Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 43, Tuesday, November 02, 2010




Pleasant diversions

Life was much simpler when we were students; sitting in the university canteen, chatting with friends was entertainment enough. And there were other diversions -- cultural shows, movie shows and extra curricular activities, which too served as good forms of entertainment.

After graduation things took a back seat -- meeting up at a friend's place or dining out is often all people have time to do. Which, after a while gets boring.

Latching onto the lack of entertainment for office-goers, many cafés and lounges have added features, allowing people to get together at their leisure to chill out and also enjoy some entertainment. For our readers we recommend some spots where the focus is on entertaining this time-deprived elite.

Quiz? Oh yeah!
Le Saigon play host to the Grameenphone Quiz on one weeknight every month. The formation is simple -- three to five member groups answering questions by the Quizmaster on pieces of paper. Quiz police roam the floor lest there is any "cheating". At the end of the day all groups try to help each other while Quizmaster Farhan Quddus reveals his funnier side.

Munchies in the form of finger foods are present on the table during the entire show, and there is also a dinner break in between quizzes. So if you are cerebrally inclined and want to pit your general knowledge against others of your ilk, make some calls, form groups and don't forget to give it a weird, funny name.

Come, relax
“Previously cafés and lounges only focused on serving food, that's when I thought what else can I offer to my customers?” said Arif Hafiz, owner of Kozmo lounge. As a refreshing change from the ordinary, he launched "Kozmo Unplugged", where up and coming performers, along with more established names have their talents featured. Friends can meet up at Kozmo, have their coffee and enjoy live performances. Not only does the lounge showcase music but also recitations, stand-up comedy, and showings of short films.

If you have a varied interest on a whole range of subjects with some free time on any of the evenings, try Red Shift -- chances are you will not be disappointed. With elaborate, beautifully done décor and a veranda overlooking Gulshan, Banani and beyond this lounge promises a whole lot more. Occasionally, painting exhibitions are held in the hall outside the café, so there is also an opportunity to immerse oneself in Bangladesh's art scene. Red Shift also has a small movie theatre, so if you are tired of watching DVDs on a small screen at home, you can always go enjoy a movie on the big screen.

Time for some football
ASCENT Corporate 5-A-Side Indoor Soccer Tournament is the perfect sporting medium for the young or middle-aged corporate professional. To let off some steam without falling flat on his face, there is simply no better alternative.

What this tournament does is bring teams together on and off the field, providing a great social hangout for colleagues after work. It gives the employees a chance to play and mingle with top management as many CEOs join their teams and play in the tournament.

Organised by Excalibur Entertainment, Ascent Corporate 5-A-Side Indoor Soccer Tournament is probably the biggest corporate gathering that provides rejuvenation and entertainment for the corporate classes.

On-Screen Golf
Staying on the subject of sports, for the fortunate few who grew up playing golf and are suddenly unable to indulge their passion because of work constraints, a new innovation has popped up that will enable people to practise their skills, even at night.

On-screen Golf is the latest addition to Dhaka's sports landscape. It offers golf-lovers a chance to play a round of golf without having to step outdoors. You hit the ball inside a room at a canvas bearing the projected image of a virtual golf course. There are sensors located to calculate the speed and trajectory of the ball, so that the moment you hit it, you can look up and see the virtual image of the ball sailing across the green landscape below.

Also, there is a camera that records and plays back each one of your shots, so you can see where you went wrong. On-screen Golf is located in Kemal Ataturk, on the fifth floor of the building that houses Dominous Pizza.

Old school
For a very long time the theatre movement of Bangladesh has been a source of experiencing cultures from across the globe. On the same evening there might be showcases of plays by Selim Al Din, Tagore, Ibsen and Beckett. Our theatre movement is that diverse! This rich tradition of our culture is observing a revival, as younger people are now keen to learn about our culture, and experience our interpretation of western ideals through the enactment of timeless plays.

Also very popular these days are art exhibitions. From Galleri Kaya at Uttara to Chitrak and Bengal at Dhanmondi the canvas of the Dhaka art scene has caught the attention of the executive crowd. Young people, now comfortable with their earnings and lifestyles, tend to look beyond the rigid framework of work.

The working life is the beginning of a new lifestyle. The cares of the world start descending on young shoulders, so it is all the more important that there are outlets to relieve the stress. With their growing resources, it is more possible than ever before to enjoy things according to taste, and as outlined above, Dhaka has plenty to offer when it comes to indulging our thirst for fun as well as culture.

LS Desk and Tanziral Dilshad Ditan


Those were the days

There is nothing like nostalgia. Poets, dramatists, painters, and whomever you have in mind, feel this is the safest thing to dwell on. Whether one is discontented with life - with the past or the present - this is where one can safely have a safe retreat.

When one longs for a necessary break, and gets a Kit-Kat to nibble at, one thinks of the yummy sandwiches in the tiffin box. These contained only butter and sugar. But sitting on the grass, under the shady trees, in the picnic spot with school friends, this was a veritable heaven. Yes, one wore one's brothers' old sleeveless sweater, with parrots and musical notes as designs, and with a bold “Z” lettering (standing for the older siblings' names -- there was no embarrassment in this). Sporting a hand- me-down beige and blue school uniform was not a “no-no” in my days. Tiny birds fluttered overhead, clouds skidded in the sky; and “all” was “well with the world” with us, the gaggle of girls from the convent.

Going to the sea, riding on steam boats at Keemari Harbour in Karachi with parents was a moment I'll never forget. The best part was, the brothers were never included in these trips, as they had to stay and study at home with their tutor. The sea breeze in my teen ages - even though I sat and swotted over school before my Senior Cambridge exams - was something. The boys swam in the ocean and rode camels, but I was totally happy with my books. The ocean waves rushed and roared. How content I was with those school days.

Giving in to “thora sa pet puja”, I loved the smell of peanuts, biscuits and other simple treats that reached the nostrils as soon as I returned home from school. The mouth-watering Dutch apple puddings, caramel custard with two layers of “Jello” at dinner were there so often . So were carrot and “neshasta” “halwas”, during “Shab-e-Baraats”. Tartlets and buttered scones were steady repasts for the hungry four at home. Yes, we feasted on creamy “patishaptas”, “Lobongo Loticas”, and “gojas” dipped in heavy sugary syrups, which were there without our asking. Even the “parathas” with jam or omelettes tasted divine during lunch breaks at break-time in school. Despite the ambiance of a semi-desert of Karachi, every morsel in the tiffin box (an old chocolate box -- bearing the images of ships at sea) was savoured. Sitting under a tree shade, sitting on the metal and wooden century-old benches, and discussing homework or story books, nothing could be more relaxing and full of joie de vivre.

During the two Eids, we got only one dress or a shalwar kameez set each, the girls that is. Birthdays brought a single dress and only two dresses at a particular birthday, when the day was being shared with that of the birthday of my eldest brother. Yet, we were happy with our lot and made dresses with frills and embroidery! Home-made blazers and sweaters filled our cold winter days. Even my snug rabbit-like woolen gloves were knitted by Mum. My baby bother's dresses with scalloped yokes and fine embroidery were needlepoint works which we enjoyed watching being made. The boys had only a tie each. But I doubt if they were discontented.

As for the yearly celebrations at school and college, they were certainly good old days. The stage full of plays like the “Barrets of Wimpole Street”, “Pygmalion” or “The Importance of Being Earnest”; dances from around the world; skits and recitations filled our days. Shakespeare-based films brought unending pleasure to our minds. Evenings of “War and Peace” or “Around the World in Eighty Days”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Glass Menagerie” or even “James Bond” films -- seen with siblings and friends -- were treats I'll never forget.

Even when I entered the workforce, then too it was endless fun and frolic. We shared egg curry with everyone, and only shared our pocket money for chicken and corn soup in my memory of two years on my first stint in that office. But these were gay old days, although we worked until beyond 8pm at times standing on our feet to make a page each. There was a bordello next door, across the great long main Ziauddin Road, all across the commercial hub of the metropolis in Karachi. This, for us, brought endless giggles.

Even more recently (although now those distant days appear like some fragment from a Cave Age diary) the hot and pouring rainy days, in the Maldives and Melbourne, seem like some idyll from “The Once and Future King” (Arthurian legends i.e.). Yes, the bygone days are always happiest and treasured, as our teachers sporting can-cans and spiked heels told us they would be.

By Fayza Haq

Controlling the remote control

Much recently, a girlfriend stabbed her boyfriend in the tummy over a glorified battle over the remote control. Another news report tells the story of a man who shot his stepfather fighting over the same issue! Although you and I gasp in horror hearing such gory stories and while those individuals need help, we are no better. Who controls the remote control in your home? Oh that is a very dangerous and controversial thing to talk about; a burning issue indeed!

If you are utterly frustrated about the endless feud between the two ladies in our country and regard yourself to be better off, think again. Chances are you are a dirty and shrewd politician as well. Harold Lasswell, a popular political scientist, says, “Politics is who gets what, when and how”. Thus, fighting over the remote control is nothing but politics.

And politics leads to many controversies and conspiracies. Aktar, a school student shares his secret. “When I switch on the TV, the first thing I do is hide the channels my mother is interested in by pressing the SKIP button on the remote. In this way, I can surf the channels freely. God forbid I mistakenly get to a channel where there's a Hindi serial going on, my mother grabs the remote and reminds me of my homework.”

There are many other dirty secrets. Nabila, the older of the two devils, forcefully grabbed the remote control from her little brother to watch a particular show. Little bro missed Popeye the Sailorman. Revenge filled his heart and soul. Deep at night, he tiptoed to the TV set and with scissors, cut the wires and did considerable damage. Next morning, sister missed a program. The battle began.

Rocky Balboa would have tipped down his hat if he had existed in real life and had seen the fights people have. The enthusiasm and persistence they show will surely be inspiring to a man like him. But the boxer perhaps would have wanted a more decent fight. But the fighting ring infront of the TV has no rules.

Cynthia, a mother of three teenagers, bears witness. “My daughter wants to watch How I Met Your Mother, one of my sons has been waiting for one of the tennis grand slam finals, while my other son prefers a Bengali drama serial. They are ready to kill for the remote!”

The mother herself has battles to fight with her hubby. One look at the remote control says it all. It looks like a meteoroid that plummeted to the surface of the Earth after countless years in flight. With half of the buttons gone, several cracks on the surface and many scotch tapes wrapped around it, it bears evidence to the political violence it tolerates.

“When I get older, I will be stronger, They'll call me freedom…”
The younger ones are usually the victims of remote control politics. They have no rights, no power. Through scolding, beating and what not, they succumb to the might of their elders. “My fault is that I was born five years after my brother”, says Lopa. Age discrimination should be abandoned.

How to form a political party
A likely thing to happen is few of the family members may join hands to protect their interests and rights. In a household, the mother-in-law, daughter-in-law and the elder daughter are avid fans of Ekta Kapoor serials. There's another group who insists on a total ban on such TV serials. They prefer watching sports instead. That's another political party. They battle for power. The labour union (i.e. domestic helps) complicate things further and may be used as effective weapons sometimes. Politics people, politics. The problem is even more intensified if we are talking about a joint family here.

Towards peace
So what's the solution to this heated problem? Well, there are a few. Shaffat, who lives in a joint family, bought a TV card for his computer. In another household, a husband and wife may share a TV, whist a second one is for the children. Another solution, implemented by a father quite recently, is laying down a specific (and written) schedule regarding which family member can have the remote at what times. Well, it's no surprise. There can be so much politics involved in a household, you ought to write a whole constitution for it!

By M H Haider




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