Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |   Volume 6, Issue 28, Tuesday, July 12, 2011




The rainy season is well underway and wild flowers such as krishnochura, radhachura, bougainvillea, kamini and dolonchapa are in bloom throughout the city. This week we discuss a flower quite unique in terms of its beauty and sense of appeal - the orchid. The term 'orchid' is derived from the Latin word “orchis” meaning testicle. The use of the name “orchis” for orchids dates back to the third century BC, when Theophratus (a disciple of the famous Aristotle) first used it in his book “History of Plants”. The term “Orchis” is now used to describe a particular European genus, and the name of the entire family, Orchidaceae, is also derived from it.

Orchids continue to invite attention and command respect from botanical laymen, despite the fact that these beautifully blooming plants are no longer as rare and remote as they once were. In our minds, orchids are still associated with the smell of exotic places; they are a symbol of nobility and luxurious beauty; as well as a myth of unattainability.

There are about 50,000 species of orchids all over the world and in tropical countries, approximately 3,000 species have been found to date. The great majority can be found in the tropics, mostly Asia, South America and Central America, but they are also found above the Arctic Circle, in southern Patagonia, and even two species of Nematoceras on Macquarie Island, close to Antarctica. In warm and humid climates, many terrestrial orchids do not need pseudobulb.

The cells of the root epidermis grow at a right angle to the axis of the root to allow them to get a firm grasp on their support. Nutrients mainly come from animal droppings and other organic detritus on their supporting surface.

Like most monocots, orchids generally have simple leaves with parallel veins, although some Vanilloideae have a reticulate venation. Leaves may be ovate, lanceolate, or orbiculate, and very variable in size. Their characteristics are often diagnostic. They are normally alternate on the stem, often plicate, and have no stipules.

In the 20th century, the plants of the genus Phalaenopsis were bred cutting of outstanding flowers; of late, however, they have become an object of interest both for amateur growers and producers of potted flowers. They are the most suitable Orchids for open grown cultivation in modern appartments

The structure of the leaves corresponds to the specific habitat of the plant. Species that typically bask in sunlight, or grow on sites which can be occasionally very dry, have thick, leathery leaves and the laminas are covered by a waxy cuticle to retain their necessary water supply. Shade species, on the other hand, have long, thin leaves.

In Bangladesh, Ryncholaelia is most commonly available. This orchid resembles the aforementioned species in appearance but it is somewhat smaller and its green leaves are with a deeper shade of grey. This white and purple 3cm large flower is long lasting, at least two weeks it give us her magnificent beauty.

Great improvements have taken place in the hybridization and breeding of Orchids. As a result, Orchids can be purchased literally on every corner nowadays at relatively low price and stunning wide range of colour and shape. Orchids abound in stores both as fresh-cut flower and potted flowers. They can not only be easily obtained, but also quite successfully grown in our homes on a long term basis, without expensive devices and technological tools.

By Nazneen Haque Mimi
Photo credit: Tamim Sujat


Socially-awkward by choice

Man is not necessarily a social animal. The lavish parties of all the bhabis and bhaiyas are the bane of a man's life. Social gathering is where we are at our worst. And being at our worst means we are always misunderstood. No woman has ever been as misunderstood as a man at a party, especially one his significant other dragged him to.

See, two men, most likely friends, can have a perfectly memorable time, without uttering more than three words or two sentences. 'Good goal!, 'Nice car.', 'Food?'. But in a social gathering, this beautiful way of bonding is exposed. It is hard for us to carry on a conversation unless it's on something we like. Men have an inherent tendency to refuse to learn anything that will not help them get a promotion, win a bet or impress someone. So, while a man may peruse 'The Idiot' to impress his mates, he will not learn the difference between 'purple' and 'mauve' (which basically are the same thing). This of course puts them in a situation where they come off as being anti-social, ignorant and rude. The failure to participate in a conversation, regardless of how silly the topic may be, is a social taboo and you will be misjudged.

Rather than habit or genes, it may also be a matter of perception. Most men do not have the desire to 'make friends'. Men would rather spend time, 'making conversation', which is a totally different thing. They will not go out of their way to be liked and nor will they attempt to like the opposite person. Males treat new people they meet at parties as someone they would never run into again. We also have a built-in comparison meter, where we measure ourselves against every person we meet. This meter is most active in social gatherings, where everyone is passing judgmental eyes over everyone else. It happens, so why not just admit it? Men find themselves easily on the defensive and in a rush to come out on top thus appearing to be arrogant, brash and slightly annoying.

Another important point to note is that men have a sense of humour best kept within the four corners of their own homes. Also, face it, we have trouble being attentive. Therefore, we will always be unaware that bhabi had her hair cut and Kamal bhai cut his hair (as if he had any). And we will make fun of the fact that Dimple Bhabi is looking gaudy wearing 90 tolas of gold and seriously, why would anyone name their baby Lovely or Dimple? All of these things annoy us and we are prone to remark likewise. Why can't we just go to the parties were we can be ourselves instead of what society would deem a perfectly acceptable version of ourselves?

In all honesty, we, the men, despise parties that have not been arranged by our few close friends. The mingling is not something we are fond of really. Of course, there are men who thrive at parties, but we speak for the majority. We would rather stay at home, call a few friends and just hang out instead of dressing up and going on to make a complete fool of ourselves. Weddings, birthdays, promotions and anniversaries are only attended because they have become somewhat mandatory. Excuse me for living, but wasting time brushing up social skills isn't important. What's on TV is much more important.

By Osama Rahman


Shut out the world

Of all the recent advances in technology, the one that attracts me the most is the wireless convenience of Bluetooth. In my growing years, I was lucky to have Walkmans and Discmans -- though never an Ipod, which I do not care for much anyway -- but I was always a bit irritated by the wire that connected these devices to my ears.

What do we do with them when we are out for a stroll? Stick the Discman in a pocket and take the wire through our shirt? Isn't that too much of a hassle when you just have to pick up your player and dash? If left hanging out, it got in the way of hand movements. Imagine that you are directing a rickshaw-puller to go left and suddenly Hotel California gets ripped out of your ear and the blasted earphones get tangled in the spinning wheel and the mp3 player, or worse, your phone is pulled out of your pocket and gets trampled beneath. It's never happened to me, but it could.

So back to the wireless convenience of the Bluetooth headsets. I could not, until recently, explore even that avenue because typically Bluetooth headsets don't have the high levels of volume or clarity of their wired cousins. That was until I went to a popular shopping mall and a particular headset caught my eye. I didn't get my hopes high, as all headsets I had seen till then had the aforementioned volume problem. But I asked anyway, and the man behind the counter said that since it's in the box, I would have to buy it if he opened it.

As I ran through my mental lexicon of swearwords and common complaints about Bangladeshi salespeople, the man smiled and said, "If you don't like the sound, you don't have to buy it." Intrigued, I took the chance, and I was taken aback by the quality of sound and the volume that would rival any wired headset. I was sold, and so was the headset by the name of Nokia BH-503. It can be paired with any Bluetooth-enabled phone, not just Nokia. The price the critter demanded was Tk 1800, which I paid, but I later learnt that a friend, on my recommendation, bought the same thing from the same place at Tk 1700. The latest price I heard was Tk 1500.

At any rate it's a steal. Once connected to your phone, you don't even have to take it out of your pocket. The headset is equipped with buttons that enable you to pause, play, toggle between tracks, answer a call and dial the last number. If you have a multimedia phone then believe me, this is the thing for you. Forget your mp3 player, have all your music in one device that you carry with you always. On top of that, it can also be paired with Bluetooth-enabled computers. Those in the know may say the volume in phones is always less than that in mp3 players. To that I say, not with this device.

By Broke


Monsoon and your home

Monsoon can be considered unfriendly when it comes to your home. Silver fish is a very common visitor in wardrobes and cupboards. You can shoo them away by leaving neem leaves in the desired areas or by sprinkling a few cloves.

Vacuum your carpets regularly to get rid of accumulated dirt as well as moisture, which cause the musty smell. Replace damaged electrical cords because getting a shock is the last thing you want. Finally keep your house well ventilated if you do not want your house to feel damp.


Fish, fish, fishing

I had never been fishing in my entire life - until last May. But for people who reside in the US state of Minnesota, fishing is a favourite recreation. In a state that boasts 10,000 lakes and the mighty Mississippi, it is only expected that people will buy rods, hooks and bait and drive to a lake or the river.

So, we decided to fish too. People said to us that there was nothing tastier than fried, freshly caught fish. The first thing we needed was to get a license for $18. It is illegal to fish without a license. We purchased one license as I was not sure if I would really enjoy fishing. I decided to help the hubby as he angled.

First day, we went to the Mississippi River with our brand new fishing rod, white worms and a big box that had hooks, fake fish used as bait, blades, bobbers etc. We waited and waited but our bait did not lure a single fish.

We felt our hearts sink as we saw two men standing just ten feet away from us catching foot-long northern pikes one after another. It was our first fishing experience and some experience it was, for we returned home after two hours without one fish.

What made the day even worse was our line got caught in a bush and ripped. With the line went our bobber, hook and bait. Our fishing tools were dancing on the water for a few minutes before taking a deep dive into the Mississippi. It was no less than a traumatic experience.

Weeks went by and still we did not forget our first fishing experience. The worms eventually died in the plastic box; we could not even use them! More than a month after our first experience, a friend suggested that we go fishing again, this time to a lake on the campus of St. John's University.

Since our worms were dead and discarded by then, we stopped at a gas station on our way to the lake to buy leeches. I had never seen a leech before. I looked at the box full of leeches and my stomach churned for a few moments.

So anyway, we went to the lake and voila, we ended up catching about ten sunfish and one bass in less than two hours. I was dancing on the pier and yelling, Yes! We have caught fish! Yes!

Cleaning the fish was not as much fun as catching them. The clock struck 11 pm when we were finally done scaling our catch and cleaning their insides.

The next morning I fried the sunfish and bass deshi style. I did not forget to fry onions and green chillies to eat with the fish. That afternoon we had a small feast with fried fish and steaming basmati... it tasted heavenly.

By Wara Karim
Photo: LS Archive


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