Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |   Volume 6, Issue 29, Tuesday, July 19, 2011




Tring! Tring!

"So do we go all the way to the top?” I asked.

“All the way, son,” my father replied, matter-of-factly.

Hence we continued to paddle alongside the lush greenery of Chittagong War Cemetery. It was peaceful and quiet, with no cars or crowds due to the hartal. We finally reached the peak of the amazingly steep road.

And then we turned our bikes around. “Don't tell mum,” my father murmured. “One, two, and go!”

And off we went. The breeze beating my face, becoming stronger with every second passing by, was enlivening. A sinking feeling in my stomach reinforced the sensation as I flashed down the slope, still paddling hard. As the slope finally flattened, I put my hands away from the handle. I was elated and euphoric, lost in a happy world.

That was ages ago, in a city I left behind. But the excitement of riding a bicycle still lives on.

Indeed, riding bicycles is very joyous. If your precious little one doesn't know how to ride one, maybe it's time to get him on wheels. But don't allow him to put his hands off the handle, though!

Is your precious one too little? Probably not; even a five year old can learn how to ride a bicycle.

However, he might be young enough to label bike learning as his first actual project or challenge. Thus, savour the moment. Be patient. If you show frustration when he doesn't do it right, he'll want to give up and learn to be impatient himself with all the challenges he faces in the future. Therefore, be persistent.

Bongshal is the best place to purchase a bike in Dhaka. After searching from the wide variety of bicycles they have and much bargaining, you can get yourself a good deal. You may also go to New Market.

The question arises then that which is the perfect bike for your child. Many claim an undersized bike, one that allows the rider to be seated with both his feet flat on the ground while his knees are slightly bent, to be the best size to start with, because it gives more control and confidence.

This is not necessarily true, though. A regular bike will do just fine. In any case, take him with you when you buy the bike. It'll get him excited and more enthusiastic.

Then consider where you can teach bike riding to him or her. Parking garages, a dead-end of a relatively quiet road or a lawn are all good locations to choose from. But a field with grass is one of the best places, because there is no traffic and also because if your child falls down, he probably won't be as hurt as he would be if it occurred on a concrete street.

No matter where, be strict about knee guards, elbow guards and helmets. Keep a first-aid box nearby even though chances are low you'll need it.

Many start out the training process by attaching training wheels on the bicycle. It's better not to conform to this school of thought: training wheels totally take away the essence of the training -- learning how to balance the bike.

You might think training wheels will help him get comfortable with the bicycle and have a feel for it. But it is still a bad idea, because they will make your child dependent on them.

Luckily, there's another way of allowing your child to get used to a bicycle without attaching training wheels: detach the pedals instead.

Without the pedals, let him walk the bicycle first instead of riding it. Once he reaches a certain momentum, he can put his feet above the ground. Or, hold him on the back with one hand while he rides it.

Reattach the pedals after a day or two. This is where the most obvious and integral part of the lesson comes.

Ask him to press the pedal as you gently push him, while also acting as a source of balance. Never hold the handle of the bicycle -- your child needs to learn how to balance his bike, and he won't be able to do that if the bike is in your control. You should just hold him.

Strangely, amidst all the training and concentration, this is a highly emotional time for both the child and the guardian. Learning to ride a bike, for children, no matter how simple it sounds, is all about conquering fear. It's about moving forward in a position where chances are high that you'll hurt yourself. Moving forward despite that takes courage and an acceptance of uncertainty. Thus, be supportive and encouraging.

It is an emotional time for the parents as well, as many of them are simply reliving a slice of life from their past; only this time, they get to be the parent instead of being the one sitting on the saddle. This is the circle of life.

Teaching your child how to ride a bike is a great opportunity to strengthen the bond as well. Utilise the quality time to the fullest extent; take pictures of him, have snacks between rides and make the whole process fun.

And amidst all the fun, pretty soon, he'll paddle with confidence. So much so, you can let your hand drift away from his shoulder. Jog with him. Assure him you're still there with him. In no time, he'll realise he can make it on his own.

And off he'll go, feeling immensely happy, yet a bit scared. You know that feeling, because you felt it many years ago, and you feel it now too. Your child will feel it again as well, many years from now, only that time he will be the parent… the circle of life.

Make sure you celebrate it well. After all, your child accomplished the first project of his life.

But your job is not over yet. Discuss some basic traffic rules, such as not riding on the wrong side of the road, etc. Ride with him on the less busier streets first. If your child is old enough, you may want to take him to the busier roads.

Cycling is amazing -- it's economic, it's environment-friendly, it lets you escape traffic jams and it's fun. When your child is older, he can travel to high school or college on it. After all, it's good exercise.

Cycling brings a lot of benefits and loads of fun. So make sure you and your child are not deprived of it!

By M H Haider
Model: Nihal, Lana, Nael
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Bread Fest

Last week, The Westin Dhaka celebrated the glory of the humble bread -- Bread Fest, at the Treats Restaurant.

Bread is probably the one food eaten by people of every race, culture and religion. Man has been making bread for at least 8000 years, in the days when the tools to hoe, cut and grind were all made of stone. The crushed flour mixed with water and cooked on a flat stone over a fire gave bread that was very different from the sliced white loaf of today.

Bread is the staple food in Europe, European-derived cultures such as the Americas, and the Middle East and North Africa, as opposed to East Asia where the staple is rice. As a simple, cheap, and adaptable type of food, bread is often used as a synecdoche for food in general in some languages and dialects, such as Greek and Punjabi.

There are many variations on the basic recipe of bread worldwide, including pizza, chapatis, tortillas, bocadillo, baguettes, brioche, pitas, lavash, biscuits, pretzels, naan, bagels, puris, and many others. There are different types of traditional "cheese breads" in many countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Italy and Russia.

Today, even with the competition of a growing variety of foods, bread remains important to our diet and our psyche. It is a healthy and nutritious food that fills the stomach as well as the soul.

At the fest, diners could taste as many as 101 types of bread all in its original taste and texture. Treats provided the customers with unique offerings that brought a warm feeling amongst the diners.

The Fest was open for 24hrs daily between 10-16 July, 2011.



Happy to be a bachelor boy Until my dyin' day

The life of a bachelor is an intriguing one. This week Star Lifestyle explores the recent trend of the metropolis where more and more bachelors are opting for living alone in their pad, some by choice and others due to circumstantial reasons.

Men will be men. They will crave freedom, yet suffer because of it. They will crave independence yet seek companionship. But as the new

day dawns over the city of ours, the truth remains that more and more people are accepting this status, and living life accordingly.

See centre and page 10 for related stories.

I hate attending weddings, really. They are a modern day social satire where eligible bachelors, dressed in their best suits, and fashionista bachelorettes, adorned in chiffon saris, take part, while elderly relatives (read: nosy khalas) work as catalyst; a depiction of Austen's pages set right in modern day Dhaka. The hovering eyes of the Khalas, aunts and aunties, are always on the lookout and if you are anywhere in your late twenties, earning a decent living, they are all set to go for the kill; your marriage.

Of course, this is an over simplification, yet I am plagued with the same question at these social settings: Why are you not getting married? Some go as far as taking me to a girl to 'introduce' us and let Facebook take it from there.

For me, age is no longer an issue. I truly understand that I am right where one should finally shrug off the laziness and rise to the occasion and play my part.

But what if I am simply not ready?

I am not ready because I want to complete my education. I want to feel comfortable in my shoes, where every day I battle against social taboos and stigma. Running short of a bachelor's degree can mean the end of the world in Bangladesh. And I, for one, do not want to stand on the outer edge.

Then of course there is the need of, or lack of, sufficient income. I earn enough to sustain my own desires. I have a solid roof over my head and that goes a long way. But to bring a new soul into the equation of life seems synonymous with too many expectations, too many compromises and too many disappointments. Society still stands on the patriarchy, where the male is the bread earner of the family, although this mentality is rightfully changing. Truth be told, I still don't see myself in that position.

One can easily say, “It's a commitment issue.” And I say it is. I want to truly commit myself when I say "I do." I understand the burden of the sacred bond that is marriage, and the weight that one takes up on their shoulders - both man and woman - when they have their rings exchanged. True, marriage is like a journey till life's end. But standing where I stand now, I don't find contentment with life. My existence should have been more productive and more fruitful in the endeavours I took. But rather than seeing the glass half full, I see it half empty.

My days are now spent at work, where I have a 'family' who work and get the work done, day in and day out. Outside of my occupational obligations, I fancy myself a history buff with a title in progress. It devours most of my free time.

Can I not finish my book when I get married? Yes I can. Don't married people write books? They do. But this is my life; unique from the seven billion people who I share the world with. My needs and demands are solely my own. To hope that a girl will come into my life now and we can embark on the journey is purely hope against hope.

She too, I am sure, has her own dreams. As the bells will toll, her life will take unprecedented twists and turns. As a compassionate husband, I too will have to go the mile to see that her aspirations are met. Marriage is a dance for two and that is exactly how I want it to be.

Sometimes, on rainy days, I feel positive. About everything that surrounds me and a sudden spree of 'positivity' engulfs my existence. May be I will meet someone who will accept me for who I am, and not for who I can be. But until then, it's bachelorhood for me. At least for a few years. A few more years.

By Shubhro
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Fardeen Firoze


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