Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 37, Tuesday, September 21, 2010




The gold rush

A popular trade
In recent years, investing in the stock market has become…well, 'fashionable', something that's 'in'. As an alternate- or a supplementary- source of income, the stock market promises a lot, and it does keep its promises many times. Wherever you go, you hear people chitchatting about the latest shares prices, making suggestions, giving away so-called 'inside news', etc. This week, Star Lifestyle takes a sneak peek inside the exciting world of the stock market, and the people surrounding it.

It's 10:59am...
At his university, a student checks his watch and paces towards one of the library computers surrounded by a small group of students. As the clock gets ticking, an employee desperately tries to close the meeting with his boss to free himself. Meanwhile, an unemployed young man prays to God for a little luck. As the final seconds pass by, a housewife feels her pulse quicken.

The next four hours will be fateful. The next four hours will decide many things. A lot may happen between now and the next four hours, and it will. In the next four hours, numerous people will get richer, or poorer. Many dreams will be fulfilled and many will be broken. The clock strikes eleven… and the stock market comes alive.

The trend
It seems everyone is getting in. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. Moreover, the low cost of entry has made it even more attractive, especially for students, the unemployed and many risk-averse investors.

Arshad, a senior student of Brac University, shares his story. “I got into the market with three other friends after passing HSC examinations. I, like my other two friends, used to provide home tuitions back then. Soon, we had enough money to land ourselves in the stock exchange. It's thrilling!”

Service providers also find investing in the capital market to be a very prospective idea. Nasif, a 28 year old banker, shares his views while browsing the DSE website. “With expenses shooting up, it's hard to live decently in Dhaka. So when I receive my paycheck, I get busy multiplying. It's a good 'side-business'”.

And 'side-business' has become the main business for many. The stock market very easily lures the unemployed and the retired. On a different note, many housewives are investing in the stock market. The job doesn't demand the typical 'barriers' or worries women face in the workforce. There is very little work-life conflict. “I go to the brokerage house with my friends and trade. The minimal amount of time I have to give does not hamper my daily chores, and the kids and my husband are usually outdoors during this time. And, I'm making quite a lot of money”, says a woman at the brokerage house, while busily analysing share prices from the huge screen in front of her.

“Show me the money!”
Of course, there are many, who, for very practical reasons, never understand what the hype is all about. Our stock market is rumor based- that's an obvious fact. True, the ups and downs of every stock market in the world is to some extent dependent upon news and the excitement, but ours is highly volatile, which makes investment very risky. On top of that, instead of thinking rationally, investors fall prey to false or exaggerated information. To many, investing in the stock market is nothing but gambling. Indeed, making a sound investment is very difficult. Even, Sir Isaac Newton, the genius among geniuses tried…and failed! He lost more than two and a half million dollars in today's money on the stock market. He later commented, “I can calculate the motions of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people”.

Adrenaline rush
Whilst the argument whether the stock market is a viable option or not may be debated, all will agree about the excitement it generates. Just look at the graphs: investing in the stock market is like a roller coaster ride! Nothing gives an investor more pleasure than seeing the prices of his/her company shares rise. And if it plummets, swearing, shouting and sweating are at full swing! People analyse charts, crunch numbers, pay heed to information- and rumors (even superstitions); investors talk to fellow investors over the phone, while some shout at their broker for choosing a wrong investment- a brokerage house has a life of its own. When you buy a company's shares, you just don't simply buy the shares- you buy hopes and dreams.

LS Pick
So, there are hopes and dreams. There are ups and downs. There are tragedies, there are happy endings. There are moments of relief, and there are times of grief. In short- there is drama. And movie-makers have not overlooked it! There are several movies based on the stock market for you to enjoy. Here's one of them, hand-picked for you- perhaps the best stock market movie ever to be made.

Oliver Stone's Wall Street introduces you to the super-charismatic, filthy rich and extremely greedy Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas), a business magnate on Wall Street, who uses inside information to manipulate the stock market. With mind-blowing speeches and lectures, he teaches his junior broker- his right hand man- on how to move forward in the business world, following his precept, 'Greed is good'. And once you're done with it, wait for the sequel, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, which is going to release by the end of this year!

By M. H. Haider

Special feature

Eid "melo" drama

Tossing and turning on the couch with coffee on the side table, I tried to concentrate on the book in hand. I had taken the solemn vow not to spend the day sleeping and decided to take upon the old habit of reading after a long, long gap.

The language was lucid, the plot enticing yet I couldn't sink my teeth into the story, especially when there was a brawl in progress right in front. Younger cousins, nieces and nephews fought over the possession of the remote, a ritualistic warfare whenever the clan gets together, Eid or not.

Raising my voice, I seized control. “There will be some rules in my house," I said. Although it wasn't my house! "There will be no cartoon for the next three days. And there will certainly not be any vampires and werewolves!”

I took the remote.
Trying to find a suitable channel for family viewing I found my attention shift from the book to the television. There was A celebrities sharing Eid anecdotes, B celebrities desperately attempting to tickle their audience with greatly overdone, corny jokes and Ccelebrities acting in telefilms.

Mind you, I am not talking about celebrity actors; channels were full of famed singers -- rock and classical even -- trying to wet their feet in the art of acting. I could even pick faces seen on the fashion ramp. Reminded me of a time when acting was left to performers who knew the subject and it was sheer skills, not just a pretty face that made an actress.

Anyway, eye-candy entertainment I thought, and soon found myself flicking channels, one after another, indecisive as to which station to adhere to. The attempt seemed futile but finally, I settled on a show.

Drama I
Sister speaks to her brother on the telephone, like they do every night. Separated after birth, these two siblings remain connected even after their parents severed their wedding vows and live in different continents.

Sister: I have a plan.
Brother: What is it, o little sister?
Sister: I know how we can get our parents back together. I will say father has cancer. You will call dad and say mother has cancer!

Brother: What a wonderful idea! Sure sister.
Little does he know, it is the sister who has fatal cancer. None except her boyfriend knows this but he is sworn to secrecy. He also seemed careless of the fact that his beloved is terminally ill.
A little awe-struck, I changed station.

Drama II
The trademark style was easily recognisable -- three idiots dressed in suits, speaking in some alien manner. The comical heroes were on a mission to help suicide prone individuals. There were even references to eve-teasing, a burning issue that we all saw claim several lives in the recent past. It seemed a little blunt to make skits out of an issue that rocks the soul of the nation and forced us to take life differently!

However, it was not the ludicrous plot of these dramas, but the bombardment of incessant advertisements that caught my fancy.

Whatever the show, whichever the channel, all were punctuated by long intervals. With multiple channels airing shows on the festive occasion it is quite understandable that there would be pressures from their patrons. But succumbing to such weight leads to an excessive dose of ads that can really be an eyesore and quite irritating at times.

All this got me thinking (finally), why are we a nation that compromises quality over quantity? As children we learned that there were two days of Eid-ul-Fitr and three of Eid-ul-Adha. Why stretch the elastic to six days when there is content for two?

As for the advertisers, is it not more important to make a mark in the minds of the consumers rather than to irritate with poorly done ads?

As for the quality of the drama scripts, why on earth are we still a nation obsessed with fatal diseases? Television dramas and films capitalised on the sentiment surrounding fatal diseases back in the early eighties yet the ghost seems to have chased us through the millennium and well into its first decade.

Dear playwright, why this repetition of stale ideas when the original was ludicrous to begin with? Have you not ever heard of the excruciating pain of a cancer victim, the mental agony of their near relatives to pen something closer to the heart? With some research it is not impossible to sketch a realistic picture of the case?

Suicide is a little understood subject, or so we like to think. Yet there is no denying that a considerably large segment of the population has at one time or another has tried to commit suicide. How can someone adopt a comical approach to this dark subject, especially when there has been a huge outcry following the death of a number of girls?

This is an example of bad taste on the part of the writers, weird selection of roles by the actors and utter irresponsibility by the channel authorities.

There are no hard and fast rules as to how Eid programmes should be. They can be funny, or thought-provoking. But please, unwind from the writers' block and get away from cancer!

By Pothbhola


Contemporary bathroom

The concept of indoor bathrooms integrated as part of the house entered the tropical home only in the past century, as Asians turned towards Western living standards. Ancient Indian civilisations built capacious public bathing ponds with steps leading down to a wide landing where people spent long hours for daily washes and to engage in chitchat with friends.

The traditional Asian shower required only two items - a large urn and a scoop - and consisted of splashing bowls of rainwater over the body. Bathing took place outdoors where a breeze quickly dried the body after a bath.

Two directions in contemporary bathroom design are currently emerging: the tropical garden bathroom and the sophisticated urban bathroom. Bathrooms following the tropical garden direction have taken inspiration from the many resorts and spas in Bali and Thailand. Their spas offer idyllic eco-friendly bathing, and are full of herbal products. They offer exceptional bathing facilities, especially for those on holidays or on special outings. For daily life however, we need more smart and trendy bathrooms.

The work place has transformed into a place where young, energetic, and inventive executives want to spend extended amounts of time and plan for the future. Comfortable bathrooms are no longer a luxury for corporate offices. A healthy washroom is now a primary component of office décor. The same goes for guesthouses or residential units.

For office bathrooms, we used two appliances, namely, a water-closet and a wash basin (a shower is not necessary). These are like powder bathrooms. As a designer, I suggest a simple colour chart for the wash zone. Brown, beige, white, off-white and so on are soothing for the small space because they provide a bright and welcoming impression.

We used off-white tiles for a corporate washroom and set them into the wall horizontally. In the middle section we used two lines of slightly darker tiles for a breakthrough. We did not use any décor tiles and borders so as to keep costs to a minimum.

A porcelain sink within a long marble counter might look luxurious, but if your space is limited, it is not practical. For a powder bathroom, space is limited, so we suggest a small counter for the washbasin.

Now, various types of washbasins are available in the market. For a long time we have been habituated to counter basins but now top counter basins are more attractive. There are many different sizes and shapes; some round, ball-shaped, some are oval, and others rectangular. As per your space you can choose the right one for you.

To cut to the chase of picking faucets, always go for the established names. A well-made faucet is heavily used at a busy area and will have to last a long time. Furthermore, cheap knock-offs might plague you with unnecessary plumbing bills and inefficient water flow. We used a Toto water closet and washbasin for a corporate zone.

To save on water, and ultimately your utility bills, opt for a low-flow water faucet. These environment-friendly faucets use less than half the water of regular water guzzlers. We used Toto and Watsons faucets for heavy duty use.

Guesthouses or contemporary hotel rooms provide shower units within minimum space. The bathtub is still a popular fixture for a lot of people. For a limited space we can use standing showers enclosed with a modern steam bathing system. Even in a tub you can attach a modern shower system.

Accessories are the last addition and an essential touch-up for a washroom. Certain furnishings enrich the whole bathroom such as looking mirrors. A graceful mirror can lend your washroom an added amount of elegance.

Stainless-steel towel rings, soap or brush holders or mini cosmetic baskets are small objects which have big impacts. So, a simple straight-line design washroom with minimum accessories also creates a comfortable mood.

Nazneen Haque Mimi
Interior Consultant
E-Mail: Journeyman.Interiors @Gmail.Com
Photo Credit: Tamim Sujat




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