Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home |Volume 5, Issue 50, Tuesday, December 21, 2010




It may have something to do with hormones. Or 'growing up'. Or 'struggling to create an identity'. Or 'generally being a teenager'. Maybe all of the above. I have never quite understood why my daughter, armed with tax-collector zeal, lays such self-assured claims on all things mine, or meant to be mine at least, while I am not even allowed to touch her things.

It started with my nude, shimmering lip gloss, and mind you, not just any, the best brand I own. It was her first time with make-up and I reasoned, 'Either this or she will pick out some atrocious, not-for-13-year-olds shade of crimson herself', so it really was the lesser of two evils. But I have never seen that lip gloss, or many others after it, that was borrowed 'just to see how it looks'.

Several years, countless articles of clothing, drastically depleting containers of make-up and no sense of shame later, the matter has stretched far above and beyond a dab of lip tint. Because now, all those silly saris that I so lovingly cherished, dry washed and korpur sachet-ed, are suddenly back in fashion. The soft as butter katans, the broad par-ed muslins, the smoother than silk silks -- yes all of them, they must be had. If only silly mother understood these little silly things.

I can make a compromise and I would, if it was just the odd pashmina here and the rare bottle of nail polish there, but the same goes for virtually all my things. From the white-stone studded hairpin from Aarong (why, pray tell, since you sport that unkempt, ear-length feather cut), to the designer bags from trips abroad (of which there is a grand total of two), to my only pair of heels (did she really have to have my slender feet), to the oversized tees I recently bought for my yet-to-attend yoga classes (to be seen sauntering out on her back with chunky belts across the centre).

I have considered saying no, fantasised about it even. But the high-pitched death moan that tells me how this sari, this very sari, and only this sari, is the lone one that might possibly (but of course never adequately) compensate for that half a pimple on her face, forces me to reconsider. Better a half-cranky daughter at a wedding than a plague-is-upon-me-faced one at home all Friday night long.

I am led to believe teenagers are wired differently from the rest of us -- such that they have a very sorry sense of impulse control indeed. Psychologists assert that so complicated is this unfortunate intellectual dysfunction, that if they believe that that pendant which cost me an arm and a leg is necessary to look good at a friend's sister's friend's holud, then they simply cannot fathom not having that pendant.

How traumatic must these few years be, when they have such little sense of perspective? Not.

On the upside, this unfortunate condition is meant to diminish with age. Or so I am promised. But I am not one to buy into false assurances; for I have seen many a friend's child (yes, sons included) grow well out of their teens and still spend half their time at home engaged in this 'harmless' smuggle. So I am yet to comprehend the exact origins of this thought process, yet to accept raging hormones as causes, and most importantly, yet to discover a way of dealing with its effects.

While I venture on in my quest to understand why my possessions must suffer such regular theft under my own roof, I had best get around to bringing home my next lot of saris from my mother before the next working week begins. I know she doesn't mind, after all, I am only borrowing them.

By Bewitched
Photo: Star Lifestyle Archive


Birds, bees and the falling sky

By Iffat Nawaz

20 crows play some post-lunch tribute to their unknown God, I watch with winter blue sunshine. Life stops mid sky and floats counter clockwise as I watch. I bathe in noon light and the voices of crows, they conspire against the Dhaka street sweepers and dive into ungraceful flight, I watch.

3 parrots eat their lunch, coordinated in green and red. The parrots, two males and a female hold each other's wings, kiss each other's mouths and wipe off, food, water, saliva, dust. They chase and tire, they mate and desire. They sing, in parrot voice, a bit human like, a bit confusing. Then they fall asleep in the krishntochura tree, green now without the red, the parrots bright orange lips kiss the trunk, they sit eyes closed getting drunk in afternoon nap, I watch.

2 sparrows, drenched, come and sit on the railing of my veranda. How and where they got soaked remains a mystery in this orange sunshiny afternoon. They look at each other exhausted, barely speaking. One of them plays with cookie crumbs, fiddling, uninterested. The other doesn't touch food, she turns back and looks at me, yawns, they fly away.

1 book of Robert Lax, opened and half read looks at me sitting on my lap. A poem coughs, clears his throat and reads:

Everyone is rushing to get something said: clear,
clean and pertinent
Well, they get things said that seem to have all these
qualities - - qualities, clarity, pertinence
but in a day or two, in a week or two, the points of
their words are blunted
they want to send telegrams, pertinent telegrams,
one to another
but isn't it good if someone sometimes sits down, if
someone sometime moves slowly?

The poem sleeps after the last line, I look up and think of meanings, the ants around the plants miss rain and nibbles on the left over cookie crumbs, which the sparrows left behind. No one seems to be hungry; no one seems to be thirsty.

In some late afternoons, sitting half invisible, I watch half paralyzed, half broken, fully alive, as poems dance and die coughing on my lap, birds get busier than bees and ants look up at the sky waiting for it to fall. I watch…


Obesity and its treatment

M.B.B.S, D.L.O ENT, Head-Neck
& Cosmetic Surgeon,
Phone: 01199845531

The medical condition in which excess body fat accumulates to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems is known as obesity. It is the most deadly preventable disease that plagues our modern society. Starting from childhood to adulthood, whatever the age, obesity is harmful at all times.

Health consequences due to obesity fall in two categories, those attributable to effects of increased fat mass -- such as osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, low back pain etc and the worst is of course the social stigmatisation. And then there are the effects due to increase in number of fat cells which lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infertility, cancers etc.

Whatever the consequences, obesity increases morbidity as well as mortality in patients. Unless the patient is careful about gaining weight, often it is too late.

Causes of obesity are a combination of excess calorie intake and lack of physical activities. There are many patients who claim that they do not eat much but are still gaining weight; and try to blame it on genetics.

In fact genetics cannot play any role in weight gain unless a person overeats. And the food that is eaten in excess of what s/he needs end up as fat collection in different parts of the body. Our food intake as well as output has to be balanced, otherwise there will be gain of weight.

Once an obese patient comes to us for treatment the options are many, from conservative to surgical. First the obesity is classified according to the BMI (Body Mass Index), which is determined by dividing the weight of a person in kilograms by the square of the height in metres. WHO classifies obesity as follows:

BMI below 20 (Underweight); 20-25 (Normal weight); 25-29.9 (Overweight); 30-34.5 (Obese); 35-39.5 (Morbidly obese); 40 and above (Superobese).

Treatment differs for each of these cases. The patient is evaluated psychologically as well as physically and a plan is made along with counselling from a nutritionist. Dieting and physical exercise is the mainstay of treatment.

A diet chart is made with minimum calorie intake for that patient and an exercise regime is also chalked. If the patient is co-operative this results in weight loss over a short term but keeping the weight off becomes a problem in most cases. So both exercise and diet have to be made a permanent part of a person's lifestyle.

Doing crash diets or following fad-diets like "low carb high protein" diets can be very unhealthy in the long run. Sometimes medicines are prescribed to reduce hunger but usually these drugs are not safe for prolonged use and so ultimately do not work.

The most modern and effective treatment for obesity is
Bariatric surgery. This is also known as weight loss surgery. It is the use of surgical intervention in the treatment of obesity and is usually indicated in people with a BMI above 35, or those patients who are obese and have other complications associated with it. Also patients who have repeatedly failed to reduce their weight even after trying are opting for this kind of surgery.

There are two categories of weight loss surgery, restrictive and malabsorptive. Restrictive procedures include gastric banding and sleeve resection in which the stomach volume is effectively reduced.

Resection of a portion of the stomach causes ghrelin level (a hormone produced by the stomach mucosa-responsible for increased hunger) to fall, which helps the patient to attain satiety after taking small amount of food. In malabsorptive procedures a bypass is made between the stomach and small intestine so there is reduction in the absorption of food material leading to weight loss.

These surgeries are done laparascopically. In the Asian countries including Bangladesh, gastric sleeve resection is popular.

Weight loss surgery produces long-term weight loss and decreases overall mortality and morbidity of a patient. There is rapid weight loss following the first few months of surgery. Usually it's very hard for these patients to gain weight, as the size of the stomach is small and excessive food intake is not possible.

Marked decrease in the risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, infertility and cancers has been noted. In fact, a consensus held in India in September 2010, where leading surgeons from all over the world including Bangladesh were present showed reports that many patients were cured of Type-2 diabetes and hypertension after the surgery and they could stop taking medications for the conditions.

In fact, in recent times patients suffering from obesity with uncontrolled type-2 diabetes are recommended to undergo Bariatric surgery to reduce the blood sugar and avoid complications related to it.

We should remember that as this is a surgery there might be complications just like any other procedure, but usually all precautions are maintained, so it is fairly safe.

Bariatric surgery is done quite successfully in a few centres including Cosmetic Surgery Centre in Dhaka. So people who are having problems losing weight should consult with experienced surgeons and see what their options are.


Knowledge speaks


Now is the time for admissions into new schools for many children. Even parents with the best of intentions may not be able to make their child's transition to a new school totally seamless. If you are worried about how your child will settle into a new school, don't hesitate to talk frankly with the new school's administrators. Once you are all on the same page about your child's transition, you can work together to give your child whatever is needed for the best integration possible.

A child who is faced with changing schools frequently will generally feel insecure. There are many things that parents can do to help their child feel more comfortable about the move, including bringing the child to visit the new school.

Often a child will fear moving to a new school simply because s/he does not know what to expect. If a child cannot visualise the school building, know where his or her classroom will be or even picture the new frontiers, then it is easy for these fears to spiral out of control. To avoid this unnecessary anxiety, parents can ask about new student orientations or the possibility of bringing their child for a private tour around the school. If this is impossible then even driving a child past the school gates might be enough for him or her to get an idea of the new school before they have to turn up for the first day.

Then, of course, a child joining school for the first time experiences a similar fear of being placed in a new environment. S/he has never been away from home before this day. But for parents, the first day of pre-school is an important milestone in their child's life.

Your child is not even four years old. At this tender age, your child is meeting new people and going new places. The child's world has become bigger than ever. As this happens, the child needs to learn to feel comfortable and confident about being in school, with groups of other children and in new backgrounds, such as busy playgrounds and classrooms.

The child has to gradually cope with learning the boundaries of behaviour and will definitely require parents' wise guidance through this stage to learn better ways to get along with others and settle down into the new lifestyle.

So, dear parents, be prepared to face this transition wholeheartedly!


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