Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 57, Tuesday September 19, 2006




Festive metamorphosis

People are mentally preparing for something. Of course the political instability is a nagging thought at the centre of everyone's mind. It leads to high prices of goods especially the essential kind. Roads are jam-packed with vehicles and CNG taxis have to be hailed with charges higher than what comes on the meters, those that are fully functional anyway.

Choking to nothingness
Privately run buses look no different from the public ones. People are seen hanging out of the windows for air. They are everywhere. An aerial view would definitively look like ants scampering over the carcass of some dead creature. The analogy serves well here with the dead creature being the city as a whole. Actually it may not yet be dead but it is definitely being choked gradually. And to have this happening while the country goes through a dead heat phase is really something.

Despite the uninhabitable conditions people are mentally preparing for upcoming festivities. The housewives make calculations of future expenses. The primary bread earners, male or female wince thinking of all the money that will be spent in purchases. Homeowners spruce up their abodes with a little paint here and a little cement work there. Would the budget allow new furniture or at least new upholstery? After all, guests will be coming. Business folk on the other hand are busy updating stock. After all, things never sell more than on the last few days before a big festival. And everyone knows people buy things more when incentives like free offers and discounts are widely advertised.

Fashionistas cut and paste
Boutiques and places that offer some semblance of fashion related items are busy setting up displays. Auditoriums are rapidly being booked for displaying all the new or hashed up designs. Throughout the year fashion houses may not see much profit but festivals offer them one chance to recoup as much as possible. In the last few years there has been a mushrooming growth of designers as well as outlets. While some come up with creative designs most end up copying to serve up a disproportionate platter of choice.

Beggars getting rich
Begging is yet another profitable profession during festive times. It seems the influx of beggars into the cities increases during this time. Even those who do not generally earn a living through begging end up taking a bowl in their hands. Mahmuda, a maid, also preferred to join the ranks of beggars because according to her it brings in more money than her day job of working at people's houses.

People from the villages especially flock to the cities with their entire families and their begging bowls. Of course everything is not as rosy as it looks. Beggars have unofficial associations that one has to be a member of in order to be allowed to beg in groups. There is also the danger of being carted away by police or even being beaten up by the beggar groups for unauthorized begging. Such guest beggars come over to the cities knowing that during the month of Ramadan and the subsequent Eid rich folk give willingly.

Publishing the un-publishable
Publications are rife with every newspaper and magazine office churning out special festival issues. Among the most arduous tasks is that of actually selecting from the plethora of articles, ones worthy enough to grace a page. While there are established as well as rookie writers, requests come in all the time from higher up to publish material that would get no chance elsewhere. It is a dilemma for many as it is a nerve- wrecking experience to allow sub-standard material. But at times material is short and the term 'beggars cannot be choosers' comes to mind.

Fashion magazines are busy coming up with contests determining which designer is the best. Often it is more of a contest as to which designer copied better than others. People in charge of such sections have to resort to holding an ice bag to their throbbing heads.

At times change is inevitable and at other times change is the last thing on one's mind.

When festivals come by, all hell breaks lose whether it is in the upper echelons of society -the filthy rich or the lower sections- the begging populace who are not filthy rich but just filthy.

By Sultana Yasmin
Translated by Ehsanur Raza Ronny

Dearest diary,
Today is actually a “dearest diary” moment for me. I feel as if I have gone back into time. While growing up, I used to write my daily journal without fail. I don't even remember why or when I got hooked onto this particular habit, but I have got tons of note-books to prove how diligent I was in nurturing this passion of mine. Maybe Enid Blyton or Carolyn Keene (author of the famous Nancy Drew series) had some contribution here.

I remember, every night, after the whole house fell asleep, me with my freshly scrubbed face and teeth with two pig tails (sometimes oily braids) with something to munch on, I would settle down to my favorite task. But somewhere along the path of life, I stopped writing my “diary.”

I grew up. Got married. Had a child. Managed life and loved the shape it took. But today, here in my sister's quiet kitchen, far away from home, me in my trade-mark nightie, with a glass of orange juice, wispy, thinning hair fluttering in the crisp autumn breeze, I am pledging my allegiance to my “dearest diary” once again. Okay, certain things aren't the same anymore… now I need my reading glasses to write and my face is not as fresh as before, but what the heck… my note-book will not mind, I am sure it will just be happy to have me back. And to answer why I am back… is quite gut-wrenching for me.

I am about to start a new episode of my life and I want to put my emotions and energy on paper, so by the time I am done, I will be spent of my emotions to bother anybody.

Today's ode is to all the parents out there who had to let their child go out to the big bad world to be a better person, to learn more, to know more, to mature, to live life to the fullest… blah, blah, blah, blah, and more blah.

I ask, yes! I ask, who asked us to do this? Who taught us that this was right? Why do we do this and why didn't someone tell me, that this would be so hard? What will I do when I go back home? What will I do when I go into his room and see no more posters, no more scattered CDs, no dirty clothes on the floor? For whom will I cook the tomato chicken, and for whom shall I wait to have my late night chats?

Okay! Emotional outburst over! Now let me see the sunny side of the situation.

1. Extra bedroom.
2. More cupboard space.
3. More spending money.
4. More telephone time for me.

Wow! So many extras and more. So diary, analyze me. Am I being totally nuts or am I being what moms are supposed to be? Anyway, I think a psycho analyst is needed is needed here for this hugely confused mom. But honestly diary, I am glad he is enjoying his new phase of life, I'm glad he is making friends, and wants to do grocery, I am glad for everything he is glad for. But… somewhere, deep down in my heart, I wish he was still with us. Maybe, inshallah, some day, he will. A parent's job is never over.

So baby, our hearts and home is always there for you. Knock whenever, and come back when the time is right Good luck to all the freshers out there. And good luck to all the emotionally wrecked parents. May we all “hang tough.”

An easy meal to make for every freshman.

Sweet Chili Chicken Wingettes
Makes about 15. Preparation 5 mins.
Cooking 45. mins.
Store chicken next to an icy-cold drink bottle to keep it fresh in the lunchbox.
¼ cup (60ml) sweet chilli sauce.
¼ (60ml) barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1kg chicken wingettes
1. Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish (or large snap-lock plastic bag);mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.
2. Preheat oven to moderately hot (200 degrees C/180 degrees fan-forced).
3. Line a large shallow baking dish with baking paper. Add the drained chicken, roast in a moderately hot oven for about 45 mins or until browned. Turn halfway through cooking and brush occasionally with the pan juices.
Suitable to freeze. Not suitable to microwave.


Safety brigade

A recent experience with my niece who had to be rushed to the clinic after swallowing one too many of her grandmother's blood pressure pills has inspired this bit of writing-enforcing strict safety regimes for the hearts of every home: the children. Listed below are very simple measures that do away with very hazardous problems if observed.

Kicking off on a very obvious note, one of the most primary steps to take is to store away all sharp objects in a safe and more importantly, unreachable place. There is an evergreen fatal attraction towards knives, scissors and nail-cutters and the vast range of experiments that can be cooked up involving the use of the above mentioned is frightening to say the least. For homes that use the more conventionally bangla set of utensils, it must be ensured that <'botis' are safely stacked away and laid flat on their sides even if there is a minor pause during use. Glass objects are also frequent accident instigators and best way to go about them it is to keep all sorts of glass material away from children.

Following a similar line of thought, there is the whole group of red alerts that involve fire. Lighting matches, lighters or basically anything flammable is associated with an unbelievable amount of suave, especially for little boys inspired by cigarettes. Smoking parents would also do well to keep out of reach cigarette stubs, ash and ashtrays. Another common appeal is plug points or electrical appliances that are best taped up or kept out of sight to curb the urge to stick tiny little 'angel' fingers into them.

As soon as these bundles of joy become mobile, it is crucial to keep doors bolted tightly unless adults are around. Racing, crawling and even walker-ing down a flight of stairs are none events unheard of and the pain of broken limbs for the innocent involved coupled with the trouble of rushing to and from hospitals for their parents is simply not worth one latch out of place.

A hefty amount of precaution also has to be taken with regard to water because the disaster range in this case can involve anything from slipping to scathing to drowning. The safety measures are easy to enforce-maintaining routines like mopping up spillages, never leaving children unattended by full buckets of water and keeping empty ones upturned. With the majority of houses in our country still operating without geysers, extra care has to be taken when transporting hot water to bathrooms.

Perhaps the most important of all be-awares are the ones regarding food, because until a certain age everything except the things that actually are edible, is edible. Although one cannot always prevent children from nibbling on bits of paper, leaves or anything else they may find innovative, certain things like medicine and insecticide, which can cause severe damage if consumed, must be out of reach at all costs.

It is important to realise that there will invariably be certain lapses when it comes to monitoring infants, and since a brief amount of time is all children need to do their deeds, some accidents and mistakes are inevitable. The only good that can come out of them is the experience; as Swiss philosopher Jacob Burckhardt once said, historical knowledge or learning from the past is not 'to make us more clever the next time, but wiser for
all time'

By Subhi Shama Reehu


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