Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 7, Issue 13, Tuesday, March 27, 2012




Beating the workout blues

By Karim Waheed

Even those who have the time to work out and don't find it utterly exhausting often avoid it because, well, it can get boring. In fact, boredom can be attributed to the number one reason so many people are out of shape.

Twenty minutes of jogging feels like an hour; a circuit training routine is blah, especially when you've been doing it for months. Fighting boredom is an important part of staying on top of your fitness goals. Here are a few tricks that can help.

Get educated. This does not mean a degree in exercise science but just getting to know how fitness and weight loss can be achieved. When people learn how they can achieve goals, they become eager to try the methods.

Get a workout partner. It should be somebody with the same goals, drive, and determination as you. If your workout buddy is someone you must drag along with you, it will affect both of you. It is much easier to let ourselves down than others.

Take your workout outdoor. Fresh air and the scenery should give you a break. Many who do circuit training with weights can easily get a workout accomplished outside. If moving weights is your thing, you can carry a heavy backpack.

Most communities/neighbourhoods have some type of team sport available. They usually are open to all. So, go ahead, be a part of your neighbourhood football/cricket team or play badminton.

Take a class. There may be a karate class, dance class, or a Pilates class for you to join.

Get some gear. Next time you go shopping, keep your fitness activity in mind. Perhaps buying a new pair of sneakers or a new MP3 player will give you some extra motivation to use them.

Focus on the end result. By now you have seen some progress and have experienced the feel good hormones and chemicals released by the brain when you work out. Focus on those the next time you feel bored.

Q. Hi, I am 15 years old (turning 16 this April) and I am 6 ft 2 inches tall. I happen to be 'obese' and my parents are really worried about it. I weigh 97 kg by the way. It would be great if you could advise me and suggest some exercises that can help me lose weight. I don't want to turn out to be one of the 'fat ones' in school. -- Anonymous
Hi Anonymous, before I make suggestions, let me address the more serious issue here. If you're being bullied or your peers are making fun of you because of your weight, you need to tell them off. Some of the most outrageously talented, brightest and successful people happen to carry some extra weight. Being overweight doesn't make one less of a person. Now if you're trying to lose weight to be healthier, that's another issue.

Start with walking. Once you adapt, try jogging, and then running. Interval running is a great way to lose weight. If you can combine this with weight training, you'll see positive results soon enough.

No need to starve yourself. Eat simple carbs [white rice, flour, sugar] in moderation and try to avoid deep fried foods.


There's water in the radio - Part II

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny

Becoming a car mechanic means learning new words that confuse the general car owning public. Words like crankshaft and itsgonnacostyou. Becoming a mechanic in Bangladesh means inventing words. These are words that confuse even car geeks otherwise known as petrolheads or dinner bores.

This is a second list of words you will hear in a car workshop but may never know what they mean. Until now. Some you will figure out and all will make you smile. Let's begin with the easy one. It's a craftsman favourite: Plus. Mechanics love using a plus to minus your wallet contents. So do electricians and plumbers. Pliers, a great indispensable tool for bending stuff and picking up dead cockroaches you are afraid to touch, become 'plus' for our country. But this is just to get your started.

Have you heard of a jock? A sports enthusiast who also plays and bullies nerds, right? A 'jock' is used to raise a car when you need to remove a wheel either to repair a flat or to steal it. Makes sense considering a jock being a strong, sturdy bully can also lift cars. But no, the actual word is jack, which incidentally could be the name of a jock.

A jock or jack is used in conjunction with an 'aloe ring'. Now if any skin conscious person is reading this, an aloe ring sounds promising. We know how aloe is good for the skin. Celebrities are put to sleep in this stuff. A ring made of aloe that vitalises your skin, somehow? No, it's an alloy wheel, the fancy shcmancy wheels made of a combination of metals that are not steel.

Speaking of wheels, several drivers and mechanics in my home town of Sylhet have a thing called an 'Expire' wheel. Spare wheel if you may. Makes sense that you use the spare when any other wheel expires.

But the best is saved for last. Car tuners all over the world will put on a loud, rumbling exhaust for squeezing a few extra ounces of power from an engine. Generally it just creates more noise. They are called mufflers or silencers but the loud ones do anything but muffle. Other names are end box, fart can, cherry bomb, etc. What do we call them? Howlers, which is pretty self explanatory. It makes the typical boring Toyota Corolla/Allion howl and it makes people around the car howl but only inside their heads. Howls of despair.


The street chef

Chop! Chop! Chop! In the hands of a pro, the knife powered through several green chillies. It was a busy time for Alam, a jhalmuriwala at Shahbagh. Soon, it would be evening, and customers would line up. With busy hands, a grave face wearing a look of disinterest in the outside world, a few groups of customers coming up every now and then, he tells me the story of how he has gained fame and reputation in the simple profession of selling jhalmuri.

Mohammed Alam is no ordinary jhalmuriwala. During rush hours -- which usually start in the evening -- you might have to wait for as much as twenty minutes before you are handed over a packet-ful of jhalmuri. But it is well worth the wait. Once you put a mouthful of the puffed rice in your mouth, the magic unravels…

It may be said that Mohammed Alam is arguably the most “famous” jhalmuriwala in Bangladesh. His stall is in Shahbagh, in front of the museum.

And he has a right to that title. This man has elevated the process of making jhalmuri into an art. He is one jhalmuriwala who actually has a menu of twelve items; the fruits of innovation.

Items include “deem diye muri,”, “special muri,” “chanachur muri,” “aachar diye muri,” “shudhu aachar,” etc.

He came up with these items on his own, undertaking a massive, continuous trial and error routine. After numerous experiments, these items now compound to form a very diversified and delicious menu of jhalmuri.

Omnipresent is a unique solution of spice. Minced chicken is another ingredient which he adds in many of his recipes.

The difference between an ordinary jhalmuri and his jhalmuri cannot be explained. You have to experience it for yourself. You will fall in love with it once you get the flavour.

Complement that with a group of friends and a cup of tea from one of the tea stalls -- and you've given yourself a nice, little treat.

Prices are very cheap too. The highest priced item on the menu costs Tk.30.

People often see the success but overlook the hardship it took to reach there. Alam's story is very inspiring; it is the story of a self-made man who courageously started from scratch and went on to build a brand around him.

Several years ago, he decided he needed to come to the city to make a good living. However, he did not have the money to even come to Dhaka. He therefore borrowed Tk 200 and got ready to face the world.

When Alam set foot in Dhaka city, he had no money in his pocket. The bus fares and additional expenses emptied his pockets completely. He went to one of those shops to call someone he knows in the city, promising to pay once his relative comes to pick him up.

That was his first day at Dhaka.

His first job was to collect the leftovers of flowers -- leaves, thorn, stems, etc. and throw them in the dust bin. He worked in one of the flower shops opposite the National Museum. Little did he know that his true destiny -- one that he would meet a few years later, was actually waiting for him on the other side of the road.

He quit the job and switched professions some more, not satisfied with anything. Finally, he decided to become a jhalmuriwala.

At first he was like any other jhalmuriwala. But, he is an entrepreneur at heart. He invested in his tiny business smartly. And today, after much patience, a knack for understanding the tastes of consumers and the spark of innovation required to stand out in the crowd, he has created a brand people adore -- he is the brand himself.

The journey was rocky indeed. “It took me two whole years to perfect the spice I add to the jhalmuri,” he revealed.

He recalls yet another time of endurance. “During the Fakhruddin regime, I was arrested for occupying the space on the street side while selling jhalmuri. The tragedy is that in the pursuit of selling jhalmuri, I had to spend three days in jail.”

By M H Haider
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Kashundi and Kaniska

By Kaniska Chakraborty

My mother was down with viral fever, cough and cold. My wife got the sniffles, fever and was coughing as well. And the cook did not show up. The stage was set for mild mannered me to don my cook's cap. To add to the woes, the pantry was almost zero on count of the easy-to-cook items.

I was in no mood to grind spices, peel and slice veggies et al. A quick rummage of the freezer revealed, apart from the obligatory Katla, two whole legs of chicken.

The fridge also yielded mushrooms, baby corn and shallots. The cupboard had olive oil, salt, pepper, mayo and Worcestershire sauce. Bread and butter was there as well. Enough to rustle up a regal dinner.

My mother wanted none of my experiments. I was not going to experiment, really. She stuck to the eternal comfort food, bread soaked in milk. Is this a British legacy? Even Nigella Lawson, the goddess of British kitchen swears by bread and milk.

For my wife and I, it was my go-to dish grilled chicken. With a side of a salad of sliced mushrooms, shallot, and baby corn. I tossed them with mayo and black pepper. Mayo is my wife's favourite and her perennial crib is how I don't use it often enough. So to please her in her feverish state, mayo went into salad. Along with a dash of balsamic to take the edge out of the shallot. I let it sit for about an hour, soaking in the creaminess of mayo and the perfumed acid of balsamic.

The meaty mushroom, the crunchy baby corn and the sweet shallot swam together in an almost purple hued dressing, a harmony held together by the dull bite of black peppers. In the meanwhile, the chicken was cut to separate the leg and the thigh and was tossed in olive oil, garlic paste (out of a packet), a dash of Worcestershire and a last minute inspiration kashundi.

Kashundi, the indigenous Bangali mustard sauce that goes so well with fish fries and chops and cutlets of Calcutta. The grainy mustard, the vinegar that forms the base, the bright ochre turmeric, the spreadable, unctuous nature ensured the kashundi goes inside every crevice and cut of the chicken. Then the chicken pieces got some grill loving.

Let me not get into how the chicken was perfectly charred outside and soft yet cooked inside. Let me also not get into how olive oil lends a certain nuttiness in the chicken. But let one thing be said. The one unusual ingredient made the chicken come alive, albeit figuratively.


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