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Music to intertwine lifestyle

We all remember those days when we had a booming cultural scene. People used to go to the movies, there was ample following for stage shows, and the parks and playgrounds used to bustle with life. We lost the audience as the audience lost the zeal.

But music is an enormously commanding tool that can bring about change for the good. It has the strength to drive nations towards revolutions, bring in peace and even fight against social evils.

LiveSquare is an organisation working relentlessly to bring back the old galore to the live music scene in the country. They have already seen the ray of hope in reviving music and making it a dynamic badge of our culture.

As Nafis Ahmed, the CEO of LiveSquare puts it, “When a Cultural movement begins, you build following by focusing primarily on qualitative, cultural practices and then look out for options on how to survive. You find soul in every bit, be it literature, music, arts. You feel satisfied because you deliver something of value through your activity."

Nafis Ahmed believes that the love for music can bring about a positive change, but for that to happen it is vital to develop the taste of the audience by exposing them to quality music.

They have been collaborating with various foreign organisations to bring international artists to the country and constructing fusions with the local talents. This essentially enriched the knowledge base of the audience where they got to know about other cultures and tried to retain the positive elements, helping them grow.

They created festivals with dualities in mind, bringing together artists from vastly different genres for amazing cook-ups. They brought in German Pop artist Jens Friebe, Swiss funk rock band Starch, Norewegian-Bangladeshi R&B musician Kohinoor, ex R.E.M guitarist Ken Stringfellow and many such talents.

The iteration of such collaborations involved the encounter between multinational world music group 'OK World' with local Fusion act 'Chirkutt', where both bands showed off their individual prowess to cosmic extents, leading to a unique interpretation of the Bangla New Year.

LiveSquare has made a name not only in the country but in the international arena as well. On the local scene, the organisation introduces festivals such as LiveWire (A Metal Festival), The Wireless Sessions (An unplugged festival), Greenitiative (Environmental awareness festival) and The ABC Generation to reach out to audiences of different stature.

"I have never seen any other concert in Bangladesh that can stand at par with LiveSquare's. They know how to create the perfect ambiance by combining superior sound, great lights and fine musicians" says Yeasir Mahmood, an ardent fan of LiveSquare's work.

The wave has already hit the scene, transforming it. We get to see gate thrashing audiences visiting each of these matchless shows, and despite all the odds, they all somehow seem to make time for a little excursion of music.

Apart from this, the company offers complete solution for music, from artist bookings to logistical support, to audio and music video productions that various organisations look out for. LiveSquare believes that to change the typical mindset towards music, more of such activities and innovation in this sector will help the music scene grow further.

To know more about LiveSquare and the power of good music, visit www.LiveSquareMusic.com

By Afrida Mahbub
Photo courtesy of Fattah Alam Khan Dhrubo and Ahmed Jaudat Nahian of LiveSquare.


Of dreams and other fears

By Nighat Ara, Psychiatrist, Counsellor and Therapist

Dear Doctor,
It has been a long time since I have had this dream of free falling from a skyscraper. The experience is so real that I can actually feel the weightless sensation of the free fall. The dream usually ends at a point where I am supposed to touch the ground, as if I hit the bed and wake up instead of hitting the ground. I am a little tensed about this as it is recurring. Does this have any implications?
-- Anisa

Dear Anisa,
Dreams are an integral part of our sleep every night. A recurrent dream, particularly the emotion experienced during the dream has some implication in dealing with present life situations. There is an intimate connection between unconscious memories or fantasies with recurrent dream content.

Falling is reportedly one of the most common themes in dreams. During the birth process, the very first emotional experience of human life is pain associated with falling from the birth canal (maternal womb).
An overwhelming experience of profound insecurity is also associated with the birth process -- the beginning of the human journey. Consequently the underlying emotional experience of the “fall” is a sense of insecurity and the fear of pain which stay in our unconscious minds in a repressed form for the rest of our lives.

Besides, in the early years of life the fear of being dropped by our parents or falling while learning to walk and getting hurt are all stored memories in our brain. When our unconscious tries to communicate with us through dreams, it uses these images of the fall (surely feels so real in a dream!) to apparently alert us about a perceived danger in our present life situation.

However, the way you have described your dream, I'm not sure if the primary feeling you experience during this recurrent dream is fear and insecurity, excitement or relaxation.

You have mentioned about feeling tensed after waking up. Is it also the predominant feeling during the dream? If the attached feeling is fear, insecurity or tension then it could be linked to any current transition that you might be going through in life in terms of personal relationships, job, health, financial situation, etc. Falling here represents fear of failure, getting in debt or self-doubt or feeling threatened, etc. -- whatever applies to the specific situation.

“The dream usually ends at a point where I am supposed to touch the ground, as if I hit the bed and wake up instead of hitting the ground” - might be interpreted as feeling a little short of the skills or resources to overcome the challenge or to accomplish the task you set out to do. From a biological point of view, if someone wakes up from REM sleep regularly, they might feel that they woke up before the dream came to an end. In that case it could be related to some form of sleep disorder.

If the feeling underneath this dream is excitement then it might represent your desire to take challenges in life and dare to fly high without fearing the fall. This is then about taking reasonable risks to enhance life experiences and not about any repressed fear.

If the feeling underneath the free fall is relaxation, then it might reflect your desire or unconscious effort to relax the body and mind through spiritual practices, meditation, yoga, etc. It represents the ability to surrender and relax without the fear of being emotionally hurt or losing status in life, etc.

The implications of a recurrent dream depend on how effectively you deal with the specific feeling that is trying to resurface under the circumstances. By learning to face our deep insecurities and existential fears, we can actually dare more in life.


B is for Beastly Words

By Munize Manzur

Whenever someone asks me what gift I treasure the most, I always reply: words.

Words get to me, take to me, nourish me, enrich me, dress me, embellish me. Words, no matter whether scribbled with pen or printed on paper or emailed or read out, are my most treasured presents from friends and family. The only criteria they have to meet are that they are well thought out and delivered with deliberation.

Words are my ultimate accessories. They are eternal flowers I can put in a vase and admire repeatedly. They are fragrant. They are beautiful to behold. Words are chocolates that feed a craving any time of the day. I can relish them fresh or put them in the freezer to enjoy at some later point. They are vitamins that put an extra pep in my step. They are the Glucosamine Sulfate which keeps the joints of my life healthy.

Words well formed are full of promise; they curve when I want a change of scenery; they go in steady straight lines when I need things to be clear. Words are beautiful. I am happy to live in them and through them.

So when an ugly mass of words invaded my personal space I was taken aback.

Not meant for me, they torpedoed out from my left-hand side picnic partner, spluttering on my plate like spittle from a rabid dog, swiftly flew past my face, aimed at my right-hand side picnic partner. She, the hurler, started trembling with misplaced outrage. He, the receiver, sat shell-shocked. All of us fell silent as the serving of unpleasantness landed on his plate. Then he sort of sniffed the air. I too smelt the stink of her words. Like a funky cheese. It had been festering for too many decades of disappointment and quiet frustration in a woman who thought red lipstick and jingling earrings would quell the shortcomings in her life.

The man's eyebrows struggled to maintain a steady curve under the weight of such strong emotions and even stronger words. A hint of a wince escaped from the side of his face. I felt the sting of her words on his behalf. And I didn't like the feeling one bit. There was a bitter taste in the air. My lips pursed in distaste. Yech.

The thing about words is once they are out, no amount of manoeuvring can make them retreat or refire. There are no second chances because, once heard, words transform into feelings, into reactions. They go into the crevices of another person's soul where they pitch tents and stake a new claim. You can try to weasel your way back into the other person's heart but a hole is a hole is a hole. The same soil cannot be put back to seal it. The geography is forever altered.

Spittle from her vile words had wilted the freshness of my lettuce and rocket leaves. My salad lost its taste. Her perfectly lined mouth was continuing its barrage. Her mouth became bigger and bigger till it took over her entire face and all I could see was a black hole of hatred. The black hole took over her body. She was no longer a woman. She was a black void with a pungent stink. Not the stink of death but, even worse, the stink of degeneration.

A plane far above our picnic moved silently, leaving a streak of white across the blue sky, mottling its perfection. The buzz of the bee sounded harsh. The sun made the colours of the flowers too bright, bordering on obscene. The picturesque scene which was being etched out so beautifully around a circle of friends was now pockmarked by the blemish of words, dark and disfiguring.


Mind over matter: Maintaining good practices

By Nahid Ameen

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world." - ------ Marianne Williamson

Don't we all wonder why we feel exhausted and rung out of energy on certain days and so full of it on others? Don't we wish that while we go do our regular work -- a job, a business, studying, etc. -- we could give our 100 per cent? What would it be like to get the highest score in a course or nail that project which can guarantee a promotion? What about success in relationships or business ventures that completely changes your life? In today's world you want to be tech savvy, intelligent, a go-getter and enjoy what you do in life. Stay calm, focused and dream even bigger.

Now, do you know all this is possible? It is possible if you have the right attitude, change your thinking and believe you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Focus, persistency, dedication and a "never give up" mind set can change your life. Once you know what you want you just have to learn how to go and get it. It doesn't matter how long it takes to achieve your goals as long as you achieve it.

Your body is a tool, a mechanism that helps you to get where you want to go, if you have a body that functions perfectly and owns a positive mind you can achieve anything. Sometimes it may take time but you will reach your goal.

How can you ensure a sound mind and body? Nutrition through foods, clean environment, personal hygiene, de-cluttering your space, family support, trusting relationships, positive attitude, faith in yourself, confidence and taking action, is where the secret lies. "Nutrition" is not only in foods it is in nourishing the mind, environment and personal relationships.

Take the three most important aspects of your life and set a goal every year. It could be a goal for health, wealth or even a relationship. Set a target, take actions to achieve it and give yourself a reasonable timeline to reach the objective.

In the past two years my only two goals were "educating myself on health and nutrition" and "working for a company that understands what healthy eating is." I did both. In 2010 I handed in my resignation from my corporate job, taking a huge leap of faith and started to work for a "specialty grocery store" that sells organic and naturally grown food and body care products. This was a huge change and I had to adapt. My corporate job offered me a career and benefits. It sustained a certain "lifestyle" that I really got used to.

However, it was not feeding my soul. I woke up one morning thinking "Oh my God, I get to live once. Do I want to continue living fancy or do I want to take up a challenge and enjoy life?"

So I started my new job. This new job at the grocery store was physical labour, customer service and almost a 30 per cent reduction of my corporate salary but it fed my mind. I learned about so many diseases that people face, I learned how people fight for their lives and try to clean up their bodies from inside and out, I learned how to never give up "hope" and I learned more about having more patience.

I had to learn about the herbal remedies - Ayurvedic and Western, Nutritional healing through supplementing with vitamins and minerals and body care and house care products without any harmful chemicals all at once and fast. I learned mostly from my customers by spending time with them, asking them what they use and what worked for them. There were clients who had cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, ADD, allergies, infertility and so many more. I learned that people were interested in knowing more about natural remedies that have no side effects when taken as advised by the Naturopathic Doctor, Holistic Nutritionist or Homeopathic Doctors.

Today after two years of working in this industry I fulfilled both my goals and I am equipped with some great knowledge. I learned two valuable lessons -- people suffer because at one point of time they stopped caring for their health by not eating proper foods, not eating on time, overeating, emotional eating, and not understanding how deep an impact those had. Or people suffer because they do not participate in their own healing journey by taking action and being consistent in the action.

I heard in one of Tony Robbins online seminars that "pain is part of life but suffering is a choice. You do not have to suffer." I understand there are other reasons for getting sick as well (e.g. accidents, contagious disease, lack of knowledge) but it is important that you take action and be consistent with your health. If you understand you will be able to save yourself from many dis-Eases.

So my dear readers, this week I would like to share with you how you can achieve your health goals.

* Drink a minimum of eight cups of water every day.
* Pray, meditate or set aside some quiet time for yourself once a day.
* Surround yourself with positive people. People who will support you and people who believe in you.
* Learn about the "source" of your food because it is what will nourish your body.
* Prepare your own meals or at least participate.
* Make healthy eating enjoyable and tasty by adding herbs and spices.
* Dream big but take action towards achieving your dreams.
* Enjoy what you do. Love what you do.
* Believe in yourself and be there for yourself when no one is there.

· Understand that you have a role to play in creating your own life, health and prosperity.

No matter what your health and financial condition is now remember this, you have the power to change everything. If you are happy being where you are, excellent. If you are not then what are you doing to change it?

Never give up on your health. If anyone tells you that you have an incurable disease and nothing can be done, know that it is not true. You cannot give up without participating in your own healing journey.

This year I met a woman who was diagnosed with both breast and cervical cancers. The doctor gave her six months to live. She lives to be sixty today and completely cancer free. I have a visual impairment and was diagnosed with "retinal dystrophy." My doctor asked me to quit school, practice Braille and not to strain my eyes. Today I work full time, go to school and work towards my future of being a Holistic Food Chef!


My best friend's girlfriend

The relationship a man shares with his best friend's girlfriend is one of the trickiest ones. Now, there are too many pitfalls involved, so firstly you must learn to avoid them. If you have fallen into one already, then its best you climb out before it's too late. Just try and follow these simple guidelines and you ought to be fine. Well, almost fine.

Do not get friend zoned
Never ever become friends or mates or bros with your best friend's girlfriend. Draw the line and don't cross it. A mere hi and a hello is polite enough so no need to go overboard. If she isn't talking to your friend, she has no business talking to you. Get stuck between a rock and a hard place and you will be squashed. Keep conversations limited and cordial. Avoid friendliness at all costs.

Keep your shoulders dry
Your shoulder is not the place for your best friend's girlfriend to be crying on. Your shoulder cannot support that burden and it must never attempt to do so. Giving a shoulder will inadvertently result in you taking sides. Remember the Rock and Hard Place bit? Then, it's prudent to remember, that if you do take sides, they will make up and you will be in their bad books.

Shut your mouth and know your role
You must avoid becoming her go-to guy for all relationship advice. You must profess complete ignorance when it comes to relationships. This applies when your best friend asks too. For him, you can give an almost honest opinion but for her your lips are sealed. You will refuse to understand her words and if need be, pretend to be deaf.

Loyalties aren't divided
Know where your loyalty lies and stick to it. If your best friend is being unfair, then tell him that and don't run to her with that intel. Yes, you will lie to cover your friend and yes you will be partial in your assessment. Make sure your best friend's girlfriend is completely aware of that. Do not deceive her, but make your allegiances clear.

Do not tag-team
Your girlfriend is your girlfriend and your best friend's girlfriend is his girlfriend and these lovely ladies are never to make friends with each other. If your honey is friends with his sweetie, then that's a recipe for disaster. You will find yourself sucked into all their arguments and have your own arguments as a result. Don't be an idiot.

These are but the preliminaries because there really are a lot of more rules to follow. Just learn from experiences. For any lady who happens to chance upon this, the same rules apply for you as well. Think these will complicate matters? Well, they really will, so be a man and suck it up.

By Osama Rahman


Get that sandwich right

No matter how simple it is to make one, every sandwich needs to have that perfect balance of crunch, sweetness and acidity to give you that perfect palette of flavor. Butter the outside of your bread and griddle it to give it that crisp covering. Add some freshly shredded slaw dipped in vinegar or mixed with mayonnaise to provide both acidity and crunch. Add a fried or scrambled egg to soak up the acidity and top it up with a meat of your choice. Such a sandwich can rarely go wrong.


Star Lifestyle has recently expanded to 20 pages. In keeping with our motto of continually reinventing ourselves and keeping things fresh, there will be some changes made to the format and content of the publication. And this time, we are hoping that our dearest readers will not only be part of the change, but lead us in new directions by expressing themselves and letting their views and preferences be known. Lifestyle readers can send story ideas, suggestions, articles and letters at lifestyleds@yahoo.com and raffat@thedailystar.net Selected input from you will be published. Here's looking forward to hearing from you and continuing to bring you the best in lifestyle journalism.


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