Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 26, Tuesday, June 29, 2010



RUPAM Is enjoying a rare quiet moment with his only daughter, Adhora. Finding time to spend with wife Dipita and little Adhora is difficult, but today is a special day -- Adhora's fifth birthday.

Rupam and Dipita want to celebrate by getting her something truly special. But what should they present her? The choices are many -- a Barbie doll? A gamingconsole? What would fill her heart and make her smile?

Dipita decides on traditional Bengali toys which are almost lost now. It could be a kite, a spin-top and a clay doll. The choice fulfils its goal as Adhora finds it unique and starts playing with her clay doll, forgetting all complaints.

Just like Rupam and Dipita, many parents want to make their young children happy with special gifts. And as far as gifts are concerned, toys are the best choice.

Although many traditional toys are still available at village markets or melas, they can be hard to find in the cities. These toys and games are representative of the Bengali culture and psyche.

Most of our traditional toys are simple and made of cheap and indigenous materials. Dolls, for example, are made of cloth and clay. These are great tools for role-playing, allowing children to re-enact scenes from their lives, trying on personas.

Before the invasion of plastic dolls, playing with 'cloth dolls' was a popular activity among young girls. Mothers, aunts or elder sisters would make rag dolls for younger ones. Children kept themselves busy collecting accessories and saris.

Girls would often arrange putul biye (doll's wedding) and it was a grand affair in the children's world. Everyone brought their own doll to attend the wedding, choosing which side to represent, the groom's or the bride's, following all the rituals of an actual traditional wedding, including the custom of the bride leaving her paternal home to go to her husband's house.

Other than dolls, there are plenty of other playing accessories, such as gulail or gulti, panch guti, miniature clay pots and pans.

For boys gulail or gulti (slingshot) were part of growing up, while girls played with their clay pots.

There were all possible cooking instruments in a girl's playhouse such as: pata puta, spoons, mugs, fry pans etc, and with these, they would recreate a domestic scene. Often, a choroi bhati (picnic) provided the perfect arena for using these playthings. Nowadays these clay utensils are replaced by plastic and steel.

Wooden toys like latim (top), teer (arrows), dhanuk (bows) and animal toys were also equally popular among boys and girls. Even today, village fairs are the main sources for all kinds of indigenous toys and playthings.

It wasn't so long ago that children eagerly anticipated the arrival of the khelna pheriwala (the peddler) and his colourful products. It was quite tiring for mothers and aunts because they had to engage in fierce bargaining.

At that point of time gudguti, a rattle-like toy, was abundant at the fairs and markets. Fighting among brothers and sisters over gudguti was a common occurrence. Latim or spin-tops, another source of entertainment, were made of brightly coloured wooden cones that ended in metal needles, on which they spun.

In addition to the old toys were the games of yesteryear: kabadi, hadudu, dhariabandha, lukuchuri, kutkut, tilo express, baraf pani, gollachut etc., enthralling youngsters both in rural and urban areas.

Kite flying was also a popular activity, inspiring camaraderie and competition at once, while the skies filled with the fluttering colours of the kites.

The children of 21st century are strangers to these games, however. They would rather play stick cricket online than the real thing in the alleyways. Shooting zombies on 3D screens is seen as more preferable to shooting mangoes out of a tree with a slingshot.

Bengal has a cornucopia of traditional toys and games to offer her children. Their appeal lives on, even though one might find trendy new toys in the market. These 'lost toys' are the symbol of our social structure and our wonder years.

By Porna Roy

JUST as plants turn their leaves to face the nearest window, humans crave natural light. Sunshine offers a feel-good factor that is hard to beat, so it is no wonder that many of us dream of escaping for a holiday in the lakeside.

Today we are describing a doctor's house, situated in Dhanmondi by the lake. The apartment is almost eleven years old, masterfully designed and with a great view.

For decorating the house our initial concept was a minimal budget, keeping all old furniture. In our society people are used to keeping furniture for a long time; we believe that our parental gifts will always be a blessing for us and we also want to carry our memories. So we kept to our motto for this particular job -- Old is gold.

Rooms come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them are easier to work with than others. Here, the area is an open space. Homeowners wanted to keep the space open and we also suggested the same for hosting parties. It would also render an 'open' impression.

The entry door is an old one; it is an arch-shaped entrance with ornamental design. We placed some pottery and plants to décor the place. Entrance is a key point, so we paid special attention on the foyer; a console table with decorative mirror placed on one side and, for utility, a small shoe cabinet on the other.

The open space is rectangular and it is divided into three parts: for living, for dining and the rest as family space. Both sides have a long veranda. The front veranda is beautiful and covered with green leaves. To take advantage of that, we kept an open view from the living area.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to enjoy a scenic view from their living rooms. We hung only one-piece curtain, no sheers for daytime, because the admittance of sunlight during the day is important, not least for the potted plants.

Plants enhance every part of the house. The landlady kept some ferns and money plants in the veranda and these small plants exude a fresh feeling. A garden is a great addition for a home, whatever its size. It is a good place to take a break.

Due to our busy lives, frustrating moments are inevitable; the green, sensual area inside the house can therefore help you relax. The lady of the house takes care of a long vertical creeper. The madhobilata looks wonderful with its colourful flowers.

Aside from the living area, we arranged two sets of sofas for sitting. The sofas were very old, so we suggested new upholstery. We used geometric and solid fabric for one sofa and it looks gorgeous with a smart makeover.

For another sofa we used printed floral motif fabric and the structure of this one is classical, so it gives a classic look. The colour palette of this room is beige and brown. For a warm addition we added a maroon carpet under the centre table.

All coffee tables are old and the corner shelf is also an old one. We just re-arranged our accessories and added a few more new elements such as small potted plants here and there. Accessories have a strong impact on how it feels.

The dining space is the centre of the house. An oval-shaped table was placed, which is also old with her aged chairs. For a decorating mood we placed a cream colour tablecloth and a brown runner.

Art or painting always enriches your place. The lady of the house collected many prints of renowned art works. We made same type of framework for paintings and hung them in different places according to their shape and size. Along with the rhythms of this open space, artwork and collections, texture and soft furnishing adds a soft feeling that is 'care for old'.

Nazneen Haque Mimi
Interior Consultant
E-mail: journeyman.interiors @gmail.com
Photo credit: Tamim Sujat
Special thanks to Professor Syed Atiqul Haq



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