Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 21, Tuesday, May 24, 2011




Postcard from Portland, Maine

Thanks to Maine's spectacular coast and magnificent lakes, rivers and mountains, it has been a poplular tourist destinatiion for outdoor enthusiasts. As an avid traveller myself, my recent visit to Portland, Maine portrayed some relaxing and unwinding experiences.My husband and I planned to take a less hectic trip this time and Portland, Maine fitted the bill.

Portland welcomed us with its breathtaking view of the islands, lovely cottages on the shorelines ,the splendid lighthouses, and much more . Portland is a historic seaport, and a city with contemporary charm of art, culture and culinary excellence.

We planned to stay by the bay and pamper ourselves by taking a leisurely walk at the Old Port and waterfront. Our itinerary included sightseeing tour by land and sea, tours of Portland Museum of Arts, Public Library, and Henry Wadsworth Longellow's childhood home and other must-see places.

Hotel's location or the neighbourhood plays the most important part when you plan your itnerary. We were also on the look-out for accessibility of public transport. After researching, Eastland Park Hotel suited our travel plan. It is opposite to Portland Museum, a few blocks away from the Longfellow House, and a several blocks away from the bay area. The hotel also provided shuttle services to some destinations. We planned to enjoy the sprinkle of must-see places when we designed our travel plans.

The tour started from the Casco Bay area. We boarded the trolley at 9:30 am and the guide narrated the whole trip as we passed along the Portland's Museum of Arts, Liberty Square, Portland's newly built library, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's childhood home, The Victoria mansion, bustling Old Port and a 15 minutes stopover at Portland Head Light, Maine's 1st Lighthouse.

We got off at the Portland's Lighthouse and found a good crowd there. The view of the waves splashing at the bank was really breathtaking. Cameras started clicking all over the place and I grabbed the opportunity to take as many pictures as I could.

We found their charms subtle, to be enjoyed with the crowds. On the way back, the guide while pointing out to some of the best eateries at the bay area and jokingly mentioned that the best way to treat yourself with lobster, is to go for home-cooking as the restaurants charge a cutthroat price.

Lighthouse Lovers Cruise
We picked the ferry ride “Lighthouse Lovers Cruise” from the Casco Bay to explore the spectacular sights of the lighthouses, innermost islands, lobster boats, seals and most of all the scenic water. We hopped onto the upper deck of the ferry boat and for the next hour and half were enthralled.

Old working lighthouses, the Diamond and Peaks islands and sights of seals sun-bathing and sea-birds relaxing on the strip of the islands were breathtaking. Some of the islands were too small to have inhabitants and looked like gems on the sea.

Illustrious mansions sprawling on some of the islands and different sizes of lighthouses created a picturesque atmosphere. The captain of the ferry boat was proudly narrating the historial lighthouses, even pointing out probably the smallest ligthouse and often slowing down the ferry so that people could get better shots.

Visit to the Longfellow House
Our plan to take a guided tour of the house was really a good idea and money well-spent. The guide informed that Longfellow House was built in the 18th century by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's grandfather, General Peleg Wadsworth and also gave the life- sketch of the poet, and elaborately described the furnishings, family pictures and personal items. The vivid description of the guide made me feel the presence of the poet and his family members. Longfellow wrote,“ The Rainy Day” during one of his stays in that house - I had the honor to see the place where the poet sat and visualised the dreary day and the mouldy walls. The first three lines of the poem:

“ The Rainy Day”
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering walls,

Portland Museum of Art
A step into the museum made me feel like embarking on an exciting journey through three centuries of art masterpieces. The celebrated pieces of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste- Renoir, Pablo Picasso, and also works of Wyeths, Marguerite and Wiliam Zorachs were furnishing the walls of the museum.

I found tourists gathering around Picasso and without hesitation , joined them. The museum is also attached to the newly restored McClellan House and L D M Sweat Memorial Galleries and we enjoyed the every bit of the exhibits of different artists there. As the museum was just across the hotel, I planned to take pictures of the half-moon shaped I M Pei's magnificent architecture but somehow missed the opportunity.

Portland Public Library
Public Library is located next to the Liberty Square, and was housed in an elegant glass building. We roamed around the library and found so many youngsters and elderly people spending time in the library. We also took the opportunity to pass extra time to see Maine's sculpture exhibition.

Eateries in Portland
There are some excellent culinary restaurants in Maine, but it's well-earned reputation is for fresh and delicious seafood beginning with lobsters. I believe in following my taste and we had the pleasure of tasting Korean, Greek, Thai and of course exciting American delicacies.

Portland Bay Area
Walking along the cobblestone streets of the Old Port was very relaxing. There are an array of shops, galleries, restaurants, on both sides of the road. We often found ourselves pausing to shop at various boutiques and also at shops like Edgecomb Potters, famous for jewellery, fine crafts and exquisitively glazed porcelains .

“Cool as a Moose” is a great place to buy souvenirs for your friends and family members. It will be doing injustice if I don't mention that the city has a great love for arts and culture. We noticed galleries sprawling at various corners of the streets.

The whole Portland experience was fulfilling. And it would always appeal to us and make us come back again and again.

By Aeman T Rasul


Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC hosts solo exhibition

On May 12 the Embassy of Bangladesh in America inaugurated Bangladeshi-American artist Monica Jahan Bose's first solo exhibition titled as “Who Have You Left Behind?” in the United States, featuring bold mixed-media paintings and a feminist fabric installation using cut and burnt saris. This exhibition was part of the celebration of Rabindranath Tagore's 150th birth anniversary of .

Monica Jahan Bose's 31 paintings reflect the immigrant experience of longing and displacement, the rights of women, religious fundamentalism, and global warming. The artist transformed the Embassy space with her temporary installation of red and pink saris wound into sheer pod-like shapes hanging from power cords.

“My art is a journal of my thoughts and reactions to our world. I use women's clothing to comment on women's place in the world. I am interested in the coverings that are considered appropriate for women and the duality women face between being 'attractive' yet 'virtuous," said the artist. H.E. Mr. Akramul Qader, Bangladesh Ambassador to USA and State Minister inaugurated the exhibition. He noted that Ms. Bose is part of the new generation of Bangladeshi artists using mixed-media to make provocative work seeking to challenge traditional notions about gender, religion, culture and sexuality. The exhibition featured as part of the Embassy Open House on 14 May and will run through 23 May, 2011.




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