Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home |Volume 5, Issue 48, Tuesday, December 07, 2010



Wedding nostalgia

These are things that etch a particular event in the mind. I still remember my uncle's wedding in 1991, where at the bride's gaye holud I felt mildly jealous that my sister had a song all to herself -- sung to the tune of the 'Dano' commercial with 'Dano' being replaced with my sister's name.

My editor told me to write -- this being the heart of the wedding season, the afterglow of which will leave us dazzled come February -- on wedding cars. As I sit to write this, it is hard to concentrate because at the community centre across the park at the rear of our house, a DJ beat is pulsating, pounding the windows of my room with a man's voice chanting, “My desi girl, my desi girl”. Indeed.

Suddenly I wasn't as embracing of the idea of the modern wedding as I was when I was given the assignment. I started thinking of the weddings I had gone to over the past five or six years. I realised that over the latter half of that period, I mostly went to the wedding receptions, and I have to admit it was usually for the kachchi.

It is evidence of how quickly times are changing that no eyebrows will be raised if I not yet thirty talk of the 'good old days' and utter sentences beginning with 'there was a time'. But really, there was a time when weddings used to be personal affairs. Now, by 'personal' I don't mean fewer people were involved, but that the ceremonies and the activities were, to a great extent, more inclusive and called for a lot more participation from close friends and family.

Social customs are often rooted in logic. And the logic behind having a big hoopla when two people tie the knot lies in the reality that two families are also coming together. Therefore, the fun-filled gaye holud is meant to be a crash course on the members of the other family, and build a camaraderie between strangers who will soon be relatives. To catalyse this process there were traditions like the younger members of the families adapting popular songs to poke fun at their in-laws, only to be paid back in kind when the other side's holud came along.

My mother tells me that during her holud, all her cousins sat with a harmonium and sang beautiful songs reminding my Nana and Nani of the occasion, that they would soon have to let their child go, interspersed with lighter upbeat tunes. In villages there was, maybe there still is, the custom of dousing the 'ghotok' with coloured water.

These are things that etch a particular event in the mind. I still remember my uncle's wedding in 1991, where at the bride's gaye holud I felt mildly jealous that my sister had a song all to herself -- sung to the tune of the 'Dano' commercial with 'Dano' being replaced by my sister's name. I was less than ten then, and remember most of the wedding and the gaye holud clearly.

During the wedding reception, I was the groom's 'best man' and together with a cousin had the honour of sitting on either side of him, all three of us wearing matching sherwanis. The bride's brother, the groom's 'shala' came up to talk to him, and made a pretence of touching his feet in a show of respect. The next instant he was tugging at my uncle's shoes, nearly dragging him off his seat. We, my cousin and I, were instantly on our feet fighting off the enemy, but alas! He made off with the shoe, and my uncle had to pay a hefty price for it.

While some traditions remain, like the 'gate dhora' (youngsters from the bride's family demanding money from the groom before allowing him to enter the wedding hall), and is still a great source of fun, but others like the amateur holud singing and the shoe stealing are fast fading.

Now, if a 'shala' were to pull that stunt, the elders would lower the boom on him for ruining the crease on the groom's sherwani and leaving him dishevelled for the all-important cameras.

And the cameras! At every recent wedding I have gone to, I could not help but feel sorry for the bride and groom, when I really should have been happy for them, being as it was the biggest day of their lives. Now, especially with the 'akhth' taking place separately, the wedding reception is not much more than a glorified photoshoot for the bride and groom. Under the glare of harsh lights they sit, one smiling and the other looking down shyly, while the photographers keep clicking away and the cameraman keeps the reel rolling. Because of the powerful lights trained on them, for most of the time they cannot see the people in the audience.

It's not all bad with modern weddings though; to the contrary most people love the opportunity to go out and dance to the DJ beats and have a blast. But sometimes, I wish for that personal touch that used to be such a source of joy in weddings even ten years ago. I recognise that it is now a professional production, as 'Gal meethi meethi bol' invades my personal space, and I can hear the shouts and whoops coming from the dancing guests. Even so, there is still space for the age-old rituals that leave memories that last twenty years and counting. I wonder if the modern weddings have that quality.

Photo courtesy: Wedding Diary by Prito Reza

Under A Different Sky

Black heads

By Iffat Nawaz

She pressed with both her fingernails; a strong pinch, a hint of blood came up to the surface. Committed to getting rid of all imperfections, she tried harder to remove all black and white heads from the delicate face that lied quietly beneath her. A complexion like rose and milk, large eyes shut with a bit of tears in the corners paying for the cost of beauty. Jinia sighed, as her dark hands worked the dainty pretty face, one little bump after another, making it smooth, glowing, more beautiful. Her towering tummy pressed against the massage table, her baby kicked inside, it's a girl.

“Ouch” the pretty mouth loudly expressed, “Jinia mere phelbi naki?”

“Sorry Apa” Jinia said smiling, thinking sometimes digging deeper is necessary to get rid of the dirt these faces collect and hide so beautifully.

Two more months till the baby is born, everyone is excited at home and all is set for her arrival. Check ups show the baby is healthy; father-to-be is already thinking of names. Jinia even found a maid already, which makes her feel good, someone she can order around as well at home. After a day of being ordered around, she feels an extra pleasure telling the maid at home to bring her a tall glass of cold water and to massage her feet with Nivea after dinner.

Although she did notice her husband looking at the maid a little too closely the other night, and a lot of unnecessary dialogue between her husband and that what's-her-scrawny- face Kulshum. A server should stay in the server's place; Jinia knows that from her all-day duty at the parlour and is not sure why Kulshum forgets to realise this while giggling and apologising to her husband for some dumb mistake, moving her body like a growing weed ruining the life of some spring plant. Makes Jinia angry, really angry.

Jinia put a cold towel on top of the freshly cleaned face, exfoliated, pore scrubbed, rose water splashed. She went into the staff room and sat on her chair. Shunita and Parveen stopped talking about something or someone as she entered, “Like I care,” Jinia thought.

She dialled her husband's number, no answer. She felt anxious and thirsty and got up to drink a glass of water, then tried her husband again. This time he picked up, panting.

“Why are you panting? All okay?” Jinia asked.

“Fine fine was just climbing the stairs, just did the groceries, have to go now,” he said and hung up before she could get another word in.

Did she hear the maid giggling in the background or were those the giggles of the girls in this room. She felt confused. Her head felt light with all kinds of feminine giggles and the image of a scrawny body trying to move lusciously and interfering in some unborn and born lives.

“Jiniaaaaaaaaaaaaa” a sharp call came into the staff room, “I don't pay you to sit and chat on the phone, you imbecile! How long are you going to make madam lie there with a cold towel? If she catches a cold are you going to pay for her foreign medicine?”

Jinia ran as her baby kicked inside, almost to help her move faster. The giggles inside and outside amplified. She looked down at her fingernails, a speck of expensive blood shone, she removed the cold towel from the pretty face and waited for her tip.


'Dispersion of Colors'

Students of Scholastica School would probably remember Zebun Naher Nayeem for her warm smile, her jovial nature and her commitment towards instilling the passion for art within the hearts of the students she taught. The result has been a mixed success. Most of her pupils still nurture the appreciation for art and some have even made a career in fine arts.

She parted ways with teaching in 2008, “to devote time solely for painting.” The recently concluded solo exhibition Dispersion of Colors at the Bay's Gallery has been her third solo in less than two years.

A graduate from the Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University, Nayeem took up a career in teaching in 1993 and continued through 1998. Her first exhibition entitled “Ex-Shade” was a group display held at Zainul Gallery in 1998.

The near thirty works that had been on display at Bay's were mostly acrylic done on canvas, although some were in mixed media and others in watercolour. She prefers to use colours that instantly draw the viewers to her work, while her watercolours are soothing and have an appeal of their own.

“I have worked with different media and my subject has been mainly nature” she admits. However her images also present portraits of women in groups, melancholic images of women with flowers in their hair. “Sadness is a sign of emptiness that surrounds life. It signifies that life is never fulfilling and takes us towards achieving a goal” said Nayeem.

Her paintings also take us closer to nature. Her compositions reflect on the complexity of life and her portraits of women express a melancholic vibe that surrounds lives of women. But it is possibly the colours that she used that becomes the striking feature of her works. Aptly termed “Dispersion of Colors,” this exhibition surely struck a note in the minds of those who had a chance to see it.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif

USEd & REUSEd- An exhibition of things you throw away!

It's nothing new. Giving an old message all over again. Reminding to reduce, reuse, recycle. And of course, rethink.

USEd & REUSEd, a solo exhibition by Zaid Islam promoting waste management awareness (with the main focus on plastic) among urban dwellers, started on Thursday, December 2, 2010. The exhibition is being held at Goethe Institut. The exhibition was inaugurated by chief guests Salma A. Shafi, the eminent urban planner from Centre for Urban Studies and Ms. Celine Read, Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of Germany.

The basic purpose of this exhibition is to make people aware- or at least remind them- of the huge waste we generate, and its cruel impact on the environment. The show tends to focus chiefly on plastic usage.

But instead of talking or thinking big, Zaid wants you to see things on a “micro” level first. Whilst being a little sarcastic about world leaders who are not being able to reach an agreed conclusion regarding the problem of climate change and environment sustainability, he urges you to do your tiny bit; that's what counts.

He urges you to open your eyes to waste management by this very creative, interesting and artistic exhibition. Mr. Zaid believes that instead of throwing away anything, you should reuse it, recycle it. While you walk up the stairs of Goethe Institut you'll notice green bottles showing directions guiding you to where the exhibition is being held. As you enter the gallery, you'll notice many remarkable photographs on the wall, portraying the way plastic and other waste materials are wrongly treated in our country. Some of the pictures show various common scenarios you have definitely come across if you live in Bangladesh. For example, one of them portrays a tokai collecting thrown away materials.

Quite a large portion of the exhibition floor consisted of…well… garbage! Mr. Zaid promised that all the things used in his exhibition have been used by him at least once. Thus, you'll find many common things that you throw away- old calendar papers, packets of snacks, empty mineral water bottles, etc- a rather distinctive attempt to show us how much waste each of us produce.

The exhibition definitely gets a thumbs-up, for the noble aim it has, and also for the very unique presentation. Therefore, make sure you pay a visit to the exhibition. It will be open till December 14 (excluding Fridays and Saturdays). On the last date, at 6pm, Zaid will be holding an open discussion sharing his experience and talking about the exhibition.

By M H Haider

News Flash

Silken Synergy: Documentary on Bibi Russell

Refuting servitude of sweatshop economies, Bibi Russell questions why countries fuelling global retail don't have any local brands that have an international appeal.

The first Bangladeshi woman to study design at London School of Fashion 1972, Bibi was spotted by a leading modelling agency when she was showcasing her collection. Returning home to fulfil her dream of raising the standard of design and nurture dying crafts, Bibi has won national and international wards for her work with artisans and weavers.

He style is energetic and truthful; her message profound and thought provoking. Each of the upward steps she takes on that ladder is a success designed to be enlightening and entertaining, showing people how to take charge of life.

Bibi emphasises the importance of recognising and valuing everyone's contribution as a team member. With a dynamic stage presence she captures the attention of her audience instantaneously and never lets go.

Her conversation is very personal in style but she combines it with hard facts, specific strategies and personal insights to create a powerful message.

Silken Synergy is a documentary made on Bibi that follows her as she takes on a heart-warming journey to provide livelihood for countless weavers and craftspersons from Spain to Senegal, developing sustainable solutions, shaping emerging cultural identities. The film traces her work as she nurtures national brands, trying to save talent and tradition from turning into fodder fuelling global retain.

Shot over two years- 2008/2009- the financial upheaval across the world is reflected in the lives of the key characters, against the global canvas.

Soniya Kirpalani, the Director of the film was brought up in the multicultural environments of Dubai, London and India and it is this very experience that helps her identify with the rich cultural heritage of the this region. With vast experience behind her, she skilfully handles the project with care and devotion and presents the life of Bibi and her work.

Silken Synergy: 72 minutes, English. Country of production: USA/India/Sri Lanka/Cambodia/Bangladesh. Derector: Soniya Kirpalani.

LS Desk


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2010 The Daily Star