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YES, it's the food of the gods. Yes, it tastes heavenly almost always. So what do you do when your favourite comfort food betrays you? Here's the scoop on chocolates that bite back nasty-

Chocolate is great the way it is. And it's even better with nuts and caramel added. But one thing you do NOT add to chocolate is banana. EVER. It tastes somewhat like the dudh-bhaat we were fed as infants, only, with the banana gone rotten. It's definitely not what you're expecting when you have a chocolate craving at 3am. First place on this writer's personal hate list, banana-flavoured chocolate is one of the worst crimes against humanity.

Turkish Disaster
Yet another thing that you don't eat with chocolate is Turkish delight. Sweet enough to choke you, flavours exploding in all the wrong directions; this is the stuff that nightmares are made of. You'll try to chew it, but it you find your teeth aren't moving. You give up and try to swallow it whole, only to find that it doesn't want to go down. Kind of like eating your way through a quicksand bog. Even if you manage to get it out of your mouth somehow, the taste of the chocolate-covered Turkish delight will haunt you for the rest of your life.

Are they nuts? No, coconuts!
Whoever came up with Bounty should be made to live on it. Because nobody else will want to eat this waste of perfectly good chocolate. Just watch what happens when you open a jar of Celebrations. After all the Snickers and Mars and Milky Ways are gone, you will inevitably be left with the Bounties. It will happen every time. They will look up at you sadly from the bottom of the jar and silently curse their creator for making them the monstrosities that they are. Is this what Santa Claus gives you when you're naughty?

The good, the bad, and the strawberry
We all love our Kit Kats, crunchy, chocolate-y...and hey! What's that? Maybe real strawberries wouldn't have been so bad, but when they try to add something that doesn't even smell like strawberries, you are guaranteed of a recipe for disaster. Nobody in their right minds will want a second bite of that. And they'll probably spit out the first bite too. Other Kit Kats to watch out for are their lemon and yoghurt and mango and passion fruit flavours. Passion fruit? Seriously?

There's something fishy about this...
And most certainly, too. We're talking chocolate-wrapped sushi here. Yes, sushi, with actual fish. Raw ones. Eaten as a delicacy in high-end Japanese restaurants, this has got to be the most disturbing way to eat chocolate. The reason it still exists on the menu is because they hope some poor fool will try it out of curiosity. But that's not all. Crazier people around the world are known to torture their taste buds with chocolate covered bacon, squid, onions, broccoli and even ants. Yum yum.

Another writer here at RS says that she had once eaten something which was supposed to be chocolate, but tasted instead like “oily mud, or muddy oil”. Maybe it's a new flavour? She still can't decide.

By TheAlien4mEarth

Book Review

Cowboys are my Weakness

COWBOYS. Think of callused hands grasping the reins of rearing, half wild horses; of tornadoes and grassy plains; of cowboy hats on wheat-hued heads, pulled over eyes flashing firestorms in passion, clouding over in doubt. Think of these images tempered with Weakness, the underlying fragility of tough exteriors, always struggling to achieve an unattainable stability. It's the beautiful paradox of dynamic relationships and this paradox, you'll find, is what Pam Houston's collection of short stories is all about.

Her 12 little stories take you on a spirited journey though the complexities of human relationships against the backdrop of the American Midwest. “In My Next Life” weaves Native American spirituality into a touching description of the relationship between two women, searching for someone, or something, to look after them. The churning, dangerous waters of “Selway” symbolise the stormy relationship of the young couple braving it, each desiring the other for the very wildness they try to tame. And the theme of self-discovery touched on in each story is highlighted in “ Cowboys are my Weakness” as she gradually realises that her weakness isn't cowboys but the painting she's always had in her head of the perfect man. Full of well-crafted descriptions and far too many delicious quotes to commit to memory in one read, you'll wonder how in the world Houston manages to immerse you so completely in the varying moods of her rugged country without overdoing it.

From the raging rapids to tundra hunting grounds to rolling prairie ranches, the setting of each tale is almost a character in its own right; and a state of mind as much as a state of place. The power of blizzard winds; the vulnerability of a sheep within a hunter's range and a garden on a frosty night the predictable unpredictability of nature and human nature are entwined. The spirit of this wilderness, whether lucidly described as in ' A Blizzard under Blue Sky' or just the subtle background of 'How to Talk to a Hunter,' is ever-present, channelled through the sensibility of the women and their men.

If you're looking for a happily ever after, though, you won't find it here. What you will find is wry, funny, touching realism with “endings” that keep you wondering what will happen tomorrow; that keep these women alive. At best there is the tentative hope the characters allow themselves that, even with the Coyote woman lurking around, their hunter is here, for now. Or the eventual understanding that even the man who dismisses his lady's Thanksgiving plans, over researching deer in mating season, can't really be blamed. People are just like that, with different ideals, illusions, and choices to make. And whether that's something you want to live with or move on from is up to you as well.

“This is not my happy ending. This is not my story.”
'Cowboys are my Weakness' is an insightful read with a comforting, empathetic quality to it, like a friend who calls you up to knock some good honest sense in you and laughs at you with you, on those dreary, self-pity consumed days. You'll warm to the humour and compassion because, while you may not call them 'cowboys' everyone knows something of cowboy illusions and the cowboy realities one must eventually face and make decisions about. It's definitely a book you will want to
keep by your bed for a while.

By Risana Nahreen Malik

The Baashiwala

YOU'VE probably never seen him, but if you're a regular around Dhanmondi Lake, you've heard him. Come rain or sun, night and day, he walks around the lake and plays his flute. Not the most interesting of people, but one with an intriguing story, and he smiled as he told it.

You see, he's a romantic. Never knew how to do anything save play whatever came to his mind. His parents couldn't afford to give him a teacher, so he saved up, doing an odd job here and an even one there to buy his own flute. Why the flute, you wonder? The reason isn't very complicated. It was the cheapest of all the musical instruments. It was later that he fell in love with the music the hollow stick produced. What does he do for a living? Nothing, really. Takes what people give him when he walks by with his wooden stick. He has two sons who run a small shop, and a daughter married. The average guy who doesn't want to burden his kids, so visits a couple of times a year and never tells them where he lives. He's doing fine on his own, he claims, and maybe he is, despite the faded shirt and sunken eyes.

He mentions his children easily, but not his wife. You see, she's the reason he does nothing anymore, and she's the reason his music is painful to hear even on festive days like Eid or Noboborsho. She walked out on him nearly four years ago. Apparently all he did all day was play his flute and his wife was sick of it, so sick she couldn't stand to hear it anymore. He says he loved her, so he tried to hate his flute, but of course he couldn't. But his fingers no longer play the melodies they once used to. They're all sad, all his songs, and he wishes they weren't but he never had a teacher so he doesn't know how to play a tune his mind and heart won't give him.

The most interesting thing about him isn't his life, nor is it what he told me. It's what the couples on their regular rendezvous around the lake claim. You see, his tunes may be tragic, but they bring great joy to people in that when a couple hears the music of his flute, they will be successful in love. There's a catch, obviously. It isn't enough to just hear. They must listen, and believe. Upon inquiry, he didn't deny it, nor did he say it was true but his proud yet forlorn smile said enough. A young couple says they've been dating for two years now, and every time they had a spat they came to hear his flute. The guy apparently always ended up apologising. A married couple says they hired him for their wedding, and he played the most beautiful music they'd ever heard. A married woman tells of how the embarrassed husband sitting next to her proposed in the middle of his song.

His name? Can't tell. His dream? To die in peace and without pain. His identity? A simple baashiwala.

By Professor Spork




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