Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 45, Tuesday May 17, 2005





Empty nest syndrome: How to survive it

Which parents have not experienced the angst of the empty nest--a time of life when children have grown up and gone away to lead their own lives. Suddenly one plunges from the world of birthday parties, school parent and teachers meetings, homework and later teenage tantrums to a world where you are no longer the center of your young one's universe. Now it's time for the children to fly away.

There are two ways of dealing with the empty nest syndrome: either you just cave in and wallow in misery or you decide to stand tall and find a new meaning in life. The latter could mean learning new skills such as Ikebana, bonsai, aerobics, photography and doing all those things for which you had no time in the past--maybe travel, make new friends and read.

Women who have careers are relatively better off. For them it is easier to come to terms with the departure of their offspring since their focus has not solely been on the young ones. There are many instances of women scaling new heights once they can give undivided attention to their work.

Another way to fight the empty nest syndrome is to step back and try some options, charted out by psychologists:
* Ration phone calls to the children--no more than twice a week. Use e-mail/texting in preference to phoning. You will then be able to express your feelings succinctly.
* Be supportive and don't try to bring the children back home.
* Lean on friends to tide you over the worst. May be some of them are going through the same thing or have gone through it.

In our part of the world, it is a little easier for the older generation to come to terms with a changed family reality. Unlike the West, when 18 years spells time to leave the nest, children in Asia maintain closer relationships with their elders. In fact, it is not uncommon for children to live with their parents or in-laws. A friend I know has her father living a few houses away from her marital home--a boon when she has to leave the children or simply to get away from the rut of domesticity. Another flits in and out of her parental home when the grind of living gets her down--even though they are in different cities. So parents in this part of the world are a great support for women, especially those who aspire to a career.

So instead of moping about the half empty glass, turn your sights to the half full glass--the success and independence of your children, time out to do things you enjoy but never had the time for earlier and finding an identity independent of being a mother.

By Kavita Charanji

Diary of a Food Obsessed Person

By Sam Q

Dearest diary,
The other day I can't remember who was telling me that I should become a food critic. To me, anybody suggesting anything new in my life makes me shudder. At this point, I am completely content with every aspect of my life(okay, only "one" aspect I am not happy with…you know…my ever burgeoning girth), everything is exactly the way I want it to be.

Anyway, going back to my point, I of course declined the offer, mainly because, their intentions were less honorable. Meaning? If I would actually become a self-appointed food critic, the deal would be, my friends would be there to "help" me decide the fate of the restaurant. Anyway I pushed aside their ribbings and banter, but co-incidentally, last night, we all went over at a recently opened friend's restaurant called Le' Saigon serving Vietnamese food. And something went "ping" inside & my writer's side of the brain wanted to put things down on paper. Weird!

Okay, so let's get down to business. Let's start off with the positive stuff first. (I can actually visualize Shammu, thinking, positive stuff first? So, what does that mean, are there negative stuff too?") So as Shammu would say "relax babe". Your positive stuff way over-shadows the negative stuff.

Normally in the restaurant business, food is the main calling card. The best example is, Olive Garden. Such bad décor and lack of ambience. But we keep going back, only because of the food. The food is absolutely, in my opinion, mind blowing. But in Le' Saigon's case, food is also very good, but the main calling card is, Shammu's charm, wit and warmth of welcome. Whatever happens, if Shammu is there, the restaurant is here to stay. I loved the décor at Le' Saigon. The bamboo railings inside were so innovative and eye catching. The beams on the ceiling and the slow moving fan were like my grandfather's house in old town, where I spent many happy hours of my childhood.

Anjan, the owner's wife, played the perfect supportive wife role to the hilt. Dressed in a very authentic Chinese top, blending in with her surroundings, she took me back to a Vietnam War movie set. If there was only a bar, I could actually picture her, lounging on a bamboo stool, with her long, coltish legs daintily crossed over, murmuring sweet nothings to Shammu, who would be wearing dapper white pants with a flowery shirt and a white, broad brimmed hat to complete the ensemble.

Anyway, reality check time, Earth calling Sam.
The whole atmosphere was very clubby and hip. I hope jazz nights gets to be a regular weekly affair. A very talented group of people were there to entertain the guests.

The appetizers were awesome, especially the rolled shrimp. My diet pact with Sameer whizzed out the window, even before he could say "Atkins". His main courses were very good too. And to wrap it up, his chewy banana dessert took my breath away. Even my husband's glares couldn't stop me. There was even a mini tug-of-war between me and him with the dessert plate. Poor guy, for some reason he thinks, if he eats less, I'll get thin. How delusional can you get? I will definitely be going back. The only thing which I think could be incorporated, is a non-smoking section. I have nothing against smokers. It's just that, I would have stayed longer if my eyes didn't water so.

Anyway Shammu, here's to a great beginning. Hic-Hic-Hurray!(pun intended)
So a Vietnamese recipe to day:

Vietnamese shrimp and crab fritters with chili-lime sauce
(makes about 20)
2 garlic cloves
8 ounces skinless fish fillets, cut into ½ inch pieces
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 egg white
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
8 ounces crab meat
8 ounces cooked shrimp, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander
¼ cup finely chopped red or green bell peppers
Lettuce leaves
Vegetable oil for frying
Chili lime sauce

Put chopped garlic cloves into blender. When fine, add fish and next 8 ingredients. Blend till it is fine. Transfer to large bowl; stir in crabmeat, shrimp, coriander and red or green bell peppers.

Pour enough oil into heavy large skillet to reach depth of 1 inch; heat oil over medium heat. Working in batches, drop rounded tablespoonfuls of fritter mixture into hot oil. Fry fritters until golden brown and cooked through, turning occasionally, about five minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer cooked fritters to paper-towel-lined plate; drain.

Arrange fritters on platter with lettuce leaves. Serve with chili lime sauce

Chili-lime sauce:
(makes about 1 cup)
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
¼ cup finely grated carrot
2 table spoons fish sauce
2 table spoons sugar
2 table spoons chili-garlic sauce

Whisk lime juice, ¼ cup water, carrot, fish sauce, sugar and chili-garlic in medium bowl to blend.
Happy cooking and have a good day.


Travel do's and don't's
Lets' face it. When travelling with your family, you have got to be prepared for anything. Therefore here are some essential travel tips that should help you deal with the conundrum of what to pack.

Some people make the mistake of trying to take along all they will need for an entire trip of several weeks or months. You will be able to get most of life's basic necessities wherever you are. They may not be as nice as the stuff you use at home, but that's what "roughing it" is all about. Just take enough for a couple of weeks. Pack only three to four changes of clothing. Take older clothes that can be discarded along the way. These are great for growing children. In many places, the local people are pleased to get these cast-offs. There are travellers who take nothing but old clothes so they have that much more room for bringing souvenirs home. But make sure you do not carry too many jeans--they take too long to dry.

You must carry a first aid kit whenever you go on vacation. The ideal things to pack in a first aid kit would be a thermometer, bandages, band-Aids, gauze and cotton wool. These are mainly to deal with minor injuries, that almost inevitably occurs, when you are travelling. Also high on the first aid list should be any prescription medication that you take and the regulation pain killers.

Aside from the aforementioned, there are some other things you would do well to take with you. Carry a waist bag/hip pouch/waist bag. Not only are these in vogue, but carrying them is extremely travel savvy. It can hold anything from a small camera, maps, guide books, film, a pocket knife, sun-screen/sun-block, cap and flashlight. At times it can even substitute for a shoulder bag. Always carry valuables on your person, not in a purse, not in a flight bag. The only other place is a safe deposit box at a hotel or ship. Be aware valuables mean return tickets, travellers checks, money and credit cards.

Remember do not carry any electrical appliances, aerosol cans or anything made of glass. The risks far outweigh the benefits.

By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam

For a clean shave

Well, the morning session of a man's personal grooming is in fact an important part of his life. And shaving the facial hair is just as important as brushing one's teeth after getting up from bed. Shaving is often associated with irritation, burns and red slashes, which are at times injurious to the sensitive skin of the face. Therefore, be careful about the way you handle your shaving kit and the way you shave.

Make sure that your skin is soft and moist while you shave. Shaving when the skin is dry, results in cuts and red slashes. So it's advised that you first wash your face with warm water as it will soften the beard and help open up the pores of your skin.

Moisturise your face with a gentle, creamy shaving lotion which would softens the facial hair and gives you the feeling of a perfect shave.

Dermatologists recommend cooling aloe vera shaving cream as it contains a great combination of natural ingredients. Avoid using shaving foams or gels that contain ingredients like menthol. Although menthol gives a superb lather it causes dryness of skin and close skin pores. Menthol at the same time hardens the beard and makes shaving difficult.

After you are done with this important personal grooming function, rinse the razor in hot water and replace it in its holder. Choose a hygienic place to keep your shaving kit to avoid possible contamination.

Finish it off by applying your favourite after-shave lotion.

By Penelope




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