|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 6, Issue 12, Tuesday, March 22, 2011|
ls editor's note
Nature at its shimul-red best
I always found the shimul tree an interesting one, especially when in bloom. Strangely it just struck me now that I never noticed the poor tree otherwise, I mean without its glorious red crown it is such a lifeless tree. Totally barren, dead looking branches, devoid of any green but amazingly it has the most magnificent vermillion flowers. And when in season, that is precisely right now, it just puts all else to shame.
I was on road trips and doing train travels throughout last week and had the pleasure of seeing pastoral Bengal at its glorious best. The emerald-green, plush paddy fields swinging to the breeze, the narrow mud lanes snaking their way up to the higher grounds, fishermen happy at the sight of slivers of silver caught in their nets, old men tending to cows, boys and girls playing their hearts out at midday and swimming in ponds; honestly if I could, I would freeze these moments for a little longer to try and quench my thirsty soul a bit more.
Rows of shimul trees with their dark red flowers on the green backdrop of paddy fields, that's nature painting our patriotic colours on its canvas. The roads on both sides are literally draped in red carpets with fallen shimul flowers. You can hear the flowers fall like raindrops on your car's roof. It forces you to stop a moment and take it all in, even if you are running behind schedule.
And thank God it was not a second taken out of a motion picture or a television serial, it was reality and I was very much in the thick of things, passing by it all. Although I had to speed towards my destination and finish my chore at hand, these, though insignificant to many, passing flashes of pleasure were making me fall in love with my beloved country over and over again. I couldn't stop myself from admiring Bangladeshi nature at its shimul-red best.
I like the villagers and their mean manners; I also like their hospitality and their innocence. There is no charade in their bad behaviour or in their goodness. They are just straight forward people with no twists. I mean if you are always surrounded by such serenity your mind cannot play pretence.
The shimul tree, at the bend of the winding road, blushing coyly with its red flowers, spells out only one thing for us: that although we may otherwise be a lacklustre nation, when the right time comes we can be gorgeous and inspiring enough to blow any one out. Happy Independence Day!
-- Raffat Binte Rashid
Lure your appetite
Innovative in its food and conscientious in its service, Cooper's first opened in Kalabagan in 1984. The former name of this patisserie was Sorento. Over the years the business has kept growing and their love of baking continues, with 9 outlets currently in operation, including one in Chittagong.
Cooper's is a modern patisserie that boasts a variety of items from muffins, croissants, cookies, bread, quiche, sandwiches, and of course, their impressive line of sinful desserts. Their exclusive range of products reflects a more modern style of flavours, lightness and presentation.
While entering the shop you will get the sweet smell of freshly baked goods. But making your choice is quite difficult, presented with a range starting from sumptuous traditional favourites to opulent contemporary masterpieces.
“We are sure that our products will be satisfactory both in terms of freshness and value for money, since we use only the finest, freshest ingredients mixed together with a touch of love! There is a strong demand for our Black Forest Cake, Zesty Chicken, Pizza Bun, French Pizza and Caramel Dream”, said Mastasad U Ahmed, Head of Business Development and Logistics.
With the addition of a 36,000 sft production facility fully compliant to HACCP (food safety) at Ashulia the company has been striving to cater to the customers' needs even more. Customers are an integral part of the development of Cooper's, and keeping in line with that objective, some new and improved products are being launched for the upcoming summer.
“Recently we introduced some seasonally inspired combinations to stimulate consumers' senses. New on the Cooper's menu this summer are the Lemon Tart (Tk60), the Nutella Cake (Tk.600 for 500 gram) and the Carrot Cake (Tk.900)”, he added.
Find any excuse to experience Cooper's yourself and you'll find something to delight every palate. Enjoy one of their Low G I Breads (Tk.90), Cup Custard (Tk.110) or the Tangy Chicken (Tk.50).
The new and improved Lemon Tart is a classic lemon curd in a crisp, buttery pâté sucré shell. Each lemon tart sits on a cookie base, so with every bite there is a profusion of senses and tastes, ranging from the cheesy smoothness of the lemon filling to the crunchiness of fragrant cookies. Fresh lemon is piled high and decoratively atop a mound of pastry cream and buttery tart shell.
Their Carrot Cake is a delightfully dense, moist cake. Made out of fresh carrots, cinnamon and nuts, this cake is smothered in a light but sweet cheese frosting to create that balance of flavours when you take a bite from it.
Their indulging Nutella Cake is crunchy, with a rich taste of butter and nuts and the right sweetness of rich Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
Their savoury range of products includes a vast selection of sandwiches, pizzas and croissants that are perfect for brunch, a snack or to take home for a family meal.
Cooper's also offers treats such as the Sausage Delight with their irresistible coffee or delicious Tiramisu which is a combination of flavours and textures that include dark chocolate, coffee, cookies and cream.
When asked about the secret of their success, Mastasad remarks that good service, hard work, lots of customer appreciation and product consistency are instrumental factors that have helped them reach such heights.
“We now offer approximately 70 items. Consumers demand more product variety and so we add some new items and discontinue some old items. Though 95% of our products are sold out, we centrally dispose of all our leftover items,” Mastasad explains.
Not only was the shop's presentation impressive, but the goods live up to the same high standards. The four varieties of cookies (plain, chocolate chip, cinnamon and disc) are quite fresh and surprisingly light, making them an ideal afternoon snack.
If you prefer sweet over savoury, the Nutty Professor Cake is another good option; soft in some spots and crispy in others or the Mocha Cake containing just enough mocha to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Options for children include the Toon Cake (Tk.950) or Mango Fresh Cream Cake (Tk.1100) a creamy, smooth, flavourful mango cake. The butter croissant also does not disappoint with its rich buttery flavour. They also offer 'Happy Hours' from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm only for their savoury items in all outlets.
By Farizaa Sabreen
USAID Gender and Development Fair 2011
As an effort to celebrate the 102nd International Women's Day, USAID, the U.S Government agency providing development assistance around the world, organised a two-day fair at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital city.
The Gender and Development Fair 2011 was held from March 14 and 15 and was part of USAID's initiative to promote gender equality and development of Bangladeshi women. The fair consisted of around 95 stalls by donor agencies, national organisations involved in gender issues, publication houses and many women entrepreneurs.
Most of these stalls were set up by well-known organizations such as Care, ICDDR,B, International Labor Organization, Naripokkho, Trafficking Prevention Organisation, UNDP and Progati to name a few. The stalls were mainly informative stalls, distributing leaflets on women's rights, opportunities for women, initiatives by different organisations for the development of women and their addition to the work force, etc. Initiatives such as PRODIP that aim to increase women's participation in policy and law making, had the perfect platform for achieving widespread promotion. Acid victims were seen to be distributing leaflets at the Acid Survivor's Foundation's stall. Things like saris, shoes and bags were sold at stalls set up by women entrepreneurs while books were sold at stalls by a few publication houses such as Annesha Prokashani. Mascots dressed as characters from the famous children's show Sisimpur entertained everyone with their presence. The fair also featured a beautiful painting exhibition by various artists, the theme of the paintings obviously revolving around women.
Several performances were also organized at the fair and it ended with a round table discussion on "Breaking the Glass Ceiling - Women in Leadership Role - How to Get There and Stay There", keeping in line with this year's IWD theme. The roundtable had several esteemed panellists from the Bangladesh Government, NGOs, civil society, academia, and media. Numerous students, from different departments of Dhaka University also took part in the roundtable.
By Karishma Ameen
Under a Different Sky
By Iffat Nawaz
I met someone once in a forest. Standing tall camouflaged between the ancient trees and sand. The silk cotton trees would swing flirtatiously towards him; their blushing red gave him the confidence that all manhood craves for. Between the calls of boshonto bouri and the quiet shuffling of barking deers he walked, not touching any plants, any flowers, nor wanting water, food or signal on his mobile phone. He walked towards the dark green, where sunlight doesn't touch the ground. He never looked back.
I stole a pack of cigarettes and left town to look for him. Some told me he was seen in the city, amidst the crowd, in between the noise of the university kids and beggars, next to the portable paan stall. They told me his head was down, his body had lost a bit of weight and he looked weaker, like a plant without water, ignored throughout winter and spring, lacking carbon dioxide, giving back no oxygen. They said he disappeared after a few full meals. No one could tell me where he went.
While searching for him, I met a girl. Soft curls around her cheeks, full-figured, full-faced, pouty-lipped and puffy-eyed, as if the entire world's sleep had rested in her lashes last night. I asked her about him. She yawned and gave me a vague look. I offered her a stick of my stolen cigarettes and she took it, extending her arm with all grace and leisure.
Then she took long puffs and spoke about him. She said, “He went towards the south,” then after a bit she said, “Or the west, or maybe the north. I don't remember, it was dark when he came around, he touched my neck and undressed it taking my red brown woven scarf. If you find him will you please tell him to bring me back a jar of wild honey in return?”
I left her twirling her curls, she was staring out at the ocean, a bright turquoise king fisher held a red crab on his beak and banged it left and right to crack, and then finally swallowed it. She took photographs, she said she would send me copies if I gave her my nose ring.
My nose ring remained intact on my nose and I left without photographs, or any direction for life, living and the lone man. I started towards the west and then changed my mind and went south. I got on a shared CNG and rode through gravelly paths. One of the passengers talked about earthquakes and that there was a storm coming. I felt it all inside.
He was there, no longer green but blue. The waves wept at his feet and he cried to the ocean. He was taller than I last saw him. I looked up and saw the sun dying in the arms of the west sky and the earth shook bit by bit and then vigorously. I lost balance and couldn't find the ground under my feet, only sand, quick and disappearing. I wanted to call out his name but forgot that I had never known what it was, so I screamed my own name and he looked back. A storm circled violently in his eyes, he didn't reach out his arms to save me, he just blew a prayer and I became a part of the next thing and nothingness, I became a part of him.
Photo courtesy: Iffat Nawaz
It was inadvertently mentioned by Star Lifestyle in the article "Thinking Outside the Jewellery Box" last week that AADI by Amman Rashid has participated in exhibitions in USA, Japan, Thailand, United Kingdom, Italy and France. The correct information is that AADI by Amman Rashid has so far had 7 exhibitions in total, 6 of them were held in Dhaka, Bangladesh and 1 in New Delhi, India. AADI has customers from various countries like USA, Japan, Thailand, Italy, France among others. We regret the error.
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