Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home |  Volume 6, Issue 09, Tuesday, March 01, 2011




Cycling their way to emancipation

Being a woman in Bangladesh can be quite challenging in not one, but several ways, one of them being transportation. If you are a resident of the urban regions and not the owner of a private mode of transport, getting a ride to your destination can be quite a cumbersome activity especially if it is an everyday affair. Regardless of your social status travelling can be quite difficult, be it on foot, by bus, by cycle rickshaws or CNGs.

The various inconveniences range from walking long distances, waiting for rickshaws and standing the entire way on the bus; and on top of all that, the everyday nuisance of being stared at and commented on can be quite a painful ordeal.

In an attempt to overcome this obstacle for the female population of the country Rudmila Rahman came up with the idea of using bicycles as an alternative.

Whether for recreational purposes or for mobility, in our country, a woman riding a bicycle is looked at with disapproval. “Being a Bangladeshi woman, I've faced significant barriers from family, neighbours and society in getting on a bike riding around town. Our freedom of mobility is seriously curtailed in Dhaka if women don't feel safe to travel independently in their own city” says Rudmila. and goes on to say “In rural areas, only those women who are affiliated with an NGO or an organisation, wearing their emblem, are not seen with disapproval while riding bicycles, while girls have to travel miles on foot to get to school or take their exams”. The only women who are seen cycling around Dhaka are usually expatriates. She believes that owning and riding a bicycle sends out a strong message of independence within a conservative society as well as making transportation easy for both rural and urban women. To add to all that, cycling is an environmentally friendly alternative to cars, CNGs and buses in cities.

With the aim of starting an organisation that promotes the use of cycling as an alternate method of transportation for women and breaking the stigma attached to a girl on a cycle, Rudmila used social media tools to reach out to numerous women in Dhaka. On receiving appreciable response, the first cycling initiative for women in Dhaka 'Arohi: Pedaling the path to empowerment', a non-profit organisation, was founded.

With the vision of establishing freedom of mobility for women in Bangladesh, Rudmila came up with the idea of arranging a bicycle ride exclusively for women on the 25 February, 2011 among several other future efforts. The objective of this ride was to sensitise the population of Dhaka to female cyclers.

“When people will see a large number of women cycling together it will have a greater impact on their acceptance” says Rudmila.

On the morning of Friday, 25 February a group of around thirty women all wearing white t-shirts were seen waiting in front of Drik Gallery, the starting point of Arohi's first bicycle ride. Enthusiasm for doing something for the betterment of the women in the society seemed pretty high.

“The barriers in this country in terms of mobility for women are quite a lot. This initiative is certainly a step forward to overcoming them” says Alayne Adams, an expatriate participating in the ride.

The ride was a 5 km long ride from Dhanmondi to Shahid Minar at Dhaka University and did grab the attention of passers-by. Dhaka University was chosen as a route in order to encourage female students and to get people used to them cycling in the campus.

The organisation will be arranging more awareness events in order to motivate the target segments of students, garments workers, NGO workers etc. Arohi's long term goal is to develop a business model that will further encourage women to opt for cycling by providing bicycles on rent.

Arohi also plans to host a bicycle training workshop on the occasion of International Women's Day on 8 March to help interested women in learning how to move through the streets of Dhaka on a cycle.

So if you want to join in the endeavour of empowering women, grab a bike and get on the streets of Dhaka. Happy riding!

By Karishma Ameen
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Drama in reality's guise

I really do not get why people spend their lives toiling away so that they can be wealthy and famous when there are so many easier means to get all that. By easier means I am not referring to under-the-table transactions or other sneaky alternatives, because these are in no way easy feats and require adept individuals to be successful at pulling them off. All you have to do is have a heart-breaking story of your life, be endowed with the ability to use your water works whenever you please, have an enriched slang vocabulary and if all that fails use your talent or brain as per requirement (having one is a prerequisite to that though), and voila you will without doubt be in the run for a million dollars or something similar.

Yes I am talking about the widely viewed reality programs that are aired in almost each and every channel that you can possibly come across. Be it a new episode or a rerun there is absolutely no escape from these shows at any hour of the day. There is no purpose that these reality shows do not serve. Starting from getting you a life partner to getting you a career to making you slimmer, they do it all and along with that they even give you money as a reward. Even if you do not win you get to be shown on TV. It is a win-win situation.

All reality shows do not belong to the same genre. In order to excel in each of these you would need different sets of talents and I am not talking about the talent that the show is about; I am talking about the aforementioned more useful side talents. You would think for the singing shows there is not much possibility of going forward to the next rounds unless you fulfil the minimal requirement -- singing, that is. But, there are a few tricks that could get you forward. Barely singing, a line or two, may get you well ahead on the show if you have an emotionally touching story. There have been shows where a few contestants went on to the top positions despite other better singers being on the show. This has made me realise that the audience really likes to feel magnanimous. They like to do charity. And what better way can you find than this? You vote for the unfortunate person instead of the deserving candidate, he goes on to win the prize money and you do not even have to spend money (well other than the credit spent in SMSing your vote)!

Reality shows are never complete without the judges getting into arguments with each other leading to one of them leaving the show. The most disturbing reality shows are those for children. The parents merrily cheer on as their kids, as young as 4 years old, sing and dance to sensuous, adult songs. Then there are the ones where we are tortured by a few celebrities cooped up in a house and their endless petty fights, mind games, backbiting and what not. What exactly is the point of giving away money to celebrities for doing all this for a month or so? Don't they have enough already? Let's not forget the adventure-oriented show with the two bald men. You get to hear more beeps on that show than people actually talking. Finally, the ultimate reality shows that strive to find you the perfect partner where the gorgeous bachelor appears to fancy all the girls (or at least makes them think so) and the girls proclaim their love for him in return of a few sweet nothings whispered to them. If the girls put up their love for sale they would definitely sell for higher prices.

Although these shows are unscripted most of the time they contain more drama than fictional programs. It is our nature to become excited when we witness something out of the normal (usually negative) happening to others. When people watch these dramas on fictional programs they know that the actors are merely pretending. They want real people to go through this. That is why these shows, no matter how ludicrous their plots are, have very high ratings. In their attempts to grab attention the contestants go to any extent of swearing, arguing and at times even getting into physical fights. When that happens it makes one wonder whether in reality these people would behave in such ways; only in that version of reality there would not be any cameras around.

By Karishma Ameen


Morning marriages

By Iffat Nawaz

Every morning she comes and stands right here. Yes right here. Her back is facing my front, the beads of sweat on her waist teases me. I sit here, sipping on my tea, still half asleep. She helps me wake each day.

I want to tell her “Mem Shaheb, look my way from time to time. My jaw bones are quite chiseled, my shoulders are quite formed, I can run 5 kilometers without panting once, better than some I have seen you with.” But I don't, I take out the cash box and count my change. The next door just-teen boy comes to me for cigarettes and i give him one extra. “Smoke up son, blow it all our way, those lungs aren't good for singing, or holding your breathe under the water. I can tell from the laziness slapped over your spoilt face that you will not climb the Everest or change this land in any major way. So smoke on, start early, end better.”

Amongst a few fresh spit marks and road dust she stands and waits for her ride. Why does she come out of her house without her carriage already pulled in puzzles my mind. The other women in her building wait for their “miss calls” before they come downstairs, then they take another five minutes to puff up their hair, spray a layer perfume over their blouses and kamizes, I hate that smell. The smell of outfits that carry body odor from the last time it was worn mixed with perfume. Why cant the lazy girls just get them washed.

My wife, she is quite clean. I bought her those under arm stay-in soaps, sweat doesn't stain in a circular form under her armpit, she has a nice natural scent to her body, kind of like this Mem Saheb, I can smell her in between the sip of my second cup of tea.

Long wait today huh Mem Saheb. Should I ask you to have a cup of tea with me? You will get offended probably and stop standing in front of my stall every morning. Now I can't let that happen. Your hurriedly brushed hair, your same big purse, the folds of the sari on your young body, the sun bronzing your back, the profile of your face in and out of my vision as you check your watch or look to the side to half smile at the street puppies play. Your upper lip slightly more outward than your lower more pouty one. I can not give it all up for a cup of tea with you, no I cannot.

The car finally pulls in. It's a different car, a different man than the one of last year. He doesn't deserve you, his has yellow teeth and long dirty nails. He takes showers every other day, I can tell from the colour of his skin. I liked the one from last year better, though the age gap between you two must have been quite a lot.

You get into the car, you sari lifts almost up to your calves. You turn my way to pull the car door shut, and we make eye contact. You give me a blank look though your lips are still smiling. I don't smile at you, I stare back at you making sure my face gets etched in your subconscious. Your car disappears from my sight and the fighting street puppies take your spot in front of my stall. I spit with full force at them, the dust you left from beneath your feet marry the particles of my mouth, they live happily ever after.


Skin issues

SADIA MOYEEN Beautician, La Belle
13/A /2 Kemal Ataturk Avenue ,
( 3rd/ 4th fl ) Gulshan -2

If you have taken the Skin Care Quiz last week on Star Lifestyle then you probably know your skin type by now. In the subsequent weeks we will deal with each skin type and its proper care.

Most people in Bangladesh have oily skin so we shall deal with that first. This skin type usually has open pores and an oily surface with a tendency towards pimples, blackheads and a sallow appearance. This is due to the over production of sebum by the oil glands in the lower layers of the skin.

Unfortunately, this skin type is the one most prone to acne. The good news is that this oiliness will make your skin stay younger looking for longer -- so there are some benefits too.

It is important not to treat oily skin too harshly, although this can be tempting when you are faced with a fresh outbreak of pimples. Over-enthusiastic treatment can encourage the oil glands to produce even more sebum, whilst leaving the top layers dehydrated and dry.

The best way to care for oily skin is to use products that will gently cleanse away oils from the surface and unclog pores, without drying out and damaging it. The visible part of your skin actually needs water, not oil to stay soft and supple. Also clogged pores will lead to other complications such as acne, anyone who has suffered from it knows how distressing it can be.

Here's how to go about cleaning and caring for it:

#1. Even though the remainder of your face is prone to oiliness, always remember that the skin around your eyes is very delicate, so don't drag at it when removing your eye makeup.

Soak a cotton wool pad in a non oily remover and hold over your eyes for a few seconds to give it time to dissolve the make up. Then lightly stroke away the mascara and make up from the lashes and lids.

#2. Lather up with a gentle foaming facial wash. This is a better choice than soap as it won't strip away moisture from your skin but it will remove the grime, dirt and oil. Massage gently over damp skin with your fingertips then rinse away the soapy suds with lukewarm water.

#3. Soak a cotton wool ball in a refreshing astringent lotion. Sweep it over your skin to refresh and cool it. It should not irritate and sting -- if it does change it for a milder formulation or water down your existing one with some distilled water from the pharmacist. Continue until the cotton wool comes clean.

#4. Even oily skin needs moisturiser, as it will help seal water into the top layer to keep it soft and supple. However don't load the skin with a very heavy formulation. Instead choose a light watery fluid as this will be enough for you.

#5. Allow the moisturiser to sink into the skin for a few minutes and then press a clean tissue over your face to absorb the excess and to prevent a shiny complexion.

Boosting your skin's moisture level and controlling excess oiliness will ensure a beautiful clear complexion!

Use a gentle scrub on damp skin then rinse away with cold water. Opt for an exfoliate with gentle rounded beads instead of scratchy one. Don't damage existing pimples as it will lead to scarring.

Clay and mud masks are excellent for oily skin as they absorb excess oil leaving the skin fresh and clean. They shrink open pores, blot out shine and clear away blemishes. Multani mitti and sandalwood powder are ideal for the purpose.


Dental wise

DR. Mahfujul Haq Khan
BDS, DDS (BSMMU), PhD (Japan), Associate Professor, Department of Dentistry, BIRDEM
Hospital and Ibrahim Medical College, Shahabag, Dhaka. www.aikodental.com 9885426

Dear Dr Khan,
I am 18 year old and have been suffering from yellow colouration of teeth. My teeth are very well arranged as if I have worn braces before but I cannot be satisfied with them because no matter how many times I brush, there happens to be no noticeable changes. I have used many “extreme” so called whitening toothpaste products. Only a small number of them work on my teeth for few hours and then they return to yellow again. I am afraid to use whitening strips at such young age as they might harm my gums. Please Dr Khan tell me what would be the best thing to do?
Sharmin, Moghbazar

Without examining your teeth it seems like a very difficult job for me to know the exact cause and treatment plan of your tooth discoloration. Before discussing your particular query, I think it will be better if I can give a brief on tooth discolouration and you can get your answer by reading carefully.

Tooth Discolouration
The tooth discolouration can either be on the tooth surface (extrinsic) or be present within the substance of the tooth (intrinsic).

1. Intrinsic causes
In a tooth with an intact blood and nerve supply, the causes are:
Hereditary disorders: In this conditions the teeth are coloured in a brownish blue and a brownish red.

Tetracycline (Antibiotics) medication: Tetracycline administration during pregnancy can lead to discoloration of teeth as the tooth erupts in the newborn. Depending on the severity, discoloration can range from yellow-orange in mild cases and bluish grey in the most severe cases.

Excessive fluoride intake in drinking water: Flurosis is a condition seen in places with increased fluoride content in the drinking water. Beyond a certain level, fluoride can cause yellow staining of teeth.

High fevers associated with early childhood disease: High fever due to childhood infections can lead to areas of poor calcification within the teeth resulting in the appearance of prominent white spots.

The loss of blood supply and nerve supply can by itself cause discoloration of the tooth.

2.Extrinsic causes
Extrinsic stains can be classified based on colour of the stain into:

Brown stains: It is caused by a thin translucent, bacteria free layer covering the teeth. It is seen in individuals who do not brush their teeth adequately, or in those who use toothpaste with inadequate action.

Tobacco stains: Dark brown or black surface accompanied by brown discolouration of the tooth substance is seen. These stains results from coal tar combustion present in the tobacco and also due to the diffusion of tobacco juices into the substance of the teeth.

Green stains: Green to greenish yellow stains, sometimes of considerable thickness is seen in children. It is usually seen in upper anterior teeth and has been attributed to fluorescent bacteria and fungi.

Orange stains: Occurs in front teeth, and is caused by colour producing bacteria.

Metallic stains: Caused by metals and metallic salts, which may be introduced into the oral cavity

How can we diagnose Tooth Discolouration?

Diagnosis is made based on the colour of the stain. If the stain still remains after meticulous cleaning of the teeth by the dentist, it is understood that the stain is present within the substance of the tooth. A careful history taking can be useful in differentiating between an internal stain and an external stain.

How can Tooth Discolouration be treated?

Many people have definite aesthetic problem from internal or external stains, whereas others worry needlessly about the overall colour of their teeth. In the latter instance the dentist must decide if the colour of the teeth can be improved enough to justify treatment even though the patient insists on having something done. For e.g. a person with light complexion may believe that their teeth are too dark when actually they are normal in colour. A Suntan, darker makeup or a darker lipstick will usually make teeth appear much whiter by increasing the contrast between the teeth and the surrounding facial features.

Most external stains can be removed by cleaning of teeth, with an instrument called “ultrasonic scaler”. This instrument removes most of the stains caused by tobacco, food debris or bacteria. If a broken down filling or a cavity is the cause, filling the defect will improve the discoloration.

Discolouration resistant to cleaning can be corrected or greatly improved through conservative procedures such as bleaching, it generally has an approximate life span of 2--3 years. Another effective treatment option is making porcelain cap/crown. Stains caused by tetracycline medications are usually much too difficult to treat, and might require a radical approach.


The loyal companions

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and a man.”
-Mark Twain

For humans, to love, hate, be angry at and so much more, the Almighty made other humans. The Almighty then decided to create some different kinds of beings for humans to love and vice-versa. These are the animals that are around us. Often, we give some of these beauties of nature a home, give them names and give them a place in our lives.

There are times and cases when humans treat animals with great cruelty. But there are also times when humans love animals almost as much as they would love another human and the bond that develops between them is indeed special. Recently, I watched the movie Hachiko: A Dog's Tale. The movie is based on the true story of a Japanese dog which was so fond of its master and so faithful to him that it spent its life waiting for its master even after his demise. This story makes one realise that it is not only humans who are capable of loving and showing loyalty towards another person, an animal too is capable of displaying such emotions, perhaps even more, towards a person. It is rare to come across such loyalty even where humans are involved.

Having a pet is not only about the loyalty. It is not only about what they give you in return for your care. It is so much more. When you have a living creature that depends on you, you automatically become responsible. If you do not give it food or take care of it you feel guilty. When you have a pet you know you have somebody to come home to. For me a pet is a stress-reliever. Stroking them when you feel sad or tired can make you feel so much better. Be it a dog jumping around, a cat curled up on your lap or a rabbit trying to hide its food behind the sofa, they will make you smile by their novel ideas of entertainment. Even where humans fail, pets definitely know how to give you a mood lift. All they need in return is a little bit of affection.

Often people who do not have pets laugh at the way pet owners talk about or behave with their pets. Only a pet owner can understand how valuable that relationship is. Pets usually do not live long and the emptiness that they leave behind is in many cases heart-breaking. If a person does not have a pet he will never know how rewarding that experience is; and if he does, he will surely cherish it forever.

By Karishma Ameen



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