Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 6, Issue 47, Tuesday, December 06, 2011





Fashion for Development reaches Colombia

BIBI Russel, has now taken her concept of Fashion for Development to countries like India, Denmark, Europe and now South America.

In Colombia, she began working in May 2011 as a consultant to inspire artisans and improve their productivity, design and quality of their products. The philosophy behind the concept of Fashion for Development emerged from Bibi's initial work in Bangladesh, where she started working to revive weaving as well as other crafts.

Bibi's philosophy has evolved as Fashion for Development has now become an alternative economic concept that empowers artisans to use their talent to succeed in crafts that embody party of the cultural traditions of the countries concerned and enable them to preserve a dignified way of life without turning their back to modernity or to globalisation.

Fashion for Development is a back to your roots idea but it does not encourage people to remain in backwardness. It teaches them to adopt mass production techniques, simplification, division of work, cost controls, state of the art design, and production and marketing tools to make them sustainable and capable of moving ahead.

In Bogota, the artisans who worked with her admire her skills and her compassion. Many of them perceive their relationship with her as a new beginning that will mark their life ahead. They often find themselves weaving dreams with Bibi Russell.

-- LS Desk


Virtue of the virtual

Your on-screen love affair with the star of your dreams should be in spirit only and always virtual. Never ever try to realise that wish to meet the man or woman of your fantasy up close and personal. A lesson I've recently learned; well that's not true, it should read 're-learnt'.

You see in your head you see them exactly the way they appear; prim and proper, always happy, forever sacrificing or as the epitome of love and romance. But that's on-screen; when they are not on the centre stage, they are just like you, me and Tom, Dick and even Harry.

They catch colds, have runny noses and feel agitated while waiting in traffic, fight with kids before coming to work. However, the problem with us is we don't want to consider that they are mere mortals like us and that at the end of the day they too get tired and want to curl up with a mug of coffee and watch soaps on television.

Playing a sport or performing on stage or acting in movies -- these are their jobs; just like our clerical desk job of filing bills, writing memos. Only difference, though a major one, is that they get a hefty pay cheque and other people make their lives easier and assist them to make their job look glamorous, while ours suck all the way.

Having said all this, my point is when you meet them personally that spell is broken. Their human side doesn't appeal to you; you always want to see them in their god-like, larger than life image.

On the other hand, from their perspective you are just a deranged, obsessed fan or a stalker; you cannot expect them to be chummy with you. They will merely look at you for a split second, smile nervously and walk away. By the way, if you happen to be a journo, they will avoid you like the plague and take refuge. And while they are running away and you skipping your way behind them, you hear one silly random question thrown at them, like 'You broke your mother's vase then what happened?'

The jittery nerves can hold no longer and the star of your dreams would screech, 'No I didn't, that's not true.' If you are lucky they will not slam the camera or microphone on your head. No one likes to be reminded of the questionable past, not even you.

So the gist of it all is, never meet the person you are passionate about on-screen or on-field or on-stage, you wouldn't like the broken nail or cranky stare or the snooty vibe. It is best to love them from afar and keep loving them. Thank god I never got to meet Ravi Shastri, my first crush and thus my virtual love affair with him grows stronger with each game. Ahem!

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


Mission Momo

By Kaniska Chakraborty

Last Saturday, this fat, middle-aged man along with his very beautiful wife and a few friends, who are not fat or middle-aged, went on a mission -- Mission Momo; you know, those Tibetan dumplings filled with tasty morsels of meat and vegetables, steamed or fried or sautéed.

We had been planning this ever since the first hint of winter in the air. But for some reason or the other, plans were falling through. So, last Saturday, we decided come hell or high water, we shall go.

The restaurant of choice was a lovely, cosy little place called Blue Poppy. A joint most efficiently run by the indomitable Doma Wong, who you are most likely to find sitting behind the cash counter, keeping a hawk eye on the waiters, rushing up to tables, talking to customers, suggesting dishes and taking orders.

I have been fortunate enough to have known her, as I have been a regular at Blue Poppy for some time now and also for the fact that we are Facebook friends these days.

The motley crew reached at around eight thirty and occupied a reserved table. Though we were an hour late, Doma was kind enough to hold our table even on a Saturday night. Believers gathered, we proceeded to order.

This daunting task usually comes my way and I do not always like it, for I tend to impose my likings and disliking on others. Democracy be damned where food is concerned. This time, however, was a little different.

The momos were an obvious go, with one of us choosing the chicken variety and the rest going for the porky kind. Upon popular demand, the stir fried greens were ordered. Doma suggested the next two items -- the roast chilli pork and the flat noodles with prawns. I put in my two bits with the last item -- q dashi.

And the food started arriving.

Pillowy off-white momos, filled with ground meat flavoured with garlic, accompanied by bowls of hot broth. Each mouthful induced an ecstasy. Each slurp was a sinus clearing acid thanks to the sharp vinegar served alongside. The roasted chilli garlic paste acted as the perfect base for the meat and the garlic to play on.

Emerald green, well, greens. Smoky from the high heat it was cooked on. Salty from the soy sauce. Spicy from the red chillies. Fragrant from the whole cloves of garlic. Crunchy in each bite, it flew off the plates in no time.

Bronzed, dark chilli pork interspersed with sliced chilli, sliced onion and bell pepper. All caramelised perfectly in the wok. For a change, there was no waiting for someone to take the last piece. I pounced on it.

The flat noodles were similar to fettuccine. But that is where the comparison stops. Stir fried with little river prawns, liberally scattered with mixed veggies and scrambled eggs, it soaked up a lot of goodness from the ingredients. As far apart from fettuccine as Italy is from Tibet.

And the q dashi; a simple bowl of stewed potatoes with local cheese. Fiery hot. Silky smooth. The lumps of molten cheese wrapped around the chunks of potatoes, working their way around the slices of green chillies. A real tongue tickler. The ever so slightly lactic smell of the cheese, dulled by the starchiness of the potato and heightened by the sharpness of chillies. So extreme, yet so balanced.

The motley crew was satiated. The motley crew was bursting at individual seams. The motley crew had food sweat despite the air conditioning. The motley crew will be happy to come back in no time.

If Saturdays keep bringing on such food delights, may all days be Saturdays.

Photo: Kaniska Chakraborty


300 international minutes

By Iffat Nawaz

The dog is scared of the rumbling thunders and has been biting her nails since the morning. Biting it till blood comes out. I offered her a peanut butter sandwich which she ate with a melancholy face and went back to the window to see the rain.

It's a gloomy day and the smell of the soil is not reaching my nose. The sound of the rain is subtle but the wind keeps hitting the walls, shifting things inside and making me feel like I live in a cardboard box.

I sense the neighbours are home; the retired couple who go out every few hours to collect firewood and bottles of diet sodas. I avoid seeing them as much as possible otherwise long conversations follow about the weather or the health of their hearts. I am not very good at small talk yet I always end up having one with them. I think it's because I don't know how to walk away or I am too good at walking into unnecessary situations.

I pick up the phone to call someone and go through my phone book, yes I still own one of those ancient things. B reminds of people who are too far away to reach, M are people who are working and will not have time to talk to me, Z has too few names under it and in the end I shut the phone book and right then the phone rings.

“Hello, May I speak to Mr. Spencer?”
“How are you today Sir?”
“Who are you?”

“It's Oliver here from South Carolina, would you be interested in adding three hundred international calling minutes to your phone Mr. Spencer?”

“No, I don't make international phone calls.”
“But Mr. Spencer our records show that you do.”

“I used to.” I say this and then I think I have again involved myself in a conversation I do not want to be in.

“Oh but you do not anymore? But that might change right? This deal will only last till midnight today. Would you like to grab it while it's still available?”

“No I don't want it, I told you.”

“What about your international relatives and friends, don't you want to keep in touch with them?”

“That was my son in Iraq, he died last year, so no I have no one living abroad anymore. So unless I want to call you Mr. Oliver which is obviously not your real name and neither are you from South Carolina but South India and trying to put on some ridiculous American accent that your boss has taught you to master, I do not want the international minutes.”

The phone goes silent for a moment I think Mr. Oliver has hung up. And I feel bad. I ask if he is there.

He clears his throat and says “Yes I am sorry Mr. Spencer, I wish you a good day.”

“I say give me those 300 international minutes, I want them.”

He sounds puzzled but thanks me and we deal with the transaction.

Before hanging up he says “My real name IS Oliver sir, Oliver DeSuza, Christine Indian. I didn't lie about that.”

We hang up the phone. I feel richer with 300 international minutes. I feel connected. The dog shivers and keeps biting her bleeding nails. I close the curtains and look through my phone book for someone to call, the afternoon never ends.



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2011 The Daily Star