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ASHRAM
Like a Mermaid in the Sea

A boat floats you to a secluded, unrivalled (at least in the country) sea-residence named the Ashram, located in the furthermost corner of the already isolated Mermaid-eco resort. Mermaid, as you may already know, is a place situated on Pechar Dip, where one can hear the sounds of the sea, yet be away from the roar of the crowds at Cox's Bazaar. But the ashram is not just that. It is a wide terrain of meditation, relaxation and unlimited fun! Here's how.

You can choose to go in a large group (it's quite expensive, so dividing the cost might be a good idea), and party the nights away in its open terrace; you can go there with your beloved (there are quite a few rooms, so you might also consider sharing the place with some other couples), and enjoy some peace; or you might just wish to be there by yourself. No money in the world can pay for the time you will have with yourself while at the ashram. It is a place where you will connect with the inner you, remember your spiritual being and discover yourself once again. No, you do not have to be the religious sort; you only have to be someone who enjoys his/her own company once in a while.

As you sit on the open balcony, right outside the ashram, the scene you witness is a picture perfect paradise, that you thought was only possible in Hawaii; what you see is the endless sea, surrounded by coconut trees with only the calm breeze to provide silent company. While a cup of coffee will enliven your senses, you might also consider having fresh coconut juice for a change. You do not have to climb a tree yourself to get one, the ever enthusiastic caretakers will do it for you, with pleasure too!

Not only that, the sea-food delicacies that your taste buds have become so used to while at Mermaid will be served here as well. All you need to do is pick up your favourite from the menu. Who can forget the tunes of local bauls, singing their hearts out at Mermaid? If you want to please your ears with the sound of their music, and break the silence of the ashram at some point of your stay, you can request a private baul night as well. These musicians will not only feed your newly found souls, but will also let you sing tunes and play instruments along with them.

But if all you wish to do is escape from the hubbub of city life, and ponder, contemplate and deliberate, just take a direct plane to Cox's Bazaar, where someone from the ashram will pick you up and take you there. Now all you need to do is book that ticket to Cox's Bazaar. Who needs to fly all the way to Rome and Spain when you have a mermaid wrought island right here in the country?

Mermaid New Year's Eve Party
On New Year's Eve, Mermaid is going to host a beach party in the seclusion of Pechar Dwip by the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, far away from the madding crowd. Although guests shall not be able to reside in the eco resort situated in this secluded private island as the rooms are already booked, there is a shuttle bus service that shall pick you up from your hotel, and return you when the party is finished. The party starts at 7.30 pm and shall go on for the whole night, but guests can arrive and leave at will. The island of Pechar Dwip shall glow like fireflies and at 12 pm, the spectacular fireworks display will last for at least 25 minutes. The beach party shall also have a meditation session. Other attractions of a New Year's Eve party shall also be present including fresh seafood! Guests shall be chosen selectively so you can be assured that there will be no improper behaviour on the beach. Party tickets can be booked at Mermaid Café Gallery, Dhaka and Mermaid Café, Cox's Bazaar.

By Syeda Minarwa Mahbub
Photo courtesy: Mermaid-eco resort


UNDER A DIFFERENT SKY

Cold Smiles

By Iffat Nawaz

I am blinded. Dark light, night highs and random noises of construction. Empty promises roam the streets. It starts at the doorstep, the bargaining with the rickhshawala.

He says “35 taka”.

I reply “20” knowing I should really pay him 40. I walk away. He follows.

“Will fly you to your destination, 30 taka.”

I get on for 30 taka, knowing he won't fly. We sit stuck in the traffic jam, 10 minutes take 25 and I get off knowing he cheated me and he feels I cheated him too.

Big weddings and winter rooftop parties, banning mosquitoes and old pashmina shawls, fresh lavender smothers minds and glasses are filled with mint juleps. Fun is promised, excitement even. Aquantiances stare at each other not wanting to say the first “hi,” winter sets in with cold smiles. Bands sing cover songs, nights pass, no one complains, people make vows, people share gossips. Walk away, with as many friends as you walked in with. Not one more not one less, yet so many hugs and kisses fly the sky.

Then suddenly I am in the middle of a conference room. Panel discussions, long workshops, experts and specialists share their thoughts. Presentations and fancy business cards. The talk of protocol and process, and future steps. The same talk for the last 10 years, the buzz words change, the priorities change, yet the experts remain experts. We have years of conference hopping experience you see, years of presentations, recycled over and over to be fed again to the sleeping audience. Yet it's necessary, to feel good, to feel proactive, to fill important web pages and photo albums for the media to write about. Everyone talks over each other, the longer your speech is the more important you are, who cares about what I am saying, substance is so 1920s.

Back in my living room at night I stare at the television with faces from the past. They talk about the war. A war that was fought, a history that is close to our hearts. But why the same mouths tell the story over and over again I wonder. Has the rest of the country who lived through the war or fought in the war had a memory loss? Are these the only story tellers, only freedom fighters of 71 who survived to tell the stories? To make it to the billboards, and front page every February, March and December? In our freedom songs are we following the same game of social status, and pushing “experts” in hogging our television spots, important events and speeches, are there only about 50 mouths who own the war?

I am not one who believes that we should not talk about the war anymore, I know it's important for the current generation to know the importance of the sacrifices made to have an independent land but how is this presentation different from the other Dhaka bubbles with exclusive rights to enter a private party or a conference? How are we expected to keep our ears open, our hearts on full capacity to consume when we see monopoly with history and present and we live by it.

I switch the channel and advertisements on beauty creams and hair oil come flying towards me from the screen, girls promising I could look like them if I wanted to. Somewhere in between fairer skin and darker hair I fall asleep, with a 100 mosquitoes and the sound of construction nearby. The noise of flapping Bangladeshi flags to be sold tomorrow by the street vendors mix into my sleep, I don't dream in colour.

   
 

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