Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 37, Tuesday, September 20, 2011



Behind closed doors

Privacy issues were always a thing of much importance but recently the attention they have gathered have multiplied manifold. I will not go into the details or re-tell horror stories that have been brushed under the carpet but will only attempt to reinforce their worth. This I will do because many a times we are not sure what is allowed and what is not and this confusion translates to the slips we get to see as major society scandals.

Just imagine yourself in a situation where you are a tad intimate with your boyfriend and for a very strange reason he takes a picture, (it is even stranger why you allow him to do so, but that is a different story) say of your kiss and uploads it on the net. Later you find your picture on sites you usually do not endorse.

It is not only embarrassing but almost a social murder. You obviously do not want others to see this, you did not authorise your friend to use this picture; but it has been done. And with it your reputation has been questioned and ruined.

Or simply imagine that you are in a restroom or trial room or in a hotel and without you knowing some Peeping Toms are seeing you in your private moments. It is a very frightening thought but it is a fact and maybe a reality for many of us.

The reason for me to bring this matter of privacy up is because a friend of mine forwarded me and my daughter a warning, and reading it made me realise that on a day-to-day basis we tend to forget how privacy issues are being violated. I took the liberty to include it in my notes because I just wanted my readers to be aware of traps and loopholes lurking at every corner.

To prevent our innocent ladies from hidden cameras:
In front of the trial room take your mobile and make sure that the cell phone can make calls. If u cannot make a call, it may mean that there is a hidden camera in the trial room. The call could not be processed due to the interference of fibre optic cables during the signal transfer. Pinhole cameras in changing rooms are used to make MMS of young girls.

However this mail got my paranoid mind all pumped up and I wanted to remind you that if you are using a cyber cafe, even as a dating venue if not for the real purpose, stay vigilant of hidden cameras.

Rumours have it that your cell numbers are up for sale at flexi counters, though we cannot prove it but your phone numbers are very much public property when your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend gives it away to ten random people to annoy you for dumping them.

Maybe it does not stand true for our country but a 2-way mirror is a possibility; especially when you visit toilets, bathrooms, hotel rooms and changing rooms, etc.

It is indeed a scary thought that what you do in private can be public property and all without your knowing it or consent. The least you can do is take small precautions to prevent such violations.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


KFC's newest offers

"We hope people love eating them as much as we love making them".

Akku Chowdhury, the Managing Director and CEO of Transcom Foods Ltd., said in the launching of KFC's three latest items on 13 September, 2011.

"There's nothing we love more than coming up with great new products for our customers. We hope people love eating them as much as we love making them. It's been almost five years since we have opened KFC in Bangladesh and we made great efforts to increasingly surprise and delight food lovers not just with excellent products but also outstanding customer care."

KFC understands that fast food is not just about satisfying your hunger, but pleasing your palate and taste buds. And our taste buds are mischievous fellows indeed! They require new flavours, spices and tastes every now and then.

This time around, KFC came up with three new items for you to grab a bite from: Colonel Mint, Hawaiian Zinger Burger and a mini meal.

The Colonel Mint is a yummy breast fillet -- an original recipe of KFC -- with lettuce, sweet mayo mixed with mint sauce. The Hawaiian Zinger Burger, on the other hand, is a spicy thigh fillet, cooked golden brown, served with shredded lettuce, a slice of pineapple and sweet mayo, all on a seeded bun. Finally, the mini meal comprises of one piece of chicken, a mini zinger burger and French fries.

Prices are kept very reasonable. Colonel Mint costs Tk 185, the Hawaiian Zinger Burger's price is Tk 225 while the mini meal comes with a price tag of Tk 240.

KFC has outlets in Dhaka at Gulshan, Banani, Bailey Road, New Eskaton, Mirpur, Dhanmondi and Laxmibazar and one in Chittagong at Lalkhan Bazar.

By M H Haider


In this vastly integrated world, there is an ever-present tension between the local and the global. Being as we are far behind the developed world in technology and infrastructure, our markets are open to dominance by foreign products, which in itself is not a bad thing. However, when this dominance comes at the cost of the well-being of local producers, the situation is far from ideal.

That is the situation that prevails in many sectors of the Bangladesh economy, but there are efforts afoot to bring about positive change in this regard. An excellent example is the exhibition held at Drik Gallery from 13 to 15 September, organised by Orbachin in partnership with Katalyst, showcasing the skills of our local artisans in creating furniture accessories.

“Furniture is a big industry that is integrated with lifestyle in Bangladesh,” said well-known designer and team leader of the project Chandra Shekhar Shaha. “While most of the furniture in our markets are imported, there is still room for locally made furniture accessories. This project is on a trial basis, to see whether it is possible to create a furniture tradition with local skill and material.”

To bring this to fruition, Orbachin teamed up with Katalyst over the last nine months to bring the local artisans to the attention of the big furniture houses such as Hatil and Brothers'.

“We know that there are skilled artisans who reflect our traditions in their craft, but what they lacked was a voice,” continued Shaha. “What was needed was a middle-man, and Orbachin has been filling that void.”

Together, Orbachin and Katalyst represent around 4,500 local artisans, eighty percent of whom are rural women.

However, when talking of the marketplace, the question of what sets these products apart must be asked. “Most of the imported accessories that you see in shops are synthetic. This exhibition, and the products made by local craftspeople are natural -- made from wood. The natural character of raw materials has been upheld in this exhibition,” explained Shaha.

Indeed, natural seems to be the buzz word if one were to describe the exhibition. The event took place at the second floor of Drik Gallery, and the three corners of the hall were dedicated to three kinds of products. In one corner on a raised platform numerous side tables, beautifully carved and crafted, rose from a smattering of wood shavings signifying the natural creative process. There were also traditionally designed cushion covers, place mats and rugs.

Another platform had lamps, the stands of which were mostly made of natural wood in innovative and interesting designs. Between these two platforms, the wall was dotted with mirrors in raw wooden frames, exuding the back-to-basics feel, which has proven so popular in today's over-processed aesthetic.

Even with the aesthetic richness of the wares on view, the question still lingered as to why people would choose the local products over the international ones. This is where the main point of the exhibition comes to the fore. Written prominently on the walls are the words 'Proyojon kretar shochetonota' ('Buyer awareness required').

“The products may be as or more expensive than their foreign counterparts, but this is where the country's consumers will have to exercise their preference,” said Shaha. “Our weavers and craftsmen have the necessary skills, but unfortunately not the marketing prowess or the machinery to really be able to compete with foreign goods. This situation will not improve till more interest is shown for their products and sufficient demand created. That is why I said that this project is on a trial basis, and this exhibition is to get the word out to the buyers that there are quality local alternatives.”

What Shaha was talking about is a concept that should be familiar to economics students -- economies of scale. When there is sufficient demand for products or services of an industry, that industry can grow and meet those demands accordingly -- grow in terms of workforce, capital, etc. Therefore, unless enough interest is shown for the products of our local craftspeople, they will continue to be stuck in their impoverished state. Buying local products is a sure way to improve the lot of our own countrymen, something that will benefit our economy as a whole.

Then, of course, there is the style factor, and in that regard Orbachin and Katalyst have smartly chosen furniture accessories, which rely more on aesthetic presentation than out-and-out quality as their selling point. Each culture has different interpretations of beauty, and different ideas about what makes their homes beautiful. Therefore, it stands to reason that living in Bangladesh, the furniture accessories that will most suit our homes are the ones made by Bangladeshis, for Bangladeshis.

These local products will be available at big furniture houses following the exhibition.



Dim lights

By Iffat Nawaz

I hate the house that lights up every night in a not so far away distance. The inside is decorated with red lounge furniture; a terrace hangs next to the open wooden glassed doors. I never see anyone inside, yet I know they are there. Listening to jazz and old classics, perhaps creating something fabulous, a novel, a few music chords that will change the world, or at least Dhaka, a creative space, or a place after you have been creative.

I hate it because I lived in that house once. I lounged on those couches, I fell asleep on that terrace, I tended those plants; orchids, not to be watered excessively. I had glasses of chilled lemonade standing at the open doorstep, I sipped on hot chocolate on that couch in the winter with a blanket around my legs and finished three novels.

The house never sleeps. Every night before I turn on my light and walk over to my veranda it's already lit before me, when I turn my lights off and make amends between my bed sheets it's still glowing softly.

The soft light hops over a few rooftops and lies down next to me. It makes me angry, what a waste of energy. I don't see any bodies floating around that space, I don't see any soul waiting there for anyone, or tiring after anyone's arrival.

For some reason I never stare at that direction during the day. It doesn't interest me to see who is cleaning the floor. Who is fixing the throw-ons on top of the divan, I don't care about the used glasses being picked up to be washed just to be used again, filled with dim yet powerful light just to show me the existence of those who do not come in front of me. Not even as shadows.

I have dirty nails, I have mud between my fingers and mosquito bites on my feet. I scratch them regularly, so they become scars after scars. I don't wear perfume or pluck my eyebrows, I have grown into what women do not care to grow into. An uncivilised wanderer, running after blues and greens falling into cracks. I have no use for a couch or a new lamp. I find plants in pots suffocating, I do not buy flowers anymore from the street children.

I don't listen to music, I don't know how to sing. I have lost my habit of cosying up under blankets and feeling the warmth of microwaves. The basic food I eat stays between the gaps of my teeth, I don't brush my teeth at night, and often in the mornings. I wake up every day more rested. Nothing haunts me, though I hate many things. Dripping air conditioners, forced smiles, hugs that leave you feeling more disconnected, bottles of coloured liquids.

Each morning I set my bare feet on the gravel. I walk, I walk until I reach some grass, I lie there not wanting to be human. I yell at the sky to pick me up, to show its vast power, its emptiness. I return home sometimes drenched in humid hues and sometimes in crimson cries.

I wash off the day. The house stays lit up in a distance, offering me civilisation, stability, it calls for the glasses to be held between my fingers. It begs me to shower and get into something fashionably comfortable. Instead, I find a piece of unstitched cotton, I feel neither cold nor hot, I give myself a new name, and I go to bed, craving another day of uncivilised pathways, without a walking stick and without dim lights.



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