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This week Shoptalk goes out of its way once again to make your gift-buying sessions a bit easier. Stopping by at Chondon's, our gift selections for this week is attuned to the deshi flavours that are now all the rage. And most times, these gifts are ones we give ourselves rather than others.

By Osama Rahman
Products: Chondon, Showroom rd 103, plot 9, Gulshan and 98 Gulshan Avenue

But what if you aren't sporting a sari or any completely traditional wear? The fashion statement these days seem to border on fusions and thankfully Chondon has its share of clutch bags as well, lending an ethnic aura when required, and hence fusing the favourite of the west with the shades of the east. So go for fusion, if that's what your wardrobe demands.

Used by women in the Indian sub-continent decades before clutches were even conceived of, Batua Bags are now back on the scene. Slung from the wrist, these bags complete your Indian ensemble in the most chic way possible, keeping you ethnic yet enchanting. Batua bags, also known as Potli bags, are now no longer used for coins or betel nuts, but all sorts of things. Convenient and classy, these bags come in numerous materials including silk, brocade and velvet. There are numerous designs to choose from as well.

Yesterday's cushion covers always seem drab. Changing the covers of your cushion can change the entire mood of your room, and hence it seems like you're splurging on new furniture everyday, when in reality you are just changing covers. Chondon's line of Banarasi cushion covers bring the pride of the country right to your living rooms. Lap up the luxury, Mughal style, without having to don a banarasi sari made famous during that very period.

Sometimes ethnic jewellery is confused with being big, loud and garish. Well, that doesn't have to be the case. The tasteful selection at Chondon's ensures that you may be the talk of the party but not in a bad way. Bold in designs and deshi in delivery, these necklaces and earrings, made of the materials so many of the femme fatales desire, adds just the right touch to your culturally acceptable ensemble. All that glitters may not be gold, but these pieces sure add a little shine to your wardrobe.

Sure, if you don't like imitations and would rather run a marathon in stilettos than go for jewellery that isn't plated in precious material, Chondon has that ground covered as well. Gold and silver plated designs also grace the pieces in question, keeping you fashionable and elite. There's no harm in wanting to stand out in the crowd after all. Is there?


But we were talking about gifts for others too, right? Well, if that's the case, plain old gift wrapping doesn't always send out the right message. Personalisation is apparently a perfect display of how much effort you put into your gift. Top your gift-wrapped box with Chondon's selection of wrapping ribbons, designed with a little touch that says Bangladesh. If you are going to go deshi, go all out.

It doesn't end there though. There are also plenty of wedding accessories to pick from, because you can never be fully prepared and given the way things are these days, it seems marriages spring from under all rocks. There are also various gift items for your perusal, so do have a go and see what best fits you and someone special to you.


Symphony smartphones

Whether you are contemplating the switch from a regular cellphone to a Smartphone or are new to the benefits of mobile technology altogether, you can't fail to be impressed by the many advantages of the Smartphone over its humbler rivals.

Accordingly Symphony has designed all their Smartphone Xplorer handsets focusing on consumer needs and affordability. At present Xplorer W5, W10, W25, W50 and W100 are available at mobile outlets across the country. With the world's most popular operating system Android, faster processors, GPRS, EDGE, Wi-Fi Data Systems, big TFT Capacitive full touch screens and vivid displays, long battery lives, Symphony can meet customers' expectations. W100 runs on the 4.0 Ice-cream Sandwich Android operating system with 1GHz speed and a big 4.3-inch TFT Amoled full touch display. It has an 8 megapixel camera. W50 sports a 3.75-inch touch screen while the W25 and W10 have 3.5 inch touch screen which ensure that the users enjoy watching videos & movies. With the world's most popular operating system Android Gingerbread 2.3, all these handsets (W50, W25, and W10) run on 800MHz processor which ensures high speed, fast application downloads, and easy use. W5 runs on 1 GHz processor with a 2.3 Gingerbread Operating system with a 3.2-inch full touch display which makes it an exclusive handset. The phone sets feature bluetooth, camera, FM radio, mp3, mp4, office suite & dual SIM-dual stand by options as well as 3G support. The price of W5 is set at only Tk.6990, W10 at Tk.7490, W25 at Tk.9490, while the W50 9390 and W100 are priced at Tk.19,990. As special gift customers will get an 8 GB memory card with W100 and a 4 GB memory card with all other handsets (W5, W10, W25, W50).


Urban Spice

As you ride through Banani 11, the curious white, circular lights you see on the exterior of a building is the new spice in town: an Indonesian restaurant that has opened recently at House # 119, Block E, Road # 11, Banani.

“Circles are one of the ubiquitous elements in our restaurant,” said Lela I. Qyma, the owner of Urban Spice, who also happens to be an architect and interior designer. “Circles are more subtle than squares or rectangles. Also, circles represent continuity.”

A short flight of stairs with a small, soothing fountain on the end sets the mood: it's a good place to loosen up your nerves after a long day's work. “We have put a great deal of thought in the details. Take the table cloth for example,” Lela pointed out to a piece of reddish cloth. “It's called batik, a special kind of texture extracted differently from many others. It is a traditional fabric of Indonesia”, Lela informs.

Indonesia has a culture that dates a long time back. Hence, the food of Indonesia is no doubt a delight. The country comprises of 17000 islands, with diverse groups speaking different languages and following different religions and cultures. The breadth and scope of Indonesian cuisine, therefore, is immense. But Lela has tried to bring the best under one roof; from hiring 2 Indonesian chefs, giving the right decor and importing the spices and many ingredients from abroad.

“You will find authentic Indonesian food here. But as Bangladeshis, your palate is slightly different from the Indonesians. Therefore, we have many Indonesian fusion cuisines as well, as that feels more delicious to our customers here. Therefore, whether you are looking to have authentic Indonesian cuisine, or get a feel of Indonesian gastronomy with our fusion cuisines, this is the place for you,” Lela promises.

“Also, prices are not overly expensive. Along with keeping the quality right, we have also made prices very reasonable,” Lela informs.

Urban Spice also has a great assortment of desserts and drinks. Nata de coco drink for example, is a sweet, refreshing coconut drink made of, well, nata de coco, which is a chewy translucent and jelly-like food cut in cubes and served with the drink, along with a lot of other goodness.

Urban Spice is working to open a corner stall serving ice-creams and coffee. “Very soon, we will have lots of different ice-creams and coffees, with unique recipes and flavours. For example, we are planning on serving about 20 different types of coffee,” she says.

By MH Haider
Photo courtesy: Urban Spice


Chit-chatting at Chit Chat Cafe

Entering Chitchat through Radisson's grand entrance, two questions pop up immediately; you wonder if you are still in Dhaka and whether you have left the open air of the open fields behind you. The latter is answered quicker than the first, as you head towards Chitchat café, located at the corner near the swimming pool, a floor above the lounge. Chic, comfortable and with a very street-side café feel to it, the pool in front and the landscaped greenery around all add to the experience you are slowly building towards.

See, with eating out, food is slowly becoming an after-thought. The ambience matters and Chitchat comes up aces in this respect. But food does matter and as the menu suggests, the café isn't far off the top mark here as well. However, the first thing that may attract your attention isn't just the gorgeous looking pastries or the long menu; there are a few surprises here. Sitting outside, you will immediately notice that the birds are different. That may sound strange, but isn't it hard to imagine a place in Dhaka that hardly attracts crows? There are more Indian Pied Mynas dotting the scenery than any other bird and far off in the undeveloped area beyond the hotel's boundaries, two kites nest in the closest tree. On a little patch of greenery, a curious visitor is soon spotted; it's a spotted dove, although considered common, it still is a rare sight in the heart of the city. This proximity to such beautiful creatures further sets the mood.

Out by the pool, there are plenty of chairs with enough shade for one to enjoy a light evening meal. Open from 11:00 am till 10:00 pm, the guests start pouring in during the early hours, whilst the crowd thins as the sun gives out its most powerful rays during the afternoon. Friday nights are said to be the busiest, with throngs of visitors coming from everywhere and most aren't necessarily hotel guests. But you can understand why, because the environment is that friendly, the staff that well trained and the food that commendable.

Everything from bread to ice cream is made in-house, so quality and cleanliness are assured. The most popular items on the menu remain the club sandwich and the grilled steak burger, generously awarded slices of hunter-beef at the bottom, right below a grilled patty that almost melts in its goodness at first bite. Lime Soda or Lime Frappe are designed with a little Caribbean touch, like the other drinks on offer. There's also a tea infusion, where you can select tea from the flavours of the exquisite Darjeeling Grey, jasmine, camomile or peppermint. There are also pasta and snacks and different soups for those who want to let this adventure last a bit longer.

Prices aren't unreasonable as one might imagine it to be in an upscale hotel. Order a Western burger served with marinated chicken and avocado, and lap up the balmy afternoon breeze or drop by during the evenings when the entire café comes alive.

Framed with a very retro old-school feel, the café also serves up customised pastries such as the Opera slice. The dessert menu is extensive, providing treats such as the muffin of the day, zuccotto cake, fruit Danish, almond bear claw and of course the cinnamon rolls. Next time you are in the neighbourhood, hit up Chitchat café and unwind by the poolside; it's quite an inviting place.

By Osama Rahman
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Tamona
Location: Chit Chat Cafe, Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel


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