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Raffles celebrates first year in Bangladesh

The 7th of April 2012 marked the first anniversary of international design institution Raffles Institute of Higher Education (RIHE) in Bangladesh. The event was celebrated with selected guests at The Westin, Dhaka and Mr Obaidul Quader, Minister of Communication, People's Republic of Bangladesh, was the chief guest at the occasion. Darryl Lau, Consul, Republic of Singapore, spoke a few words as the special guest.

The night began with a colourful, traditional dance by underprivileged children from GLP Foundation that was befitting for the upcoming Bengali New Year and the general air of festivity leading up to April 14. After opening remarks from the Minister, who stressed on the need for quality higher education in Bangladesh, the core attraction of the night, a fashion show, was welcomed amidst applause.

The first collection, To the Trenches, showcased the work of students of Raffles and was testament to the immense untapped potential of designing in Bangladesh. The line was inspired by men and women in uniform and the ordinarily mundane and masculine elements of military ensemble were translated into graceful, feminine designs. Wholly dominated by local materials such as silk, raw silk and jamdani, the collection digressed little from the camouflage military colour scheme and made use of a nude to light green colour palette. The second collection titled Rickshawala, was a solo line by celebrated designer and Raffles faculty Lorena Mariscal. The collection featured trailing, belted skirts, smart pants and broad collared, layered shirts in a one-tone blue colour scheme with satin or checkered linings.

The fashion show was followed by a vote of thanks from Terence Tan, College Director of Raffles Institute of Higher Education that was reminiscent of Raffles' journey in Bangladesh and an on-stage introduction of his international faculty. Although only in its first year of operations, the global presence that the institution commands and their two decades worth of experience in the education sector promise to deliver greater achievements for Raffles in Bangladesh. Raffles has 38 colleges in 35 cities across 14 countries in Asia Pacific, and is the largest private education group in this region. RIHE Dhaka is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raffles Education Corporation Singapore. It is approved by the Board of Investments and the Ministry of Education, Bangladesh.

Although the study of design -- whether fashion or interior or graphics -- is a relatively new phenomenon in Bangladesh, with global institutions like Raffles entering the sector, one can't help but look forward to the future.

By Subhi Shama


Trust is not the Name of the Game

By Nasreen Sattar
Former CEO, Standard Chartered
Bank, Afghanistan

The day began as 'Business as Usual' BAU as we commonly refer to this term, but as always a surprise was in store for us. This was Kabul and nothing was impossible.

I was sitting in my office when an Afghan gentleman walked into the Branch Manager's room and complained that someone had been withdrawing funds from his account with his ATM card, which he had reported lost.

Viewing of the video footage revealed that his wife had withdrawn the funds. Upon interrogation he told us that he had given the card to her but because of a personal dispute between them he had reported the card as “lost” and he wanted her now to return the funds to him.

It was a strange situation to be in for the bank, a very sensitive one since the couple each had an account relationship with us and each held a senior position with the UN. We had no choice but to ask him to bring his wife so that we could sort out the issue between them.

The following morning the good-looking couple walked into the bank to resolve their strange dispute. They sat in front of the Branch Manager and after much negotiation the wife decided to return the money provided the husband withdrew his written complaint (which he had lodged with us earlier).

The husband confirmed he would do it later, but asked his wife to first do her bit. The wife who probably knew her husband only too well was adamant that unless he withdrew the complaint in writing there and then she was not going to give his money back. We had blocked her account because of the complaint and she needed him to clear her.

The couple continued to sit there and argue, much to the Branch Manager Nora's frustration; there was so much Nora needed to do and she could not get them to come to a peaceful solution. All of a sudden, much to Nora's shock, the wife got up and started yanking her husband's tie and wanting to hit him on his head with her cell phone. This was cause for alarm and so Nora pressed the panic button under her table, which brought the security guards (positioned all around our office) to rush to her room armed with their AK47s. There was general pandemonium and I rushed down to see what was happening.

My initial reaction was we could be having a robbery (common feature with banks), but on seeing what the reason was I felt quite livid with the couple for disrupting our normal day-to-day banking and getting our customers upset and scared. I threatened to call the police unless they resolved their issue immediately -- that worked, the husband meekly withdrew his complaint and the wife wrote an instruction returning his funds!



By Iffat Nawaz

A muse has been hiding inside my belly. It's been paralysing me in my sleep. When I lie down on my bed and fall asleep instantly, it has been taking over my pores, stealing my dreams, battling demons like a 21st century Beowulf , using my soul, yet leaving me fully rested in the mornings.

When I open my eyes I do not feel my arms, my legs. I start moving them one by one, one finger, one toe. I lie on my bed hearing street noises, so loud as though I am resting on the footpaths and not my own secured home. I hear my muse's soft snores from inside of me, she sleeps while I wake, while I carry her weight around all day, wanting her to come out, drive me further.

When she finally wakes, it's way past midday. She doesn't take food or ask for water. Instead she seeks a computer to email Inspiration, her sister. They email each other back and forth all day, writing things I cannot read, I cannot see. I keep waiting for her to act her part, to make me create the extraordinary but she says she is busy, she is working on the next big thing, and I ask her what was her last big thing. She gets mad and pushes against my ribs, she calls me a fool, she says I should start becoming more independent and quit nagging.

So I decide to get rid of her once and for all. She has been taking her cut for months now, not performing what she was meant to do. I haven't written any great poem, built any sculpture or painted a picture that would change perspectives. I haven't even spoken any words that would remain in people's minds -- friends or enemies. No, she has been useless, I decide.

I give her a termination notice, but she laughs at it mockingly, and tears it into shreds, throwing the pieces all over my heart. My arteries feel blocked. I tell her she has been free riding for way too long; she hisses at me and tells me I am worthless, she paralyses me deeper into sleep.

During the hours of my wakening and her sleeping I walk up to the edge of my balcony. I stare out to the people in the street, muse-less they walk in peace. I envy them, I envy their crowded solitude. I stand on the edge of all possibilities right before impossible hits and think of how she had arrived, in a star filled night, promising me eternal originality.

Then I wonder, if my dependencies were make-believe, if originality was ever possible through the touch of a muse, or was she just full of empty promises. All of a sudden I feel like writing, about the destruction of a muse, the story behind the real story. As I scribble words into a paper in unreadable handwriting I hear her turn side and stretch. She has waken I realise. I still keep writing and she yawns loudly.

She steps out through the tiny gaps between my nails and my fingers, carrying bags she packed, my belly feels empty, it feels hungrier than it ever felt, my tongue salivates for food that I haven't craved in days. She tells me she has a plane to catch and I stare at her contemplating if I should push her off the edge of impossibilities.

Just then a storm arrives and she rides off saying she has gotten a fellowship at an Ivy League and without turning around or saying goodbye she gets on a dark cloud. I see that cloud melting into other clouds and before I know it she goes out of sight. I sit alone with my ordinary self again, dry yet soaked and incredibly free.


Mother's recipe

By Kaniska Chakraborty

If it is a Saturday, I must be cooking. At least that has been the case for the last couple of Saturdays. Not this time.

I was feeling so lethargic that despite fish fillets and boneless chicken and pasta in the larder, I asked my wife if we could eat out. Ever the sporting one, she readily agreed.

The debate was with where. Calcutta is not exactly teeming with new eateries. And we tend to visit the old faithful ones thanks to our affinity for the comfort zone. But we did not want to go for another “Conti” place, or another “Chinese”. We wanted to give something beside the fusion Bengali cuisine that we are so fond of a serious try.

I suddenly remembered this little place that does non-vegetarian South Indian cuisine.

Ammini. In South Calcutta, smack in the middle of the residential area. We reached and found a place for ourselves. Called Ma over. Soon, the twenty odd seater place started to get filled. I have been there before with a friend of mine and hence was sure on what we needed to order.

It was a dry spicy mutton with idiappams for me. South Indian chicken curry with normal appam for wifey. And for Ma who does not enjoy meat, potato stew with Appam.

I also ordered injipulli with it. A tamarind chutney spiked with ginger and chilli. I have had South Indian mutton curries in many forms. But this one was some example.

Little cubes of meat on the bone swirled in a caramelised onion sauce. Red chillies punctuated the sauce with its dense pungency. The rendered fat along with the cooking medium made the sauce unctuous. The marrow bone invitingly long and full.

The chicken curry was a study in contrast. Ochre in colour, laced with coriander seed paste, there were four substantial pieces of chicken, with a couple of curry leaves providing necessary bite and colour.

The appams were beautifully, artfully white with just the right tinge of brown around the edges from frying. Light as cotton, two is certainly not enough for a man of my size.

Thankfully, I had three idiappams, the lovely rice noodles arranged in a neat flat ball. They are called string hoppers in Sri Lanka and are great to mop up curries.

The potato stew was almost white. Perfumed with ginger and curry leaves, chunks of potatoes swam in a broth of coconut milk. I know that potato is not the epitome of excitement as far as culinary delights go, but you have to understand, we are Bengalis. Our fondness for potato is legendary.

To finish the meal, we ordered kesari, the South Indian semolina halwa. Now, the best kesari I've had is at my friend's place, cooked with love by his mother.

I am willing to call this a close second. Glistening pearls of semolina stuck to each other, bonded by ghee and sugar. The bowl looked festive with its saffron hue, its fried cashew and raisins. And the ethereal smell that sort of soothes the soul while one sweats the meat sweat.

I'm told Ammini means mother's.

And in this case, mother's recipe has no doubt struck gold.


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