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"The moon and six-pence"

Life in the days gone by was simpler, if not anything else. Take for instance the case of the "Chand Raat" or Eid eve. Those were the times when there was only one chand raat and one Eid. Amidst the confusion of Eid day, which is now fractionally celebrated one day in advance by many, the flavour of chand raat has diminished a little. Or has it?
Read on as we present to you must-do activities on the chand raat. Bare essentials or simple pleasure you decide…but they are an integral part of the Eid feeling!

One look at the shopping districts of Dhaka on Eid eve, and the notion of 'lights off by eight' goes into oblivion. This is a night when Dhaka goes truly sleepless. People doing frenzied, last minute shopping be it for groceries or the attire one was procrastinating about buying; the heavy traffic on the streets at 2 am; or the muggers lurking in the dark alleys looking for 'prey' (mugging instances increase many times on chand raat) -- everything seems too say that Ramadan is over; its time for joyous Eid.

So should you leave your shopping for the last day? Well, yes and no!

Drawback #1. Shopping on chand raat by default means that you are shopping after the entire city has shopped for over one month. Chances are the panjabi you were looking for, or the trousers that you intended to buy are either not available in your size, or not available at all.

Drawback #2. Cut throat prices. Try buying shoes from Elephant Road on chand raat; unless your haggling skills are world class, you are entirely at their mercy. And for some strange reasons, it is the shoe that gets left out for a last minute shopping frenzy. End result, you end up with drawback #1 (a shoe that doesn't quite fit you or you get a design that does not go with any of the trousers that you have in your closet).

Drawback #3. The crowd. If you are claustrophobic do not venture out on Eid eve. The entire Dhaka flocks to the shopping centres. Even the quietest corner of the most desolate shopping arcade beams up with the rush of the people and a cacophony of noise. Eid -- it is truly in the air.

Advantage #1. The very crowd that serves as a drawback, also forms the cherry on the cake. People of all walks of life tread the streets on chand raat -- the upper echelon, the bourgeoisie to the social class to whom Eid always brings a smile on their faces, a chance to buy something for themselves, at least once in the year.

So weigh your odds and make a choice. Although it may not be the greatest shopping experience of your life it truly will be a sight worth seeing. You can feel like Ibn Batuta on his first voyage to China. Only this time, you will be rediscovering your people, the same kind, rather than being amazed by a foreign lot.

Amidst all the excitement and celebration, chaand raat is a hectic and busy time for last minute grocery shopping. No matter how meticulously you plan beforehand, fate will giggle at you and make you go through a rush hour shopping for spices, vegetables and what not. Hence, you sit to make a shopping list all over again, only to realise that half of the things are not in your kitchen by now!

Eid, after days of refraining yourself from eating, is a time to savour flavours. Shemai and Kheer are the obvious two choices for breakfast. Planning for lunch and dinner is even more complex, with all the various spices to think about.

Radhuni Masala and other packaged spices make life easier. But at the same time, we cherish going into grocery stores -- a place filled with energy during this time -- to haggle and cross out each item individually from the shopping list.

All the bazaars cater to this need, but New Market is a popular one due to its size and variety. Gulshan-1 market, on the other hand, is a place you can shop for lesser known spices. The superstores provide the convenience you need, be it for buying masala or a readymade whole chicken.

Don't forget drinks, too! Nothing can be more frustrating when you sit to have lunch only to stumble upon the fact that the only drink in your home is water. Besides carbonated drinks, you can also opt for borhani, matha and labang.

And finally, make sure your last minute grocery shopping is long-sighted! After Eid, when most of the shops and convenience stores are well shut and snoozing, you fall into deep trouble: you don't have buns, bread, butter, or milk; you can't have biscuits or chips, eggs are out of your reach and many snacks you crave are no where to be sold.

Hence, in your shopping list, after including all the spices and everything to cater to the three days of Eid, jot down these essentials you'll be craving for after the polau and biriyani have been digested.

The moon, which on a regular day does not have much of your attention, escalates right near the top during Ramadan. You have been fasting an entire month, that too in the painfully hot days of August, and the only entity standing between you and the glutton inside you, that you are going to unleash once the elusive moon decides to show its entire face, is the Moon!

Along with announcing Eid, chaand raat means that you have the last few hours left to complete your shopping for the big day and if you have not gotten enough of everything you need then this is the warning signal because, trust me on this one, if you run out of shampoo the day after Eid you will be sitting with stinking hair for a week.

With only a few hours in hand if you are shopping for your Eid garb then you definitely have to get something that will not need alteration. For men this is not very difficult as they do not have much issue with size and most boutiques carry a range of sizes. Since girls do have issues with sizes especially those near the smaller end Aarong, Kay Kraft and the likes would be perfect chaand raat shopping haunts as they have well fitting smaller sizes as well as the larger ones.

If a sari is what you have just bought and obviously sending it to the tailor to put the paar on is not an option New Market is the place to go. Along with getting matching paar you can get it stitched by the tailors who sit with their sewing machines outside the shops, the saviours for last minute sewing emergencies.

Since a lot of people are usually done with the clothes earlier and are yet to buy shoes, the forever favourite Rakhi at Elephant Road is a good option to get traditional flat sandals. If you are more inclined towards heels Marie Clair, Cats Eye, Gallerie Apex with their new Moochie and Nina Rossie lines and the all new Otobi Kloset will not send you back disappointed.

Last minute trinket shopping can be done from Almas and Priyo where you should drop by for the mehendi as their ones have earned quite a good name over the last few years. Also if you want to adorn your fingers Bashundhara City has fun Nail Art stores where you will be spoiled for choice.

If you want to adorn your home with unconventional flowers then drop by at the flower stores at Banani and Guslhan-2. For decorating your table with new mats and table spreads again Aarong can be considered or you can pick a few from New Market if you are not looking to spend too much.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif, M H Haider, Karishma Ameen
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


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