oil is heated before being introduced into the ear. This only makes the situation worse.

All this often leaves fungal debris inside the ear, which needs to be cleaned before an antifungal drop can be administered. If there is an infection of the ear canal antibiotic drops may also be prescribed.

People suffering from diabetes are prone to these infections and should be very careful as it can spread very easily. The patient has to realise that unless proper treatment is not given in time, this may cause the infection to spread and perforate the eardrum.

This season brings with it plenty of throat problems. Because of the frequently changing temperatures associated with the hot climate, people tend to drink ice-cold water, ice-creams and cold glasses of fruit juice. This causes tonsillitis and pharangitis in many people.

Viruses are a common problem during this time of the year. As children and elderly have a low immunity, it is seen that they are most affected. Thus, we encounter patients suffering from mumps, measles, and other viral infections. Sore throat and a runny nose is usually an added symptom to these diseases.

Consulting with a specialist and getting appropriate treatment is the best way to solve these problems.

IT'S fun and relaxation time. It's summer vacation. Most school authorities must be celebrating the joyful conclusion of another scholastic year. The teachers must be grateful after the genuine, warm and authentic teaching style they adopted in grooming the batch of 2009 - 2010; and the parents are surely proud of their triumphant children who have marched into their next step in life.

All of them must be looking forward to the rest and the refreshment they need this summer.

The authority and teachers do regret greatly if some students have failed to cross the line in the race and have missed the promotion. Dejected parents must be wondering what went wrong!

It could be that you have failed to monitor your child's activities regularly. Maybe you did not sternly stress on the importance of perseverance or spend quality time with the child.

Never underestimate how much children of nearly all ages love the involvement of their parents in their day-to-day life.

Start working effectively towards achieving goals in future. Design a new productive strategy in your lifestyle and aim towards glory.

Individual families are individual in their own ways, but there should be a routine in their everyday lives.

The children should not be encouraged to spend their time aimlessly. Reading is a very good habit and an excellent pastime. Get well known story books from the book stores, library or even borrow from available sources if required.

Encourage creative writing.

Keep their young minds active in positive ways. Let them realise the fun and contentment behind keeping their rooms clean, helping in household activities and learning to bake, cook or sew…girls and boys alike.

Maybe they can be famous chefs and world-renowned designers one day!

Children need to be out in the sun. Adequate sunlight is essential to a strong, healthy immune system.Introduce them to swimming lessons or any other outdoor sports. But, value their natural instincts to choose any one. Take them to museums, art galleries and cultural shows. They need the inspiration to take up craft, painting, handwork or music and make the parents proud one day.

Give them the break they want most, dear parents. Let them watch television of-course, with you in control of the time and the features.

Travel as much as finances and opportunities will allow. Relatives and good friends play a significant role in people's lives. Visit them to be connected.

Wake up with a smile each day, everyone. The world always looks brighter from behind a smile and it helps to meet the challenges of life easily. Happy holidays!

Reader’s chit

A state of trance

ELECTRONIC dance music, especially Trance is considered a religion to those who love to groove, chill out, relax and escape from life after a busy day's work. It is a fusion of many forms of electronic music such as industrial, techno, and house. Some famous trance artists like Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren make crowds of people groove to their rhythm. Exotic trance shows at the arenas or clubs of Europe, UK, Asia and all around the globe draws us to the ultimate nightlife after a long day of work.

When the show begins and music pumps into our bodies we get to know the wilder side of ourselves. Unlike in Bangladesh, DJ parties are huge or the perfect word is 'grand'. Suffice to say that the mushrooming so-called DJ parties youngsters are hanging out at, are nothing compared to those happening abroad.

True to its name, pure trance music brings about a state of altered consciousness in its listeners. Generally, trance tracks consist of a fast tempo, short and melodic synthesizer phrases that pretty much run throughout the track. At shows, audiences are transformed by the music into one giant pulsating mass, instead of individuals. As a trance lover I personally forget all the tiredness of life when I start listening to trance. And now I am just waiting for when Bangladesh would get the taste for pure trance music and we might get the opportunity to see those famous trance artists who travel almost every part of our beautiful earth.

By Farisa Khan


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