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Mooncake Festival

The name mooncake itself is mystifying. The Mooncake Festival is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated within the Chinese community. Its dates are calculated by the lunar calendar and hence the name.

The origin of the Mooncake Festival goes back to the Tang Dynasty during the seventh century. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October according to the Gregorian calendar, close to the autumnal equinox. The day of the festival is a holiday in many places where Chinese communities are present. It is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar.

The festival is celebrated enthusiastically, especially among the young. There are a few customs that follow. These include eating the mooncakes, match-making between young boys and girls, traditional dance and musical performances, carrying brightly lit lanterns and performing the Dragon Dance. With so much to do, everyone from all age groups partake in the fun. The festival generally starts from sunset and continues till midnight.

The mooncakes themselves are interesting to look at. Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 45 cm in thickness. A rich, thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste is surrounded by a thin (23 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Mooncakes are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea.

During my trip to Sarawak last year I was lucky to visit a Mooncake Festival. Sarawak is a state of Malaysia in the Borneo Island with its capital in Kuching. That year the festival was held at Carpenter Street, which is a famous road in the centre of Kuching. Kuching, much like the rest of Malaysia, has a wide variety of cultures with a prominent Chinese community.

The Sarawak festival's entrance will greet anyone warmly. A sudden sweet aroma of cakes permeates the atmosphere. A lot of children can be seen enjoying themselves. Walk a little further and more stalls emerge with much more authentic items up for sale. Dancers and singers are also very much visible. Children performing karate is an interesting entertainment. As the night progresses, the most alluring objects begin to show up. Breathing colourful lanterns are held by kids as they form various types of groups. The epic Dragon Dance also takes place during this time.

Now is as good a time as any to pack up and set out for a vacation. So, in case anyone is going somewhere with a Chinese community present, a visit to a Mooncake Festival might be quite a unique experience. As Mahatma Gandhi had said, “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive”. We have a lot to learn from the world around us.

By Tamim Sujat
Photo: Tamim Sujat


Anika's yoga class

Anika Rabbani is bringing Detox Yoga to provide women of all ages and fitness types with a healthier and happier lifestyle. The detox yoga will carry you through a sequence of postures designed to cleanse, heal, balance energy, strengthen and tone the body. Each of her hour-long classes will help you burn about 250 calories and also increase circulation to all parts of the body, rejuvenating your organs with a dose of highly oxygenated blood supply.

The classes will be held in Banani every Sunday and Tuesday at 10:30 am and every Monday and Wednesday at 7 pm and costs Tk.350 per class or Tk.2400 for a month's membership. Contact anika.rabbani@gmail.com or call 01726174064 for further information.

Rhymes of Life

Bridal Moment and Arrengeur, two renowned event photography firms, joined hands to bring 'Rhymes of Life', an exhibition of paintings and wedding photography. The exhibition was held at Drik Gallery from 12 September to the 16 September and provided a grand opportunity for all upcoming wedding planners, brides, grooms and their families for a one stop wedding solution. The exhibition was inaugurated by Ali Zaker and Saara Zaker.

The guests were provided with special discounts on floral jewelleries for Holud ceremonies, 30% discount for wedding photography and 20% discount on wedding planning services. There was also free Heena for all.

The two wedding planning firms provide complete wedding solution starting from dala decoration, food arrangements to photography and will also arrange wedding albums so that you may have a 'wedding story'. Apart from the complete solution package there are numerous other packages designed according to affordability.

KK Tea's newest aroma

For the first time in Bangladesh Kazi & Kazi Tea brings Jasmine tea -- a perfect brew of organically grown Jasmine flowers and green tea leaves. Its gentle, refreshing aroma, along with all the invigorating health benefits of green tea rejuvenates the mind and body.

When it comes to quality premium tea, KK Tea has always been very innovative. It has already added five different flavours of organic tea -- Black, Green, Tulsi, Ginger an of course the latest edition -- Jasmine tea.



WCC national dye programme

World Crafts Council is an international institution that has been working for the rejuvenation and advancement of natural dyes for the past two decades. It has been striving to popularise the use of natural dyes by establishing connections between many likeminded local, regional and international organisations and organising seminars and exhibitions of the works of natural dyes, for the last few years.

In 2008 the World Crafts Council started the 'Natural Dye Program' for its Asia Pacific wing under the leadership of Bangladesh with the aims of conducting research on natural dyes, providing technological training in this area and to establish proper policies regarding the use of these environmental friendly natural dyes in the surrounding countries through seminars and exhibitions.

Another great advocate of art and literature in the country is the Bengal Foundation. Bengal Foundation has been upholding the country's music, art and drama for the past 24 years. In addition to these, the foundation has been integral in reviving the handicraft sector of the country by establishing awards such as 'Best Handicraft Artist', organising handicraft fairs and motivating the handicraft organisations to use traditional stitch work and natural dyes in their works. Another huge initiative by Bengal Foundation was to test the commercial potential of natural dyes. They set out to utilise the business potential of this environmental friendly product and promote it by taking over the shop 'Oronno' in 2011. Oronno, in conjunction with Bengal Foundation has ever since been encouraging the use of natural dyes in all the garments produced in the country.

These two institutions, World Craft Council (Pacific Wing) and Bengal Foundation have now joined hands to conduct the first ever 'Training of the Trainers' workshop. This seven-day workshop was held from 8 September to 14 September. The workshop proved to be a platform for specialists and handicraft artists to share their experience and knowledge regarding the use of natural dyes across borders. 12 specialists from India, Pakistan, Laos, Bhutan, Oman, Malaysia, Nepal and Bangladesh participated in the workshop alongside 6 handicraft artists from Bangladesh. Each participant helped disburse knowledge by displaying the various ways of preparing the natural dyes in each of their nations.

In this manner, the workshop helped build a richer portfolio of knowledge, experience and expertise about the use and preparation of natural dyes contributing to a better business future for natural dyes. The certificate giving ceremony was conducted on 14 September at the Bengal Centre Bhaban.


Pasta promotion at Dhaka Regency

Although Dhaka's food scene has long incorporated cuisine from all over the world, finding authentic international cuisine can be quite a task. And if recent Masterchef episodes have achieved anything, it is a new found fascination for authentic pasta in Dhaka. This month Dhaka Regency is promoting this popular Italian specialty from September 17 to September 21, 2012. The hotel's offer includes selections of homemade pasta and other Italian specialties cooked to perfection.

Throughout this promotion, guests can taste a variety of pasta dishes such as pasta with grilled prawn (grilled prawn on homemade mixed pasta served with creamy tomato sauce), pasta with chicken (herb-coated chicken breast served with creamy spaghetti), pasta platter with 3 kinds of homemade pasta and 3 kinds of sauce (saffron, tomato & cream sauce) and many more. This offer is available for lunch and dinner with a live pasta cooking station. For more information and reservations, please call 01713332599.


Customer disservice

Limitless excitement at one time and total boredom at another -- it is precisely such sharp contrasts that make life interesting I guess. The other day, lying on my bed I was restlessly surfing channels and fretting about how dull my life had become when suddenly an entire drama of foolhardiness unfolded in front of me, starring incompetence and stupidity of course.

Now on such boring days being connected with friends is the only source of entertainment, so I wanted to make a call only to realise that my phone had been barred. All my outgoing calls were blocked. I sat back and let a few hours pass because obviously there is always the excuse of network up gradation for any kind of service interruption, so I didn't bother.

And me being a post-paid star customer, I should not be worried about things like service disconnection and overdue bills. I am a loyal, responsible client. But alas, my bubble, as always, was rudely pricked and that one word 'block' was eating at my heart. I decided to call customer service.

I am sure you will all agree that at any given point in time, no matter how pressing your task at hand is, 'customer service' is the last place you want to call. Unfortunately, with their entire razzle dazzle, service is the last thing they can give you. Trust me; I have been their victim on numerous occasions.

I made a vow long ago that I would never seek customer service assistance; be it at the bank, at the cell phone operators' office, or at any posh hotel. These people are always clueless and yet they have such an air of finesse about them, such a cocksure aura around every complaint they think they are able to solve or help with.

The end result is always a screaming customer and a cool-as-cucumber service provider who is thoroughly hopeless in solving the problem.

The 'madams' and 'ma'ams', the 'please' and 'yes of course it's your right' lines -- these men and women are so courteous and well-mannered and polished that at one point you feel ashamed of yourself for losing your patience with them. But what else can you do with inept people other than lose your cool?

Over the phone or in person this breed of corporate personnel are never authorised to do the right thing at the right time.

They will never be able to tell you why within a week of paying your phone bills your number is blocked for exceeding your Tk.5000 limit. How on earth could someone use Tk.5000 in a week? Is that such a hard question to answer especially when they are sitting in front of computers and looking at the call log in question? On top of that they never send you an alert asking you to pay your bill before barring the connection. One fine day they will simply disconnect you.

I realised that all these advertisements regarding grand package deals that miraculously halve your bills are not for people like us. People who have been using one number ever since that operator launched its operations and people who pay the bill at one go and never exceed the limit; irrespective of how many overseas calls they make or how many times they surf the net.

These wishy-washy deals never lessened my bill by a cent and now I feel like I've been robbed of Tk.5000 for reasons unknown.

They cannot tell me why this happened and my request for an itemised bill will take ages to reach me because as they mentioned my bill cycle needs to be maintained. So I must pay without knowing why my bill skyrocketed in such a manner or else stay disconnected. If somehow I used the airtime I have no reason not to pay, but I need to know how I spent the airtime. Seriously I fail to see the customer service in this regard.

I don't want goody bags during festivals or New Year's, all I want is one responsible person to answer my simple query without much delay. I just want to call customer service and not keep on pressing buttons in the hope of speaking to a real person.

However, the irony of the situation is when that person answers your call you feel equally disheartened to realise that the person at the other end of the line is nothing but a robot who answers like the machine: 'Ma'am I cannot help you right away.' Then kindly explain the meaning of 24-hour service.

Anyway, nothing doing; staying connected is the major part of my job so I pay the bill and my connection is ready for use and I again enjoy uninterrupted service. In the meantime I wait patiently for someone to let me know why I have been mugged by such corporate culture and what exactly became of my right to their promised service.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


Sharing of Financial Information

By Nasreen Sattar,
Former CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, Afghanistan

In our culture and social upbringing we tend not to talk about finances, especially between spouses. In the traditional middle class family a wife will feel embarrassed to ask her husband about his bank matters and the husband will not think it important to share it with her. If she is a working woman she will probably have her own account. Whatever the case is, in this day and world it is simply imperative that spouses are aware of each other's financial matters and the days of being shy about asking should be forgotten. When I say financial matters I don't mean bank accounts only, I mean all kinds of financial dealings.

There are so many growing cases where the husband has passed away all of a sudden and the poor wife is left at the mercy of family members, clueless about the husband's assets and liabilities! When matters came to light, outstanding loans show up and obviously many banks are not going to have any mercy to make things easy for a bereaved widow. There could be collateral to the loans but all details were left unknown and often the spouse was not interested in knowing these details. The home you live in, which you thought was your own, turns out to be mortgaged to a bank for another outstanding loan.

Sadly the above happens, and happens often. Many a time relatives materialise with claims to property, money, etc. Having experienced the plight of close acquaintances I strongly feel that a 'structured document' of all financial matters be drawn up with the help of a lawyer. Nothing should be concealed and the whole matter should be discussed in detail with the spouse ensuring her full understanding and what actions she needs to take after the demise of her husband.

It should be remembered that this is important not only for the wife's sake, but for the children too.

Just being a nominee of accounts is not sufficient, one has to be aware if there are lockers holding important documents, the spouse should be a joint signatory to the lockers and if a house or apartment is owned the deed should be known to her and the formalities attached to it.

This is a cruel world when it comes to financial matters and once the grieving period is over reality sets in. You need to get your succession certificate in order to enable you to access the bank accounts. You will find things are so much easier if all the information is known to you (and your children if any) from before the 'structured document' I mentioned earlier will help you through.


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