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Loitering in Koh Chang, Thailand

Koh Chang is one of the most beautiful, tropical islands that I have been to. I am not really someone who has been to most continents but I can say that I have tried most of the food wherever I have been to.

Getting there
Koh Chang is the largest of the 52-island Marine National Park, all of which are untouched by modernisation with their natural resources kept intact. But in fact, Koh Chang is only 330 kilometers east of Bangkok or approximately 5 hours by road plus another 30 to 45 minutes by boat or ferry.

A 5 hours drive by bus from the Cherdchai Tours on Ekamai located on Sukhumvit Road will take passengers to the Trat Bus Terminal (departures between 6am - 11pm). It costs around 900 THB which covers both ways bus and ferry transportation for one person. There is a bus every hour and return tickets are valid for one month.

White Sand Beach is the longest and most popular on the island paradise. The area is covered with coconut groves and wild vegetation. Beaches on the southern coast are also guaranteed of its beauty and tranquility. Lonely Beach, another major tourist attraction, is an enclave of simple beach huts, sporadic generator electricity, and limited running water.

You can get rooms for as low as 200 baht which is embarrassingly cheap but the toilet is about 5 minutes walk from the rooms.

Bang Bao Bay is a well protected bay at the southwest end of Koh Chang. The quaint fishing village Baan Bang Bao is built on stakes far out into the bay and has become quite a popular attraction. This is not the best place to stay as there is a smell of fresh fishes all over the place. However, all cruises start from Bang Bao.

Koh Chang has its share of party places. It also boasts a wide array of food as many of the islanders are settlers from Europe. My wife and I had been to most of the food places at the Kai Bae beach neighborhood.

Places to stay
For less than 2000 baht you can get fantastic options. I stayed at a hotel called the Nang Nual Resort at Kai Bae and its just the perfect resort. These hotels are in fact small huts with a balcony and if you are lucky you can get the sea faced rooms which will give you a million dollar feeling. There are other hotels ranging between 1200 to 2500 baht around this area.

Food talk
Burger @ Morgans: Morgans is right in the centre of the Kai Bae beach neighbourhood and they also have the premiere league matches screened there whenever there is a big match.

Sweet and Sour Sea Food is extremely delicious at Morgans. Although the quantity of rice, not only in Morgans but all over Thailand, is just not enough for a South Asian.

Seven Eleven is a 24-hour shop which has everything you will need. If you are partying till late, dehydrated and hungry seven eleven is the place for you with burgers starting from 20 baht.

Grilled white snappers with enough vegetables for health-conscious people is also a good choice for dinner. Most of the restaurants have a similar menu and the familiar taste. The fish is for one person with a full bowl of creamy mashed potato and some sea food salad on the side.

Things to do
I took the cruise from my hotel which was at 900 baht per person for a four island tour starting at 7 am till 6 pm, with four meals including pick up and drop. I also snorkeled with a trainer because neither I nor my wife can swim. It's a must do.

Although I didn't go for the jungle trek but we did drive past it. It looked wondrous. You can spoil yourself on an elephant top and experience the zephyr through the forest. Allow yourself to feel what the Mughals did.

There is no shortage of options for pampering yourself. Thailand is famous for its massages and Koh Chang is no exception. Hut-like shops are there for all kinds of relaxing activities, especially for women. I heard that they are pretty good with their beauty skills.

For the ones who are already spoilt, there is no shortage of bars and club-like structures. They are open till 2 am.

I liked the canoeing in early mornings. I hired a canoe from the hotel for 100 baht for an hour and you can cruise through the rather gentle sea.

Koh Chang is a beautiful place for a couple or groups of friends. People there are pretty laid back and that is what you look for when you want to get out of city life. Loitering in Koh Chang is the greatest feeling.

Live, love, eat and hope.

By Taskin Rahman


Aminul Islam's inimitable quest for abstraction

Aminul Islam, yet another master artist of Bangladesh, has left us to join the ranks of departed maestros.

It was his line of work, lyrical, romantic and bold, which captured the attention of art lovers. As Islam drew trees, the sky full of birds, clouds, human figures -- sometimes in action, and at times in repose -- we leapt up to action with him, or lay tranquil, wrapped in dreams.

In his formative years as a student, as there were not many exhibitions, he supported himself with book illustrations. One of the first modern artists to introduce abstraction in the sixties, he studied at Academia di Belli Arti at Florence -- one of the seats of culture in Europe. There he brushed shoulders with an avant-garde group, while he preserved his passion for Piet Mondriani and Gaganendranath Thakur.

His work was both idyllic and intellectual. While in Venice, Islam developed his passion for geometrical forms, consisting of lines, circles, curves, angles and dots. His swirls and curls remain inimitable. His sketching in black and white has been sold out ages ago. What exist are only black and white photos. They are panoramic scenes seen from the River Arno. One of them was superimposed jugs of wine, accompanying glasses etc. Some have basilicas, steeples and towers.

While in Italy in 1955 on a government scholarship and having been to London earlier on, he and his friends Navera Ahmed and Hamidur Rahman saw the Florence Museum together. He had stayed with these two friends in the UK.

In Italy, in 1955, he bought a motor cycle and toured Europe. Due to the Suez Crisis he could not go back to Europe. As a teacher in the Art School, at that time, he wanted to introduce experimentation to the students at a much earlier stage than what is allowed now. But he was not given the permission for that by the authorities. Thus he was all set to be different -- to seek a separate path.

Later on, revolting against the military coup which had taken over the country on his return, he summed up his feelings in paintings like “Feelings”.

Islam's search for lines, colour and form brought in his penchant for handling biological beings. His passion for bringing in matter from older than recorded history drove him to a quest for what was more ancient than the Ice Age -- the rock formations on earth. He then worked on abstract images.

Despite dealing with abstraction, Islam also brought in human forms. This was when he was moved to create images from his own fiery mind to commemorate the cruel and devastating Liberation War -- a subject that stirs up painters even in the twenty-first century.

Aminul also went on to paint his peers and other subjects, during his sojourn in Karachi. This includes Murtaja Baseer and Sadequin, the modern artists of that time. He wished to do portraits with the only equipment he had in hand - rejected, old newspapers and children's brush and ink. Powerful, unique and bold, one can almost hear his brush and pen move, as one gazes at these unique creations from the 1950s.

Delineations of the Liberation Movement - with patients, nurses and doctors - came in later, after two decades. During the seventies, the art lovers didn't quite take to abstraction so easily.

Throughout the following two decades, Islam continued his relentless quest for abstractions -- in the forms of his fascinating and magical lines and curves and entered the world of his philosophy and symbolism. He dealt with the socio-economic situation in his country of corruption and dire need of the have-nots. Taboos and the hypocrisy of people around him were other subjects which he mastered.

Talking about his work, taken from different stages in his life, Islam had once said, "You learn by seeing. One copies from nature and what is around us. Going from realism to abstraction has been a long process. However, some artists take to abstraction out of the blue, just because they see others around them doing that. A lot of my work is simplified abstractions. A lot of my work is simply called 'composition' which keep shape and balance in mind. They have a lot of improvisation as one finds in classical music. If one wants to limit oneself to paintings that are easily recognisable, it would be like singing folk songs and veering away from the classical. For me tradition means the culture of the whole world; and not just village women, boats, rivers, and mustard fields."

Aminul Islam will live in our minds and hearts until the sands of life are run.

By Fayza Haq

Fida Husain, the doyen of Indian modern art

Maqbool Fida Husain, the icon of Indian art, has departed this earth, fairly recently and has surely joined the ranks of souls that guard the sub-continental art world. Self-taught, with no hang-ups of sophisticated education, he was an expert with his lines, colours and compositions like the many sculptors and painters of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and other cradles of civilization. Despite the lack of formal training, they all created like God's angels and painted with perfection.

Together with other front-ranking artists, like Souza, Fida Husain formed the modern art movement in Mumbai, India in the fifties and sixties. For this he was given the highest civil national award in India. With his peers, he expanded Indian Art, from Mughal and Rajput Art. Fida, of course, was also an expert in serigraphy in the later years.

Art was also liberated from the dictates of the Bengal School. He was not only a visual artist but also involved in films and was an outspoken critic of hypocrisy, greed for money and power, as have been many visual artists of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Amongst artists of the sub-continent, like Fida, many have given clarion calls against the stultifying socio-economic and political conditions of their surroundings

Fida Husain was haunted by religious fanatics, who said that he had belittled their gods. The problem escalated to such a height that he had to flee to the Middle East to seek shelter and die on foreign soil.

His pictures bring scenes from India and Africa. We see preachers and downtrodden women with images of large lizard-like reptiles and skeletons of prehistoric creatures. He used simple black lines, done by “marker pens” and filled with simple bask colour, to heighten some portions, or offset some forms. They include images of the actress Madhuri Dixit, who Fida Husain saw as a mother figure, and also symbols of sisterhood and a female child. Madhuri Dixit, who inspired Fida Husain, has her facial features and lissome included in the prints and their fascinating composition.

The die-hard fanatics said that he had distorted their deities. In reality, says Maksudul Ahsan, reputed artists and curator, he had simplified limbs of the goddesses. In any case, says Ahsan, the goddesses have not been desecrated as they are always skimpily clad, to enhance the allure of human forms, limbs and facial features.

Some, like the famous novelist, Rumor Gordon, have argued that the different representations of Gods, as found in Hinduism, are manifestation of the one same God. In any case, the entire world, all its different religions pray to the same God for peace, as one knows, and as so many senior artists have in the sub-continent stressed. Painters today are global and have a wide outlook. Their vision has remained global, as in the case of Rabindranath Tagore, who has won acclaim in Europe, with his expressionistic paintings.

The prints by Fida Husain, fifteen in all, are scheduled to be exhibited for a week, beginning from 9 September, at Basilio Gallery, DOHS, Mohakhali. The display is for a short time, for security reasons. They are already in the collection of Maksudul Ahsan, who has had exhibitions in Indian Galleries of New Delhi and Kolkata. Maksudul himself has had ten solos and innumerable joint ventures, at home and abroad. His latest joint exhibition at DOHS, with Farida Zaman and Ranjit Das, are centred around poems of passion.

Maksudul Ahsan is also a writer of repute.

By Fayza Haq


Dancing Like a Star

7 teen, an upcoming event management enterprise ensures day long entertainment for you and your friends from 21 to 23 July. If you head to The Bench at Gulshan - 1, you will find the stage set for you to dance to your heart's content. At this 3-day long festival, you can heat it up on the dance floor with Dance Central, an extremely interactive dancing game. This game will be available to teach you how to move and groove in style.

In dance central you have a screen and the Kinect technology which uses a camera to detect your movements. You are first shown some of the dance moves on the screen and then you are required to copy the moves with them. The camera detects your movements and grades your dancing capability. The second player than steps up to the mat and competes against your score. In this way the one with better grooves amongst you will be declared the winner amidst bursts of fireworks and confetti, all virtual of course.

After the first few games you will find yourself wanting to dance and dance non-stop and your day will pass in a jiffy amid burning calories and laughing at your friends' desperate attempts to become a dancing champion, not to forget the cheers for succeeding and the joy of winning. The music selection is also an attraction in itself, with hit numbers like Poker Face, Maneater, PonDe Replay' playing non-stop, you'll enjoy dancing.

Here is an insider's tip. Keep mental notes of the steps they teach to use for your own choreography in the future.

So there it is, your go-to place for this weekend. Suit down, stretch those muscles and get ready to dance like a star!

By Raisaa Tashnova

Expose Furniture at Rokeya Sarani

The second branch of Expose Furniture has been inaugurated at Begum Rokeya Sarani, Mirpur on 14 July, 2011. The Managing Director of UCB Bank, Shahjahan Bhuiyan and the Director of Expose Furniture, Harun ur Rashid formally inaugurated the branch.

The Managing Director of the establishment, architect Alamgir Biplob, Chairman Amina Mostofa Shiva including all other officials were present at the ceremony.

The branch has been decorated with aesthetically designed modern furniture -- from modern bed, dining table, sofa set to almirah. Besides, Also available are products for home furnishing like table lamps, etc.

There is also a selection of office furniture.

Contact: Expose Furniture. #01973976736.


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