Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 50, Tuesday August 01, 2006



Style Files

State of Dhaka Style
Do we like to look fashionable- get in style, show a little panache? Can we claim to have a niche style that is our very own? What is the absolute Bangladeshi mission in fashion? Do we have one or are we just copycats? Pick up global style direction and create a unique interpretation. Do our local productions touch our souls? A Bangladeshi spirit can be very minimal or as loud as rickshaw art.

How can we push it toward the right direction? Where and how can we lift the scenario to a higher ground? We can work with fabrics, cut, style; in translucent, light, sheer, uneven nubs, textures or smooth as satin weaves. It can all depend on design decisions or shall we say 'fashion options'. Are we ready to experiment?

In Dhaka we are always ready with a brand new attitude. We have a good spirit and we pick up styles fast but are we adventurous? Eccentricity is the oddity one looks for in fashion fame. We simply cannot take fashion forward if we look like plain Jane. Are we cut out to flaunt? It takes charisma to present and put on a show for your viewers. Have we got what it takes? I believe we have the space and the opportunity to build on our strengths. It would be essential first to identify what we are particularly good at and move it on the road to fashion stardom. Fabric, form, structure, construction, theme, story and application, yes these are elements to formulate and create good fashion.

This could be our strongest achievement. Provided we develop the fabric in all its stages with a game plan- a strategy. What does a fabric need? Yarns, weave, dye and finish. At each stage, the application needs to be made with the appropriate technology, so that the end result is flawless. We need to have a 'can do' attitude and simply get our act together.

This is probably the most important design decision. This means you need to decide whether the garment should be a-line, shift, form fitted, squared kimono, or voluminous flared and layered. Each piece of the garment should be finished with details. Keep an account of essentials needed to complete the job well. Invest your time.

Creating fashion. Creating the story is putting your thoughts and intentions into a fluid structure that will be adorned, and will come alive. A theme, story line is needed to bond all the pieces in a collection. Colour, motif, conversational elements that suggest heritage, pop, or contemporary themes and project a specific image on the compilation of garments is always needed. It is vital that you have a theme that projects a lifestyle. Today, you are not just selling pieces- you are selling a way of life, or a standard of existence, which can be attained.

As a designer or buyer, you must give the impression to your audience that you can reach for the stars and be the person in your dreams. As an industry we need to mature. Take Dhaka fashion to the next level. When and how? I believe we are moving in the right direction and before long we will be on the boat to our desired destination. Believe in yourself. As a buyer we need to be more flamboyant and display pizzazz. In general, we as consumers lack zing and excitement in the way we present ourselves. Our demand will push our industries' creativity. Fun is the missing quotient in our fashion. Look for the outlook and get it right.

Interpreter of maladies

Dear Dr Nighat
I am a 30 year old female. Since childhood I have been very afraid of darkness. Even in my own house when everyone is around I cannot go to a dark corner. I keep lights on when I sleep. Its getting out of control. Is there any way I can get rid of this phobia? Do you think hypno therapy works? I should mention that when I was 9 years old my cousins played a prank on me. In fact they continued to scare me for weeks. I got scared even if I was ready to face them. It all started back then. Do you think it has anything to do with my fear? Please help.

Ans: Dear Rumana, I understand your darkness phobia is getting out of control and you wish to liberate yourself from this irrational fear. You are 30years old and have been suffering from this specific phobia (an irrational fear that produces a conscious avoidance of the feared object, situation or activity) since your childhood; it certainly robs you off your freedom to live the way you want to live.

You are linking this phobia to your childhood experience of fear when your cousins played a prank on you and continued to do so for a period of time. Memories of intense emotional experience can sometimes get trapped in specific brain parts (e.g. limbic system- the part of the brain that is concerned with all kinds of emotional experiences in a human being) and if the brain fails to process it further by its more developed rational part (e.g. cerebral cortex), then this trapped or encapsulated emotionally charged memory can subsequently become a source of automatic response to a situation that (even if remotely) simulates the original situation (e.g. darkness) provoking the particular emotion (e.g. fear). The inherently neutral stimulus (darkness) provoked fear response in your childhood when it was paired with the prank, and phobia developed because the brain failed to separate the neutral stimulus from the emotion provoking stimulus (prank). This is a kind of condition reflex of the brain and is one of the most primitive survival tools of animals including humans.

Patients suffering from phobia for a prolonged period can eventually develop Panic Attacks and feel like they are not in control of their body anymore. A chain of physiological responses(rapid heart beat, tremor, choking, dizziness, dry mouth, fear of losing control or going crazy etc.) set out automatically even without any obvious trigger ing the external environment. Some research findings claim that it happens because the lower brain (limbic system) escapes the inhibitory control of the upper brain (cerebral cortex) due to the intensity of emotional energy attached to the memory.

These explanations are somewhat consistent with your personal experience and also validate your need to do something about it. In this case, therapy target will be to enable you to differentiate between the two distinct stimuli- which also mean detaching the emotion from the memory.

Gradual Systematic Desensitization is a popular behaviour therapy for specific phobia. In this method, slowly exposing the person to less fearful to more fearful components of the stimulus at a comfortable pace allows the person to get slowly adjusted to it without feeling too suddenly overwhelmed by it. EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) is a method that helps to detach the emotion from the memory by involving brain processing techniques.

Hypnotherapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses hypnosis in an effort to uncover events from past (repressed memory) that are influencing present thoughts. Again, hypnosis is not meditation though hypnosis takes a person to a meditative state (an altered state of consciousness) and then uses suggestion to bring changes in thought, idea or behaviour. In Bangladesh, some psychiatrists practice Abreaction (based on the principles of hypnotherapy under a chemically induced state of mind) mainly for Dissociative or Conversion Disorder (Hysteria) patients to achieve a similar goal.

It is claimed that Hypnotherapy works well to quit smoking, drug abuse etc. Losing weight, eliminating chronic pain, changing a behaviour (e.g. nail biting, clenching or grinding teeth in sleep called Bruxism, Trichotillamania or compulsive hair pulling etc.) also seems to respond to this treatment. Hypnotherapy has been shown to be successful in treating IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Specific Phobia, Anxiety and Panic Disorder etc.

However, my personal opinion is hypnotherapy is effective as an adjunct to standard medical care (e.g. anxiolytic medication), and as a well informed patient one should only proceed for it if it is offered by a well trained professional person in this field who follows all the ethical guidelines. Treatment success also depends on the motivation to change and treatment adherence of the patient.

By the way

Dab a small amount of toothpaste (fluoride not gel) on pimples before going to bed. This will help dry out the pimples.

Under a different sky

By Iffat Nawaz


And “where are you from”, they ask. Again and again and yet another time. Everywhere, almost every other day. I answer diligently, thinking I am spreading the name of my country while a part of me is always surprised at this politically correct modern world by the ways you can ask someone of their origin without being impolite, and being polite back I always answer…Bangladesh, though that to me doesn't seem like the whole truth at times…

I know this aspect of being from split cultures, two nationalities, belonging to two worlds or none at all is getting too old to talk about. I know I and many others elaborate on it time and time again, but if something is always on the back of your mind and surfaces to the top of your heart, your mouth, your being every few days how can you ignore it?

Everyday I wake up here at home with a fear that it's one more day away from being the Bangladeshi that I once was fully. It's like having a long distance relationship with a lover, with time and distance it reaches different dimensions, often a stronger bond comes out of it and often it's just a shell of a relationship with no substance but only the illusion of the past. Not enough to define yourself by. You long for their touch, their love, the you they see you as, but you don't crave it enough to think through, to reach them as often as you once did. You keep living in the comfort zone that distance has created through time.

When I speak of Bangladesh, it's never with vagueness, they are all definite ideas, facts, and images, clear, vivid, no one questions my love, my belonging to her. They ask me if I will ever return, I say I don't know, but they don't take that answer as a failure of my patriotism, a weakness of my personality but a complexity that amazes them. And I fool yet another through the web of words…

When I think of Bangladesh, in my mind, that is when all the vagueness returns. I try to search for what it is that I am looking for, what it is I am relating to, and most of the time I can’t. It ends with only a feeling, a feeling that is not overwhelming but somewhat uncomfortable at times. When you know someone or something for way too long and way too well and you try to look at them from a new perspective it's not always so easy. Defining Bangladesh and defining me is sort of like that these days.

The other day I was trying to express my Bengaliness all over again. This time to myself, asking myself what are you, what are you today, what are you right now…and a meek and numb voice spoke out from the inside, a few lost phrases, I was trying to fool myself with meaningless words…living the image is no longer keeping me going, the substance inside is lost, and I don't know how to find it.

I can say to those who ask, I am a Bangladeshi-American, but often I don't feel like saying that either. It would be too balanced of a statement, I am not that balanced, not yet, not sure if I will ever be, that half and half…no I won’t be…never…

In my imbalanced reality, hiding behind images and words I often wonder who I will be when the words will stop, the images wont draw with colours anymore, will my lost love rescue me, define me, will a new love take over and rebuild me…but will any of these loves be true, my past my present or my future, I don't want to wash any of it away…in this vagueness I will remain lost…with you…forever…


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