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Around Town

No Country for 20-SomethingMen

It is hard to be a 20-year-old. Once you hit the 20s, an alarming reality hits you right in the face. Once you leave your teen years behind, there is absolutely nothing that Dhaka has to offer you. Every activity or spot that you claimed to be your own for all these years have been taken over and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. So, where do you go?

Lounges are for WHOM?
For an undergrad student or even those nearing their 30s, it's hard to come to terms with the fact that they are really 'out'. The high of being the 'in' crowd is gone and although it is too soon to go over the hill, sadly it has happened. One may think that the extensive options in the lounge category can appease the appetite for hanging out in the city, but think again. Lounges are crawling with kids, especially those in their mid-teens. Sure, we used to do the same thing and consider it our right, but now the tables have turned. Maybe the children really ought not to come to lounges and spoil our fun. "The playing fields are scarce and unsafe. The roads aren't what they used to be. This is our only option," quips 16-year-old Shuvo when asked why he and his friends come to lounges, which should be a place for adults (over 18). But Shuvo does have a point. Without adequate playgrounds, closure of arcades and the over-all nauseating influx of western fads, children are more than likely to go to places where they can be 'cool' and 'seen'. It is not about having a good time but rather having a reputation for having a good time. Even pool places are now frequented by these kids or men in their 40s still believing they have a shot at winning the World Pool Championship.

Street culture
Of course even five years back it was hard to imagine the streets of Mohammadpur, Dhanmondi and Gulshan to be devoid of a bunch of would-be thugs, hanging out. Now, this is a fast dissolving scene. Ours was perhaps the last batch to mark our territories zealously. Now, this is not entirely a bad thing, however, it did ensure that we stayed off places marked for adults. No sheesha for us, no sir. But kids these days don't want the thrills we held so dearly. The self-styled gang wars and the crime of trespassing on 10/A when you are from 9/A are now close to extinction. But even though the kids have gone off the streets, you can't just come home from your job at an MNC and park your car at 3/A where all your friends are having a good time. That just doesn't happen. Either you don't have the energy or are afraid of running into students, juniors or worse, potential in-laws. Sadly, the days of hard partying on the streets is coming to a close. "It doesn't feel the same sitting outside someone else's house and chatting up with friends. Now the impact of causing social nuisance is in-built in our heads," confesses 27-year-old Shakil, who works at a private telecommunications firm.

Cafés maybe?
No! Not cafés! Cafés were originally made so we could say cool things like 'Let's grab a cup of coffee' or 'Meet you for Coffee?' or even 'I am running Latté.' Though all of these are cool one-liners, they're all acceptable once a month. The urban Bangladeshi adult would prefer a cup of tea while females lean more towards the coffee sessions. Now, the question being answered herein is why not cafés? The answer is cafés have a tendency to make one feel out of place. Nowadays cafés, usually the quiet and sheesha-less ones, cater to a much more elderly and sophisticated class. Those in their 20s-early30s don't actually like much silence or sophistication. We like to make noise, draw attention and all of that, albeit in a more mature way than teens. Therefore, our crowd is not really welcome to these elitist cafés.

So where can the young adults go? Rooftops of friends' places, or friends' houses or even tea stalls are all good options. Restaurants can be a little heavy on the budget, so usually it's done once a month. Going outside Dhaka cannot be a regular thing either. Basically, we go back to the opening point; Dhaka has nothing to offer you. It's high time we place '18+ Only' signs at some decent places. Till then, all work and no play make us all dull 20-something men.

By Osama Rahman
Photo: Zahedul I Khan


Hosting a hassle-free party

Two days a week is all many of us get to enjoy personal time. But if you are the head of the household that time too is never yours. The pressure on us all to socialise, have a life beyond the office walls, is such that even when all your muscles are crying out for a lazy day-in, you just have to accept that third party invitation. Even worse, your obligation to socialise does not end with going to parties but once you are in this game, hosting a party of your own is just as mandatory.

We have seen how our mother's did it. How they slaved for two days in the kitchen to display a table full of delectable dishes. But today we have neither the time nor the energy (or the skills) to pull off something of that large a scale for the many frequent parties necessary to maintain a healthy social life.

So here is how you can ensure that you earn and retain that title of being a great host with minimal of kitchen labour.

You can theme the party, making it a sandwich party, a chocolate or bakery party and, in an all-girls scenario, a salad party. This automatically rids you of the pressure of slaving in the kitchen after those rich and oily traditional dishes. Depending on the crowd you invite you can enlist their help in the preparations of these culinary diversions or prepare them yourself beforehand. Whichever way you choose, the simplistic nature of such a party is guaranteed.

The principle of a sandwich party is simple. There should be a variety of sandwiches and in large quantities. The varieties can include sweet sandwiches, fruity sandwiches, sandwiches with a lot of greens in it, cheese and cream, cheese and salami, salami and tomato salsa…the list can only be as long as your culinary creativity (and the Internet) allows. When practical, cut the sandwiches into smaller portions, this really cuts back on waste and allows everyone to sample everything.

A salad party too is fun, simple and efficient. Here too you can play with variety and be creative, making anything from a light green salad to heavy, cheese and potato salads. There is a common misconception that salads can only serve as a side dish, but you can be the local pioneer in introducing salads as the rightful central dish. Moreover your guests will not miss the lack of heavy carbs for a single meal, a single day of the year.

Chocolate or bakery parties are more appropriate for an evening themed party and there is more of the fun element in it. You can experiment with the hundreds of recipes available online and create your own delectable brownies, cookies, cakes or candies. You can also lengthen the menu by adding some high quality store-bought favourite chocolates. Such a party is better if the baking is part of the entertainment, but if your guests are not the sort to get their hands dirty, please do a trial someday previous to the party day; baking can be tricky.

A final tip: use disposable crockery and cutleries. They now come in elegant designs and free you from the post party mess cleaning.

So, now that you have a way out of sweating it over the stoves, do not waste any more time. Pick up the phone and hand out those long overdue invitations now.

By Raisaa Tashnova
Flip to page 6 and 7 for Sam Q's take on hassle free recipes of salads and sandwiches; just to make 'playing host' a little easier.



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