Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 24, Tuesday, June 14, 2011



The good with the bad

Last week we celebrated our tenth anniversary and have now stepped into our eleventh year. We are in the process of introducing new columns and flavours, such as a shopper's column, an eating out column, etc. You may have already seen some of these, and we plan to introduce the rest on a week-by-week basis

It has been one ghastly working week; everything was topsy turvy because the Star Lifestyle desk had to adjust to its new printing schedule. Even though the planning was thoroughly done and revised and I was bracing myself for this messy arrangement for quite some time now, when the final week dawned upon us we at the desk seemed to be totally caught off guard and as a result were badly caught behind.

I don't want to bog you down with the series of unfortunate events that took place, but just so that you know the extent of our disaster, I'll simply touch base.

I discovered much to my utter dismay that the entire tenth volume of Star Lifestyle had been incorrectly noted down as the eleventh, which to everybody's shock meant that this should be our twelfth volume. Since we just completed our 10 years in print and considered ourselves running on 11, we could not straight away leap to 12, thus our new year (2011-2012) begins afresh with it being our eleventh volume once again. It is indeed a grave error and I apologise profusely for the mistake.

On top of this disaster, as a rotten cherry topping on our already bad cake, our graphics operator for 10 years fell ill and had to be hospitalised; I prefer to just cut the long story short here, because I don't want to dwell on the horrific past anymore. But from this point onwards I'll not re-revise my planning notes anymore, instead I will try to pump the acceleration up and act on it promptly.

However, amid all these horror stories pleasant things happened and made our days at work bearable. We spent full days having chocolates, our regular tea shingara break was full of Snickers, Mars, and Hershey's, lunch was Musketeers and instead of the regular evening puri and noodles with potatoes from the canteen, it was -- you guessed it -- chocolates and cakes again. So now you know how we celebrated our 10 years of being and also why we are always on a sugar high.

To end on a happy note, I must say that this is the season of fruits, the street-side bazaars or shops are full of sweet smelling mangoes, succulent lychees, juicy blackberries and smelly but sumptuous jackfruits.

At every corner you'll see vendors holding big fairs of these fruits. We are foregoing our chocolate cravings and greedily guzzling down tens and dozens of lychees, having the blackberries slightly shaken with salt and chilli with a dash of mint leaves. And mangoes, oh! That aphrodisiac fruit, the more we sing its praises the less adequate it seems.

Yes of course you can try having it with vanilla ice cream or make yummy mango shakes but I would suggest you leave that for the following months, when they are found aplenty and you have appeased your hunger for the sweet fruit; for now just peel them and have them without further ado. So here's hoping for sweet endings to imperfect beginnings.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


Turkish Food Festival @ Westin

Dhaka's burgeoning culinary variety has become a major attraction for foodies all over the city. There was a time when fine dining meant Chinese food, but while that particular tradition never lost its allure, Dhaka is now host to a cornucopia of tastes ranging from Mexican to Japanese. Now, for two weeks, the city's food lovers can enjoy authentic Turkish cuisine with its unique blend of East and West.

On 6 June the Westin Dhaka launched the Turkish Food Festival at their all-day dining restaurant 'Seasonal Taste'. The key focus of this festival is to introduce a new culinary tradition to Dhaka. To provide the true taste of Turkey, two guest chefs from the Sheraton Ankara have been flown in, along with a Turkish cultural troupe to keep guests entertained and immersed in the novel experience.

Turkish traditional meals are a mixture of cuisines from different parts of the world such as from the Balkans, Central Asia, the Mediterranean and Middle East. The culinary team will put emphasis on gourmet dining -- simple yet elegant presentations with great taste.

Turkish Ambassador in Bangladesh H.E.M. Vakur Erkul, and the Managing Director of Westin Dhaka, Mohammad Noor Ali were present at the inauguration.

"Bangladesh and Turkey have had a special relation for a long time, since the thirteenth century. I am very happy that this initiative has been taken and that my country's cuisine is being introduced to the lovely people of Bangladesh," said Erkul while speaking at the inauguration. He finished with a nod to Bangladeshi food. "We must also not forget that Bangladeshi cuisine is excellent and delicious in its own right."

The Turkish Food Festival has been organised by The Westin Dhaka, in association with the Turkish Embassy in Bangladesh and Turkish Airlines, and will be open for dinner at the Seasonal Taste restaurant daily from 6:30 pm. For more information or table reservations please call 989 1988.

-- LS Desk
Photo courtesy: The Westin, Dhaka


Myth busters

By Karim Waheed

"New Year resolution: This year I'll lose 20 lbs”; “I can't wake up early and don't have any energy left after work to hit the gym/ There is no decent gym in my neighbourhood/ Separate hours for men and women and it's a hassle to get there in time”; “I started working out with a vengeance and after a couple of weeks lose motivation/ It's too hard”…sound familiar?

Is a fit body without a gym membership or a trainer unattainable? I'm here to tell you it is attainable. You don't necessarily need to step into a gym to encourage your muscles to grow, or get on that elliptical trainer to sweat the fat away, or starve yourself to death.

I was never obese and had been pretty active in school -- football, cricket, running, the usual. During the chaos that was college life, I found comfort in fast food and they found me. My newfound love for fries, cheeseburgers, pizzas and sugary drinks, combined with physical inertia, caused weight gain.

For years I followed a pretty consistent pattern: gain some weight, hit the gym with a mission for a few weeks, lose motivation and stop working out for a few weeks/months; repeat from the beginning.

Then about a year ago I decided I was going to try something new; I was going to resume working out but this time I was not getting a gym membership. I decided to start weight training at home and run outdoors (Ramna Park is just a 10-minute walk away). Because I won't have to go to a gym, I could work out whenever I want.

The more I got into it, the more I researched and learnt about how lean muscles grow, atrophy, eating habits that rev up metabolism, etc. One year later, I'm in the best shape I've ever been in; rock-hard pecs, bigger biceps, even that elusive unicorn known as “six pack abs” is in the process of getting tamed. If I can do it, anyone can…provided “anyone” sticks to a sensible workout routine and makes better food choices.

In this regular column, I'll discuss home exercises with and without weights, walking/running, eating healthy -- virtually everything related to getting fit.

In this issue, let's looks at some of the benefits, other than vanity, of working out:

Testosterone: This one is mostly for the guys (sorry ladies) and it applies to weight training. Testosterone is the essence of manhood. When you lift weights and gradually increase the level of resistance, your body produces testosterone. This gives you the energy, stamina, and aggressiveness you need to take on the world.

Clarity and concentration: An active body has been linked to an active mind. The more consistently you exercise, the less prone you'll be to grogginess and lapses in concentration.

Cleansing: Toxins in our bodies tend to build up over time. Sweating regularly through exercises removes these toxins and will help you feel more comfortable.

Better sleep: Studies have shown that exercise improves sleep.

Stress relief: Exercise has also been shown to reduce stress. This is a combined result of the benefits of cleansing and a physical outlet for frustration.


Sun, sand, sea and kebabs

Looking out from the plane window, all I could see below was an endless expanse of yellow desert. It did not fill me with anticipation, because having grown up in Bangladesh, I seek comfort in the dark green of heavy vegetation, not the barren yellow of harsh sand. What's more, from a height of thirty thousand feet, I could see the ground unencumbered, which meant no clouds shielded the vast expanse below from the unforgiving rays of the sun.

We were just at the top of our descent into Dubai, a place I had mixed feelings about visiting. I was extremely excited to see my sister and her family, particularly my three-year-old nephew, while at the same time not too eager to touch down in a country where the heat is more stifling than anything I had faced in Dhaka.

Any city or area is a servant to its climate and geographical peculiarities, and I soon found that Dubai had built itself into a city that makes the best of its harsh realities. Necessitated by its extreme climate, the chief form of recreation is its mall culture, of which not much need be said as the world knows of the shopper's paradise that is Dubai.

Dubai is a city of two halves daytime Dubai, when all except the working segment of the population shun the outdoors for fear of the sapping heat; and night-time Dubai lit with the brightest of lights, playing host to the thousands who throng the streets in search of recreation. Apart from the sprawling malls, there are small amusement parks all over the city that my nephew was desperate for once the sun set.

What surprised me most, and I'd like to request readers to excuse my ignorance here, were the sandy sea beaches that Dubai boasted. I almost forgot about the Gulf of Oman, because in my mind's eye, Dubai was a desert city devoid of Mother Nature's soft touches. That impression persisted even though I knew about the ambitiously constructed Palm Jumeira, the artificial island made in the shape of a palm tree.

Well, our trip to Jumeira Beach introduced me to an image that will stay in my mind forever as the best thing that Dubai had to offer. The Burj-Al-Arab, a massive luxury hotel dominated the skyline. From a distance, especially after sundown, it looked like a gigantic, brilliantly lit sail ship, as the building was designed in the shape of a sail, reflecting the citizens' desire to be tied with the cool sea in the otherwise simmering desert.

Also worth a mention is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Right beside it is a small lake which provides an amazing water display with fountains spraying jets tens of feet into the sky in synchrony with the music. It is definitely a must-see if you are in Dubai.

Another highlight was the visit to the Al-Ain mountain range which, though located in Abu Dhabi, is only a two hours' drive from Dubai. There is a luxury hotel at the top of the mountain, and we spent two hours there enjoying the trappings of five-star comfort, which the region has in spades. But the real attraction was the mountain itself, formed of a kind of blackish stone which lent the place a foreboding air. There were many lookout points on the ascent to the top, enabling travellers to watch the rugged expanse below and marvel at the many faces of nature.

On the drive back, I realised something that I could never have countenanced before the astonishing beauty of the desert at night. What seemed harsh at daytime, under the cool blue of the moonlight, was soft and inviting.

The yellow sand was transformed to an almost fluorescent expanse of twinkling blue. It was the exact opposite of what it was during daytime, and for the first time I realised that a desert could indeed be one of the most romantic places on earth. Better find shelter during the daytime though.

Did I say my best memory of Dubai is the Burj-Al-Arab? A grievous error on my part. One word: Kebab. That is what the Middle East is all about. There can be no parallel for their kebabs, and for a meat lover like me, it was paradise. I am not skilled enough to describe their wondrous taste. Let us just say that you have not tasted kebab till you have tasted it in the Middle East.

Well, back to earth, my nineteen days' stay in Dubai was surprisingly pleasant. But leaving the city, I could not help but feel that that is as long as you can enjoy Dubai for, and it would not be a great place to stay in the long term. Why? I only saw two clouds while in Dubai, that too on the eighteenth day.



Shitol pati bichiye debo chawai chawai esho…

By Iffat Nawaz

When she walked out of the hut the sun had already set. The lantern on the porch danced with the pre-monsoon breeze. There was green every where, though the colours were invisible to the eye in the mystical darkness. But her skin felt its touch, her inside felt its raw olive energy.

It rained here all day. The pond next to her wooden hut was pierced constantly by the drops. There were lives inside the pond, she didn't know their names but felt their existence, breathing around her, some through their skin, wiggling long tongues and big nostrils.

A mermaid sat in the middle of the green mossy pond, a curvy, long-haired mermaid; like they are normally supposed to be. The one who made the mermaid painted her white. She wanted to walk into the pond and paint the mermaid's scales peacock turquoise, mauve and banana-leaf green. The mermaid looked down so she never got to see the face; she only imagined the fantasy of the sculptor, the perfection of some unknown's mind.

When she looked away from the pond and moved her eyes towards the sky she saw clouds that belonged to her and her only. The heavy dark clouds stood still. She wanted to take pieces of it and put it in her tiffin box for when she was hungry for something cold and consuming. She would eat pieces of it like black cotton candy. They wouldn't melt in her mouth but float inside her. She wanted to be taken away, somewhere even further from here.

She laid a shitol pati on the floor of her hut, she made naru with coconut and molasses, and pithas which were out of season. She kept them all on a brass plate covered for nobody. Not even herself. She wasn't a big fan of things which were sweet.

It was night time and her mind was filled with thoughts of all things out of control. She was beyond worrying and covering her toes and neck from bites, of humans and insects. She was only bitten by her thoughts; good and bad, each bite left a mark on her body. The marks glowed in the dark like jonakis, lightening bugs dying and living again.

Her heart swam -- neither heavy nor light. She had the wish of staring into a mirror, but in the darkness next to the lantern, a hand mirror seemed too much like a cliche. She was no Shokuntola abandoned by a prince, she was not some forgotten love, kept safely to be rescued.

She was no one really. Just a woman who lived in a hut. Who spent her days neither waiting nor wanting. She was free of all things which let her go and she let go. She never wondered how she got here because she knew this is exactly where she was meant to be, yesterday and tomorrow. And today she was meant to be a jonaki, eating clouds and wanting to paint mermaids. Today she was only drizzle, only soaking mildly. Today she was the woman next to the lantern, with and without a hand mirror.



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2011 The Daily Star