Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |   Volume 6, Issue 20, Tuesday, May 17, 2011




A soothing sight of green

The highly 'green' surrounding of the Sangshad Bhaban area has received some guest greenery due to the efforts of the Dhaka Nursery Society. From the 7 till 20 May, a plant fair is being held there in order to disperse the joy of greenery among the citizens of Dhaka city.

20 stalls by various nurseries from all over Dhaka and beyond have set up shop demonstrating everything from fruit saplings to vegetable plants to flowering plants and finally, unique imported plants. This gathering can be seen just beyond the pavement in front of the Parliament Building.

The stalls are full of variety and each has its own specialty. Noor Nursery, for example, specialises in flowering plants. Their stall is a basket of vibrant colours bursting with flowers ranging from local roses, dahlias, local belis to imported gladiolas, tulips, orchids and the newly introduced 'passion flower.'

The owner of this stall, Noor Hakim says that flowers are the best types of starter plants. “People in Dhaka city, constrained with space and time, can take home a small flowering plant which requires less tending and care, and enjoy the bloom,” he states, “The imported flowers are a bit more expensive and tricky and so we do not suggest those to anyone who isn't a dedicated gardener.”

Talking about price, one customer attracted to the fair through an advertisement stated that the fair had great variety of all types of plants, was cheaper compared to everyday nurseries and looked healthier.

In Noor Nursery local flowering plants cost from Tk100 - 500 and the imported varieties will cost between Tk1000 - 8000. As Noor Hakim puts it, “This fair is to introduce more people to plants and flowers, not to make greater returns, so we are just as happy to make a mind curious about plants as we are to make a sale.”

Moving on to nurseries specialising in fruits, 'Gardenia' deals in fruit plants imported from Thailand. Their nursery, situated at Kurmitola, grows the plants from imported seeds and these are out there now for any experiment-minded gardener to grab. Their offerings include plants which produce seedless guavas, special mangoes, large grapes, special oranges and many other varieties.

When asked about people's reactions to these unique breeds of fruit plants, the manager of the shop stated, “People are first amused by the concept of bigger grapes or seedless guavas but are hesitant about buying and growing their own. That is when we explain the needs of these plants in as much detail as possible and that seems to put their anxious minds to rest, because these plants grow just as strongly in our soil and weather as they would in Thailand.”

The other fruit plant stall worthy of acknowledgement is Shah Nursery, owned and introduced by Saiful Islam, the 2010 winner of the national award for contributions to producing advanced seeds and developing advanced methods of farming and gardening.

Run by a group of agriculturists, this nursery is dedicated to promoting gardening in every household of the nation with the aim of economic prosperity and the country's self sufficiency in fruit production in the least.

For this fair they have in display fifty varieties of fruit plants with many more varieties in each sub-category. Shah Nursery invites any questions or concerns regarding gardening and professional fruit production. “Developing and modernising the agricultural industry is the only way out of poverty and into self-sufficiency and bringing this difference is what we have set as our goal” says Saiful Islam.

With a similar agenda of self-sufficiency yet a different approach to the problem comes Heena Nursery from Bogra. Heena Nursery is a small division of a much grander project. Unlike the Shah Nursery that gives you advice about proper professional farming, Heena Nursery does the work for you.

“From land selection to planting to harvesting to marketing; we provide our clients with all the services necessary to set up a working professional garden,” states the proprietor of this venture, “We are most likely the only company in Bangladesh doing this and have created gardens in Bandarban and Sylhet and various other places across the country.”

At the other extreme of the spectrum is Lily Nursery by Lily herself. She is a home gardener, growing small potted indoor plants on her roof for others like her, for whom growing plants is a hobby and nothing more. One of her customers stated, “Lily Nursery does not have a sales centre and is only found in fairs like this. The best part about this stall is the variety of indoor plants I see here.”

Whether it be for the great variety of offerings or the great value for money appeal or for the simple pleasure of staring at colourful flowers in their natural habitat and tiny fruit buds hanging from branches, this temporary, additional dash of green is worth stepping on that brake in your car and taking at least a sneak peak the next time you drive down Manik Mia Avenue.

By Raisaa Tashnova
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Barbershops vs salons

Is this even a contest? Barbershops vs salons is an argument that has been around for decades. Well not really, but then again, we thought it would be an interesting battle. So, now, let the battle for supremacy begin:

The Salon Superstars
The salon-goers will give various reasons for going to the salon. So many that at one point they start to sound like gibberish and actually lose any relevance and meaning whatsoever.

First of all, they will frown at the idea of how expensive their hair-cut is and how much they have to tip the barber. Their explanation is simple. Apparently the hair-cut is much more professional and they are shaped by 'hair-stylists' and not mere 'barbers.' It's a crime to call these 'stylists' barbers because they don't cut hair per se but rather they 'style' it. Exactly where the difference lies remains a mystery.

Here's what they don't know; it's not the hair that actually looks good, it's the lighting and the compliments from the stylist. Paying 100 percent more than at a regular barbershop because the barbers call themselves stylists is indeed a bit extreme.

Well, to still force their beliefs they bring up the classic argument of the ambience. Salons are apparently places where relaxation wafts in the air, caressing one's soul and ushering them towards a Zen-like state of being. Which makes me question why Buddha chose to find this state under a tree for so long if he could just have gone to a salon. Maybe, this could be entirely down to the fact, that the peaceful ambience of salon is just a farce.

The last and most compelling argument on behalf of salons is that they are associated with an international expert. Although this is true, have you actually had that expert 'style' your hair or even ever seen him at a salon? No? Well, of course not.

Clam up Salon Superstars, let us now show you why we think the Barbershop Boys are so much better off.

The Barbershop Boys
Every area of Bangladesh has a few barbershops to boast of. Ideally, it is a place to get your groom on, get your face cleaned and of course give your hair some shape. But in reality it is much more than that. The barbershop is the place to be.

After a tiring week of work and before or after Friday prayers, men and boys congregate at barbershops. It is the place to get in on the latest gossip, while watching the best movies, which you wouldn't have time to watch at home. But once you sit back on that comfy chair and relax while the scissors turn you into a better looking person, the movies seem like the best thing ever.

Actors that you only heard about or thought didn't really exist, suddenly come to life on the small screen. And if the movie isn't fun enough, you get running commentary on the proceedings from fellow clients and barbers. TMZ can never come up with all the info that you get at a barbershop.

Secondly, it is where you get more information on your neighbours than any place else. See, the barbers know absolutely everyone within their radius and they can't stop talking about it. And no one will smirk at you if your haircut doesn't suit you, since no one really cares. Everyone is busy indulging in the grapevine and hence shattering the stereotype that men don't gossip.

To top it off, the barbers will allow you to sip on a cup of tea while you get your hair trimmed. We believe this service is completely unbeatable.

We have glanced inside a few beauty salons and it is the farthest thing from a homely atmosphere. Beauty salons probably get jealous stares, while all the barbershop boys share camaraderie. Beat that!

By Osama Rahman
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed



Coping with exam stress

Some parents push their children into an unhealthy rat race instead of providing emotional support during exams. They tend to motivate the child to do his/her best, but unrealistic expectations always compound the pressure. They should realise that every child is unique with different capabilities. If a student regularly attends school, follow the class teaching and perform weekly class tests they don't need to be exam-phobic.

Don't pressurise children to achieve something. Just ask them to do their duty. Encourage your child to have regular breaks, to do something they enjoy, even if it's just half an hour off to go for a walk or to watch TV. If a parents become panic about exam, then it affects negatively in minds of their children. Parents should be friends with their children. If a parent knows in which subject their child is weak, then they should render proper guidance in that particular subject.

Discuss with school teachers. Weak students need extra care and different mode of teaching to understand the subject. So, parents should know the strength and the weakness of their child. If a student properly study from the elementary session of an academic year, s/he couldn't get panicked during the time of exam.

To reduce exam stress and comparison, we don't position them as first, second or third instead we do grade students in our school," suggests Zeenat Afroza, Vice Principal of Sunnydale School.

Here are some tips for parents and children to tackle stress during exam time:

Encourage regular study habits and give them proper guidance if they are weak in any subject. Help children create a clear revision plan.

Take steps to ensure that your child is comfortable with the process of sitting for an exam by looking into the minute details. Take some 'mock' home exams from time to time.

Parents should not compare a child with other kids or friends, and refrain from criticism. A child needs loads of encouragement.

Take care of nutrition, as what children eat has a bearing on the amount of stress they undergo. Concentrate on a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and low fat and low-caffeine foods. Make them drink enough fluids so that they don't get dehydrated.

Encourage children to join family meals, even if it's a busy revision day. It is essential to have a change of scene and get away from the books for a while.

Keep family problems away from them and keep the atmosphere at home amiable and stable. Arguments will only add unnecessary stress and distract from revision.

Never set rules for studying; parents must allow their child to go with his/her schedule while studying. Instead, they may assist their child in drawing up a regular study time schedule.

A separate room is ideal for study, but if you have limited space mark out a study corner that has enough space to write and read and good lighting arrangement.

Understand the format of the exam question paper. Every school provides information on the format of each paper before the exam.

One of the most important facts to reinforce to your child is that the exam is not the end to everything.

By Farizaa Sabreen


Son-in-law specials

Many of our customs and traditions hinge on the idea of hospitality. Matrons of households consider prowess as hosts to be a major part of their success as homemakers.
This week, with the start of the month of Jaishtha, Star Lifestyle highlights the old tradition of Jamai Shoshthi, which this year falls on 6 June. Why not revive this age-old Bangali tradition, irrespective of which religion you belong to?
For the new mothers-in-law, specifically for those who have recently gained a son-in-law through their daughter's marriage, it is an important time to fawn over and pamper the newest member of their brood.
On pages 7, Centrefold and 10, we have recipes for the occasion, a story about the special bond of a mother-in-law and her 'jamai' as well as a look at the origins of this tradition. .

They say, "O to tomar janer tukra" that he is my blue eyed boy. May be he is, for of all my children he stands out as my most favourite.

I dreaded the moment he would come into our lives. From the day Maha, my first-born child, came into this world I feared encountering the boy of her dreams; one who would have the courage to stand up in front of the family and claim Maha's hand in marriage. The faceless, handsome prince remained a figment of my imagination as I watched my child grow, from a restless toddler to a spoilt teenaged brat and then all of a sudden -- a lovely, graceful lady.

The day I first met him I shrugged off all thoughts of probable 'foul-play'. There he was, a Grizzly-looking boy (probably hadn't showered in months), sitting on the dinner chair, eating iftar with the family and chewing the last bit of chicken bone from the halim that was served, as if it was manna -- straight from heaven up above. I could swear that this boy hadn't eaten in days. Totally beyond belief as partner -- or as they say “Boy Friend” -- of Maha!

And then the real trouble began. He frequented the house as if it was his own. Just when the whole scenario began to turn suspicious, Maha confessed. Azaan stood by her side, his face lowered down to the ground. And when he looked up, I stared straight into his eyes. I will never forget the sight. In the sparkle of the brown eyes, I saw love like I had never seen before. I knew, even back then, that nobody could love my Maha the way this Grizzly-looking boy, almost a foot taller than my beloved daughter, did.

The wedding was a simple occasion. Azaan and Maha both agreed to a quiet ceremony and we complied. A wedding in these days can be prohibitively expensive.

Azaan has surprised me in more ways than one but what stands out as his defining character is his blatant honesty about life, human feelings and human interactions. He didn't leave his boyish-charms and still fancied himself a 'rock-star' playing the 'dotara'(read: guitar). I was told of what triggered the passion between the two lovebirds -- their love for music.

Azaan had the rare ability to come close to people, with love that would melt a rock-of-a- heart. He embraced everyone with equal warmth and kindness. When Maha broke down, he always stood beside her. He guided her, took care of my child; they complemented each other.

It has been almost a year since Azaan became family and on this month of Jaishtha he will come for the first 'shoshthi' at our humble abode. His existence deeply rooted in the traditions and culture of the land (he actually plays the 'dotara'), it was Azaan who introduced me to the concept. “Ma, amar jamai shoshthi hobe na?” “What kind of a blue-eyed boy am I, if I am not pampered by my mother-in-law?” he would say without a hint of hesitation.

On the sixth of Jaishtha, Azaan will visit us along with Maha for a week. I have elaborate plans for him -- his favourite dishes, my latest cooking experiments (which he loves), snacks and savouries to go along with the IPL games and the sweetmeats. The boy loves to eat and it's a pleasure seeing him eat. He is not my blue-eyed boy for nothing…my Grizzly son-in-law!

By Pothbhola
Photo: Star Lifestyle Archieve


Jamai shoshthi

By Shawkat Osman

It is a long-standing tradition among the Hindu community to entertain friends and family in the time of plenty; which usually coincides with the mango season. This is when the countryside is lush green with various foliage and flowers in bloom. The cattle are well fed and deliver copious amounts of foamy milk. The pond is full of fish. It's the perfect time for the shoshur bari (in-laws) to invite their daughter and jamai (son-in-law) to celebrate Jamai Shoshthi.

The event of Jamai Shoshthi was originally celebrated as Aaronno Shoshthi to thank the Gods for the plentiful growth of vegetation; on the shoshthi (sixth day) of the Sukla Pokkho (bright fortnight of the lunar month) in the Bengali month of Joishtho.

This is when families invite married daughters to come and stay with them for a week. This is a big annual occasion for the son-in-law. A tika (mark, made with turmeric and mustard oil) is put on his forehead as a welcome gesture and an auspicious band pleated with six threads tied on his right wrist.

Finally, a set of new clothes is gifted to him. In return, the mother-in-law gets a sari from the jamai. This is an occasion for the jamai to be cared for, and acknowledged as a son of the family.

The following is a suggestion of a menu that you may find appropriate for this auspicious occasion.

Echor doi
Rui bhaja
Doodh aam bhat
Golda chingri
Katla moorighonto
Serve with bhaat (steamed red rice), pickle and green chillies on the side
See centre fold for recipes


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