Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 66, Tuesday November 21, 2006



Shop Special

Of magnificence and extravagance

So you've frowned, sighed, sneered and finally laughed at them for their sheer outrageousness. But to what avail? Only to have yet another 'international' or 'exclusive' (spelt wrong at times) plastered in the names of one more back alley school or corner-shop boutique? Yes and no. Although this may be so for more instances than the city of Dhaka should care to cater for, luckily there is the odd exception that begs to provide respite- Vasavi for example.

Inaugurated as recently as September 15 this year, Vasavi is a (genuinely) exclusive designer wear outlet with its roots in the fashion capital of the Sub-Continent, Mumbai and two branches in the equally happening fashion arenas of Dubai and Dhaka. Since Dhaka is our city of interest, we will get right to the shop located at CWS (C), 18 South Avenue, Gulshan. The décor is first to impress upon entering the square reception area with sparkling floors, wooden furnishings and life-size posters one too many hindi serial actresses all under one roof. While you marvel at how Kashish, Prerna, Salone and so many more can harmoniously exist under the same banner, you have a few minutes to decide which of the numerous sections of the shop, Alankar, Akanksha, Utsav, Vivah, Heritage, Khazana or Designer Corner you want to visit first (if nothing else, you can at least have a ball rolling them names around).

Designer Corner: This is in the form of a narrow corridor to the right of the entrance where the boastful Satyapaul banner is an immediate eye-catcher. Lining both walls of the opening of the passage are two racks of cotton and georgette salwar kameez sets that range between Tk 3000 and 20 000. Variety is more than amply catered for in terms or style with beads, sequins, springs, and stones used as embellishments as well as the more casual options of block or print. A little further down the line awaits a small but impressive collection of long skirts and fatuas with minimum and maximum price levels of Tk 1000 and Tk 3000 respectively. Towards the end of the line is displayed the collection of designer saris that come in crepe and chinon and if you are willing to stretch your budget well above the 10 000 taka mark, this will definitely be worth your while (and money).

Heritage: Right across the hallway from the Designer Corner, is the section called Heritage, specialising in exclusive saris. The saris in this sector come mostly in chiffon but they do have the alternatives of kanchipuram, katan and jute net. Regardless of material, all the saris are heavily embellished with one or a combination of beads, glass, sequins, zari, spring, lucknow or kashmiri stitch. Impressively living up to the standard set throughout the shop, the clothes in this section are a rage of colours comprising of shades to fit every line of preference. Well-photographed catalogues (of the same serial stars… yes) make decisions easier to take and the price level starts from Tk 25 000 onwards.

Vivaah: Situated to the immediate left of the above is a section dedicated, as the name suggests, solely to weddings. Although stocking less variety than the other sections, hopefully another round of catalogue browsing and television actress admiring will help you find the perfect bridal attire, be it a sari or lehenga.

Alankar: After you're left completely befuddled over what options to choose in the previous three lines of clothing, your next stop should be the gold-plated jewellery section. Choice is all yours depending on what sort of occasion (or none) you would like to shop for with the alternatives of heavy sets, lighter, more casual necklaces and earings or simply large pendants in single chains. Separately can be bought earings, bangles and most notably gorgeous payals, more that 2-3 inches in breadth that are a welcome change from the usual thin chains that people adorn on their feet. Prices, expectedly, are a tad on the higher scale with the heavy sets costing about 10 000 taka and the pendants with matching earings approximately Tk 5000.

Khazana: The last stop in this area is in a quiet corner to the left of the doorway, which is unique in that it provides reasonably priced saris (in the Tk 2000-5000 range). Sporting an impressive collection of kota, georgette and chunri saris, this section provides ample variety for more casual occasions.

Akanksha: Moving on from this pentagon of grandeur, you have to cross the semi-void area of reception and cosmetics to enter the next two sections. First up between these two is a sector concentrating on unstitched three-piece salwar kameez materials. Emphasis lies on chinon, cotton and crepe and although the designs live up to current fashion trends, this section shies in colour variety compared to the rest of the shop.

Utsav: Finally drawing a close is the last section, again catering for a wide variety of saris. The options come in georgette, chiffon, gadwal and kanchibharam. Prices range from an approximate 3-3.5 thousand taka so this is a more feasible option for those with a restricted budget.

Overall, Vasavi provides a glamorous shopping experience with their large premises, plush décor and designer brands of clothing.

By Subhi Shama Reehu
Photo: Amirul Rajiv


Thailand: A trip to remember

Food lovers, cultural enthusiasts and beachcombers there's something for everyone in Thailand. Recently I returned from this country and the memories linger on of great food, beautiful beaches and superb cultural events. The stops were Bangkok and then on to the picturesque island of Koh Samui, about an hour's flight from the capital.

At Samui's Central Sumai village resort we were ushered to a little wooden cottage surrounded by verdant trees and plants. Here the greatest attraction was of course the Natien beach where one could soak in the sun and generally chill out. Then there were the famous Thai massages that helped us unwind in tranquil surroundings.

Near the resort was the Samui Butterfly Garden, a refreshing and enlightening experience. Spread out on a 2,800 square feet garden, the viewer gets to see dozens of vividly coloured butterflies in a net covered paradise with its own little river and waterfalls. Here one can view the cycle of life of butterflies and other tarantula-like creatures. Then there is a bee house that gives the visitor a glimpse of the daily life of bees through a glass cover. At the garden were carefully preserved butterflies and beetles ranging from the Atlas Moth, the Lime Butterfly, the Common Tiger and the Papilla Ulysses (from the Indo-Australian region). The five-horned beetle and the three-horned beetle were other attractions. Also on display were cocoons.

We ventured out to the Chaweng beach and Lamai, the longest beach and second largest beach and biggest town on Samui. On view here was the sea in all its pristine glory and intrepid beachcombers on motorboats or surfing.

While at the Samui resort, we had the chance to attend a traditional Thai cultural evening. Dancers of the Teerapath School, Samui staged a number of items such as the Dragon Dance, Monkey Charming Princess, Rain Dance, War Dance and the Wedding and Ceremonies Dance.

One evening went by at Zico's Grill and Bar on Chaweng beach. Alongside succulent grilled meats and seafood diners, were regaled by lively Brazilian music and vibrant Samba dancers from Brazil.

Koh Samui has an interesting history. Believed to have been inhabited 1,500 years ago by Chinese and Muslim fishermen, its existence was first recorded by the Chinese in about 1,500 AD. During World War II, Koh Samui was occupied by the Japanese and held in isolation. For most of the island's history, agriculture has been the major source of income, particularly coconut production. Today tourism rivals coconut production as an income source.

Leaving this idyllic island behind, we headed for Bangkok. Here we had time to take in a film, The Departed, at the swank Siam Paragon, a shopping complex. And then there was a wonderful 'Khon', the famous masked dance-drama. The 'Khon' performances are taken from different episodes in the Ramakein, the Thai version of the Indian epic, the Ramayana. The performance featured the life of Hanuman, the monkey god who helped Lord Ram (Phra Ram) rescue his wife Sita (Sida) from her captivity by the demon king Ravana (Tosakanth).

All in all, the sandy beaches, lush greenery and gentle and hospitable people of Thailand are the major attractions for the tourist.

By Kavita Charanji

On the cover

The last few weeks have seen a nightmare enacted on the streets of Dhaka, as the protesters took their wrath out on vehicles and public property. Check out our stories on the Centrefold

Photos: Amirul Rajiv


Protection against tear gas- 101

You never know when it is going to hit you. You are riding a rickshaw through empty Dhaka, suddenly from out of nowhere a procession approaches followed by police van, shower of bricks and tear gas. You can run from tear gas but you still can't hide. You can take shelter from it in an alley but the fume will still reach you there, making you cry even if you want or not. So what can you do to ease you eyes after it gets you.

Here are a few easy steps:
Tear gas also called CS, CN, or CX are chemical compounds that are weapons designed to be used by the military and police to disperse crowds and subdue individuals. They work as skin irritants, causing burning pain and excess drainage from eyes, nose, mouth and breathing passages.

The first thing to remember about exposure to these chemicals is that it is not the worst thing that could happen to you. The hype and fear surrounding them is enormous, but in reality, if you are careful and smart, you should survive it with little problem.

Tear gas is most commonly deployed via canisters, which are fired into crowds, sometimes directly at people. It is important that you do not pick up the canisters without gloves, as they are extremely hot. Be aware that the time it takes you to throw away it will allow you to be heavily exposed.

If you are exposed to tear gas, you may experience stinging, burning in your eyes, nose, mouth and skin, excessive tearing, causing your blurred vision, runny nose, increased salivation, coughing and difficulty in breathing, disorientation, confusion and sometimes panic. The good news is that this is temporary. Discomfort from tear gas usually disappears after 5-30 minutes. So you have to deal with it.

How to deal:
Stay calm. Panicking increases the irritation. Breathe slowly and remember it is only temporary. If you see it coming or get a warning, put on something protective on your face if possible, try to move away or get upwind. Blow your nose, rinse your mouth, cough and spit. Try not to swallow. Do not rub your eyes.

After you go home avoid use of oils, lotions and detergents because they can trap the chemicals and thereby prolong exposure. Wash your clothes, hair and your skin.
Lastly be vigilant to save yourself from such encounters.

By Shahnaz Parveen



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