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The Shahbagh dream

I was a little over two when our War of Independence broke out. Even though I ran into bunkers with my dolls or walked miles through the labyrinth of muddy roads with a tin of puffed rice on my head, or saw my mother cook for Muktijoddhas, or heard her cry when she lost her unborn child due to bombings, or feared for my father when Pakistanis thought he looked like one of their soldiers who had abandoned ship -- I remember nothing.

And for the last 42 years, with all my love for my beloved Bangladesh, I have waited patiently. I have waited for something good to happen; I have waited for someone at the helm of power to rebuild my war-ravaged country, waited for someone to come forward and put an end to corruption and the evil ways of running my country. I waited for the day Bangladesh would be able to stand on its own and soar to greater heights. I waited but nothing happened.

I am just as patriotic as my brothers were in 1971 or my children are in 2013. But the only difference between them and me is that I was tolerant and patient; I waited for things to change and I did not have the courage to face the people in power and tell them that their means of re-building the country was wrong, that their corrupt ill motives were taking us nowhere.

And frankly we the people have been very charitable ever since we became independent; we've let these mean political parties make Bangladesh a pawn to serve themselves and their political agendas. They have repeatedly stalled the country's economic growth, tarnished its image and made it corrupt to its core; and we the people cribbed and bickered but we did not take charge to change the system.

So the mass uprising at Shahbagh Mor gives us the valour and fearlessness needed to stand up for ourselves and tell our political leaders that enough damage has been done; now you either build Bangladesh with me or you step down. We are tired of stale politics, politics that go against its people, politics that give religion a bad name. We don't want to be part of such bad politics anymore. The Shahbagh gathering proved everything wrong and let all international and national lobbyists know that war crimes and genocide masterminds should be tried and hanged.

So for me when I go to Shahbagh with my sixteen-year-old and hear her chant slogans I too feel the same surge of emotion; my eyes swell with tears of pride. The Shahbagh Mor gathering established one fact -- that we must bring closure to the traumas of 1971 and build Bangladesh with patriotic and nationalistic values and vigour.

Bangladesh does not belong to any political party, it's yours and mine. We will help Bangladesh rise from the ashes of her unfortunate past, the ill-fated sabotage and mass murder of its intellectuals at inception; together my child and I will give it a chance to finally capitalise on its sea of potential possibilities.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Lighting up a whole nation

When my friend and I stood with lighted candles in our hands in Shahbagh's Projonmo Chottor on 15 Friday, I felt overjoyed at being a part of history. The whole square had been lit up by thousands and thousands of candle flames. Time seemed to have come to a standstill for the moment. The brilliant light that glowed all over seemed to symbolise immense and unending hope and truth that would triumph and restore the pride of a whole nation.

And who should take credit for the mammoth gathering and the festival of light and hope? Who had done such great work to revive one crucial cause -- “Justice Must be Done”? The answer, of course, is our new generation of activists and kudos to them! They have certainly shown great unity and determination to fight against the evil forces that have been trying to rear their heads and to counter a verdict that was too lenient and inadequate for crimes that amount to genocide, murder of one's own people, and collaboration with the enemy.

The whole movement, as we know, started with a rally organised by young bloggers and their friends -- young students outraged by the verdict given to one of the men accused of the most heinous war crimes. The rally soon gathered momentum and in no time the entire nation appeared to be stirred. Clearly, the students had activated the conscience of all Bangladeshis. Soon, people of all ages, religion and ethnicities had joined the mass uprising in every nook and corner of the country.

I have been to Shahbagh thrice already. Every time I stood amidst the people gathered there I felt the electrifying power generated by the vibrant and indomitable young generation spearheading the movement. And I have been impressed too by the restrained, tolerant and disciplined manner in which events are taking place in Shahbagh. They seem to be bent on taking their movement forward in a manner that would prevent it from being marred by any untoward incident.

Spring is in the air and Mother Nature is on her mission of renewal. And spring is certainly in the air in Shahbagh and the breeze blowing there is rejuvenating the whole nation. Our youth have shown us that we need to stir ourselves for our dear nation which has gone through too much pain and suffering already. Its history, too, has been distorted and its progress towards peace and amity had been hindered by a handful of bigots who keep thinking they will be able to impose their hatred and intolerance and prejudice on the whole nation.

As I left Shahbagh's candlelit square that evening, I saluted in my mind the young generation who, through their recent initiatives, have fired us all up as never before. Hopefully, their goals will be achieved peacefully and allow us to stand tall and say in unison -- Joy Bangla!

By Nazma Alam


By Sadia moyeen Beautician, La Belle, 13/A /2 Kemal Ataturk Avenue , ( 3rd/ 4th fl ) Gulshan -2

Q. How can I get rid of pimples on my back and bottom?

The back is covered and hard to reach making it prone to breakouts. Keep your back blemish-free by exfoliating daily with a loofah or body brush to remove dry flaky skin and superficial blemishes.

A daily application and a quick 10-minute massage daily with aloe vera gel will heal, smoothen and clear pimples.

Apply generously and work it into the skin, when it absorbs and begins to dry simply wet hands to further dampen the gel, continuing to work into skin.

Another thing that will help is clay masks which will help draw out deep-seated impurities. Smooth out on the back, leave it to dry then rinse with warm water. Or dampen the mask and massage for a while and then rinse.

Q. Body odour is a big problem. How can I prevent it?

Sweating is your body's natural cooling device and though it has no odour it begins to smell when it comes in contact with bacteria on the skin surface. Keeping underarms hair free will not allow sweat to be trapped.

Try an anti-perspirant deodorant rather than an ordinary deodorant. Or better still use both, an antiperspirant to curb sweating and a deo to prevent odour. Wear natural fabrics instead of mixed materials to stay fresh. Rubbing alum on the underarm area during bathing is a cheap and effective method of preventing odour.

Q. Why does my foundation look like a mask?

If you don't pick the right colour and the foundation is either too light or dark it will look unnatural. It's important that the colour is as close as possible to your skin tone. Keep in mind your skin type as well. You should use cream or liquid foundations for dry skin, while oily skin requires matt finish powder or pancake foundations.

The role of a foundation is to cover flaws but not be seen. It has to give the impression that the skin is naturally clear and clean and provide a canvas on which to apply the rest of the makeup.

Q. I'm pregnant and have developed patches of darker skin colour on my face, particularly under my eyes and around my mouth. What causes this?

This is called Chloasma or 'the mask of pregnancy '. The change in hormones at this stage is the cause, further compounded by exposure to sun. Cover up under the sun to prevent the patches getting darker. These usually fade within a few months of delivery.

Chloasma can also be triggered by the use of birth control pills but will disappear once you stop taking them.

Q. My skin is too dry and during winter it gets patchy and tight. What can I do to hydrate my skin?

Heat your night cream over a candle flame in a teaspoon, heating it just a tad and apply on your face. You will see it sinks into the skin much better.

Smother baby oil all over face and body before a shower for perfect hydration or add a few drops of oil to your regular cream or moisturiser to make it richer. There are several little tricks, see which works for you.

Q. How do I prevent chapped lips in winter?

Smother lips with petroleum jelly generously, wait for a few minutes to soften lips. Soak a hand towel in hot water squeezing out the excess water and rub on your lips removing the jelly, you will notice little flakes of skin coming off with it. Use lip balm morning and night or as often as needed. Always use moisturising lipstick instead of matt ones and opt for using lip gloss too if possible.


New relationship with plants

All married men and women will testify, when it comes to in-laws, it's a love-hate relationship. It is like the Bengali idiom,”shakher korat”. There are of course hundreds of other jokes and stories on this particular theme. Our love (or hate) for in-laws have gone beyond mere jokes and frolic to horticulturists using relationship references to name living beings of the plant world. Thanks to Google, I share just the tip of the ice-berg for you.

Mother-in-law's cushion (not a gender sensitive name at all!)

This plant is from the cactus group (no surprises there) and is also known as the golden barrel. It originated in Mexico but can also be found in Bangladesh. You will not have to look past from the different nurseries around Dhaka and its outskirts. You are likely to recognise them as a popular houseplant and may consider adorning your office desk with them. Only to constantly remind you of your duty to your mother-in-law, if not anything else.

Mother-in-law's tongue (what do you think -- sharp and varied?)

What is commonly known as Sansevieria is 'Mother-in-law's tongue'. You can see this plant gracing the lobby and doorsteps of most offices. They are nice and real survivors! As houseplants, Sansevieria thrives on warmth and bright light, but will also tolerate shade. They can rot from over-watering, so it is important that they are potted in well-drained soil, and not over-watered. They need to be re-potted or split at the root from time to time because they will sometimes grow so large that they break the pot they are growing in.

Some plants, have cute names like the popular touch-me-not. Here are some more examples (slightly shifting from in-laws).

Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate (Omg!)

A must-have plant in every household. Get the history first -- native to China, Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate was grown in the United States by Thomas Jefferson. So what's with the name? Well, it's likely because of how nice it looks growing against a white picket fence!

Obedient plant (yes, all of us will be happy to have him/her)

The Latin name Physostegia Virginiana got its popular nick name because you can bend the individual flowers in any direction you like! It is very suitable for floral displays too. Native to the United States, it is also very easy to grow. The family of the Obedient Plan is quite large and varied.

Unfortunately the Obedient Plant is not so obedient in the garden, where it can spread to the point of nuisance. Newer varieties like 'Miss Manners' are being bred to remain in well-behaved clumps.

Obedient Plants are very drought-tolerant, forgiving plants. Although they prefer a moist, slightly acidic soil, they will grow just fine in average-poor soil and spreading will be less of a problem. Don't apply fertiliser to your Obedient Plants, unless they show signs of nutrient deficiencies. Less fertiliser means less aggressive spreading.

Dinosaur food (they are safe now as the dinosaurs have disappeared)

These giant leaves certainly would not look out of place in Jurassic Park! Native to Brazil, Dinosaur Food can grow up to 10 feet by 10 feet and are not, despite their name, poisonous at all!


Corpse plant (but it is beautiful)

Gorgeous plant with an unpleasant smell led to its nomenclature as the Corpse Plant. So here you can take your pick -- the smell of this flower is alternately described as rotting flesh, flatulence, stinking pumpkin, dead animal.



Monkey puzzle tree (not good for our monkey habitat)

When the Monkey Puzzle Tree was first brought to England from its native Chile, a friend of a gardener purportedly exclaimed, “It would puzzle a monkey to climb that,” and thus the oddly shaped tree got its name. The species' age makes it a living fossil, and it is protected in its native land.

Please feel free to send me emails to share your thoughts, feedback, photos of your garden, or to tell your story; or ask a question on issues of gardening. Email: lifestyleds@yahoo.com


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