A Wintry Welcome
AASHA MEHREEN AMIN
Newsroom of The Daily Star’s new office. Photo: Zahedul I Khan
Winter has been officially here long before the temperature outside started dropping. If you are in any doubt because of the hot sunny afternoons that still seem to be lingering even as November is drawing to a close, just walk into the brand new The Daily Star Centre. Almost everyone, save a few people who are obviously more warm-blooded than the rest of us agree-it's plain freezing in here. Apparently the central air-conditioning is still in the process of being adjusted and the only way to keep 'the machines' running is to keep the floors at a certain temperature. The result is that while we are revelling in our newfound elegance shiny floors, brand new desks, lifts and even hand-- dryers in the bathroom, we humans are also experiencing a premature winter, teeth chattering, frozen extremities included.
Humans of course are great at adjusting. Once inside the building you would think you were somewhere in northern Europe before indoor heating had been invented. One of our reporters, bundled up in a thick jacket, remarked that it felt like he was doing an internship at a foreign newspaper, probably like Reykjavik Daily. The cool temperatures have induced everyone to bring out their winter wear. Hence the security guards adorning their heavy, fluffy jackets, assistant editors sporting woollen scarves to protect their ears and the rest of us wrapping our shawls over our heads and shoulders in an attempt to ward off the iciness. Some of us are contemplating gloves, woollen socks and heating pads in the coming weeks. Earphones have become even more popular and it's not for the love of music.
It's all a part of moving to a new place. It takes a while to get used to: taking the lift instead of trudging up the stairs and hyperventilating with the effort, sitting at squeaky clean desks and trying not to notice senior colleagues in their glass boxes (they have been promised frosting for more privacy), avoiding serious and embarrassing injury when walking into glass doors, getting soap from an automatic soap dispenser and not freezing with fear (and cold) upon hearing the sound of sudden typing in a seemingly empty floor at night.
The first day of moving in is always a wake-up call. For the first time in your life you will realise the importance of something as trivial as a wastepaper basket, a box of tissues or even a pathetic, wrinkled teabag. You will realise the utter helplessness when you don't know what your own extension number is, more so when the operator doesn't know either. People scream it's too cold, that you have to be a contortionist to type at the new desks, there are too many partitions or not enough of them, it's like a maze, some don't have any window view, the list of complaints keep piling.
As the days spread into weeks, things get familiar. It's not such a novelty anymore to walk into the lift and press the button on seven and know that you are going to the eighth floor. It's also quite nice to say hello to colleagues you would not see for months in the other building. It is especially calming to see an uncluttered desk without the dusty debris of things you didn't know how to get rid of for the last nineteen years, a spic and span office that you know belongs to your organisation.
One cannot help but feel a little exulted at the thought that we have come a long way from a fledgling new daily in Motijheel with negligible circulation to a residential house in Dhanmondi, an old, strangely designed building in grungy Karwan Bazar, to this rather grand structure in Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, a befitting location for the largest English daily in the country. Forgive us if we sound a bit self-congratulatory. But it's hard not to feel a little excited to finally have our own place with many familiar faces of our early glory years and fresh ones of the future to befriend. It just gives one the goose bumps.
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