Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home |  Volume 6, Issue 08, Tuesday, February 22, 2011




Worth the watch

Much has been ado about the ICC Cricket World Cup being co-hosted in Dhaka, be it the promise and potential of the Tigers, the alleged preparedness of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (or lack thereof), the dramatic, last-minute makeover of our capital or the remarkable elusiveness of tickets. But a few matches into the championship, shall we shift focus to that which is truly most important? Ladies, a list of 2011's lookers.

Aside their charming good looks, Indian cricketers usher in a hefty female fan following due to the near-celebrity statuses they are catapulted to through a staggering number of advertisements. Skipper turned brand endorsement powerhouse MS Dhoni is probably in the front seat of this bandwagon but infectious smile as he may have, you had best turn down the volume every time he appears on screen. Lest he start to speak and…well…undo all the good that his smile did. Dhoni and fellow teammate Yuvraj Singh have been bitter rivals in more (Bollywood beauty chasing) ways than one, but the second common space they share is that of poster boys of India. Both men are not just good players but also easy on the eye. But while Dhoni's looks are more subtle, Yuvraj stands out more for his attitude and demeanour, be it with the dark glasses on the field of play or the suave suits he pulls off outside it. And if you have had enough of your Yuvrajs and Dhonis, new kid on the block Virat Kohli also packs heat, both with his expansive batting and in the looks department.

Neighbours Pakistan are perhaps, cricket-wise, going through their worst cycle in years but the frown lines seem to have provided a certain modishness to their captain Shahid Khan Afridi. Long a heartthrob of millions in the city (anyone remember the 'Marry me Afridi' posters?) Afridi's newfound 'elegance' (if that is not pushing it too far) will endear him to a few thousand more. Be prepared for more posters proclaiming their love. And ensuring that the Pakistan contingent is not under-represented Shoaib Akhtar too comes to the party despite his bulging eyes and not-so-cleverly-disguised balding forehead. With Shoaib the charm is more in his brash, boorish 'all or nothing' persona than in his actual looks.

Now New Zealand may have suffered a humbling defeat to Bangladesh at home late last year, but the hapless Kiwis more than compensated for their dismal showings with the constant appearance of Daniel Vettori. The Kiwi captain may not be 'smouldering hot' but he is good-looking in the subtle and sober way that would make any girl confident about taking him home to meet her parents. The exact opposite is true of England swing bowler James Anderson whose rock-star hair, three-day stubble and sharp, good looks mark him out as a trail-blazer or a rebel. Definitely not one to take home and perhaps the charm is there exactly. In his early days, the English press christened Anderson as the David Beckham of cricket, and while he may not be as all-encompassing-ly brilliant as the footballer, Anderson does run him close.

But none probably personify suave better than Chris Gayle. The West Indian captain is what every girl fantasises Caribbean men should be about. Steely physique, unsmiling demeanour, cornrows, glasses and the biggest party animal on the cricket scene. South African JP Duminy is not at Gayle's level yet but give him a few years and he might just get there, cricket-wise and attitude wise. With the name Jean-Paul you really can't go wrong.

It would be unfair to end an article about good-looking cricketers and not have any from Bangladesh. After all, our very own Alok Kapali was once voted amongst the three 'sexiest men' in the World Cup. Alas, poor form has seen Kapali axed from the national side but stepping in to fill his boots is none other than our captain Shakib Al Hassan. Again, Shakib may not boast chiseled model good looks but there is no denying that he is the quiet, subtle, and engaging boy-next-door who you can't help but feel attracted to. After all, he isn't the most eligible bachelor in the country for nothing.

Before we end, an honourable mention should go out to the men who will not grace the field but still be close to the cricket. Step forward Ravi Shastri, Wasim Akram and our own Athar Ali Khan. All three will make the commentary box a nicer place to be. And of course, no piece on good looking cricketers can ever be complete without a lovestruck nod at Imran Khan. The suave, classy, urbane, chic ex-World Cup winner turned politician has a grace about him that is unmistakable. For many, myself included, he was cricket's first real star and like any real good thing, Imran's appeal is timeless.

By Subhi Shama
and Quazi Zulquarnain Islam


Missing the fever

The ICC Cricket World Cup has begun - the extent of the festivity can be understood from the online and offline behaviours of its followers. For me, it is more an online experience this time. But I so wish I could be in Dhaka and be a part of the celebration.

I hear from friends that Dhaka has donned a new look for the Cricket World Cup. In order to see how different my city looks now, I browsed Youtube for video clips. As I watched the videos I realised that the whole nation celebrating this tournament is what makes it so special, so unifying and so full of life.

Before the tournament began, friends' Facebook statuses ranged from “Yay! Finally managed a ticket!” to “Can someone please help me buy a practice match ticket? I so want to watch at least one game!” So many thousands of eager fans could not buy tickets to any of the matches - many were sad, others were angry. I too would have shared similar feelings if I could not manage even one match ticket. After all, who does not want to be a part of it?

My better-half is lamenting the fact that the time difference between Dhaka and Minnesota makes it impossible to watch the matches peacefully. Weeks ago, he spent hours googling websites to shortlist those that would relay the matches live and cricinfo.com is a blessing for cricket lovers living abroad but it does not let you watch the actions taking place on the field. Oh well, something is better than nothing!

Bangladeshi cricket fans are indeed deeply missing their country right now. Yaser Sattar works as a Lead Accountant at a company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he was saying, “I will not miss the weekend matches but cannot the watch the weekday games for work. I have plans to watch some of the matches with my friends here. I wear Bangladesh team jersey on days Bangladesh have a match!” Watching the World Cup with deshi friends will help these fans ease the pain of not being in the country. Avid cricket fans have subscribed to Willow TV, which will show live telecasts of the ICC Cricket World Cup through satellite television platforms, DISH Network and DIRECTV, across North America. This was unimaginable in the U.S. even a few years ago.

I remember how big a fan me and my friends were of Mark Waugh and Shane Warne in the mid-1990s. Sri Lanka, then an underdog, was my favourite team. In 1996, some of us bought all the issues of Sportsworld, now a defunct magazine of Ananda Bazar group, that featured our favourite cricketers. The 1996 Cricket World Cup was special because South Asia hosted it. I remember I learned by heart the names of the players of each participating country, I kept track of all the match results - it was a long-lasting fever, almost chronic. The 2011 Cricket World Cup is once again hosted by South Asia - but what makes it way more special this time is Bangladesh's status as a host nation.

I miss the cricket fever from which the nation is suffering, I too wanted to catch the virus and suffer from it. But I guess this time around the virus won't find me and cause the fever I so wanted to suffer from.

By Wara Karim



There will be gaps of up to seven days between matches, which means that those camped here for the World Cup will have a lot of free time to spend as they wish. Dhaka's traffic and hectic pace is hardly ideal for a vacation, which is what many will need. As for the tourists, this World C up represents an opportunity to recharge batteries. In that respect, we have chosen four resorts in Bangladesh, three of which will pamper you and one that will satisfy any nature-loving instinct you have.

Jamuna Resort
If you want to go to a place which has all your holiday needs in one place, look no further than Jamuna Resort at Tangail, just north of Dhaka. The resort has a swimming pool, a game room, a first-rate restaurant, a tennis court, a large field for sports, and a plush cottage to go back to at the end of the day. The cottage lends a very cosy feel, and you actually feel that that is your home.

Also, you can go for boat rides on the Jamuna River. The reflection of the setting sun in the pools of water that form on the banks is indeed a brilliant sight and well worth the fare for the boat ride. Then you have the Bangabandhu Bridge, which is a feat of engineering yet unparalleled in Bangladesh, and among the top echelon of Asia's bridges.

Foy's Lake
If you are in Chittagong, the ideal place to stay would be the Foy's Lake Resort. Even if you aren't, it is well worth the jaunt from Dhaka. Tucked away close to a lake winding through lush green hills, it is a resort that will sooth your senses and give you that much needed break from city life that you have been craving.

Foy's Lake Resort is a unique place where you can stay in luxurious accommodation while enjoying the natural beauty of the lake and the entertainment of two theme parks, one of which is a water park. There are cottages by the lake as well as rooms of varying classes, all charming and fitted with modern amenities.

The biggest attraction is the lake. The lush green hills, the clear blue skies -- especially at this time of the year -- and the winding lake is sure to enchant visitors. One can take boat rides through the lake and spend a whole day just day-dreaming, reclined on a boat while taking in the surroundings.

The ultimate in luxury, this resort, standing on six acres of hilly land in Khadimnagar, just a fifteen minute car ride from Sylhet town, comprises three residential buildings - a Villa, a Bungalow, and the Terrace with a total of 49 rooms, all fitted with state of the art amenities, and of which only the Premium rooms are without Jacuzzis; a spa complex that houses a pool and a conference centre for corporate clients; a nightlife centre with a pool table and bar; and two high quality restaurants that serve Continental, Oriental, and Indian food to rival that of the eateries in Gulshan.

There is much else to do besides staying in the resort. The resort will arrange trips to many of the natural treasures in the region. One of them is Lala Khal, which is reached by boat, and where the resort has built an observatory. The boat ride to Lala Khal is one that will resemble Foy's Lake, the only difference here being that much of the landscape is unspoilt. You can also make trips to the waterfalls of Jaflong or trek through the rainforests of Lawwachhara.

Mermaid Eco Resort
If you are a nature lover, and your idea of a break is to get as close to nature as possible, then the Mermaid Eco Resort near Cox's Bazaar is the place for you. The region is replete with natural beauty boasting the longest beach in the world and the Himchhari mountains.

The Mermaid Eco Resort is located beside the Rezu Khal along the Marine Drive about sixteen kilometres from downtown Cox's Bazaar. What sets this resort apart is that it has set a great example by keeping all of its buildings environmentally friendly; the raw materials used to build the resort are mostly bamboo, thatch, mud and wood. This is particularly important in a place like Cox's Bazaar, a place of unbridled natural splendour that we can ill afford to contaminate with urban and industrial wastes. To give you a glimpse of how close to nature the resort is, the bathrooms are al fresco, which may not be everyone's cup of tea, but sure to delight nature lovers.

So don't rot away in Dhaka when there are no matches to see. Explore Bangladesh, and above all, give youself a treat.

Photo: Star Lifestyle Archives


Old wives' tales

Many gardening tips have been passed down through generations, but are they simply myths or do they have any scientific weight?

Crocks in pots improve drainage
The theory: Water drains more quickly through coarse materials, so a layer of gravel or pot fragments in the bottom of containers lets excess water drain freely.

The evidence: Research by soil scientists shows that water doesn't flow freely from fine-textured materials into coarser ones. Water moves into coarser materials, such as gravel or crocks, only once the soil above is saturated, so a sudden change from a fine to a coarse texture causes water to collect in the soil above, rather than drain away. This can be bad news for roots. Pot feet help to improve drainage and prevent water logging, especially in containers sitting on a hard, flat surface.

The verdict: False. A drainage layer in the bottom of pots reduces the volume of soil available to plant roots. Don't add gravel or crocks, but ensure pots have drainage holes.

Watering in the middle of the day scorches leaves
The theory: Water droplets act as mini magnifying glasses, which focus the sun's rays and scorch leaves.

The evidence: For the first time last year, researchers investigated the effect of water droplets and sunlight on leaves and found no evidence of sunburn caused by water and light. Watering in the middle of the day should, however, be avoided, because it's wasteful. More water will evaporate compared with the amount lost when watering at a cooler time of day. And not only that: watering in the heat of the day also raises humidity levels around plants, creating conditions loved by fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and grey mould.

The verdict: False. Watering in bright sunlight does not cause sunburn, but it does waste water and can create problems with fungal diseases.

Coffee grounds keep slugs at bay
The theory: Caffeine is toxic to slugs and snails and mulching with coffee grounds therefore deters these garden pests.

The evidence: Researchers have shown that spraying plants with a caffeine solution equivalent to a strong cup of coffee does kill slugs, but there is currently no direct evidence that coffee grounds have the same effect.

The verdict: False. Coffee grounds may not deter slugs, but they are high in nitrogen, so put them on your compost heap instead.

Tea is a good fertiliser for pot plants
The theory: Tea contains nutrients and trace minerals that promote healthy growth in plants.

The evidence: There is significantly more nitrogen in tea leaves than in most liquid pot plant fertilisers that are formulated for healthy, balanced growth. While nitrogen promotes leafy growth, it is unlikely that much of the nitrogen in tea is actually available to plants. Other elements in tea could be harmful. It contains aluminium, fluorine and manganese, which are harmless to people but high concentrations in very strong or stewed tea may retard plant growth.

The verdict: False. Regular watering and an occasional liquid feed are better for plant health than relying on tea. Used tea leaves are best added to your compost heap.

-LS Desk



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