Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 23, Tuesday, June 8, 2010




Tangy and yellow

THE fragrance of green mangoes at the neigbourhood grocery in early May reminds of the ensuing summer, and along with it a wide array of summer fruits. Now, however it is the reign of the plump, ripe mangoes.

If winter is the season to feast on nature's offering of vegetables, summer brings with it an unbound, treasure-trove of fruits.

The moist, rich, loamy soil, and production friendly climate makes tropical Bangladesh a breeding ground of lush greenery that produces fruits of superior quality, varied not only in size, shape and form but also taste.

In one season, the mango comes in two distinct forms green and ripe. Even in early June, peddlers still sell unripe mangoes on carts, mixed with chillies, mustard and salt the uncanny concoction that goes about teasing the taste buds. Right beside in another cart, there lie ripe mangoes, the air filled with the fragrance of ripe mangoes.

Any street-smart, seasoned haggler would know that mangoes this season are well within the reach -- delectable 'mogonbhog' 'langra' 'himshagor' available within Tk 50-70. 'Fazli' a favourite of many, especially children for its large size, sweet taste and comparatively less fibre will start appearing in the market within days. Keep counting!

Another heavenly offering from the regions of Rajshahi to the Bangali kind. Rajshahi lychees have a distinct flavour, the right amount of sweetness, with a fleshy pulp. Sold in bunch of 100s, lychees are now available between Tk 200-250!

Not everyone is a big fan of ‘taal’, one must acquire a taste for it. Although it will take some time for the ripe fruit to hit the stands -- the savouring bitter sweet juice with milk and rice will have to wait -- the unripe ‘taal’ is now widely available at Tk 8-10. Biting into the white pulp, reveals a softer interior and the watery juice, which, as said earlier, appeals to those who have acquired a taste for it.

Its reign is short-lived, yet a productive one. 'Jaam bhorta' is a season's favourite and goes hand in hand with a rainy afternoon. Selling at Tk 80 per kilogram, the blackberry is making the scene at the moment.

Wood apple
Sherbet made of wood apple is the quintessential summer drink. Sugar, wood apple pulp, water and a hint of milk in the right proportions, served with crushed ice and voila! Instant relief from the summer heat. Wait a few weeks before wood apple makes a seasonal showdown at the bazaars.

Rose apple
Compared to the illustrious company it keeps, 'jamrul' or rose apple may seem a bit bland, however it does have its fan following. Price Tk 60 per kilogram.

This, I am afraid is a personal favourite and hence susceptible to favouritism. Pineapples, both the small 'baby' version, as well as the larger variants are now widely available in the city's fruit stands and makeshift carts. Available between Tk 15-20, they are priced to sell.

Its rich aroma deters many a valiant soul, just as many it draws with its taste. Jackfruit is a favourite amongst the classes and the masses, primarily because of its affordability. Although not yet the staple at the fruit market, jackfruit along with mangoes will dominate the scene throughout summer and well into monsoon.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Raddison Water Garden Hotel Dhaka

Pop up

Stain Busters

IT can happen to just about anybody. You're savouring your succulent summer fruit when a few drops of it falls on your favourite kameez. Your first reaction is to go into a flutter of panic but that is never the best course of action. Instead, when that happens, the best thing to do would be to immediately isolate that article of clothing instead of letting it dry or stain. Fight the urge to go straight for the detergent or soap because those ingredients will set the stain and make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Try loosening the stain first with just cold water. For more stubborn fruit stains, prepare a strong concoction of borax and water. Rub the borax into the stain, let it sit for about five minutes, and then check to see if the stain has disappeared. Once the stain is gone, rinse the borax out with hot water.

By Mahareen Khalid


Modern face lift

PEOPLE buy houses for all kinds of reasons. But that doesn't necessarily mean they like everything about it. This is an apartment, almost 4000 sqft in area and situated at Gulshan .

The living area is spacious and highly ventilated due to large horizontal windows. The original space was a plane surface. As the space is free, we can play with furniture in many ways especially when we work in a living room.

A living room expresses a sense of your home. The living room is the threshold between public and private life, so strike a chord that embraces both and resonates your entire home. Create a space that's approachable, casual, and comfortable, and no matter how you furnish it, your room will always be full of life.

A well designed living room can be informal, yet sophisticated enough for special occasions. In a large space such as in this particular house, we got a spacious room for living. So we arranged a generous sectional sofa that offers optimal flexibility. At beginning we made a division for space planning. Actually it was my client's desire that she wanted a floor with different level. The space is spacious, so I took the opportunity to create a rectangular higher level floor at the end. Actually creating a higher level floor is little difficult for minimum spaces, its draws some accident such as slip from the floor due to absences of long eye view. That is why I made a clear eye view for the upper level. Even we arranged two different color marble for two floor level. One is beige and another one is forest brown. Three console spot lights are installed into the riserof the top floor. We also made two punches in the floor and fill them with stone and leaves and cover those with tempered glasses.

Wall treatment is another upcoming metro fashion. Again I took long view for this face lifting work. So, we arranged very subtle beige color rustic tiles and paste them at the corner end walls. We did not pastethem from floor to ceiling, generally people wants to cover top to bottom area but I took a four feet middle section of the wall for rustic tiles.

I made another wall covering for another corner. Here we made three vertical sleek punches in the wall and installed three spot lights to high light this corner. Three Indonesian masks are hanged in those areas. Here we also placed two classic individual chairs and a console table. This is another sweet corner for intimate sitting.

Group sitting is very interesting arrangement if you can manage it without overlapping traffic flow. We placed straight modern fabricated sofas on the basic floor and also made square shape contemporary coffee tables side by side. We arranged another importedcurved sofa for upper floor. We placed a large unit at the corner so that the corner looks very fabulous.

Color palette is another important subject for décor. At the beginning we thought about neutral colors. We used apricot white in the wall. Sofas and cushions are also beige, brown, grey and deep chocolate.

Foyer is an important area for a house. This is a big apartment but we did not made any closed foyer here. We kept an open space for entrance and build a custom made fountain in front of the entry door. Water, stone, rustic tiles and green money plants makes a lovely corner. Accessories are not essential but without them, the house looks lifeless. We collected lampshade, candles, and some small decor pieces for the coffee table. We also arranged some pot plants and placed them in one or two corners. Green always brings fresh look and it gives you a healthy feeling. As the paintings speak our hearts word we hanged some beautiful water color paintings, mirror and glass etching work in the walls and doors. Your sweet home is your heaven. At the end of the day you will feel comfort at your place. So, feel your instinct for your décor unlike others.

Nazneen Haque Mimi
Interior Consultant
E-mail: journeyman.interiors@gmail.com
Photo credit: Journeyman Archive
Special thanks: Mrs. Fahmidaafroz

Special feature

Knock on wood

IT started out as a tiny workshop/showroom in Dhaka, in 1975. At that time, all Nitun Kundu had was Tk 5000 at hand, and a big dream. Three and a half decades later, that dream has resulted in a reality that involves a furniture chain that comprises some 16 showrooms and 300 dealers across Bangladesh, and is all set to take West Bengal by storm. That dream was called Otobi, and this week, Star Lifestyle takes you across the borders and back again, as we check out this furniture giant.

Made in Bangladesh...
Otobi has a comprehensive range of products, tailored to suit all your needs. From home furnishings to office and medical furniture, there's something for everyone. The offerings also include modular kitchens, complete sets for bedroom, drawing, dining and computer desks. But why choose Otobi?

Structure - The sleek, streamlined look of the home furnishings appeals to the contemporary consumer. A lot of research has gone into the needs of the market. The swivel chairs, for example, are sculpted to provide maximum comfort and support for the busy professional, and their castors (small wheels attached to the lower structure) are sturdy and shock-proof. In space-starved Kolkata, emphasis is given to efficient storage in multi-tasking products, such as built-in drawers for beds.

Safety/utility features - All Otobi products come with features that promise to maximize user satisfaction. Consider the children-friendly edging around the tables that ensures durability, and also prevents nasty accidents. While advertised as 'solid wood', what the company actually uses for items such as office desks and modular kitchens is MFC boards with a melamine lamination. In plain English, what this means is that the furniture is supposed to be scratch proof, spill-proof, and heat-proof. One wishes cars were like that.

Now, many contemporary cuss-words were born because of stuck drawers. The little rollers built into Otobi drawers strikes a death-knell to this dubious creativity, because you certainly cannot blame stuck drawers for your slanguage.

Flat packing - All Otobi products are manufactured in Bangladesh. The company has factories in Shyampur, Mirpur and Savar, with more than 5000 employees. The finished products are inspected by QA and packed. The packed products are dispatched to Otobi showrooms in their own transport, and loading/unloading is thoroughly inspected so as to ensure zero damage. The flat-packing technology employed in this process further minimises chances of damage, and is easy to assemble.

...to Kolkata, with love
Lemonde Private Ltd, a franchise of Otobi in India, has some 20 dealers all over Eastern India, and is the proud owner of two outlets in Kolkata. The first is their showroom in Mani Square Mall, and they've recently opened an independent outlet on Loudon Street.

Talking about the Mani Mall outlet, the first thing that strikes the eye is the use of mannequins to emulate real-life room layouts. In fact, it is the attention to detail put into each setting that brings it to life. Consider the 'office lobby' that has a smart upholstered seating arrangement, and a female mannequin in a sharp business suit sitting cross-legged on a sofa, talking on her cell-phone.

Ranjita Singh, Regional Manager, talks about their event specials, such as a recent discount on bedroom furniture, where they actually had a male and female mannequin pair in pajamas, facing each other across a bed, pillows raised in their hands, and pillow stuffing scattered around them.

"The presence of an outlet in the Mani Square Mall, amongst other international brands, has really helped establish our brand image" Singh tells us. She goes on to elaborate on the challenges of establishing goodwill in Kolkata.

The initial shock came from the fact that the products were imported from Bangladesh, which raised a few eyebrows about the quality, and the Otobi team in Kolkata had to work hard to prove their worth and earn the respect of consumers.

Another hurdle was the pricing. Changing the mindset that favours low-priced mass-produced furniture, to create a demand for pricier, but more durable Otobi goods has not been an easy task, and Singh admits that as of now, they've only made a 'dent in the market, not a crater.'

The new outlet on Loudon Street is a quieter affair. Here, too, entire scenes are recreated with meticulous care. The dupatta artlessly discarded atop the teenager's bed, the schoolbag hanging by its straps from the child's study desk, the well-thumbed Dan Brown book sitting on the bookshelf, the asymmetrical decorations on the bedroom side tables...the feeling of having stepped into an actual household vacated just minutes ago by its occupants, is uncanny. Plans are underway to introduce a range of soft furnishings and accessories to go with the furniture.

When asked about Otobi's future plans for its Indian franchise, Ranjita Singh proudly announces 'To become the top household brand in India." As of now, they are trying to gain the upper hand in their existing market, but they do have their sights set on expanding and opening more dealerships across the country. Watch out, India, here they come.

By Sabrina F Ahmad back from Kolkata
Photos: Otobi
Special thanks to: Ranjita Singh, Saleh Mujahid and Sharmista Rahman



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2010 The Daily Star