Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 6, Issue 50, Tuesday, December 27, 2011




Tren dspo tting

Anticipations for the New Year are already underway. For fashionistas, selecting the perfect attires, the right accessories that will set you apart from the rest is of utmost importance. For the men too, it's about getting everything right.

Fashion changes every season but some waves are timeless. Playing with the textures is not an uncharted avenue for the fashion savvy and it is bigger than ever this season. Whether you are looking at the shelves of the fashion outlets; or rummaging through your closet, toying with textures can never get you wrong, especially for this New Year.

Wear that perfect attire, bask under the disco lights, put on your party shoes and get yourself right on centre, where you belong. And let Star Lifestyle show you how. See Centre for more.

Photo courtesy: Cats Eye


Celebrating New Year's Eve

Some prefer to spend the last minutes of the year with their nearest and dearest ones all cuddled up under blankets, in the biting weather, in front of the television watching some celebrity dancing at a new year's special programme while others like to groove to the beats of a DJ at some club.

And then there are those who do not wish to be part of either extreme and instead choose to meet up with friends and relatives and spend some quality time with them, feasting and conversing while waiting for the hands of the clock to slowly move towards 12.

All these years if you have been a guest at others' get-togethers and have been thinking of being the host instead, but did not get around to doing it, this might be the year for you; also if you are a believer of the Mayan prophecy this might be the last and only year for you!

The very first thing that you have to decide on is whether you want to have a formal party or a casual one because a lot of things including the venue, the menu, the invites and the arrangements will depend on that.

Then decide on the number and group of people you will be inviting. If you are having a big party you generally do not need to put too much thought into who you will be inviting, since almost everybody will find one or another acquaintance.

When planning a small gathering you have to put some thought into who you will invite because making sure that the guests will be able to gel with each other is crucial for the party to be a success and frankly, spending the last night of the year with individuals one does not get along with well is not exactly the best way to end the year.

To make the invitation process easier, try mailing everyone an invite or opening an event page on Facebook. This makes the entire process shorter as you will not have to keep calling people and repeating the same thing over and over again, moreover, you will be saved from the hassle of spending hours on the phone as courtesy.

As almost everyone nowadays has an e-mail or Facebook account, the job is that much simpler. Make sure you phrase your invitation tactfully so that it conveys whether it is a formal or a casual event since the guests will want to dress accordingly.

If you plan to throw an extravagant party with quite a lot of people you might choose to do it by your poolside or at your back lawn if you reside in an independent house. A pool side party with barbequed food -- not only the conventional barbequed chicken but barbequed beef steak, prawn, fish etc.

Since every year a lot of us make the resolution of eating healthy throughout the rest of the year, you might choose to start the year by keeping greasy food like polao out of the menu and replace that with other healthier alternatives; you can also replace carbonated drinks with fruit cocktails.

In order to get your guests to socialise more with each other you might avoid bringing in tables and chairs; this will prevent people from sitting and eating at one place and instead will get them to move around and talk to each other even while eating. At the strike of 12 you might arrange for a small fireworks display to celebrate.

If arranging the party at your premises seems too much of a hassle for you, throw it at a party centre, but, what you have to keep in mind is a lot of the party centres shut down before midnight, so you might not be able to welcome the New Year with your guests.

Those choosing to have a casual get-together with only a handful of people can have a barbeque party on their rooftop or even at home. You can set up the barbeque grill at one of your verandas.

To make the gathering a little more fun you may keep the marinated food beside the grill so that the guests may choose their desired items and grill it themselves. You may keep a collection of frozen food like sausages and burger patties as well. Another thing that you could try is arranging a one dish party where each guest brings in a different item.

Using disposable cutlery is a great idea since it is an informal gathering and it is easier to clean after your guests. Decorate your venue by buying a few strings of fairy lights and hanging them around the railings of the balcony and a few places around the house; you can store these and use them for other parties as well. Arrange a countdown to midnight, with all the lights off except the tiny ones, to start your New Year.

By Karishma Ameen
Photo: Lifestyle Archive


2011 fads and fails

2011 was a great year, trend-wise. Of course all trends were not spectacular, nor were they all ridiculous. For every fad that caught on, there were two fails. Here's were we recap some of the most memorable fashion disasters/statements.

The man purse
It has been a few years since Kanye West came on the red carpet with his exquisite looking Luis Vuitton Man Purse. Was he coming out of the closet? Not in the least.

The massive fashion statement was carried on by the likes of Kobe Bryant, Drake and even the man who epitomises all that is 'gangster', Snoop Dogg.

So, obviously it was something big, right? Wrong.

The trend failed to catch on in Bangladesh and even Asia. It seems the society here remained doubtful of a man who carries a purse. And well, without the swagger of Kanye and the rest, it would really be hard to pull it off. So fail.

Fitness buffs
This year also saw a sudden rise in interest in hitting the gym and taking care of people's fitness. Gym memberships shot up, if the owners are to be believed, but the deshi boys were buffing up and that was quite evident. Of course, the fairer sex latched on too, but instead of working a sweat, they fell to the Dukan Diet craze which Kate Middleton and family really popularised. The diet was all about carbs, sweet potatoes and things that did not have beef in them. It lasted. Until Korbani. But the fitness bug stuck around, so it's still a fad.

Animal prints
What says classy like Leopard stripes? Nothing, because leopard stripes aren't really classy. Spring time did bring about a sudden interest in animal prints with leopard and zebra stripes dominating the market. It couldn't be as big a fad because, let's face it, animal print shalwar kameez does not work much.

Cheap looking prints also did not last in the market. And no one was going to go kill leopards. No one. There aren't any left, to begin with. And Royal Bengal prints would be a total, illegal, fashion disaster. Here was another fail.

Stilettos and ankle brace
6-inch stilettos are the recent craze in New York's runways. And they are not on planes but on women's feet. Surprised? So, are we. But despite the difficulty it takes to walk around in them, they remain really charming. And what looks charming, remains a fad through and through.

Of course, 6-inches is a touch longer than the average, and thus when stilettos caught on so did ankle braces. At least, that's how generally complementary goods work, although I am not too sure.

Harem pants
Remember skinny jeans? Imagine skinny jeans with elastic waistbands? Can't? Neither can we, so no one was surprised when harem pants, first launched in 2008, came back with a vengeance this year and quickly fizzled out once again. MC Hammer never had an idea what he was doing, so no point imagining that he was suddenly right. He was not exactly Galileo. Harem Pants; it came, it saw, it disappeared. Another fashion fail.

By Osama Rahman


Chocolate irresistible

If you were asked to state a food which is perfect, what food would it be? “Biochemically, chocolate really is the world's perfect food,” someone once said. And indeed, it is true. When it comes to taste, who can deny that eating a chocolate gives a tiny trip to heaven?

Interestingly, it was not humans who first discovered the source of this delicacy. Monkeys were way ahead. They found that cacao plants are edible and delicious. The sweet pulp of the cacao pod was a treat; but the beans or seeds were bitter. The monkeys used to eat the pulp and throw out the seeds. As it turns out, humans were actually no different than monkeys in ancient times! They just used to have the pulp too, just like the monkeys.

This was the first encounter with “chocolate.” How those beans were discovered to be tasty remains a mystery, with many legends and theories.

Anyhow, chocolate was discovered a long time back, and in those civilizations, chocolate was not eaten; it was drunk. The solid form of chocolate -- chocolate bars, that is -- is a relatively new invention.

Be it in liquid form, chocolate made its position clear. It was a divine delicacy. It was used in some religious ceremonies. It was aristocracy, a symbol of royalty.

Today, centuries later, chocolate still holds a mystique unmatched by other foods. It may be argued that chocolate contains chemicals that make it addictive. Indeed, there are people who seem to live for chocolate. Chocoholics we call them.

In many countries of the world, chocolate is just like a regular snack. You go out, or you are just feeling like eating or drinking something; chocolate is your answer. Chocolate is perhaps the most popular comfort food ever.

But how can a food replace kissing and even sex? Many studies have been conducted to reveal the charm chocolate holds.

In a laboratory, couples were asked to kiss with sensors and electrodes attached (now that's a funny image!). Then they were also given chocolates. The research clearly showed that, in terms of heart rate and biochemistry, chocolate was a bigger “hit.”

The melting of chocolate inside the mouth is a contributing factor. Another survey says that fifty percent of women prefer chocolate to sex.

Can chocolate be a substitute for love too? In the movie The Devil's Advocate, Al Pacino gives the answer to this question. Love is “…overstated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate.”

Chocolate companies have surely left no stone unturned to reinforce this. The beautiful packaging, the various ingredients and additives to chocolate make the food even more irresistible. There are various types of chocolate: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, compound chocolate and what not.

Ironically, in Bangladesh, dark chocolate, which contains the maximum amount of “chocolate”, is disliked by many. Dark chocolate may contain up to about eighty percent of chocolate liquor or cocoa, which makes it very bitter.

Are chocolates healthy? Both yes and no. Even here chocolate holds an air of mystery. True, chocolates lift one's mood. But that doesn't mean you should go about eating chocolates all day. Chocolates contribute to obesity. The added milk and sugar and a whole other battery of ingredients can make you fat.

If you are a true chocolate lover, you would present a deaf ear to these facts. “Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate,” someone once said.

Chocolates are good for health too. Now we are talking, right? Indeed, dark chocolate is associated with a lot of health benefits. It is a brain stimulator and cough preventer. It might also reduce risk of heart diseases and also lower the chance of getting cancer.

The tests and surveys surrounding chocolate continue, and many claims yet need to be solidified. However, as a chocolate lover, all you should care about is the immense happiness it provides.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a bar and sink your teeth into the irresistible!

By M H Haider


Comfy comforters

On winter mornings, as soon as the wretched alarm goes off, rudely interrupting that heavenly sleep, for that 9 o'clock meeting or that 8 o'clock class, curling into bed like a foetus covered from head to toe under a squashy, warm quilt is the only thing that you could wish for.

The decades-old “lep” dragged out of the cupboard, the "kombol", the thick "kantha" stitched by your grandmother all play similar roles, but the soft and light yet warm feel of comforters is hard to match.

The typical woolly "kombol" is usually a bit itchy to the skin, while "leps" are for the extremely cold winter days but their more refined counterparts, comforters, are neither itchy on the skin nor too heavy. They are nice looking as well and can be used to cover the bed after use.

Since winter is here you may want to get yourself or your family members these cuddly necessities, or as I like to think of them, pleasures. Even 15 years ago these were quite rare in the country with most of them being brought here if someone went abroad. Now, like everything else, these are available almost everywhere.

The greatest collection can be found at Gulshan-1 market. Both locally made and imported ones are available. A 5-piece bedding set comes with a comforter, two pillow covers, a bed sheet and a side pillow cover. Comforters in semi-double and double sizes can also be found. Most local products have detachable covers, while imported ones can be found with stitched-on covers.

Local comforters alone range from a price of Tk.800 and upwards and as part of a bedding set costs Tk.2400 and upward. Imported comforters start at around Tk.2200. A variety of prints are available in floral patterns or shapes and symbols such as Japanese alphabets; for children you can opt for cartoon characters such as Pooh Bear, Spongebob, Disney princesses and Dora The Explorer

Apart from the Gulshan market, comforters can be found at times at the "kombol" vendors opposite the Dhaka College Market. There they will probably ask for prices around Tk.1500-1800 but obviously if you are an expert at haggling you can get them for much lower prices. You may come across these at New Market, but only occasionally.

This winter get yourself your favourite pattern and enjoy those five minutes twisting under the comforter till the snooze alarm goes off!

By Karishma Ameen


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