Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 39, Tuesday, October 04, 2011




Killing me softly with price hikes

I just cannot keep up with the spiralling prices any more. I think I have to give up my only hobby of hop scotching from dinghy bazaars to footpaths to posh outlets. And seriously consumerism or like one of my friends explained, 'capitalistic consumerism' is taking a dip here, trust me.

I am a pathetic, chronic shopper; I buy anything that my heart fancies. As hopeless as it may sound I find everything worth buying, even if it's for keepsakes. My exact thought behind the purchase is, 'somehow I will find a use for it later, so I do not want to miss the opportunity now'.

To try naming a thing that I do not need, will be a very tedious task. Starting from fresh produce to trifles like a wooden fruit box that the fruit vendors stack in front of their shops, to beautiful silver fish the fishmonger displays, to an irresistible red IKEA bowl I accidently stumble upon on Dhaka footpaths for Tk.150 only, to tassar saris and topaz pendants and solitaires; I eye everything.

It's a haphazard list but this is how random my buying spree is. So you can now more or less figure out why consumerism would take a drop if I am to just stop feeding my hobby.

But on a serious note the reason why I think I need to hibernate is the inflation. My Tk.500 note is like Tk.100 today, not worth much in the current fiscal climate.

However, today I will just brood about how my daily quota of vegetables will be compromised and not even touch base about the other things I need to survive. I will not tread on how my everyday commuting costs have now reached an all-time high either; nor will I talk about how, with the looming pressure of it going up even further, I just want to go underground, in all senses of the word.

For now I will stick to my vegetable sob stories only.

The vegetables that you can buy with Tk.100 are just enough for a day or one meal if you have a big family. The bags of Tk.500 worth of vegetables last you a maximum of three days.

A simple example would be my vegetable purchase the other day; it was definitely a shocker when I bought a green unripe pumpkin and a gourd for Tk.90 -- my heart sank.

How is it possible that a tennis ball-sized pumpkin would be selling at Tk.60 and a bundle of spinach at Tk.30? And that too at a street bazaar? I might have understood (though it would still have shocked me) if it was a superstore. I would have considered their utility bills on top of transport costs, but this was outrageous.

What surprised me even more was when I accidentally met a wholesaler who was carting his fresh produce to the local market when rain stranded him. His fresh, green, rain-washed cart tempted me to stop. I was petrified when he wanted Tk.40 per kilogram for his snake gourd and Tk.80 for tomatoes.

If you were to calculate the cost of a home breakfast of say toast, eggs, butter and jam or honey and a fruit or simple chapattis and vegetables and a halva, you will realise that it is not so cheap anymore. The price for each and every commodity, be it a luxury or everyday item, has reached an atrocious high.

Now, with fuel and gas price hikes my much coveted pumpkin will sell for Tk.100 for sure. Simply feeding my family and myself will exhaust my monthly budget; I will have nothing to spare for footpath makeshift stalls or chic, elegant malls. And eating out is out of the question -- unless I am free loading.

This very therapeutic hobby of mine has been handed a notice and I need to learn to cope with withdrawals asap.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


Top ten beauty tips

SADIA MOYEEN Beautician, La Belle
13/A /2 Kemal Ataturk Avenue ,
( 3rd/ 4th fl ) Gulshan -2

Hello readers! It's good to be back from my break. Here are some tips that you might find helpful. They are tried and tested and work really well.

1. Stand a dried-up mascara in a glass of warm water to bring it back to life.

2. Brighten up grey elbows by rubbing them with half a fresh lemon, it has natural bleaching properties. Moisturise afterwards to counteract the drying effect of the lemon juice.

3. Turn normal foundation into tinted moisturiser by mixing a few drops of lotion or cream into it. A blob of foundation in the palm of your hand with two drops of lotion will give a natural coverage for your skin.

4. Rub a dab of petroleum jelly around the neck of your nail polish bottle and it will be easy to open forever.

5. Rinse your hair with diluted vinegar for an instant shine. It seals down the outer cuticles of the hair, helping the hair to reflect the light more effectively.

6. A drop of olive oil massaged into your cuticles every night will ensure strong, long nails.

7. Eye shadow can double up as an eye-liner if applied with a cotton bud. Dampen the tip with water for a more dramatic effect.

8. A few drops of eau de toilette to olive oil to make terrific, bath oil.

9. If your eye and lip-liners are soft and break easily, keep them in the fridge for some time before sharpening.

10. If you have soft nails that tend to crack and break, file them with the nail polish still on. It adds body to the nail making them easier to file.


Break a sweat at work

By Karim Waheed

In this 21st century dog eat dog world, we do what we can to be punctual, meet deadlines or move up in the game of corporate snakes and ladders. Some eat breakfast when running out of the door. Others put on tie/makeup as they rush toward work. All this leaves many with virtually no time (or willpower) for working out. If you cannot make a horse drink water, I say bring water to the horse. How about working out in the office?

Sure, breaking a sweat at your desk may seem a little farfetched, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Working out at work can make you less stressed. It can help boost your energy level. And, most importantly, it can help sculpt the body you have been dreaming of.

But what are you going to do without any gym equipment? Your own bodyweight is sufficient to give you a decent workout. So do you just do some pushups in the middle of the office? Not necessarily. There are more discreet ways to get ripped in your work suit. Take the hand press, for instance. Put your hands out in front of your chest and press your palms together. Hold for ten seconds, rest and repeat 10/12 times.

Fitness experts believe that the best exercises are those that engage many muscles at once. One such exercise that can be done anywhere is the bodyweight squat. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, and slowly stand back up.

Squeezing in just 5 sets of 10/12 repetitions throughout the day will certainly make a difference.

Feeling shy about public display of exercise at workplace? Find ways to sneak in some exercise when no one is around. Maybe there is a vacant stairwell or rooftop that you can use. Climbing stairs (for a considerable length of time) alone can take you to new heights of fitness.

Every time you walk past a certain discreet place, do a brief exercise. This can add up quickly. Imagine if you did 10 bodyweight squats every time you went to get water or went to the toilet. In almost no time, you'd be making a huge difference.

Best of all, your boss is going to appreciate your new routine. Working out improves your immune system so you are less likely to miss work. Most importantly, your energy production will be improved allowing you to work longer and harder. Basically, increased fitness allows you to accomplish more with less stress.

Just in case: keep a deodorant handy.


Images through a theodolite IX:
Images through a theodolite

The past; the present

I broke his heart. I managed to hurt him where it hurts most. Truth be told I did not want to end things this way; all I wanted was to give a nudge, reawaken his spirit from the state of slumber. Maybe he would never be able to forgive me; never look into my eyes forgetting the fact that I had 'murdered' his unborn child. But I never expected this to go on any further either. This was the end of innocence and love.

He stormed into my heart like a typhoon. He rattled my existence, shook my pride. And before I knew it, I was head over heels. He would take his coat off and stand in the rain. He was always crazy like that. It was his unpredictability that I found enchanting.

Brilliant as he was in his studies, his reluctance to put in an effort irked the teachers and his friends who cared for him. But he didn't have too many friends. Few understood him; some thought he was haughty, others felt he was downright rude. But I discovered warmth in him; a cosiness in his heart evoked only through love.

I can't recall how I passed the night, crawling on the floor, crying while he kept on hurting himself beyond the closed door. This was his usual response -- a ghastly, terrible infliction of pain onto himself whenever he felt hurt, or wanted to hurt others.

He would often say I want a girl, and call her Humaira. And at other times, he wanted to call the child Azaan. But children were something of the distant future. We were struggling to be as we were; bringing new life to this world was an impossibility. But he dared to dream. He was crazy like that.

Deep down inside, I was suffocated. I could not possibly go on with this existence where I felt alone in the struggle of life. He left college to nurture his writing, and I was there for him. He however, was never there for me, nor for his writing. He would sit in front of the computer all day and do nothing. “The book is in my head,” he used to say. “I just need the right words”.

He would often read excerpts from his book. The few pages that he would write during the day, gulping countless cups of tea, in them I often found that glint of brilliance, but most of the time it was shrouded in a cloud of mediocrity.

The family ran on tuitions -- I taught anatomy to first and second year medical students. His contribution would be house rents. That was our only means of passing the days. Bringing a new life into this stalemate of a life would have been a crime. And it was an accident. But the price I eventually paid was too much.

I left his house next morning. He didn't say a word. I saw broken glass on the floor and his face bleeding from the cuts. He was sleeping on the floor like a child in a womb; like a parasite. I felt no love; no compassion and no hatred.

I couldn't tell my parents what happened. I never thought I would have to return to them; I had crushed their love for a newfound love. But to them was my return. No one knew how much I blamed myself for everything. I guess I didn't even know how much he blamed himself. But he didn't seem remorseful.

He never hurt me. At least never intended to. I know it in the very depths of my heart. But life took its toll. We shared the same bed but led different lives. I didn't have the courage to leave him. That would shatter him. No matter how much I wanted to hurt him for hurting me, I could never file for a legal separation. Life drifted us apart and that was sufficient to evoke a pain in my soul.

I didn't love him. May be I never did. But I did love an image of him that, as it now seemed, never existed. It was only in my dreams. He was not what I thought or hoped he was.

From a distance I observed him. Saw him crawling on the floor for attention, I saw him lose his religion, deviate from the path.

At every party we attended we put a façade of a couple happily married but behind his dark circles under the eyes I saw the remnants of a man dying from the inside. He willingly accepted this role as he possibly found solace in my made-to-order affection. But I still felt he loved me. And that was like salt in his wounds.

(to be continued…)

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif


Get the ultimate freedom from unwanted hair

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It is a simple and effective process that can be used on any part of the body, so you can confidently wear what your heart always desires. This month, Kaya Skin Clinic presents special offers on its Hairfree Service with discounts up to 30 percent.

Step in to a Kaya Skin Clinic and experience a complimentary trial of the permanent hairfree service on your upper lip, chin or your underarms. If you wish to sign up for a package, you could avail one of our combination-offers with discounts up to 30 percent. You could choose from a range of packages like Traditional, Western Wear and Beach Wear, depending on your needs and requirements.

Kaya Skin Clinic uses a US FDA approved, ND YAG laser -- safe on Bangladeshi skin and suitable for all skin types. The service is performed by a trained and certified skin practitioner and under the supervision of the dermatologist.

It reduces the number and thickness of unwanted hair to fine, less visible hair permanently. The laser light beams are absorbed by the dark colour (melanin) of the hair and works on the hair roots (follicles) without harming the surrounding skin, which stops further hair growth. Normally 6 sessions of the service are recommended, each in a gap of 4-6 weeks, followed by few maintenance sessions for long lasting results.

To book an appointment -- SMS KAYA to 6161.

Clinic contact details:

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-- LS Desk


Drawing tradition

She finds the same rhythm in alpona art that she experiences in her moves of classical dance. For Sharmila Banerjee, an exponent of Indian classical dance and a noted authority on this art, alpona shares an equally soft corner in her heart as with dancing.

“It is quite extraordinary. The simple forms like circles or paisley motifs are repeated and transformed into large forms of floor art, using simple shades of white, red, yellow and other colours,” she said.

In reality, alpona has been a part of Bengali tradition since time immemorial. What was essential a practice of the Hindu community in Bengal has now transformed into a culture transcending religious boundaries.

“You can observe alpona art in various forms throughout the Subcontinent. What is known as alpona in Bengal is termed as rangoli elsewhere.” Using coloured sand, rangoli is drawn in the entrance of Indian households during Diwali, Puja and other festive occasions.

“Rangoli is not limited to religious festivities only. South Indian households feature rangoli on a daily basis. Large art works of sand are drawn at the entrance of their households to welcome guests and to greet on-coming good luck,” she further adds.

Although alpona drawn with enamel paints and brushes is now widespread, traditionally it was done using powdered rice and the index finger as the brush. The colour was essentially white, as there were no additives in the powder. However, for the sake of variation, natural hues were often added to break the monochrome and achieve a colourful result.

“Drawing with rice powder is still practiced on auspicious days like the Durga Puja. One visiting cultural programmes of Chhayanat or Puja at Kumudini in Tangail can witness the delicate work of alpona art still being practised in its purest forms.”

Women of the household used to shower and put on their clean garbs before venturing into drawing an alpona. The forms were simple -- circles, paisleys etc. This was to ward off bad spirits and welcome a positive aura within the household.

“Even today, if we care to make the effort, alpona art can be a part of our daily lives. Instead of decorating our floors with mats we can draw a large alpona in our living rooms. The culture can thrive within our modern living. This can also add a new dimension to our home décor,” believes Sharmila Banerjee.

Today, alpona has not only broken the fetters of religion but also of gender. “Essential as a custom of the womenfolk, alpona is now widely drawn by both men and women. This is how the tradition has been transformed and survives modern day living.

Alpona in its truest from is essentially a practice of Bengal although its use is not limited to the Bengalis. Alpona in similar forms are seen in Santal households of Bengal, where it is drawn on the borders of the entrance to their mud dwellings.

It was Abanindranath Tagore who revolutionised alpona art and gave it new life. Today, this tradition bears a heavy influence of the Santiniketan style of art. It must be said, without an iota of doubt, that as time goes by this form of art will flourish and the tradition will live on for generations to come.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif


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