Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |    Volume 8, Issue 04, Tuesday, January 22, 2013  |




Bridging the tech gap

Parents, who are currently in their late 40s, have traditionally had a fear of technology. They have been that one generation who had just mastered the typewriter when that became obsolete. The address book with years of contacts' names edited and reedited stayed, forgotten, behind the desk where the landline sat, and that too has not been used since the last century (literally). But their fear could not hold for long. The technological revolution was out to convert every person it touched into a 'believer'. Our parents, though late to the party, have finally joined the force.

Bilquish Chowdhury, a homemaker, was an early adapter in this regard. Today, she is active on Facebook, has a smart-phone that beeps more often than that of her daughter's and her Tablet keeps a record of her sugar levels and blood pressure.

Her bold step into the world of technology occurred for the same reason that others of her generation are making the move. She needed to stay in touch with her daughter settled abroad and the cut-throat international call rates restricted her involvement in her daughter's life.
Her first step was Facebook. Here, she could see what her daughter was up to; the pictures of the new house, the new car and even the new cat made her feel a part of her daughter's life. Even today, whenever Facebook changes its outlook, Bilquish is the loudest of complainers. From then onwards, her ntiation into the world of technology was a sharp curve upwards. Soon she was chatting on MSN and then she discovered Skype and the joys of video calling.

Then came smart phones and with it the tech dam Bilquish's generations seemed to have held up, dissolved. Those first few weeks, she seemed to discover some new application every hour. One of her daughters might have introduced her to Whatsapp but Bilquish introduced Viber and Tango to her. She has overtaken both her daughters in terms of Internet based communication platforms.

Another such tech savvy mother is Farida Yasmin. Her home still has all her children but in staying true to her philosophy of 'being a friend to my children', she braved the world of technology to speak their language.

“There was a time she used to call us for dinner over MSN,” says Usayed, Farida's son, “Now she uses Whatsapp.” Farida says she is having fun with technology, “I do not have to wait for my children to come home to hear about their day. Now I can sketch it out from the one-liners they send me throughout the day”. She says this has improved her communication with her children, “They share more with me and technology makes it easier for them to share their stories with me.”

Farida has gone further and discovered the effectiveness of cloud computing. She now has an Evernote account which is accessible to all four of her smart phone using family members. This is where she updates the chores of each member and maintains relevant schedules.

“A few days back I asked Ammu if the driver would be available the next day to take me to University,” Usayed says, “she told me to check her Evernote.” Sababa, Farida's daughter also relays a similar story: “I whatsapped Ammu my exam marks and she replied with the 'Not Bad' meme!”

Bilquish and Farida are just two of the thousands who are 'coming over to the other side' so to speak. Their reasons for joining the technology revolution may differ but at the center of it seems to lie the task they have signed up for as their career -- motherhood.

By Rasiaa Tashnova


The other side of Darjeeling-1

By Kaniska Chakraborty

We are slowly making a habit of going to Darjeeling every winter. Given Calcutta's low fat chill factor, Darjeeling is the closest where we can experience what it is that our friends in Delhi keep talking about. We encounter a temperature board proudly displaying sub 3 degrees.

For a Bangali who is used to wearing long sleeved sweaters in the month of November the moment the mercury dips below 20, sub 3 is like Arctic zone. And an excuse to wear that great Bangali headgear, 'manki cap' (monkey cap). Every time we go, we wonder if there is a Darjeeling beyond good old Keventers and Glenarys, the familiar eateries. This time, thanks to many foodie friends, we did get to see life beyond those two institutions.

I mean, we love sitting on the terrace of Keventers on a cold, crisp late morning and savour the full monty of a breakfast with Mim tea. We also love diving into Glenarys every so often to sample one of their baked goodies and gorge on liquor-filled chocolates. Young friend Mayukh was following our trip over Facebook and twitter and kept giving us suggestions for places to eat. He goes there every year and hikes about the town, unearthing hidden gems.

One such gem was a little place next to Rink Mall called Lotus Restaurant. Mayukh did say “check out Blue Lotus” but I put that down as a Tintin hangover. Unprepared for the cold, we shimmied down the slope by the Ghori Ghor (watchtower) toward the half dead mall to find a small glass door with the moniker “Lotus Restaurant” in a Coca Cola signboard.

Walked in to find an empty place, with semi-clean tables and chairs and slightly sinking floorboards. Actually, the floor was covered with cardboard pieces. Overall, not really awe-inspiring stuff.

A smiling guy came over to take our orders.

Remembered young man Mayukh's recommendations. “Try their momo. Also the red hot chilli pork.” Went with his suggestion and added stir fried veggies and a fried rice. Momos were not available in the evening. Apparently, 11 in the morning is the appropriate time for momos. Without much delay the food came. In generous portions I should add. That red hot chilli pork was the star of the show. Crispy, spicy, meaty, porky, it was everything a porcine devotee can hope for.

The stir-fried veggies were quite a revelation too. Very fresh veggies flash cooked with loads of chilli and very little soy. Unlike the Calcutta version, which are usually done to death and smothered in some kind of sauce or the other. Fried rice was a nice counterpoint to the two fiery dishes. But let me tell you, it was a pleasure to be able to get some heat in the system, albeit through the chilli.

Completely happy with our first meal in Darjeeling this time around, we slowly began our not too steep climb back to Planters Club, where we were staying. Nights are always early in the hills.

Photo: Kaniska Chakraborty


Lost in the maze

I need to get in touch with my inner being; you know, search for the very nucleus of my existence sort of a thing. Recently, in one of my dishevelled states of mind when I went for some soul searching, the counsellor asked me to find that little me locked up and cast off in the dark corners of my hyper adult self. It was some heavy stuff and I got some fodder to chew on.

It was a task that I took to almost as soon as I was asked to do so and I was quite adamant to find myself. However I gave up and abandoned the search exactly an hour after. I was losing my bearings searching for myself, or the little me, as prescribed.

It was a difficult task, if you look into the depths of your soul you'll be shocked to realise how difficult it is to steer into that depth you have there. It is dark and scary, full of prejudices and vices although the good inside you does peep its head and light up the abyss at times; but mostly adult human souls are not exactly cool places to hang around in.

They are shackled with societal norms and dilemmas and chauvinism and narrow-mindedness. I cannot be myself because I dread what society will think of me. I cannot be different because I don't have the courage to face my peers. I cannot be carefree because I have responsibilities. Adulthood is all about regulation and there is no way you can bypass your obligations.

It is difficult to say on the face of others that 'I don't care what you think of me.' When in actuality I do care about how I am perceived by others, whether or not I am accepted by my peers and whether I have their approval. These are all so important to this adult me. 'I don't care' is not an easy thing to say, it takes loads of courage to reach that nonchalant state of mind; more so when you are an adult.

And even if I want to I cannot be the little me I once was. I cannot go back to my father's arms and be hugged till I suffocate, I cannot cook a feast out of leaves and flowers, I cannot afford to fail or falter, and I cannot afford to lag behind.

In fact I am no longer fondly called by my nicks anymore; I am always the boss, the wife, the daughter, or the sister and the mother. And I am always on call or on duty. My mind is always at work, organising the next photo shoot, holding meetings, cringing at colleagues for missing deadlines, doing groceries, planning dinners, listening to the worries of my mother, stalking the child, so on and so forth. Phew! I am always on full throttle and I have no respite. Thus searching for the little me is impossible for the time being. Maybe once I retire I will re-open the files but for now this project is shelved.

However I do want to take a little holiday and indulge in some 'me' time; where I will walk on sandy beaches collecting exotic seashells, sipping tea, reading books. But most importantly I want to have a blank mind, a mind that is not stressed or tensed, and a mind that is not thinking, praying or hoping. Just a mind that is calm and peaceful like the azure sky after a storm. I am waiting for that 'me' in my mind for now.

--Raffat Binte Rashid


An earnest venture: Shobuj Saathi

Nowadays people live in terror of consumption of food primarily because of the widespread use of chemicals and pesticides in our agro products. And the core cause of this terror and suspicion towards food is formalin -- a chemical which is not only harmful for the human body but also has no use in agriculture; this is the kind of chemical used to preserve dead bodies. Imagine what kind of grotesque damage it will cause when in our digestive system.

So to prevent this Salauddin Razzaq has taken a small initiative in the right direction by opening a modest grocery store which sells completely fresh and healthy agricultural products like meat, milk, fish from the Jamuna, lal aata, lal chal, yoghurt, etc.

Razzaq happens to be a former farmer and thereby he has extensive knowledge of farming techniques such as the amount of time one has to wait before crops with pesticide can be harvested. As per his observation the genuine form of organic pesticides, usually made from refined neem, has not materialised in Bangladesh as yet, although a lot of companies have devoted their research and development groups to make them more accessible.

Mainly most of the products like milk are freshly packaged in standard tetra packaging, then frozen and brought to Dhaka from the Bera Thana in Pabna, which is also Razzaq's birth place. He has various reliable sources from where he gets seasonal products such as sunflower oil, honey, vegetables while core items like rice are brought from Bera just after husking, with the rice covering and bran all intact without any polishing. Also products like the yoghurt or clarified butter (ghee) are manufactured under his supervision.

A quick review of their prices:
Milk- Tk.80/Liter
LaL Chal- Tk.48/Kg
Lal Aata- Tk.45/Kg
Honey- Tk. 75/Kg

Since this is a relatively new concept, Razzaq has chosen to set prices in a very conservative manner. His overheads, such as transportation, rent, etc., are not much because since he is not bringing in bulk amounts, he can carry the goods with him on his way from Pabna.

These local edibles not only look amazing but also have the faint fragrance of their origin intact.

Apart from the primary objective of supplying the market with suitable edibles there is another reason for Razzaq's involvement in these agricultural activities. His prerogative is to set up a cooperative with the farmers from his homeland and share profits with them as he has observed that the farmers, even today, do not take into account the true cost of their time or energy when setting prices for their goods. Only the basic raw material costs are taken into account. The middleman in sales and distribution, meanwhile, is taking full advantage of this pricing mechanism.

Shobuj Saathi Organic is located at House 38, Sector 05, Road 1, Uttara.

By Noshin Nawal


Cool on calcium

The significance of calcium for our bodies cannot be stressed enough. The body needs 1000 mg of calcium per day and all of that goes into ensuring healthy bones, teeth and muscle function, among the numerous vital benefits the mineral has to offer. The health-conscious amongst us already knows this and hence consider drinking a glass of milk per day as a top priority. A cup of milk, the organic ones anyway, contain about 300 mgs of calcium and coupled with the required intake of Vitamin D, ensures a long and healthy life. However, milk does not appeal to each and every one of us and thankfully there are replacements or what we prefer to be complements to the glass of milk.

Oranges: Where milk may taste dreary at times, oranges provide a more exotic appeal for the palate. Synonymous with Vitamin C, an orange also provides 60 mg of calcium. If the thought of consuming ten whole oranges makes you queasy, why not opt for a glass of orange juice in the morning? Its easier, requires less effort and tastes brilliant, especially when God turns up the heat a bit more.

Oatmeal: Already one of the go-to breakfast choices in the Western world, oatmeal has yet to capture the appetite of the deshis. However, given the ease of preparation, taste and the numerous health benefits for your heart, you may finally decide to try out this filling meal. Combine all that with the fact that it packs a punch worth around 105 mgs of calcium; oatmeal may just be what's missing in your diet. Café Mango offers oatmeal as its breakfast menu while some superstores stack instant oatmeal in their shelves.

Sesame seeds: Looks can be deceiving and this best sums up what sesame seeds offer in terms of calcium. With only an ounce containing about 280 mgs of calcium, such a tiny offering is worth an entire cup of milk. Imagine if you had a cup of milk with oatmeal. That'd solve your problems in a hurry.

Cheese: Everything tastes better with cheese in it. Everything. Hence you have cheesecake ice-cream. Although everyone knows the world is a better place with cheese in it, what you may not know is edibles like Swiss Cheese and Mozzarella Cheese contain around 200-270 mgs of calcium. Therefore, when you feel conscious about ordering that four-layer cheese pizza, remind the judgemental stares around you about the calcium intake.

Almonds: Reducing blood sugar levels and promoting weight loss are among two of the more known benefits of consuming almonds. The third more important and relevant piece of information is that it provides 80 mgs of calcium per piece. Considering the size of almonds, that's quite a bargain.

By Osama Rahman


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2012 The Daily Star