Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |   Volume 6, Issue 18, Tuesday, May 03, 2011



Lines of rhythm

Tagore and I somehow don't get along very well. I say this at the risk of being burned at the stake for heresy, or termed a philistine at least, but his songs always seemed dull, the poetry -- too difficult -- and his extended volumes of prose, somewhat daunting. In all possibility I have never given the attention Tagore's work truly commands, nevertheless I maintain my position Tagore and I somehow just don't get along.

It was as if Tagore never chose to speak to me, lest the words fall on deaf ears. Almost as if he has saved his words for someone keen, one who would be able to grasp the message, one who had honed the skill to reflect on life what is being said. He has been a patient teacher, but I, as it seemed, was no apt pupil.

Yet, one day Tagore chose to speak to me in a different tone; in an authoritative language, lucid and now not unclear. His speech was eloquent and his medium lines of rhythm. Sketched in pencil, images drawn in water-repellent ink on paper, each masterful creation of art of his had a language of their own and as they stood frozen in time, their story dwelled on.

Tagore initially drew paintings on his manuscripts, which is where we find his initial works as a painter. Manoeuvring through his crossed words in his writing pad, he used ink, or pencil, on paper to attempt his hand at drawing. Like a wizard of words he put his thoughts down in indelible ink only to score off whatever seemed redundant. This game of wit curved in shapes, often resulted in a scribbled image rather than a work of poetry or prose.

Rhythm was the initial impulse of his art and the lines his primary means of image making. Simple elements like birds and flora are often depicted on these pages of 'trashed' manuscripts. Often the playful air of the artist reached a high where toying with the crossed-out words became the primary focus, while writing took a back seat. And as writing turned secondary, the texts were suppressed literally and art took form.

More often than not, his scribbled sketches with pencil are bound by realistic forms often lucid and narrative of an image of his creative mind. But what often appears to be a single image, with careful observation is revealed to be a complex synergy of shapes and images, often a depiction of flora and fauna.

As a philosopher Tagore absorbed western influences only to highlight his own traditions. He never shied away from incorporating alien influences in his work, especially when they truly strengthened his own roots. Tagore's lyrical paintings are only a testament to that. The shapes and contours often took elements from 'primitve' African influences seen in sculptures and reinterpreting its features on his paintings.

Theatre and paintings form a close kinship through Tagore's creative pursuits. He shunned descriptive imagery, paving way to more succinct expressions where irrelevance had no place. His images and figures were like actors in a stage performing mime, with only expressions and no audible words.

His portrayal of the woman lures into an enigmatic world where she gazes right into the viewer. Her identity remains shrouded in mystery, which seems to have been the desire of the creator. She is often draped in the flowing cloth with only the face visible to the viewer.

For me, it is possibly Tagore's self-portraits that have the biggest appeal. Painting the forms of a model or that of a figment of the artist's imagination is different from a self-portrait. While the first takes the painter on a journey of exploring into the psyche of the model, a self-portrait covers the inner dilemma of the identity and takes the artists on a search of external imagery.

Like any master painter Tagore undertook this journey of self-revelation coupled with the external focus and brought out the complexities that remained hidden within. As he remains frozen in time, Tagore's glare invites the viewer on a journey of exploration into his mind, his creativity.

It is of little wonder that a sense of drama is created in all of Tagore's works. Darkness does not necessarily equate to lack of light when it comes to his paintings. His self portraits reveal the profound psyche behind human behaviour, which like the contrasting shades of light and darkness have a duality, a complexity that exists in every human mind. To me it is his grotesques or human and animal figures that will have an ever-lasting impression on my mind.

I say, “Tagore and I don't get along well”. But then again, “we get along just fine.”

By Pothbhola


Filipino Fiesta

The Filipino Grand Alliance in Bangladesh (FGAB) organised the Philippine Fiesta in Bangladesh for the very first time on the April 29 at the Banani Model School campus. The FGAB was organized on November 5, 2010 and was registered with the Philippine Embassy on December 16 last year. The main objective of this association is to execute projects aimed at giving scholarships to village students, donating to orphanages and missionaries and other charitable activities.

The day-long fiesta included a mini trade fair with stalls from many establishments such as handicraft shop Horek Rokom, Friends Fashion House and Best Fried Chicken to name a few. There were a few stalls selling local favourites such as chotpoti and phuchka, while there were some selling western treats such as marshmallows and cakes. A balloon shooting stall, with a candy floss stand adjacent to it, was also set up where a fair number of children could be seen gathered to take a shot at the balloons. One of the biggest attractions for the younger visitors was perhaps the Nagardola which did not seem to stop spinning! A cultural show was also arranged featuring Itik Itik, Maglalatik and Saligumbay which are cultural dance forms from different regions of the Philippines. Another attraction was the Filipino Fiesta Bingo 2011, a raffle draw that included a wide-screen LCD monitor, Microlab speakers, Casio Digital Camera, Nokia X2 cell phone and a Samsung Laptop as prizes. A magic show was performed for the kids by the famous magician couple of Ulfat Kabir and his wife. A marching band was also present at the venue.

The proceeds from this event will mostly be donated to charities by FGAB. FGAB often organises parties such as a Valentine's Day Party and a Christmas Party, and is planning a cultural show on June 12, the Independence Day of the Philippines. FGAB is constantly coming up with new projects and plans to organise many more programs similar to the Philippine Fiesta in the future.

By Karishma Ameen


Ring ring, the master calls

It's crunch time, the editor is breathing down your neck for a column on the very day that the publication will go to print. And you have to do a good job of it too, because as she says, you haven't really been pulling your weight of late. Well, not you; I. I was just doing the 'you' thing to bring readers closer to the action. Well, as time runs out, and I have to put in something of passable quality, it's not the column I'm thinking about. All that is bouncing around in this skull of mine is the infernal device on the table in front of me.

Just yesterday, I was arguing with someone that I own my phone, not the other way around. My phone, for the record, is one of those hi-tech, high end things that I really can't afford but managed somehow. It was to be my ticket to being completely mobile -- full internet on the go as well as games, high-definition movies and music, and an excellent camera to boot. Stuck in a jam? Flip out the phone and check the latest news, or even watch a movie (if you're not driving), while the city goes crazy around you.

Well, it is all that, but unfortunately it's a bit more too. I know now that purchasing such a device has its attendant anxieties. Sometimes they're all consuming. Having paid a hefty sum for it, it bugs me in the extreme when I can't enjoy all its features to the full. My phone is especially designed to play high-detail games in. Well, since all the best games have to be bought and we are living in a country that does not allow online payments, you can imagine my frustration.

I had spent the best part of last night scouring the net for free versions of the games, demo versions even. It's not just for me, you know, it's also for my nephew who just happens to love car games and got a taste of how great they can be on touch phones with accelerometers (those things that enable the car in the game to turn in the direction you tilt the phone towards).

On a related note, I have also begun to realise how these phones have been emasculating us men. The other day, I started walking through an alley at night, and just as I entered, I stuttered to a halt. Yes, people, these phones in more ways than one are like the jewellery women so proudly wear and yet are so nervous to venture out in. It is common to see women take off their jewellery before venturing out at night. What do we do with our phones? If trinkets, beautiful they may be, are of so much value, how much more valuable is a phone that is basically a video player, an mp3 player, a game console, a camera and an internet explorer? The answer is probably blowing in the wind, but I better leave my phone at home lest the wind blows it away -- way to be a man!

Even as I write this, I can't wait to finish and get back to searching for games and ways to enable other great features on my phone. Well, here's hoping that my editor thinks this is good enough. If not, well there is always the pair of headphones and the 2,000 songs on my phone.



Manick Banarasi recreates the past

Manick Banarasi has been making some of the finest saris for the past thirty years. They have thus mastered this craft, through years of experience, expertise, passion, hard work and consumer insight. Manick Banarasi has been making saris of various sorts -- from the normal katan saris to gorgeous wedding saris. But now, they have taken things to a whole new level.

On Thursday 28 April, Manick Banarasi unveiled their exclusive collection of saris that are the replica of those worn by the family members of the Tagore family!

With proper permission, Manick Banarasi collected sixty pictures of the maestro with his female family members, taken in many festivals and family celebrations and occasions. Those pictures were, needless to say, black and white. Manick Banarasi, through their excellence in their craft, studied those pictures and made saris exactly in that style and design, giving the proper colors.

“In the market you'll find saris of contemporary designs that are trendy these days. But what we did is unique and bold. We traveled back to that era. We believe these saris will be a big hit,” said Shafayet Ali, the chairperson of Manick Banarasi.

And they strictly abided by the trends and designs of that era. He added, “During those times you did not have saris made of many of the fabrics used today, such as nylon. Since we unconditionally adhered to make saris of that time, we manily stuck to Katan saris”.

The fact that the saris were worn by the members of the Tagore family is the real deal. Not only were they a royal family, they were also a family very much inclined to culture, heritage and literature. Therefore, the saris worn were no doubt the very best of that age. These saris, therefore, were a good benchmark to make saris of that particular time.

If you love saris, and especially if you are a fan of Tagore, do pay a visit to Manick Banarasi. They have kindled the spirit of the Tagore family and indeed chose a very creative and bold way to do it. Prices of the saris range between Tk. 3,500 to Tk. 7000. Manick Banarasi's retail outlet is in Section- 10, Block A, Lane 9, House # 1, Mirpur- 10.

By M H Haider

“Art of Living” breathing course

Breathe through the pain, people say. Alternatively, you've also heard people say breathe deeply when you are stressed out. Breathing, somehow, seems to do more than merely keeping you alive.

In our stressful and busy life in this urban jungle, falling prey to hypertension, fatigue, nervousness and a load of other problems- both mental as well as physical- is almost inevitable. One simple and easy solution to the problem is learning some breathing techniques that help you fight these issues.

“The Art of Living” is a six day breathing course starting 8 May that will go on till 13 May. Each class will consist of three hours, from 6PM to 9PM, except the last day, which will be a full day session. This course will focus on various breathing exercises, but will train you on other activities like meditation, yoga, asanas, etc. A breathtaking course indeed!

So, if you want a way to keep your peace of your mind in your hectic life, this course is the answer for you. Seats are limited. Fill up the form by 8 May. For more information, call 01917707070 or 01841070707. The course fee is Tk. 3, 500. The training will take place in House # 35, Road # 28 (old), Dhanmondi.

By M H Haider



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