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     Volume 6 Issue 48 | December 14, 2007 |

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Celebrating with Books and Music

Elita Karim

Once again, it was a day filled with music, books, cakes and balloons at Words 'n Pages, the bookstore in Gulshan 2. Celebrating their third anniversary on December 10, the store had organised a day packed with a series of events and games for young readers and customers. All the regular customers dropped by for a visit and were seen enjoying the special discounts offered for the day.

Words 'n Pages has established a name for itself, over the last few years and has been encouraging the habit of reading books amongst the young people in the city. One elderly customer mentions that not only does this store motivate the younger generation to think, experiment and read, but over the years, it has also played a huge role in bringing out the child within the adults as well. "Words 'n Pages is probably my second home," says 43-year-old Nseema Akhtar Shima, mother of two. "I am a housewife and spend a lot of time looking for ways to keep my children busy in a constructive way. After school and weekends are usually spent here at Words n' Pages, where the kids explore the children's section downstairs while I get some reading done myself."

The day started off with cutting a huge chocolate cake, much to the delight of the customers inside the store. Managing Director of Words 'n Pages, Neema Rahman, Director Tarek Anam and the Head of Operations Ziaul Haque Khalid were present at the ceremony. "We had several special offers for the whole day," says Shofiul Alam Shohan. "We gave out 10%-50% discount on all our books, 30% on the DVD s and music CDs, 10% on the food at Insomnia Café and we also had our special membership offer on which customers would get a 5% discount on daily purchases."

Like every year, the evening ended with music. Popular musicians Ornob and Andrew Morris performed a few numbers, along with Shanto and Jasper and the German Town. The store's regular customers had begun to crowd the place since morning, says Khalid. "But every year, the main attraction lies in the evening when bands come in to play music. We have lots of young musicians who also happen to be regular customers here at Words 'n Pages. They come in randomly around evening and play for the audience. The stage is usually open for everyone to come and perform."

Words 'n Pages is ready with more events and activities for the new year. Along with several book fairs, the store plans to initiate programmes in cooperation with schools all over the country. "These fairs will motivate children to explore and read more about different cultures and the world around," says Shohan. "Learning about how Bangladesh can actually be represented in the world by these young people has always been a very interesting theme in these fairs of ours even in the past." Currently, Words n' Pages is organising a few book fairs in collaboration with several schools in Chittagong.

Reading good books is like having a conversation with some of the greatest people in the world. Now, however, reading has never been as fun and interactive, thanks to a variety of authors, themes, topics and books that are being introduced to the younger generation here by Words n' Pages and other bookstores in the country.

It is said that “More people were drowned by Bacchus than Neptune.” Hmmm, that speaks for what men have been doing for centuries when their women were under the impression that they were washing the temple of Zeus. Now, before going into my little story, here is a short preamble on Bacchus. The facts have been taken from Wikipedia.

“Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficial influences. He was also known as Bacchus and the frenzy he induces, bakcheia. Bacchus is the patron deity of agriculture and the theatre. He was also known as the Liberator (Eleutherios), freeing one from one's normal self, by madness, ecstasy, or wine. The divine mission of Dionysus was to mingle the music of the aulos and to bring an end to care and worry. There is also an aspect of Dionysus on his relationship to the 'cult of the souls', and the scholar Xavier Riu writes that Dionysus presided over communication between the living and the dead.

"In Greek mythology Dionysus is made to be a son of Zeus and Semele; other versions of the myth contend that he is a son of Zeus and Persephone. He is described as being womanly or 'man-womanish'.

"The name Dionysos is of uncertain significance; its -nysos element may well be non-Greek in origin, but its dio- element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus (genitive Dios). Nysa, for Greek writers, is either the nymph who nursed him, or the mountain where he was attended by several nymphs (the Nysiads), who fed him and made him immortal as directed by Hermes. Or both.”

Well, for my friends who are perennially thirsty and thus in very good terms with the Greek god of wine Bacchus, here is an intoxicating news item. Whether the news is intoxicating or they will become intoxicated after reading it is difficult to resolve at this point. Let me present the news item first. The interesting news is, to satiate the ever-thirsty throats of our friends some hotels in Singapore are offering endless rounds of drinks for USD 31.

A feature article by Huang Lijie of The Straits Times in the August issue goes like this: “For as less as US$31 you can now drink as many glasses of wine, beer and hard liquor. It might sound too good to toast to, but three such 'Alcohol Buffet' have already popped up in hotel lounges at the Pan Pacific Singapore, Marina mandarin Singapore and Carlton Hotel since October this year. Without the promotions, the same amount of money will only fetch you four drinks at the most. While the Pan Pacific and Marina Mandarin see from 15 to 50 buffet guests a month, as many as 25 customers can be seen revelling in spirited indulgence on weekend evenings at Carlton Hotel.”

Obviously, the buffet was introduced as a business promotional gimmick by the hotels, but since the idea was found to be catching on, the authorities are now considering the prospects of extending the offer for an indefinite period. So, my friends who go to Singapore every time their children sneeze will now have more reasons to visit the beautiful city. For those who drink, happy drinking.

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