Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |    Volume 7, Issue 34, Tuesday, August 28, 2012 |




Bangladesh isn't the worst

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny

Good news; Bangladesh isn't the worst, at least not in terms of how we drive. There are other countries where the way people drive hasn't evolved much since the time monkeys came off trees and got right into cars.

Take for example China. For years, they were told they could not think for risk of being executed. That's communism. And then suddenly, they figure out they can take over the world by sheer number of their own population being more than a billion. Sudden wealth, capitalism and influx of cash meant everyone who was previously walking in shared sandals could now have a car. And a video camera. Thousands of crash videos are uploaded on Youtube regularly from China, more than any other country. The Chinese even have the dubious record of the longest traffic jam ever; about 100 kilometres long and stuck for eleven days.

There's good old US of A, where roads are ridiculously wide and yet people are still crashing. It takes certain skill to crash a car while going straight in a wide empty road. Then there are tons of cases of senior citizens driving despite not being able to see.

Saudi Arabia isn't any better. Long, wide open desert roads and 'hagwalah'. It's a strange kind of driving where they get in regular cars, get on regular streets and get up to irregular speeds like 180kmph. And then they drift while school buses and other vulnerable soft-tissued humans come the other way. Crashes happen spectacularly. The most recent video online shows a car flipping more than twenty times with the occupants being thrown out. And there's people cheering from the sidelines. Sometimes, these drivers shoot guns while drifting.

India has mostly small cars, but they are fast and operated by drivers with NO FEAR (not the lame sticker). It's probably the closest to our scenario. They cut lines, drive on the wrong side of the road and use the horn for everything including speaking to each other. But they have random cows making your life more difficult. You can't hit a cow. In Bangladesh, people hit everything and get away. Hit a cow in India and you are doomed to be reincarnated as a public restroom. Twice.

We Bangladeshis are still terrible but like they say, if you are overweight and want to appear slim, hang out with people more overweight than yourself. By comparison, we are not the worst drivers in the world. Yet.



I attended a business meeting recently, counting a total of four loafers under the table including mine. It was a surprise to see these shoes, generally considered too casual, in this environment. However, at the risk of sounding snobbish, what wasn't surprising was the disaster that was going on in front of my eyes.

This told me a number of things, among them--loafers, or slip-ons, are becoming increasingly popular. Most men are lost when it comes to wearing them. This article is based on the first two observations.

Loafers are casual shoes that originated in Norway, among cattle farmers and loafers (hence the name) who wore moccasin-style (soft leather shoes consisting a sole and sides made of a single piece of leather stitched together) shoes in the 1930s. Exported in vast numbers to the rest of Europe, they were eventually picked up by Americans.

Championed by Esquire, redesigned by Gucci and popularised internationally by Michael Jackson debuting the moonwalk wearing them (diamond-studded slip-ons with criminally white socks however are discouraged for average men), loafers have become synonymous with leisure, comfort, freedom and luxury.

Loafers favour style and comfort alike and a good pair is never a choice between the two; if you find yourself having to pick between the two the next time you're adding a pair to your outfit, something is amiss. No longer exclusive to casual environments, they are a top alternative for the working man, and the wide range available today from all major local brands reflects their growing popularity.

The versatility in material, design and colour that loafers afford is ideal for almost any time of year. For the good boy they offer sophistication, for the working man they offer a much needed pick-me-up as not everything goes with drab brown or black leather.

Chances are, you have a pair somewhere in your closet already, and that is where they stay because you aren't sure how to wear them. It is summer and you needed to give them a good dusting (or polishing, it really depends on the material) yesterday! But here's why you will really want to invest in a pair if you don't already own them--they are not exclusive to a season either. Bare some ankle in summer with a pair of rolled up chinos (I urge you to practise adequate foot hygiene) and slide straight into fall with a pair of sharply contrasting socks and corduroys.

The sheer variety of loafers has resulted in a number of ways to wear them, so let's look at the best.

Dressy Occasions
Loafers are a great match with dressy pants and a jacket and tie if you don't want to look like a square. There's no hard and fast rule, but certain things should be kept in mind. Loafers are great without socks, but during dressy occasions, a nice pair of contrasting or patterned socks goes over well. Loafers with tassels or something extra going on add intrigue and interest.

When going to office, pair your loafers with khakis or cords depending on the season. In autumn, add a sports jacket to the mix.

If pairing loafers with jeans or chinos, give nicely tapered pants a go. Again, sports jackets look great, and there's no perfect substitute for a dress shirt. In summer, it's nice to roll up your slacks and let your ankles breathe.

By Ahsan Sajid
Photo: Lifestyle Archive


Cook right

The perfect scrambled eggs
Add a tablespoon of water and a dollop of cream to an egg with some black pepper and salt, and whip it up with a whisk until nice and frothy. This shall give you the perfect base for some divine scrambled eggs. Melt some butter in a pan over medium heat and pour the mixture and let it cook until partially set. Stir the wobbly mix steadily until they look perfectly done.

Corn with a twist
The clichéd boiled corn on the cob has had its days. Time to give this all time favourite a little twist. Brush the corn with a little butter, salt and black pepper and place on a baking sheet. Roast it at 350 degrees until tender. Brush the corn with some honey that has been caramelised in a sauté pan.

Meat with a crunch
The usual way of covering meat with bread for deep frying is to dip in flour, then in a water and egg white mixture and finally in bread crumbs. But to give your fried meat some extra crunch, spray the breaded meat with some water from a spritz bottle before frying. The moisture will prevent the crumbs from absorbing excessive oil, and give it a crunchy, non-soaky bite.

Holding a knife right
For those who have been ardent fans of the cookery shows, we all have wanted to chop our onions the way chefs do, like a machine. The first step to such dexterous chopping is holding your knife right, and then periods of practice should follow. Pinch the dull side of the blade with your pointer finger and thumb where the blade meets the handle. Wrap your other three fingers around the handle, leaving your thumb and pointer finger gripping the heel of the blade. Practising on vegetables is the way to go.

Lobster done right
The first step to cooking a beautifully fresh lobster is to boil it right. Use extremely salty water, or if possible seawater in a pot to boil the lobster. Pour three or four inches of the water in a pot and add the lobster when the water is steaming hot. A lobster weighing a pound and a quarter will take about nine minutes to cook. Afterwards, do not soak the lobster by putting it in cold water as this can make the meat go tougher. Just let it cool down gently.

By Afrida Mahbub


Eid blues

Eid is no longer fun, at least not for me. Gone are the days of showing off Eid dresses, going out with friends and enjoying a cone of ice cream. I can still do these things but the heart is not in it anymore. Eid for me now only means responsibilities.

If I could backtrack to the weeks before I got my Eid bonus, you would see my head was in the clouds. With no ready money in the bag I could dream and chalk up my secret wish list, which went something like this... 'When I get the bonus I will buy this ethnic jewellery the heart is all set on, that green jamdani I so fancy, I do need to change my cell phone whose buttons are coming off and I do want to buy a white lace tablecloth, etc, etc.'

I have jotted down so many things in my 'I wish list'. Obviously it was a selfish list all about me but that is only because they were just wishes. In reality the wish list had to be compromised. It was so cruelly chopped that it came down to only buying some fresh produce from a farm nearby and making a bowl of stir fry veggies just for myself.

How dramatically life has changed! I am no longer a hopeful kid for whom Santa fulfils the heart's desire. Instead I am the Santa now and a good chunk of my bonus vanishes into thin air to make everyone's dreams come true.

My housekeeper wanted a jamdani or at least a Tangail sari if I couldn't afford the former. I promised to help my guard install a tube-well in his village. Then, of course, there are the gifts for family and friends and the long list of Eid bokshish and eidi. The fishmonger, the regular vegetable vendor, the grocer, the laundry boys, the long lost part-time helps, the hawker -- oh, the amount of bokshish I had to give!

Frankly at one point I was contemplating the idea of seeking an Eid bokshish loan from the banks. And I was serious. Eid really has lost all its charms for me; it has become an onerous occasion for me. All sorts of chores that needed to be done on the home front, not to forget extra hours at work before rounding up for the holidays, the immense pressure on the wallet and so much more.

Anyway enough of my sob stories; this Eid did bring out the romantic in me as well and I should not forget that. I thoroughly enjoyed the pitter-patter of raindrops on my rooftop and how beautifully my garden was soaking up the monsoon bliss; I could actually see my most fancied yellow and orange hibiscus in bloom. I could enjoy evening teas and marathon movie sessions with my husband and daughter, which in itself is a rare treat.

Excuse the low spirits and cribbing and bursting the snug bubble we were all in these past few days. Truth be told, now that I am flat broke again, one thing I realised yet again is that it is money that does all the talking these days; and it's loudest during Eid time and quietest immediately after.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


Lighten those heavy pockets

What's the point of treating your Eid bonus as just some extra cash to pay off your regular bills and buy some more vegetables? You know you've worked hard all year, so how about you treat yourself by treating your Eid bonus like what it's supposed to be -- some extra, unexpected money you just happened to stumble upon accidentally?

If you happen to agree with me (and how can you not?), here are some ideas to help you lighten the heavy burden on your wallet on something special before next month's grocery shopping eats it all away.

Foozball table: Ever watched an episode of “Friends” and wished you could be one of them for a day? Well, now you and your friend can be Joey and Chandler as much as you want by buying a foozball table, which will definitely make your house the chosen hangout spot whenever everyone gets together. Just make sure no ducks or chicks get stuck inside.

Where: Check out the sports stores around the city.

BODY SPORTS, 57/B, 1st Floor, Kamal Ataturk Avenue, Banani, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tel: (88-02) 886-0402

SPORTS WORLD, House 20, ARA Center, Road 7, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tel: (88-02) 911 3750.

Language lessons: You've always wanted to learn another language, but never found the time or money to do so. Well, you've got the money now, and there's really no time like the present. Learning a language is an extremely rewarding experience, and with so many institutions popping around the city offering courses, the only thing you need to do is convince yourself that you have enough time in your day (if you can spend three hours watching something as mindless as Gossip Girl, trust me, you have enough time in your day) and you're set.

Where: Dhaka Language Club, http://www.dhakalanguageclub.com

Sewing machine: Before you start scratching your head in confusion, think about your constant, love-hate relationship with the most important man in your life: your tailor. A sewing machine can help eliminate some, if not all, of the drama in your life that your tailor puts you through. Minor alterations and fixes that usually have you spinning in circles with your tailor can now be done by yourself in the comfort of your own home. Ah, bliss!

Where: Singer showrooms, http://www.singerbd.com

Holiday fund: If you've watched “Zindagi naa milenge dobara,” I can safely assume that you are dying to one day go travelling with your friends. While Europe may be a bit too ambitious, places like Nepal, Malaysia and Thailand are not impossible dream destinations. You can start saving up for these places by putting your bonus away. Alternatively, how about local destinations like Cox's Bazaar, Srimongol or Sundarban? Good travelling company can create unforgettable memories no matter where you go.

Where: Western Holiday, http://www.westernholiday.org

Atlas Travels Ltd, atlas@citech.net

Headphones: Because of the lovely traffic jams that follow us no matter where we go, we've all built long-lasting relationships with our music devices, be it an iPod, or mobile phone, or some dodgy Chinese mp3 player. Some people have more intense relationships with music than others, and for those people spending good money on the perfect headphones are a dream come true. Why not use your bonus to invest in some noise-cancellation headphones by Bose or the extremely trending Beats by Dr. Dre?

Where: BOSE Store,Dhaka GIS Showroom, 8, Kemal Ataturk Avenue, Banani, Dhaka -1000, Bangladesh

A gym membership: If I had a taka for every time I heard, “Oh my God! I look so fat in that photo!” I would be a very rich girl right now. If you look fat in a photo, you are probably fat in person. There, I said it. Now how about you do yourself a huge favour and join a gym (and actually visit it once in a while)? You never have to worry about editing your photos again!

Where: Gold's Gym, Bashundhara City

By Mehereen Aziz


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2012 The Daily Star