Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |   Volume 7, Issue 08, Tuesday, February 21, 2012




Omar Ekushey Mela

As the bare tree branches begin to bloom and the winter chills begin to tame, Dhaka dwellers who frequent the Dhaka University campus prepare for a change in the environment. Commuters, who during the rest of the year take this path to their desired destinations, without any prior notice swerve their vehicles to the neighbouring path as soon as the month begins and as long as it continues.

This is the time of the year when Dhaka city dwellers set off to the Bangla Academy, a pavilion where book lovers from every corner of the city and at times, the country, come to enjoy the feel and the smell of the crisp pages of a brand new book and to uncover the stories that hide between them.

Like every other year regulars of the Dhaka University area have noticed the pre-event stall-set-up preparations that take place on the road running alongside the Bangla Academy which is lined with stalls throughout the month along with the Bangla Academy premise as well and accordingly the Ekshuey Boi Mela was inaugurated on the first of the month.

This year a total of 407 publishing houses have set up stalls at the fair with 635 units that are situated both inside the bangle Academy premises and the adjacent street. In general new writers are in focus this time around and their work is being promoted by various publishing houses.

To answer the question that countless book lovers ask at the stalls each year, till now four new books by famed writer Humayun Ahmed have been published namely Rongpencil, Megher Upor Bari, New York er Neel Akaashe Jhok Jhoke Rod and Himu abong Harvard PhD Boltu Bhai from his famous Himu series. These books along with many other works of Humayun Ahmed are available at Onnoprokash. Apart from these this publishing house offers a variety of new books and also some of their collections from the previous years.

Famous writer Syed Shamsul Haq has offered a range of new books both on poems and fiction available at Anyo Prakash, Godyo Podyo Prokashoni, Pathak Shamabesh, Ittadi Publications, Charulipi, Suddho Shor and Janota Prokash. For those who are fans of the father-daughter acting duo, you can try out the literaey works of Abul Hayat who has written four books this year available at Anonna and Shobdoshilpo publishers, and his daughter Bipasha Hayat who has released a compilation of 5 short stories also available at Shobdoshilpo publishers. Other options include books by Nasreen Jahan, Imdadul Haque Milon, Mustafa Zaman Abbasi and Faridur Reza Sagor.

A rather fascinating stall is the one by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, set up for the first time this year, where men and women from the Police Force all dressed up in their uniforms are on duty. But, contrary to their regular intimidating natures they are quite helpful and pleasant natured at the stall! The books available have been written by members of the Police Force who are aspiring writers alongside their regular job. Books on the Liberation War, law, detective stories and novels can be found here. A few names that can be mentioned include Nokkhotrer Rajarbag by Mostaq Ahmed which is based on the incidents during the Liberation War, Nirontor Nirbashon by Shudip Chakrabarty and Shamadhan Law Guide by Md. Jahangir Alam.

For Rabindra lovers this year's fair will be a treat since a huge volume of his work is being brought to the people by Murdhonno Publications. Many other stalls had books on the currently popular cartoon character Doraemon. However, better literary works for children can be found at the stall by Pathsutra where they have a series on Haripado. Here you can also find a few books on poetry by Md Nurul Haque and Biren Mukherjee.

For book worms the Ekushey Boi Mela is a haven where books on every possible topic and genre are available in one place and these are only but a minute fraction of them. Like all good things this will also come to an end within a week's time. Hurry to the fair and refill your reading stock for the rest of the year. Happy reading!

By Karishma Ameen
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed


Plants keep us alive!

By Laila Karim

Before I start, let me admit that I am not a botanist. In this column, I will share my own experiences and joys of urban gardening with the readers. For me, loving nature is a real pleasure and it can be contagious! Once you start the journey of gardening, you will feel the urge to share your joy and pride like any other proud parent! If you look closely, you can actually visualise the entire cycle of human life through nature having a dream of creation, planning, nurturing that dream and not missing the outcome a.k.a flowers and fruits. Nature also teaches us how to face adversity in that journey. If you have a garden, or have some plants, you can experience it all. It will bring you happiness when the seeds turn to sprouts, leaves start showing up and the daily growth is like witnessing a little baby growing everyday is stored with some surprises. You feel proud when the flower blooms or fruits grow to reward the labour and again the time of sadness comes when the season changes; winds twist the branches, rain water cover the roots, all very similar to our lives. The dream cycle starts rolling with new hopes and plans and keeps us going.

I realised that creating one's own abode of nature is important to live a healthy life particularly when we need the escape from our everyday stress and to refresh our minds. So I will encourage my readers to love and live with nature.

Our Kamini and Dopati days and box building
Back in the days there were hardly any houses without a small patch of Kamini, Joba, Gondho Raj, Shefali, Korbi, Gada or Dopati. All the budding/blooming poets and jubilant lovers could not go further without comparing those with their beloveds. Colourful Joba or Korbi were essential in the houses of our Hindu friends for offering the daily morning Puja. Young children would race to have their baskets filled with Bokul or Kath Golap from a neighbour's yard. All these are gone with the matchbox living. But do not worry my friends! We have the rooftops and balconies and we are reviving the hanging garden of Babylon!

There is a saying that all challenges come with opportunities. Today's urban living, with a small balcony and an open roof, gives us the scope to be more creative to bring nature closer to us and make it part of our everyday lives. If we look around, we will see that many roofs and balconies have already become gardens. They look like framed pictures; the only difference is that colour and shape of this pictures changes with the season.

To create your own garden, you need to revisit the space where you want to do it. Map it in your mind first as the sunny balcony is fit for flowering plants like roses, or growing capsicum, lemon grass, or seasonal flowers, whereas a shaded area is good for placing the palm or hanging orchids. You can use multiple layers or consider horizontal gardening when there is a space limit in your balcony or perhaps use a strip of the veranda. In the roof or terrace, it is better to make a boundary by lining up the plants with longer life spans such as Mango, Litchis, Lemon, Pomegranate, Aanar, Guava etc. In most of the cases the hybrid saplings that are available now will start producing flowers and fruits by the second year (some even from the first year). Besides these, you can grow seasonal vegetables like beans, egg plants, okra, pumpkins or anything seasonal you fancy.

Go ahead with your plan
Once you select a spot in the house, visit a nursery. First take a look at the type, size and criteria of the plants to match the spot that you have selected. Feel free to ask the nursery staff for their opinions. You can always select all season and sturdy plants like Bougainvillea, Pata-bahar or Plum (palm) trees. Bougainvillea is a tolerant flowering plant that needs very little care but pleases our eyes round the year with its vibrant and different colours.

In our next issue we shall talk about summer flowers, seasonal vegetables and fruits and also how to raise plants healthy and in good shape. I shall introduce you to some of the reputed nurseries with more details. Please feel free to email gardeningds@yahoo.com to share your thoughts, feedback or ask a question on the garden issue.


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