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SPOTLIGHT

Dishing out on Dhaka's dishes

Because pot, pans and containers matter. Last month, it was pretty easy to locate the vast movement of women heading towards the annual International Trade Fair held at the Sher-E-Bangla Nagar. And one of the main reasons behind the scurry was utensils -- no one wanted to miss out on the opportunity to make the proper purchases of these marvelous products.

But even if you missed out on that opportunity, fear not ladies as that is not the only place where you can get a wide range of kitchenware. Although not widely acknowledged, Dhaka city does have some quality places from where you can buy plenty of cookware.

Given that you are willing to put on your walking shoes and bargainer's hat as you have to really search through the markets to find what you are exactly looking for at the price you are willing to pay.

Starting at the ultimate gold mine for people interested in baking and also cooking. Give the combination of Gulshan-1 Market and London Plaza in Uttara, Sector 1, a try. Starting from a variety of muffin pans and mixing bowls to adorable measuring cup sets, which usually will set you back by Tk.500-1000 where the sets are concerned and relatively fancy muffin pads cost Tk.800. Also if you are lucky enough then you can even find a beautiful champagne bucket for approximately Tk.4000.

Banani Super Market -- containers, containers and more containers. As soon as you enter the ground floor there are little shops everywhere selling thermoses and air-tight containers where you can store anything and everything starting from biscuits to even camera-lenses.

Cute little bottle type jugs for storing fruit juices, flasks, lunch boxes are also available. Moving on to the price factor. Well if you opt for the foreign imports then they are a bit pricey, approximately Tk.300-850 for an air-tight box depending on the size.

Whereas the local products are obviously more reasonably priced in comparison. All the above mentioned markets also have a good stock of export quality non-stick saucepans, sauté pans and frying pans, at the typical price of Tk.400-1500 again depending on the size.

For people living on the south side of Dhaka, anything you get here you can get in New Market in the kitchen market section and various areas in Karwan Bazaar and Mohammadpur; at probably a better price depending on your bargaining skills.

Also a part of our heritage, the clay dinner sets or tea sets designed in the artistic Bengali way, which give the ethnic feel to our dinner parties, are available at Aarong and Jatra. A lifetime investment, these dinnerware are.

Now a word of friendly advice -- while the copper and cast iron utensils may seem to be budget buys, it is always smarter to opt for the aluminium plated utensils for your household as they are the most toxin and rust free material and don't require an unnecessary amount of scrubbing to clean unlike the former two.

By Noshin Nawal
Photo: LS Archive


MUSING

Faded films

These days, Instagram, Hipstamatic and CamWow photos are cropping up all over Facebook and Twitter feeds. A photo filtering application operable on iPhones, iPod Touch and the litany of multi-use hand held devices that have started quite the fad for dramatic photography. These photographs are taken by everyday people capturing everyday things -- taking away the elitism in “art photography”. And, thanks to self-timers and “switch view” options, we can now capture ourselves in front of the bathroom mirror. As a result, the incidence of photography in general has increased.

Originally, when the app debuted, photography purists complained that because Instagram took photos with a filter, it lost the image's original data. Now, Instagram lets you save your unfiltered, original photos by default, eliminating that problem.

To casual viewers, these discoloured, scratched-up, quasi-vintage photos with square, black film backdrops are of dubious quality -- so why do users of the app find them so attractive?

Why we love it
Debates have been raging over whether this can be considered "real" photography, or whether it's just some passing fascination. I don't know. I say if it gets people out there shooting, gets them thinking about composition and lighting, and they have a good time doing so using a little app that makes their “birthday pics” look like they were shot with Diana, then it can't be bad.

Photosharing apps such as Instagram have created a new genre of photography. They market the idea that laymen can take quality photos. Filters add contrast or a colour wash, things that can improve a flat picture, things that professional photographers do every day in Photoshop. Through the excuse of adding drama, we've filtered out evidence of amateur shots. Ben Long, a photographer and Macworld writer, explains that Instagram images tend toward abstraction, and are more powerful to viewers because they have to work harder to interpret the images. And, as they do so, viewers escape to whatever feelings, memories, and experiences the images evoke.

When it's hard to communicate in words, sometimes photos make the task easier, especially when you're bumping up against Twitter character limitations or struggling with self-consciousness as you attempt to express yourself fully on Facebook. If you are describing something funny -- writing it verbatim -- sometimes it's better to show it, and it has more of an impact. The emotional impact is heightened because there is ambiguity about what is in the transformed photo in the first place, and what the joke is.

Metamorphosis of the photo-album culture

These apps have replaced the old-fashioned photograph album and are also changing what it is we choose to record of our experience. Few people have hardcopy photo albums any more, in an age when re-issued Polaroid cameras are purchased somewhat ironically, and the idea of using film is almost seen as eccentric.

If Facebook is an archive base where users record their own identities, then Instagram is about the now. The fact that it's mobile in every sense of the word is crucial to its allure. The act of communal sharing sparks conversations, ideas and rows on even lasting friendships.

Some people take iPhone-only pictures, some go crazy on the filters, and some put hours of work on Photoshop into their images, and then upload them -- everyone is different. The photographic purists don't like the filters but just because there are filters, it doesn't mean they have to be used.

By Dibabrah Mahboob


REVIEW

Westin Dhaka launches Bubbalicious brunch

When you wake up late for work, there's one of two things you can do; eat a hearty breakfast and spoil your appetite for lunch or you can eat a light breakfast and still spoil your appetite for lunch. Since neither are good options, you must have at least once wished that you had a third option, right? Well, now you do. The Westin Dhaka introduces its famous Bubbalicious Brunch programme at its self-styled 'fun' dining at Prego. The concept is new and trendy and seems well on its way to making quite the mark.

The brunch programme can best be summed up as deliciously quirky. There is Prego's high-end fine dining menu in your hands while entertainment surrounds you. There are clowns, bubbles and an interactive live game console area just for the kids. The concept is new and exciting and so is the food. Westin officials believe Bubbalicious's debut in the city will succeed in making brunch one of the most memorable times for the city folks .

With family being given the priority here, a 50 per cent discount for children under 12 is another incentive provided. The brunch is on offer at Westin's Fun dining restaurant Prego at level 23 every Saturday from 11am to 3pm. The dress code is smart casual and diners can enjoy brunch time with delectable food at Tk.4,000++. The meal and the experience are worth it.

Since it also serves as a little day care centre of sorts -- keeping the children busy while you take a sip of the trademark Bubbalicious drink -- now not only is it okay to wake up a little late during the weekends, but rather it's advised. There is the finest Italian food, cake, steak, pizza, bubbles, clowns, and a lot more waiting for you. So go ahead and eat your heart out.


THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY

Grameenphone presents the Naveed Mahbub Show
Date: Wednesday, 27 Feruary
Time: 6.30pm till 8.30pm
Venue: Naveed's Comedy Club, House 28, Road 20, Block K, Banani
Join Naveed Mahbub in a live session for the recording of his popular show on television. Open to all but as seats are limited, it will be on a first come first serve basis.

Debate competition arranged by VDC
Date: Thursday, 28 February
Time: Daylong
Venue: Viqarunnisa Noon School and College
Viqarunnisa Noon Debating Club is all set to host a Bengali Debate Festival. The participants will range from children to college level students. The form of debate will be Traditional as well as Parliamentary.
For General Rules email to mht.nth@gmail.com. Registration fees: Tk. 500 per team.

Valentine's hangover
Date: Thursday, 28 February
Time: 6.30pm till 10.30pm
Venue: Prince Restaurant (Ballroom), Prince Plaza
Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to put an end to the month with a bang. DJs performing are Dreamweaver, Spinning House, DJ Mimo and others.
Dress code: Trendy and Comfortable.
Entry fee (per person): Tk.1000. For passes and further information please contact: #0167 076 8712, 0168 247 6561 or 0171 051 0341.
N.B.: Passes are "Non-refundable.”

"Reincarnation"
Date: Thursday, 28 March
Time: 5pm till 7pm
Venue: Bashundhara City
Be part of the launching ceremony of a mixed, metal album by talented bands like Radioactive, Gene-Split, Nagorik and Creature of Judgement. Be there, have fun, take the CD home and enjoy!

“Simanaheen” - Bangladesh Theatrical Release
Date: Frday, 1 March
Venue: Star Cineplex Bashundhara City
Drawing inspiration from the romantic classics of yesteryears, Simanaheen is the tale of an eternal search for love told through two relationships in two different eras. The film is distributed in Bangladesh by Inn-Win Enterprise.
A Samsung Galaxy Notebook or Samsung Galaxy S III will be given to lucky winners are raffle draw on the first day, first show. Advance booking of tickets start from Thursday, February 28.
Book tickets using the following link: http://bit.ly/ZbYqJI or call: 913 8260, 913 4098, 914 1332, 914 0819 for details.

"Aronno" Live at Mermaid Cafe
Date: Friday, 1 March
Time: 8pm till 11pm
Venue: Mermaid Café, Gulshan 2
This is a unique opportunity to come and enjoy the groove of jazz and blues along with Bengali contemporary and traditional songs, not to mention the excellent food of Mermaid Cafe.
Special guest appearance: Labik Kamal Gaurob,Tanveer Alam Shawjeeb. No cover charges, no hassle of picking up tickets. Mermaid Cafe staff will cater to you according to your choice. Book your table right away before it's too late.
For reservation please contact: # 01841416460, 01841416470.


SPOTLIGHT

Documentaries for fun

Movies like Blood Diamond, City of God, Milk, among countless others, are an excellent way to entertain ourselves while learning about issues around the world. While we are all programmed by glamorous media and friends to watch the latest blockbuster flick, watching the toned-down “truth-version” can be a fun way to learn about topics.

Just like movies, documentaries can also be narrowed down to genres to help you look one up according to your mood. Whether you are an alleged “nerd”, or you just enjoy learning, here are some great suggestions according to themes.

Mass media does more than simply angling a product positively. Corporate media works to reinforce “official views” thereby homogenising the thinking of the mass to fit into their agenda. Here are a few documentaries that takes a critical look into that function --

Obey: British filmmaker and illustrator Temujin Doran portrays how the rise of “Corporate State” precipitated everything -- from income inequality to environmental collapse to the mainstream media's change of role from a tool of public service into a weapon of private interest.

The documentary, and the book “The Death of the Liberal Class” it is adopted from, claims that globalisation is manifested brands, celebrities, and corporations rather than nations and idealism.

Zeitgeist: We hear snippets of conspiracy theories involving America, government and world politics all the time. The Zeitgeist series, grills a number of popular conspiracy theory-based ideas including the Christ myth theory and 9/11. This series of documentaries can draw out a range of reactions -- from outright rejection and rage to stunned silence.

The sequel Zeitgeist Addendum focuses more on the fallacies of the monetary system that contributed to the world economic disaster. The third film Zeitgeist: Moving Forward includes the nature vs. nurture debate, aside from a critical look into capitalism and advocating a “resource-based economy”. Be a careful, critical viewer though, despite the compelling narrative and quality of pace and editing, the film(s) have been criticised for factual inaccuracies and the quality of its arguments.

Propaganda: A perspective of how American visual and consumption culture from an anonymous North Korean scientist, who uses hundreds of TV excerpts and archive footage to show what's wrong.

Watch your dinner: It might excite your taste buds, but mass-produced food undergoes intricate, sometimes frightful stages before it reaches your dinner plate. These documentaries would educate your idea of “watch what you eat” :

Food, Inc: This documentary made me beef-averse for a while. Food, Inc exposed the heavily mechanised underbelly of corporate American meat production which vehemently compromised nutrition and health for cheap, fast meat.

What Came Before: This is a video about a farm animal rescue. The video produces a case for vegetarianism by exposing the frightful reality of the cruelty farm animals are subjected to. From grinding chicks alive to castrating live cows the video exposes who the beast really is -- the creature who silently endures it all, or the one that subjects them to it.

Esoteric: Alternative media allows room for unpublicised ideas and concepts that mass media usually keep sanitised. Here are a few new, radical subject matters out there:

Bill Hicks-Revelations: Although this is just a comedy skit by legendary stand-up satirist-comedian and social critic Bill Hicks, this video will rattle your take on a lot of controversial topics such as psychedelic substances, media, etc. This particular skit was a follow-up to his show Relentless. His delivery is razor-sharp and where most comedians stop at the punch-line, Hicks went that one step further and punched the punch-line.

DMT -- The Spirit Molecule: The Spirit Molecule weaves an account of Dr. Rick Strassman's groundbreaking DMT research. The subtle combination of science, spirituality, and philosophy within the film's approach sheds light on an array of ideas that could considerably alter the way humans understand the universe and their relationship to it.

Occupation 101: This one is thought-provoking. A documentary mapping the Israel-Palestine conflict, Occupation 101 presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

Spirit Science Series: A series of animated informational videos about a wide range of interesting topics such as consciousness, chakras, human history, astral projection, meditation and universal geometry. Mind-gurgling!

For the Bible Tells Me So: This video examines the ways in which right-wing extremists have distorted and misused biblical scripture to justify their hatred of and deny basic civil rights to LGBT people (sexuality and gender identity-based sub-cultures).

The best part is that most if not all the documentaries listed here are available for free online on TopDocumentaries.org, EsotericTube.com, YouTube and Google Video.

By Dibarah Mahboob


SPOTLIGHT

Degree dilemma

Born in a country where mere existence is an everyday battle, the constraints we face bind our actions, direct our thoughts and eventually shape the lives we live. No matter what we studied in school or were taught at home, there always was an 'ideal' version of life, where you are either a doctor or an engineer with a big job and are perfectly happy, with the parents bragging at every 'dawat' about how you took the family name and made it a glimmering success story. Or so was the situation for the past few decades.

Now times are changing and that too at a breakneck pace. If you happen to be an undergraduate candidate wanting to study any discipline in Bangladesh, the opportunities are literally more than they ever were before. Whereas medicine and technical education got top priority in a country reeling from the Liberation War to cater to the needs of the time, service and consumer products will now soon reach global standards, creating thousands of jobs in those sectors. Multinational companies in telecommunications, the IT sector and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) have already changed the perception of success among people, and local companies too are contributing immensely. While business education was considered almost a second-tier degree only a few decades ago, BBA is currently the most sought-after degree in the country.

Maliha, after completing her HSC from Viqarunnisa Noon College, thought long and hard about her future and finally decided against science education, enrolling in IBA, Dhaka University.

“I might have never thought I'd do well in business studies, but now that I have gone on with it, there is nothing I regret. I study with some of the best minds of the country and the constantly challenging environment has taught me a great deal about solving real-life problems,” says the fourth-year Finance major.

The boom in BBA degrees is only one side of the changing education scene. As the country starts focusing more on the 'softer' sciences such as marketing, psychology or designing, it opens up a whole new world of disciplines for students to pursue.

Fashion Designing, Interior Decorating, Media and Journalism, Television and Film Studies or even Fashion Marketing degrees are gaining popularity, just by offering something we can be excited about studying.

University of Dhaka alone offers a huge range of degrees, from Peace and Conflict Studies to Tourism and Hospitality Management to Gender Studies. The views of the parents are changing too, as Musarrat, a student of Fashion Designing at Raffles Institute of Higher Education explains, “My parents are constantly supporting me, listening to me cry over how I cannot live without clothes from Martin Margiela's H&M collection and defending me against all the sceptics.”

And sceptics there are.

“Fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry, not just aunties and saris, but over here it is tradition. Unfortunately people still think fashion is 'useless' and always ask my parents how they 'allow' me to study such a thing”, relates an indignant Musarrat.

Admittedly, in most cases parents would still prefer their children to have the stability of a medical or law profession, but after decades of change they are getting to see where their children are coming from when they want to study, say, Drama or Graphic Design. There may be a long way to go to getting all the degrees we want in the country, but this is definitely a promising start.

By Tasnima Haque Orin


 
 

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