Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 7, Issue 18, Tuesday, May 01, 2012




Recreation city

It is often said that there is nothing to do In Dhaka, but in fact there is a lot to do if people just look in the right places. In terms of sports Dhaka has more to offer than popularly believed.

At the Kurmitola Golf Club, even if you're not a member, you can enjoy a golfing round of 18 holes for a green fee of TK.1500 on weekdays and TK.2800 on weekends. But if you're not ready to get on the course yet, you can practise in the driving range with a charge less than Tk.100 (per 50 balls) for non-members.

Special training programmes are held from time to time. Presently, the R&A is funding a training programme for girls in Dhaka city to encourage the youth to take up the sport. If any new member would like to participate, they can contact the club authorities.

There is also a fully equipped gym adjacent to the swimming pool, with separate timings for ladies, if they wish to work out without the presence of men. Guests are allowed on payment. The outdoor swimming pool (after a steam bath or sauna bath) can be a great way to end the day. Again, it has separate timetables available for ladies.

For those who would enjoy a stroll in the heart of the city -- yet away from all the chaos -- one can experience that in the driveway connecting Old DOHS and KGC. The road has special arrangements for people who'd like to walk there with subtle music playing in the background amongst the greenery of the course.

It might be troublesome to enter Kurmitola Golf Club as it is inside Dhaka Cantonment, so if not Kurmitola Golf Club, the Army Golf Club (Airport Road) offers similar facilities like a driving range, a golfing round of nine holes, separate gyms for women and men, and of course the luxurious dining experiences.

There are several tennis courts available in the city in Uttara Club, the Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel Dhaka, or even in Dhaka Cantonment. Squash can be enjoyed at the American Club. There are no charges, but you have to be a guest of a member to enjoy the facility.

The Shooting Club in Gulshan 1 is nearly at the verge of being forgotten. It has wonderful facilities for guests to practice shooting to brush up their rare talents.

Most of us would enjoy time with friends and family in the swimming pool as the hot spring days have already started. The Amazon Club, The Westin Dhaka, Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel Dhaka, the Army Stadium, all offer outdoor swimming pools with a wonderful, serene environment. To enjoy similar experiences indoors, there is the swimming pool at Uttara Club.

The city is presently buzzing with gym advertisements. However, there are methods of exercise other than just plainly working out -- free style aerobics, yoga classes and Pilates for example. The Amazon Club in Gulshan offers Pilates classes, whereas yoga classes are available in the Dazzle Yoga and Aerobics Centre (Road 95 of Gulshan 2) with monthly fees of Tk.1500. There is also the Shanti School of Yoga (Road 64, Gulshan 2) which is relatively new but a favourite among enthusiasts. It has an admittance fee of Tk.1000. Classes are given on a minimum of three days a week for Tk.2000, rising with the number of days.

For a more serious take on meditation, enthusiasts can go for the Quantum Method Meditation Course (Shilpacharja Zainul Abedin Sarak, Old-19/P Santinagar, 1st floor), which is a four-day course that provides basic training in the Quantum Method -- the 'science of living'.

For a more rejuvenating break, there are various spa treatments available in the city to relax both your body and mind. Suggestions would include the D R Fitness at the Dhaka Regency Hotel, LW Hair & Skin Beauty Spa Salon in Gulshan Avenue, Persona Menz in Banani, Road 1 and Spring Spa (for women) at Persona, Gulshan Avenue. There are also the Shundori Spa & Fitness Centre at the Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel Dhaka and the Westin, at the Westin, Dhaka.

If you're up for nurturing your hidden talents and get active with your hobbies, go for it. They can be anything starting from singing, dancing, cooking, travelling to interior or graphic designing. The Shanto-Mariam University of Creative Technology offers various classes ranging from designing to performing arts. After the course you are certified, which is always a plus point. For other classes on graphic designing, there is Fusion in Rowshan Tower, Green Road, Panthapath.

Dance classes are available in clubs like the Nordic Club in Gulshan 2, for their members and their guests. They also offer swimming and spa facilities and even yoga and aerobics classes. Otherwise, the South Avenue Club (Road 134, Gulshan 1) offers tango and salsa classes taking place twice a week. Lastly there is always the Shilpakala Academy offering lessons for those who choose to take up the classical form of dancing.

To brush up your theatrical skills our suggestions would be the Bangladesh Film Institute (BFI) at Green Road or Alliance Francaise de Dacca at Mirpur Road, Dhanmondi, which offers Friday Theatre School for those wishing to join.

Your culinary buds can be groomed in Tommy Miah's Institute of Hospitality Management at Mohammudpur where the chef's delegated staffs take classes along with the well-known chef himself. To choose the classes closest to you, Dhanmondi has Apon Ghor (Road 27), Argha Ranna Ghar (Road 1) and Epique Institute (Road 10/A).

Kalabagan has Gharkannya in Lake Circus, Dolphin Lane. In Malibagh there is Rasna Bilash, and Shok Ranna in Malibagh Chowdhurypara. For those in Banani, the late Siddika Kabir has her own cooking school named after herself in Road 4, Block F.

By Nikita Sarker


What's your feel good factor?

As clichéd as it sounds, life is about simple things, the little things we do that give us peace of mind. It's time to drop the “I'll go on holiday next year with my annual leave” attitude and embrace life today. The reality is that everyone needs to find their own “me-time” and figure out what they can do occasionally to soothe all those undoubtedly frazzled nerves.

Indulge yourself
Does the idea of being pampered for a whole day appeal to you? Dhaka today has lots of spas, and if you know where to go, you can find top-quality places with lots of soothing treatments. If a long spa treatment is a bit too much for you, even a manicure/pedicure session at your neighbourhood parlour is a great way to both relax and get top-notch nails.

Get physical
Working out, for a lot of people, is a great stress-reliever. If you're a member of a private club, why not check out the gym facilities? Gyms and other institutions such as Amazon Club also offer group classes on aerobics, yoga, etc. If you're a sports-lover, gather some friends for a fun football or basketball game at a convenient park. If your friends are too lazy, other options include tennis or karate. Many of them go for evening walks in places like Dhanmondi Lake or Gulshan Ladies' Park.

If you love to read books, the great thing about Dhaka is that not only are popular authors super cheap in our book markets, but also the hours we spend in traffic jams are excellent for reading.

Are you a foodie? Instead of spending lots of money eating out, why not try your hand in cooking from the countless recipes available in books and the Internet? Preparing a good meal, inviting people over, and enjoying food together is something many people love doing. Want to learn something new? Enrol in a language or instrument class. Do-it-yourself projects, ranging from small craft projects such as paper flowers, to large-scale projects such as painting your room, have high satisfaction levels.

To each his own
Some people (actually a lot of people) relax by doing absolutely nothing. Or staying up late to watch a movie and sleeping in the next day. Or a favourite TV show that they religiously follow. And, of course, shopping is a favourite activity of many. The point is, what matters at the end of the day is what makes you happy. If it's something really strange that no one else gets (for example, I'm pretty sure my neat-freak aunt derives happiness from keeping her house dust-free), then do it because you enjoy it.

On a parting note
If you want to be involved in something but don't know how, don't underestimate the power of Google. Yes, it now applies to Bangladesh as well. Once I Googled “Learn Spanish in Dhaka” and I actually got legitimate, useful results. The truth is that there are lots of things one can do, but most people are too lazy or disinterested to put a bit of effort to ask around. So don't be a procrastinator, get off that couch, and try to enjoy your time off as much as possible.

LS Desk


Frozen memories

Photography has taken on a new meaning for this 'social-networking' generation. Moments after they are captured, pictures get uploaded on Facebook and precious moments shared with family, friends and not-so-close acquaintances are shared with the wider world.

It's a rat race really. The key to Facebook glory is sheer speed; one has to show that they were there and that they were there first.

Retired at the age of sixty, Pinu Haq remembers the days of conventional photography quite fondly. “My brother was a photography enthusiast. Back in the early sixties, when this was quite a rage, he bought a camera for a then princely sum of Rs 300 and became the unofficial narrator of our family history”.

She recalls the last photograph of their loving grandfather, the first of her first-born child, family picnics and school reunions.

Those black and white memories were duly mounted on an album, pages of monochrome black woven paper neatly tucked away in the living room bookshelf. Years later they would be taken apart and remounted on a large wall-mounted photo frame.

“My husband passed away in 1989 and I was in a state of shock. I would go back to those photographs of the past reliving the times I knew I would never have again. Together with my youngest son, then only 6, we took off all the photographs from the album and stuck them on a board on the wall,” recollects Pinu.

This brought solace to her turbulent days. As she would look at the photographs, Pinu had a glimpse of her whole life.

“The pictures have all been lost now. Direct light faded the images on the walls but remain as vivid now as they were 40 years ago.”

Pinu is not different from most of us. We all fondly walk down memory lane browsing through family albums; the only difference is that it has now been digitised.

In the eighties, Bangladeshi society caught up with the technology of videography and no wedding was ever complete without proper video documentation. However, these recordings mostly turn into food for fungi rather than being a record of the past. In comparison, photographs have stood the test of time and are frequently visited by the whole family, their friends and close acquaintances.

Meet Natasha, a young executive at a multinational and a photography enthusiast. She herself refrains from being photographed but enjoys being behind the scenes. She maintains chronicles of what goes on around her, inanimate or full of life. She meticulously retouches them and maintains an archive. She shares these moments only with herself, and on rare occasions, her husband.

Natasha believes that photography is a gateway to her life. She interprets time frozen in stills in her own special way and any showing would be like an invasion of her privacy. She earnestly hopes that one day she will publish her work. Maybe online; at a time when she would be able to detach herself from her creative 'children'.

Catching up with technology Pinu now spends her free time browsing through photos sent by her son from Boston, USA. As she uploads pictures of her daily life for them to see, they too send her pictures.

“I am thousands of miles away from my grandchildren but through photographs, I feel they are close to me; close to the deepest corners of my heart.”

After all that is the emotion photographs evoke. By capturing moments in time they let us peek through the distant past, or freeze the present for a near future.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif


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