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One can never go wrong with any style of blazer. The Bengali women of today ask 'What's in fashion?' -- the truth is, everything! Working in a styling sphere where the doctrine of repetition often manifests itself furtively, labels such as Filippa K, Max Mara and Carl Kapp elude the influence of viral marketing to launch distinct blazers.

For the final few weeks of winter, designers consign their work to focus on clean lines and symmetry, promoting a sleek and chic look for women. Cropped blazers are just not enough to beat the last bout of cold this season, so the attention has leapt past to medium blazers in both casual and formal styles. These cuts are now a wardrobe-staple. Surprisingly complementary to safari, chino, leather and denim pants, the versatile, lengthy blazers effortlessly brings upon an unreferenced simplicity and sharpness.

Despite the viral nature of bold and ecstatic colours this season, many sophisticated brands have stayed true and quintessential, shaking up 2013 by placing focus on textures rather than colours. Similarly, some innovative women have blazed their own trail by adopting an elegantly minimalist look by donning monochromes.

A classic colour palette of black, white and grey sets the market base, while luxurious satin, faux leather and shaggy fleece keeps the consumers busy. Alongside these fresh, cutting-edge blazer fabrics, women are enjoying a higher level of confidence and daring with larger shoulder pads and clean, striped monochromes.

By exploring the unorthodox jacket textures, women are investing in an avant-garde style this winter. If bored, these distinct pieces can be juxtaposed with bright-hued denim or pastel perfect ankle boots that scream out 'Hey, I'm not so dull!' -- blazers are definitely a playable item this season!

Moving past last year's blazers with multicoloured washes -- which now are completely safe -- many like Roberto Cavalli, Stella McCartney and Moschino take the universe a step further with voluminous shapes and graphic prints. It's about going that extra mile and mixing floral, insect or animal prints with the casual/semi-casual blazer to nonchalantly express cool, modern and enjoyable.

For a more professional impression, believe it or not, the dying days of a Dhaka winter invite formal blazers to be embellished by warm and lightweight sequins. It's not gaudy at all if worn with monochrome bottoms -- it communicates bold and fearless -- so ladies, start innovating the new staple!

By Parisa Lasker
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Wardrobe: Cats Eye


Gift ideas for tea and java lovers

Few things compare to the taste of freshly brewed tea or coffee, early in the morning. Whether it's to beat the chills of winter or the fatigue of an upcoming summer's day, coffee and tea are the two best ways to start off. This week, we pick out the best gift package for java and tea lovers, both of whom take their brew seriously and with good reason. So, go ahead and give them a delightful surprise.

Serve us a thermos
Any tea/coffee aficionado knows the significance of having a proper thermos around. Keeping the drink in the right temperature obviously affects its taste and thus those who do love what they consume, know that its best to keep it stored just right. Numerous shops and stores around the country sell such a thermos, with New Market being the place with the largest collection of shops stocking the item. Prices vary according to size, brand and function, so be sure to understand the requirements before making a purchase.

Bean scene
A serious java lover will never settle for just any off-the-rack coffee beans. No, they deserve the best and understand the slightest variation in taste. Northend Coffee Roasters is the best place to get the best beans. Boasting a collection from around the world, Northend Coffee Roasters offer a varied option and has information on taste, flavour and texture of each bean. With prices starting from around Tk.250, visit the store to find out about the beans from places such as Brazil, Guatemala, Sumatra and more. It is your only source of freshly roasted coffee in the entire country!

Strainer is a no-brainer
The utility that a strainer, also known as a colander or sieve, provides is a fact understood by those who love what they drink. Getting a fancy strainer in Bangladesh is much work but it isn't all that hard. Pore through the shops at Chandni Chawk for the perfect strainer. They come in many shapes and sizes, but they pretty much do the thing they are supposed to and that's to ensure the perfect brew.

A mean mug
Which coffee/tea lover does not have their favourite mug? The answer is none. Therefore, getting a customised mug seems like the most perfect idea ever. For a little over 200 bucks, order your own customised ceramic mug for your near and dear ones. Ceramic in Sunrise Plaza, Lalmatia, offers just the scope to do that and it's quite a memorable and innovative gift idea, so do give the shop a visit.

Besides indulging in your favourite activity, reading about it is the next best thing. Therefore, go and get the coffee/tea lover a book on their favourite subject. Get the Tea Lover's Companion by Jane Pettigrew or The Book of Coffee by Joel, Karl and David Schapira. Plus, imagine a tea lover reading these books while sipping on tea; what else can be a better combination?

Apart from these few ideas, you can also combine them into a gift box and throw in some complementary biscuits. Or, you can get jars to store tea leaves, which need to be separated constantly and visit a few tea estates around the country to get the freshest pick.

By Osama Rahman


Detoxifying your space

Now that you have cut down on consuming cola, apple seeds, chillies and every other kind of toxic-laden edible item, you may begin to finally feel like a rock star. Except of course you probably won't because its not only what you eat that can kill you with toxins but even objects you find in your living room can do the trick. Here's what else you can do, along with your diet, to finally and fully be detoxified:

Plastic isn't fantastic
Remember those old plastic bottles of soft drinks that you keep around for storing water? Or the numerous Styrofoam containers and cooking oil bottles that you have? They all contain carcinogens and dangerous chemicals capable of messing up your endocrine system. This means that preserving that plastic bottle to use to store water will eventually kill you one day. Opt for stainless steel or glass bottles. Now!

Bacteria bites
We have all seen the TV ads depicting how much bacteria our dirty hands have. Therefore, most of us have wisely invested in anti-bacterial soaps, which promise to kill all bacteria; even the good kind. But that isn't the biggest problem, really. Antibacterial soaps can also make you antibiotic resistance and mixed with our so called 'chlorinated' tap water, form a kind of chloroform. So, before you pass out while washing your hands and attract all the bacteria on the floor, go with natural soaps or brands without chlorine, triclosan or phosphates.

Teflon vests and pans work the same
Like those who believe Teflon vests are bullet-proof instead of Kevlar, many also think Teflon pots and pans are clever ideas. Well they aren't, because the chemicals used to make the pans so magically non-sticky can actually damage your thyroid or liver in the long run. Go for glass instead. Reserve Teflon's non-sticky magic for other misuses.

Beauty by a beast
As long as it promises to make them pretty, women will buy anything. The operative word here is 'promises' because most beauty care products don't only not work but may also end up embedding toxins all over your body. Since even the FDA doesn't regulate the amount of endocrine disruptors these products contain, it is up to you to do your research on the product you want and then make the right choice. Avoid mercury, lead, placenta, triclosan, etc. Go natural, if needed.

Fragrant and flagrant
If your house smells like garbage, and it does because you live in Dhaka, you will attempt to make it smell better. Thus, you will invest artificial room deodorisers for your home and car. These deodorisers will make your space smell fresh, make you feel like you are in a garden of fragrant flowers and then they will spew volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Wait, what's that last part, you ask? VOC is what will cause nausea, sore throat, dizziness and even cancer in the long term. Again, we suggest you go natural instead of these fancy venom-spewing deodorisers and by natural we mean essential oils and such products. Only.

By Osama Rahman



Magic Mirror offers 'Irresistible You'

Make your Valentine's Day celebration a special one with an irresistible Magic Mirror look. Get the 'Irresistible You' package that promises to prepare you for the day of love. A combo of Valentine Glow Facial, manicure and pedicure, eyebrow threading and hair treatment are just the things to make you glow on this special occasion.

That's not all! With this package worth Tk.2000 you get a chance to win a free Valentine's makeup. Or you can also avail just the Valentine Makeup worth Tk.2000 and get a chance to win a romantic couple's dinner at a five-star hotel.

So hurry and make this Valentine's Day more special than ever!
For further detail, call 0161 044 4555.


Dietary support and guidelines for Type 2 diabetes

By Nahid Ameen

Diabetes is the most common endocrine disorder. It is characterised by the inability of insulin to carry out its function. In type 1 diabetes mellitus, insulin cannot be produced while in type 2 diabetes cells in the tissues and organs become insulin-resistant.

The main cause of diabetes in the physical body is insulin resistance that is caused by faulty insulin and leptin signalling. This faulty signalling only happens due to incorrect diet and lack of exercise.

Let me explain a little bit about leptin and insulin. Leptin and insulin are hormones that are naturally present in the body. Leptin is produced in fat cells and its primary role is to regulate appetite and body weight. Insulin, comes into play when we eat sugar and carbohydrate rich foods. Our blood sugar is raised after this and insulin is then released to direct the extra energy into storage. Insulin's main role is not to lower blood sugar but to store the energy from the food for future needs. Insulin's effect of lowering the blood sugar is merely a side effect of this energy storage process.

If you have diabetes then you have difficulty controlling your blood sugar levels because the cells of the body don't absorb sugar from the bloodstream the way it does naturally. This leads to high sugar levels in the blood, sugar in the urine and very high blood insulin. If this is not treated properly with dietary changes and exercise, it can cause kidney damage, poor circulation, and vision impairment, numbness in the feet, infections, erectile dysfunction and heart disease.

Addressing health
Poor nutrition can be fixed by eating more vegetables in every meal you eat. Eat seasonally and locally grown foods. Avoid processed foods, takeouts and eating at fast food joints. Avoid high glycemic foods, red meat, refined carbohydrates, and processed and hydrogenated fats.

Foods to focus on
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens and mustard greens, purple grapes, walnuts, almonds, fish, coconut oil, beans, lentils, buckwheat are exceptionally great for this condition. Soak your beans, nuts and seeds overnight before cooking or consuming them. This is a must to release phytic acid and other anti-nutrients that prevents proper absorption of the nutrients present in these foods. You can eat 2-3 soaked almonds before your meals to regulate blood sugar.

Use cinnamon, cardamom, fenugreek and garlic in your meals regularly.

Green tea and cinnamon is a good combination for controlling blood sugar. Use extra virgin olive oil in your salads not for your cooking. Coconut oil, sesame seed oil or mustard oil will be better for cooking.

Seaweeds and sprouts are also super choices if you have or want to prevent diabetes. Avoid eating seafood if they are added with high fructose corn syrup. Make sure you know the source of your food.

Omega 3 and cold-pressed extra virgin saturated fats are good in this condition, such as coconut oil. High quality and small amount of coconut oil will increase absorption of essential nutrients such as Vitamin A, D, E and K. These fats are also concentrated sources of energy and the building blocks of our cell membrane and a variety of hormones. Grass-fed meat, grain-fed poultry, and unpasteurised dairy from a grass fed cow, avocados and coconut oils contain beneficial saturated fats.

Minerals for support
Chromium, which helps maintain normal blood sugar, insulin levels and supports normal cholesterol levels is an essential mineral support for diabetes. Concentrated food sources are onions, tomatoes, broccoli, whole grains, etc.

Vanadium is a trace mineral that is found in many foods such as mushrooms, shellfish, black pepper, parsley and whole grains. This mineral is also helpful for type 2 diabetes.

Magnesium is also another essential mineral for this condition. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashew and Halibut are high in this mineral.

Best foods for type 2 diabetes
Vegetables grains and beans oils, nuts and seeds, Cabbage Quinoa Olive oil [in salads], Bitter melon oats, almonds,

artichoke brown rice [in moderation], walnuts, cucumber, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, garlic mung beans, coconut oil, onions, Green beans, sea vegetables, buckwheat, lettuce, sprouts.

Foods to stay away from
Sugar in all forms should be avoided including fruits that are too sweet, white rice, corn, wheat, bread, white flour, fast foods made with sugar and white flour. Add high fibre fruits instead. Avoid all trans-fat which will worsen the insulin resistance. If you compare what you are letting go of to what you are introducing in your diet, it is not just healing foods but they are absolutely delicious. The healthy foods will boost your immune system, give you energy, make you feel and look young and will help you live longer in good shape.

As a diabetic patient you must stay away from any caffeinated drinks. Coffee, black tea, chocolate, drinking chocolate, green tea, carbonated soft drinks, instant tea or coffee, energy drinks or energy water, ice cream containing coffee or chocolate flavour, weight loss pills, some gums and breath fresheners contain caffeine, as well as some drugs and pain killers.

Caffeine causes a temporary surge in the blood sugar levels, followed by the overproduction of insulin, which results in blood sugar levels dropping dramatically.

Check for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners in all packaged foods that you buy at the super markets. Avoid all of these ingredients at any cost.

Lifestyle changes
Exercise is absolutely essential, without which anyone is highly unlikely to get this devastating disease under control. It is clearly one of the most potent ways to lower your insulin and leptin resistance. Walking, running, participating in your favourite sport, yoga, cycling, etc. are few of the many ways you can add exercise to you regimen.

Always monitor your fasting insulin level. This is just as important as blood sugar. Fasting insulin level should be 2-4. If it is higher than your insulin receptor sensitivity is more.

Ask your doctor
Your doctor must recommend proper dietary and lifestyle changes along with medications, and subsequently start taking you off the medications. If any doctor is advising to take medications for a lifetime then that medicine should be replaced. If the medicine was curing you, then you would use it, get healed and move on with your life. But you wouldn't need it for the rest of your life. However, doctors prescribe medicines for life. They may change them, add a few more and take one out but they will keep on prescribing them.

Medicine can suppress the symptoms for a short time. If you and your doctor want to see results then taking charge is important. Do your research, look for alternatives and change your diet.

I only prefer natural remedies and nutritional healing. It may take longer but it doesn't keep us on medications filled with side effects for a lifetime. Natural therapies are effective and without any side effect.


The other side of Darjeeling IV

By Kaniska Chakraborty

Let this be the last of the Darjeeling chronicles.

On one of our evening jaunts in Darjeeling, we walked around trying to locate an interesting place to have a simple soup.

Every place that we saw had blazing signs, obvious cues of overt commercialisation.

Guess we were looking for some home-cooked food. And there was none to be found.

On a hunch, my wife decided to walk down the narrow road next to Rink Mall, the road that has Blue restaurant at the beginning.

Couple of houses down, she spotted a derelict old building with some greens on the windowsill. She walked in. It looked like a residence, and hence I was apprehensive about going in.

No doorbell in sight, we walked in to a calendar from a sauce manufacturing company in Calcutta.

Intrepid my wife kept walking in and sheepish me kept following her. And there we were, in a small kitchen with a table and two benches.

And a lady pottering about.
This is how the conversation went:
My wife: “Hi”.
The lady: “What do you want?”
Me: “Can we get some food?”
The lady: “Only soup”
My wife (ever the social butterfly): “What's your name?”
The lady: “Why do you want to know?”
Not the best of icebreakers, but we had a feeling we had stumbled upon a good place.
We saw some sausage links hanging on top of the gas burner.
Turns out, they are a family of Chinese sausage makers, who also do rudimentary food.
We asked if we could get some sausages.
That she gladly agreed to.

By the time, our soup and a plate of sausages arrived; her sister joined us from inside.

An erudite lady, with a thorough knowledge of Calcutta, and I suspect, of many other cities.

She turned out to be a jovial, gregarious person, who talked and talked.

She talked about Chinese eateries in Calcutta, with clear advice on where to go and what to avoid.

She talked about her love of Bengali cuisine and how she loves to eat out when she is in Calcutta. We promised to be in touch.

And the soup was one of the cleanest-tasting ever. Noodles, broth, some greens , slices of cooked pork and very little else.

The sausages were porky, garlicky and spicy. Well-fried, crispy, a bit chewy, with a very pleasant aftertaste. The conversation was warm and engaging.

What more can a tourist ask for?
Well, in Darjeeling, running hot water maybe?
Seemed to be a rarity in Darjeeling Club.
Must look for a better place to stay next time.


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