Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   | Volume 7, Issue 17, Tuesday, April 24, 2012




Keep on moving!

One click and you can enter any slim monitor into a world of diversified social lives. Cell phones and the internet have truly both opened up and narrowed down the modern woman's life into the four corners of her budget-attuned gadgets. But sometimes we should just look back and admire the generations before us, who took real time and energy to bond with their peers.

The GUNIBAM Fitness Club is established, monitored and celebrated by the seniors of Gulshan, Niketon, Badda and Mohakhali (Gu-Ni-Ba-M), who come together in the wee hours right before the sun makes its way through the clouds. The sight of the strength and optimism that glows around the 92 members, aged between 45 - 60 years, sporting their kameez and trainers ready to pump up their stamina, is a breath of fresh air indeed.

Most young women aiming to stay fit these days will spend more than necessary while running in a gym, soaking in some expensive pool or stretching on a yoga mat. These senior women, on the contrary, actually walk all the way from different areas including some from Nakhalpara to Gulshan South Park every morning after prayers for an energetic start to their daily lives. The will to keep on moving, in every sense of the word, truly lifts the spirits of those around them. What started with only 30 members, that too only about two years ago under the leadership of Dr. Lutfun Nahar, a female dermatologist of Niketan who voluntarily retired from Government Service recently, tripled through word of mouth and the power of good gossip.

Everybody needs and wants company. These women are each others' companions and they are each others' help-lines in times of need. They work together throughout the year to celebrate all the national programmes and they work together to save funds to help the unprivileged. They are active, social, helpful and great company for anyone else wanting to become a member of what they call GUNIBAM.

Sticking together like glue
You get a warm and fuzzy feeling watching the laughter, the sharing of life-stories, the past, the present and endless plans for the future amongst a group of elderly women huddled together in the morning chill. But do not be fooled, because this club, like any other club, has a system. They have ranks from the President to the Treasurer, to those particularly in charge of their respective areas and so on. Dr. Rowshan Akhter, a dentist, who acts as the club's Treasurer, makes sure that each member provides their monthly Tk.200 because after all, the money is stashed for their entertainment, their benefits and for the benefits of those they help.

Aside from physical and emotional well-being, they explore and enhance their spiritual sides as well. After prayers every Friday, they also come together to discuss the Quran and open their minds to the lifestyle of Islam. They celebrate national independence and victory days, Pitha Utshab, and Pahela Boishak; they arrange annual picnics and arrange monthly meetings where experts from various fields attend to speak on issues that circle their lives.

Risking Roads
While the Gulshan South Park may be a safe spot for a get-together, getting there and that too by foot is still risky in those early hours. One of the members, Mahmuda, amongst many others had a few hijackers in a car come up to her and take away all her belongings. She filed a GD after the event but naturally it came to no use. “Crime has no time nor boundaries and they will remain but to fear it would only make us weaker. Then we will lose and they will win," she stated.

Their solution to the problem was then to dress simple, have no phones, jewellery or cash with them and of course stick together or come in groups when heading towards a meeting.

Social Bonding
This is the power of community and a power of a generation before us that perhaps we lack. While connected tremendously via internet to the rest of the world, very few of my generation bother to step out the door and see how the neighbours are doing.

"My children live in different parts of the city," says one of the members, "I come here to enjoy the company of others like me. We have our distinct stories, our similar and different experiences and we come up with our own ways of aiding and advising others when needed."

Like every proud citizen of this country, last December, the ladies of GUNIBAM also got together to celebrate Bijoyer Chollish bochor and in their own ways drew the significance of 40 years of Independence of a struggling nation still in search of political and economical stability. They shared their stories reflecting the rollercoaster ride of joy and fear over the past four decades.

These women come with experience, expertise, love and care only to let the rest of us know, especially us young women, the importance of emotional and physical well-being, and of course to simply keep on moving!

By Shayera Moula


Baishakhi Exhibition at
Nitya Upohar Gallery

This Baishakh would have been incomplete without an addition to your closet from one of the many famous exhibitions that have been held at Nitya Upohar. Almost a tradition in themselves, these exhibitions have gained a reputation for being different, a cut above the rest for more than one reason. This year the exhibition has been titled Arek Bhorer Potobhumi.

Saris, panjabis and T-shirts in various sizes and for both genders, grace the gallery. The striking feature is the depictions, abstract and otherwise, that all the pieces carry. It's more of an art-work than a style statement, but it works well. The combination of Baishakh, with themes of patriotism and vivid colours and images, lends a retro feel to the entire thing.

Of course, this whole thing has been possible due to the creators of these pieces. Qayyum Chowdhury, a legend in the art circle for six decades, creates abstract and semi-realistic motifs to grace the garments on display. So, owning a garment from Nitya Upohar's exhibition in question becomes the same thing as owning a piece of history and a masterpiece at that.

The other designers were also prominent names in their own rights and creators of other masterpieces. The list of designers boasts the names of Hasem Khan, Chondro Shekhar Shaha, Anisusszaman Sohel, Mahbubur Rahman and others. The unique thought process of these talented individuals is readily reflected in all the stitches, images and choice of colours. If anything adds a traditional, classy and yet artsy touch to Baishakh then this surely is.

The exhibition is currently ongoing at Nitya Upohar Gallery, Aziz Supermarket, Dhaka and will last till the 30 April, open from 10:00 am till 8:00 pm. Be sure to check it out. Contact # 8629039


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