How to dodge marriage proposals if you are a Bengali

Being a brown Bengali woman in your mid 20’s, you can only have one life goal – to find and marry the perfect man.  And if by any chance he happens to be a doctor, engineer or lawyer, well then you’ve hit the jackpot!

It’s a universally acknowledged truth, that a deshi girl who has surpassed the age of 20 must get married, or else the world shall perish.

It’s usually a random aunty or uncle who desperately wants to take on the role of a ‘ghotok’(match-maker) for you, if it’s not your parents stressing you out already. We often face a hard time thinking what our parents would have to face if we straight off reject these ‘biyer prostaabs’. However, it is actually possible to dodge these marriage proposals easily without bringing too much trouble. Here are some tried and tested easy ways to avoid such encounters.

Read more: 5 strategies on surviving Desi weddings.

Goth Lipsticks

Trust me on this, dark goth lipsticks scare deshi aunties. Seriously, pick any goth shade, be it dark shades of blue, grey or just pure black. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it makes you look rough and ruins the whole facade of the “ideal, docile wife” image. Whatever it is, it seems to do the trick for you. Plus dark lipsticks are bold and gorgeous. Rock them while shock them aunties!

Use the sarcasm shield

Sarcasm is a life savior. If used correctly, it can get you out of almost anything! It can ensure you with one of the two: either they will catch onto the sarcasm and assume you’re extremely rude, or they will believe what you say and think you are absolutely insane. To be honest, both work pretty well. Seriously, just imagine their expressions when you tell them “I’m sorry, I was just busy reading this fun article on how to properly chop human bodies.” with a serious face on.

Tell them you can’t make tea

Or worse! Add salt instead of sugar in their tea and then sit back to enjoy their expressions when they sip on your evil-eye-casting-potion. If you’re a proper Bengali, you know that tea is basically life to most Bengalis; the better the tea, the higher your rank in the household. So what could be more off-putting to these uncles and aunties than a woman who can’t make cha? One who makes terrible cha! And you will no longer be a daughter in law material, sorry. Or maybe, you’re welcome?

Be bold and opinionated

This isn’t a hard task for many of us. Don’t just jump straight to an issue; you could really just randomly talk about normal things and slowly go for sensitive areas that are considered taboo; like gay rights, abortion or even legalizing marijuana! It’ll be so much fun to see an aunty in shock after you discuss sexuality openly, I mean where is my lojja shorom?!

Do something insane

Maybe chop off those locks? Okay, I’ll admit this one is pretty drastic, so maybe you can use it as a last resort. It’s actually an excellent last-minute backup plan though. One of my friends was once almost forced to get engaged to this older man. When nothing else worked, she decided to completely shave her head on the day of the engagement! Guess what? It worked!

But really you could do so many other crazy stuff that you could actually have fun doing. Maybe dye your hair a gorgeous color? *gasps* Yesss, any color! Put on a poker face and do something incredibly crazy to scare the hell out of these people, like pretend to talk to an imaginary friend. Or maybe start laughing at completely inappropriate moments like when they’re talking about a tragic incident. Seriously, get creative and you can single handedly make these prostaabs fly away before you can say ‘Kabool’.

Talk money

While the suitor’s mothers and/or aunts brag about how rich and successful he is, why not take them up on it? Get extra enthusiastic, ask about their advancement opportunities and pay. Act like you’re calculating something and then hypothetically discuss how much you would get if a divorce occurs. Create an entire financial plan right in front of them.

Fart (!)

Yes, no joke. Once you master the art of flatulence, it’ll not just help you drive away the aunties, but anyone that messes with you. It’s the ultimate human repellent!

The smile

They say a girl’s best weapon is her smile. They are right, they’ve always been. Whenever your suitor or their family is talking about something they are passionate about, smile. Nope, not the sweet encouraging one. A sympathetic, sad and patronizing smile. If he’s got any sort of common sense in him, he’ll pick up the remains of his bruised ego and never bother you again. Seriously girl, you need to smile more often now!

Read more: 5 reasons not to get married before thirty

It’s not necessarily true that marriage is the end of everything, you can still rock you life and do things you love after marriage. But then again, if you’re better off, I hope these tricks help you out. But remember that I bear no responsibility for the consequences. So proceed at your own risk, girl!

Good luck!

The battle against our obsession with fair skin

It always seemed perplexing to me that in a country of 16 million people where majority of us are of a darker complexion, we have somehow come to equate beauty with fairness. Starting from young girls and boys to older men and women, this notion has been embedded into our minds and has permeated over the centuries.

The constant slurs

Every brown woman living in Bangladesh can attest to receiving an abundance of unsolicited advice and derogatory comments from strangers to family members over their complexion throughout their lifetime. Maybe it was in the form of a backhanded compliment like “You’re pretty for a dark skinned girl”; an advice from next-door aunty to try out some skin whitening creams (fair and lovely the undisputed champion); a quick natural homemade remedy from a friend that promised to instantly brighten your skin; a warning from your mother to stay indoors and avoid the sun, and the list goes on.

Seriously, just stop.


Artwork by Nafisa Afsara Chowdhury

The other side isn’t pretty either

Growing up, I personally didn’t hear such remarks myself because I got “lucky” by being born with a lighter complexion in a society that’s obsessed with fairness. But I did experience something else which was equally problematic. People have said things like “ki shundor forsha gayer rong” and “tomake toh foreigner lage” to me, as if those were meant to be compliments. I’m sorry but no, you have got it all wrong. I do not aspire to look like a foreigner, I do not think my lighter skin is somehow a personal victory, and neither do I think that this should be an acceptable form of flattery for any right-minded person.

The ridiculous ads

It shocks me that it is still acceptable to promote fairness products in the 21st century and reiterate the idea that a fairer skin is more desirable than the rest. These ridiculous ads will try to have you believe that if you become a couple of shades lighter, you will finally get that job you want, your family and boyfriend will love you more, all your problems will miraculously go away and you’ll live happily ever after. (Don’t we all wish it were that simple?)

Why are we so obsessed with being “fair and lovely”?

Original concept and Photo by Zainab Anwar. Artwork by Triory.

This unhealthy obsession that we have with fairness is a lot more complex than we often realize. Some may argue that this stems from the remnants of our colonial legacy in South Asia and plays out in the form of internalized colonialism, while others say that this fixation dates even further back in history, dealing with issues of class hierarchy.

It also goes without saying that our deep-rooted patriarchy that constantly objectifies women only helps to perpetuate this enslavement even further.

We also cannot deny that the mass media today contributes towards keeping such insidious ideas alive by feeding us Western beauty standards since eternity.

The damaging impact

Most of us girls grapple with loving ourselves because we were conditioned to believe in these unrealistic beauty standards that were always far from our reach. So many girls like me, around me, were constantly trying to attain this standard of beauty, all the while, rejecting their own brown skin. Leaving them dejected and bathing in self-loathe. Can we really blame them though? We live in a society that constantly tells us that our skin color is “nongra” or “moila”, so trying to feel content in our own skin was never even an option to begin with.

Here are some Bangladeshi women sharing their bitter experience of growing up with brown skin in Bangladesh:

X, a 29-year-old woman from Dhaka-

“I remember when I was a teenager, I’d try all kinds of things on my face hoping to lighten it because I was always made to feel like it wasn’t good enough. Looking back, thinking about all the harmful things that I tried in order to gain validation from this society truly scares me. What makes me even more upset is that I still find myself fighting this battle within me sometimes. Suppose, when I’m wearing a very bright colored outfit, I’ll think to myself  “Is this making me look too dark?” But it’s only now, in my late 20s that I’m turning the conversation around and asking myself, “What’s wrong with looking too dark? Absolutely nothing”. So, thankfully, after years of struggle, I’m in a much more healthy relationship with my own skin now”

Anika, a 23-year-old student from North South University-

“I’ve been fighting this brown skin prejudice since my childhood. I remember when I was in school; I didn’t get accepted as the lead role of a drama because of my “dark skin”. My visits to the parlor were always accompanied with suggestions of bleaching my skin to become “fairer”. It’s not just the people who we love dearly that perpetuate such ideals but it is also embedded within our social institutions. It’s everywhere. And it takes unimaginable strength to unlearn years of such toxic internalization and begin to treat yourself right ”

Dare to love yourself

In a world that constantly reminds us women that the color of our complexion fails to meet some false notion of beauty, just loving yourself and being proud of your skin becomes a revolutionary act for us girls. It means to dismantle these narratives that we’ve been forcefully fed for so long. It means to reclaim our brown skin in all its glory.

So, go on, tell those aunties off, bask in the sun, wear that bright colored outfit you were asked not to wear, put on that red lipstick and own it! Happy Women’s Day to you all!

LAL: Challenging the stigma behind menstruation

This past week, artists, poets, dancers and musicians from different walks of life had come together at Jatra Biroti, under the glistening full moon, for the occasion of LAL; the celebration of the natural phenomenon of menstruation.

What is LAL?

Jatra Biroti, a locus of art and culture in Dhaka, had organized a five-day long event, aligned with the dates of the full moon, to celebrate menstruation and its connection with the divine moon cycle. This event aimed to break the stigma that is often associated with period. It aimed to educate people of all ages and genders about menstruation. And create a space where people could come together to talk freely about “that time of the month”.

LAL: Challenging the stigma behind menstruation

It was an event unlike any other; from children to senior citizens, openly discussing and even rejoicing about period positivity.

In a society like Bangladesh, where we shut down any conversation regarding this ordinary bodily function of women, it is necessary that we take measures to normalize such topics. And Lal acts as a groundbreaking event which is opening new spaces of conversation and subverting the age-old stigmas related to menstruation.

Breaking stigma through art

LAL has used the powerful tool of art in various forms; such as poetry, artworks, music, dance and more. In the process, dismantling the preconceived notions that people often hold about menstruation.

LAL: Challenging the stigma behind menstruation 7

Art can be a compelling vehicle that can bring about change in how we perceive things; it can help us to identify ourselves with matters that may otherwise seem unfamiliar to us. It can spur thinking, engagement and even action and that is what this event dedicated to menstruation aspired to achieve.

The exhibition

The exhibition, located on the third floor of Jatra Biroti, opens with a massive vagina tunnel entry (it doesn’t get more unconventional than that). It then leads the pathway to numerous artworks representing menstruation. Weeks before the event, Jatra Biroti had announced an open call to artists and enthusiasts for submissions of artworks. The call received an overwhelming response from several artists who wanted to contribute to this initiative. Each artist had brought in their own unique perspectives and representations through their fearless artworks.

LAL: Challenging the stigma behind menstruation 1

One of the artists that I conversed with said, “I tried to bring in humor to my work so people can become comfortable talking about menstruation. It doesn’t have to be this sacred thing, because I’m literally bleeding from down there every month”. Another said, “I feel like I’m gaining autonomy over my own body as I draw about menstruation”.

Being a participant myself, it was truly rewarding to witness how art can disrupt people’s predetermined ideas about matters like the menstrual stigma.

Dance, Music, Poetry

This five-day long celebration was also filled with various performances and music sessions by several other artists. Some of the major highlights of LAL were the moving poetry recitations by Munia Islam and Bokulful, the powerful performances by Arthy, Krishnokoli, Preema Nazia and the soulful musical evenings by Shourik SK and UNY, Sovotta, Vee, Anusheh Anadil, Baul Shofi Mondol and the Ghaashforing Choir to name a few.

Workshops

Some interactive workshop sessions were also held by organizations like Astha Foundation, Kotha, Project Konna, Naripokkho. All of them were aimed at normalizing the topic of menstruation in their own distinctive ways. Each session took a different and creative approach in order to explore the topic of period with their audience. For instance, Astha Foundation took on a more humorous approach where they debunked period myths, created awareness about menstrual hygiene and PMS with a touch of sarcasm.

LAL: Challenging the stigma behind menstruation 5

Project Konna aimed to create a more intimate experience between couples so they can be comfortable about the topic of period.

Kotha held a class conscious interactive workshop on menstruation. With the help of participants, they built 3 characters and walked through their unique menstruating experiences to highlight how accessibility differs vastly as we move across different classes.

Recyclable sanitary products

While the event set out to challenge the stigma around menstruation, it had also taken the initiative to raise awareness of plastic in disposable menstrual products, and how we can work to minimize this by using biodegradable and reusable sanitary products in order to protect our environment. Several hundred pads are disposed on a daily basis, just inside Dhaka, which pollute our environment inconceivably. Under the name Lal Peyala, Jatra is selling reusable pads which are available in a variety of designs. They are also selling menstrual cups in order to create a more sustainable way of managing our periods.

An event like LAL is momentous. Because, even though it may not solve the problems regarding menstruation in Bangladesh overnight, it can help to change the conversation around it by ending the shame that we associate with it.

A vital step for us to make any substantial progress.


This bloody menstruation taboo has loomed over us for far too long, so lets all just come out in the open and say it, all women bleed. Period.

Through Her Eyes: Celebrating and inspiring women filmmakers in Bangladesh

Women have been making films from the beginning of film production history but when it comes to nam a few, we realize how strikingly less number of women are prominent in the field than men filmmakers around the world. In Bangladesh, we currently see a number of women filmmakers actively creating and working in all genres of filmmaking; women like Samia Zaman, Meher Afroz Shaon and  Shuchanda only to name a few. These women set an example for female film enthusiasts around the world given how it still remains a challenge for a woman to be a film director and continue to create in this line of work. ‘Through Her Eyes’ is an attempt to inspire women in this field and celebrate those who carved out that opportunity for themselves despite the challenges.

What is Through Her Eyes?

Through Her Eyes: Celebrating & Inspiring Women Filmmakers In Bangladesh 7

In cooperation with the International Film Initiative of Bangladesh (IFIB), Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, launched a new film screening and discussion series “Through Her Eyes – A space to watch and discuss films with women filmmakers of Bangladesh” on Sunday, 20th January, 2019 at 5 PM.

It is a series of screening sessions of movies directed by prominent Bangladeshi women filmmakers, followed by discussion sessions with them, the entry being free for all.

They will be screening a movie on every third Sunday of each month at the Goethe-Institut auditorium at 5 pm for everyone to join and celebrate & inspire women in the film industry. It is undoubtedly an amazing opportunity for both male and female film enthusiasts, students, academics, professionals and people from all walks of life to come together to watch award-winning films by women filmmakers currently working in Bangladesh and to interact with them directly at the end of the screening.

What happened on the first day?

As part of the initiative, the first day included a screening of the film “Under Construction” directed by Rubaiyat Hossain that was followed by a highly interactive Q&A session held at Goethe-Institut Bangladesh auditorium. The film is a realistic representation of the life of a modern Muslim woman struggling to find herself in the sprawl of male-dominated urban Bangladesh.

Film synopsis:

Still from the film Under Construction

In the constantly changing dynamic city of Dhaka, Roya, an actress in her early thirties, has to face her first challenge. She has been playing the same part repeatedly for years now, working for a stage director who now thinks she’s getting too old in spite of her young age. She enters a deep introspection about her life, her desires, her art and her place in the patriarchal society. Rubaiyat Hossain’s film Under Construction provides the portrait of a woman, whose life is still under construction.

The guests were clearly impressed by the emphasis on the details in the film and the story itself. One of the guests, Nadira who aspires to be a filmmaker told us she was overwhelmed to see a woman just like her creating something so brilliant. “The film was so impressively time-frame focused and realistic; the details were so carefully worked on. It was amazing!” she told us.

Why you should definitely go:

“The film inspired me to keep moving, no matter where life takes us. What really matters the most is if you’re still doing what you love”

Said Sadia who also told us that every moment of the event was worth it to her.

Besides the chance for us to come together and watch amazing creations of these inspiring women, the monthly programme will also be a space for young filmmakers, academics, film enthusiasts to engage in discussions, to learn about opportunities and career paths to critically interrogate societal relations. Moreover, the event promotes networking and will help us find out about the industry and important aspects for rising filmmakers like what kind of challenges should young filmmakers be ready for and what role can others play in this. What’s better? It’s free! So if you want to spend a Sunday evening watching something worthwhile, this is it!

Find out more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2099870576979355/

Keep an eye on the page of Goethe-Institut Bangladesh for the upcoming screening next month. Here’s the link to the page: https://www.facebook.com/goetheinstitut.bangladesh/ 

About the director of Under Construction:

Rubaiyat Hossain, one of Bangladesh’s handful of female filmmakers is known for her critically acclaimed debut feature film Meherjaan (2011) which due to its anti-war narrative, and critic of masculine nationalism from a feminine point of view, faced political and cultural outrage in Bangladesh. It was stripped down fromtheatres across the country only a week after its release and is still prohibited from being screened. While Under Construction (2015) is her second film that has won several national and international awards, she just finished the shoot for her upcoming film Made In Bangladesh.

Through Her Eyes: Celebrating & Inspiring Women Filmmakers In Bangladesh 3

Having completed her B.A. in Women Studies from Smith College, USA and M.A. in South Asian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, she is currently attending the Tisch School of Arts at New York University in Cinema Studies while living between Dhaka and New York making films. Besides being a filmmaker, she is an interdisciplinary research scholar and has worked for prominent women’s rights NGOs in Bangladesh like Ain O Shalish Kendra, Naripokkho and The Asia Foundation. Moreover, she was the assistant coordinator for the first international workshop of Sexuality and Rights organized by BRAC School of Public Health in 2007 and has also worked as a part-time lecturer in the Department of Economics and Social Sciences at BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Things to consider while learning a new language

All of us at some point in our lives do consider learning a new language. Maybe it’s because you want to study abroad or to boost up your resume or simply because of your K-pop fandom. Whatever the reason may be, the idea of becoming bilingual or a multilingual speaker does have its perks. But nothing in life comes that easy. I came across many people who worked every day to be fluent in their target language. So, before you start learning do consider these things that can help you along the road.

Say goodbye to Google translator:

Things to consider while learning a new language

“It is a bad idea to use it, especially for us Bengali speaking people. Every language has its own complexities, be it for grammatical structure or word stock, and Google translator, as a system, cannot comprehend it all. I found bizarre Spanish translations, but in Bengali, it’s even worse” says Nusrat Maati a former student of Institute of modern languages (IML).

Try using a pocket dictionary or a dictionary app instead. It helps to get the proper translation along with a variety of examples. Apps like Duolingo, FluentU, Memrise are great for practice because of their interactive features. So, don’t be lazy and install away.

Try to accept the language barriers:

Things to consider while learning a new language

It’s crucial to bear in mind that each language has its own attributes. Things get super easy when we find similarities but can get twice as much hard when there aren’t any. So don’t get overwhelmed when you see new things that are absent in your native language.

French and Spanish languages are generally gender based. Every object is either masculine or feminine which makes it hard for a non-native speaker to differentiate between them. It can get quite frustrating at the beginning for some.

Watch Movies, TV shows, Talk shows, and YouTube Tutorials:

Things to consider while learning a new language

Developing your listening ability at the beginning is the right way to go. Many language learning methods focus on very strict listening activities. To make your listening activities fun try watching shows or movies with subtitles. Also, like always YouTube can offer you many basic language tutorials.

“Watching movies did help me a lot. It automatically helped me enrich my vocabulary, learned how native speakers communicate and helped to develop a better accent. Plus, it was a good source of entertainment too” says Marjuka Afzal currently doing her diploma at Alliance Franceas De Dhaka.

Be committed:

Things to consider while learning a new language

Commitment is very important. Never take your language classes for granted. If you want to learn properly make sure you don’t miss out on classes on a regular basis. And if you are leaning at home don’t take long gaps in between. Dedicate 2/4 hours weekly for practice.

“Continuity should be the primary concern. I remember missing out on quite a few classes back to back on sentence making and grammatical structure. Later when I went back after a gap I was not able to catch up.” Says another student of IML Noor Uddin Saikat.

Don’t just memorize without context:

bookworms HiFi Public

Even if you get long verb lists from class or the Internet. Don’t just memorize random words at once because language is a matter of processing. Start with the very basic daily used words and try making sentences with them.

“When we learned new German words, we primarily were given pictures. Started with naming the things in the classroom, or grocery shopping list, or a trip to the airport. We hardly ever needed to memorize” says Trishna Mutsuddy a former student of Gothe institute.

Communication is a must:

Things to consider while learning a new language

No matter how many lessons you take or how many audiobooks you practice. None of this will do you any good unless you converse with people. If you are already taking classes in your target language, talk among your classmates. If you are learning on your own, find someone who is a better speaker than you. One hour of conversational practice with a person helps you more than doing five classes.

It will take hours and hours of awkward and embarrassing conversations before you learn to speak without errors. “I remember once our Spanish instructor asked my age. And I accidentally said that I was 109 years old” says a Yoga teacher Shahnaz Sultana.

According to Jaime Cossa, a language Instructor at IML, the ability to master a language differs from person to person. For an average person, it can take 6 months to a year to do very basic communication. But it wholly depends on your motivation and the effort you put to it. If you are willing to make this commitment there are many places in the city from where you can get a degree. For each level, it may cost you around 8-10 thousand Taka minimum depending on the place and course you take. However, if you don’t have the time for that, consider learning at home. Purchase audiobooks, dictionaries and use all the online sources you find that can help you along the way. It may seem like a lengthy process now but the benefits you get afterwards are countless.

Want to study abroad? Things you need to consider before the big decision

Let’s be honest. It’s so exciting and easy to dream about studying abroad and getting to discover and experience new places and cultures. So exciting that we often forget that it’s not as simple as it seems. And so before you know, your dreams of earning a foreign degree might turn into a nightmare without proper consideration and preparation.

So are you really made for this? If so, are you really ready yet?

It’s true that you don’t have to have the personality of an experienced globetrotter to study abroad but you need to be a few things. Here’s your checklist before you even consider studying abroad for a foreign degree as an option.

1. The new responsibilities:

First of all, you need to be honest with yourself. Wanting to be mature, independent, and consistently on top of things is okay, but you need to face the reality. Everyone who goes abroad for higher studies will be facing new responsibilities. There will be no one there to make sure you attend your classes or your hand in intelligible essays while maintaining your chores. You would need to arrive with a willingness to take responsibility for yourself.

“Finding a place to live in, cooking and cleaning while studying and working, handling the never-ending paper works- all on my own, thousands of miles away from home; it’s intimidating!” said Ishrat, a first year at the Technical University of Munich, Germany.

2. Letting go:

Let’s get real. You will have to be able to give up seeing your family and let go of your rigid circle of friends. You’ll be there all alone while they’ll all be back at home. Truth is they’ll move on and adjust at some point to living without you. You will have to do the same without letting it affect you because you’ll be having essays to work on.

“Letting go of my family for 4 entire years was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s so hard to concentrate when you constantly feel homesick!” said Anik, Texas University Arlington, USA.

3. Adapting:

It’s obvious that when you’re studying abroad, wherever you go, you’ll have to face new accents, foods, social situations, and traditions. You can’t expect vacations or time offs for Eid and Pujas. You need to be adaptable and flexible.

“Dealing with culture shock was a real challenge for me but thankfully my extrovert nature helped me adapt very easily. However, I’ve seen my introvert friends suffering to adjust so hard. It’s really important to prepare yourself first if you’re not extremely adaptive” said Dyuti, Auckland University, New Zealand.

4. Multitasking:

It’s impossible to adjust out there alone if you’re not a multitasker. Unless you’re living with family members out there, you will have to do all your household chores like cleaning or cooking for yourself while you excel in your studies and work after classes! Also, what’s the point of all the hard work to get there if you can’t plan a few trips around? Exactly. Multitasking is the key to surviving out there.

“I did my research before applying so I knew how it was going to be. It’s really helpful if you already have a little bit of part-time job experience besides your studies. That way, you’ll learn a little bit of multitasking and it will help you a lot” – Ananya, Technical University of Munich, Germany.

5. Know what you’re doing:

Seriously, if you’re planning to study abroad on a subject that you’re not good at, don’t go for it just because it gets you there. It will immensely affect your future. Sure, getting to experience a whole new place and cultures would be exciting but you’ve got a life to live after that. What happens next? Fine, we get that it will be a life-changing journey for you but you’ve still got to excel, you know? The degree will be useless otherwise.

“I was so good at Math back in school that my teachers recommended that I study economics and statistics in future, but I had my mind set on an independent life abroad. So, I wasted 4 years of my life on the wrong subject thinking it would eventually work out. Well, it didn’t”, said Fariha, a former Arts student at Monash University, Malaysia.

So, don’t just go for it because you want a new life-changing journey. Choose your program wisely.

Studying abroad can be a daunting and exciting experience altogether. It’s not impossible if you can push yourself in the right direction. As long as you’re choosing the right program for yourself and you believe it’s worth giving up a few things in life for it, you’re good to go.
Good luck!

Winter wear roundup for the year

The fan is on and the blanket is out. As is that mixed feeling of winter arriving. With each year (and more Instagram bloggers), the winter trends get more creative (and extensive). Its the season of fashion, badminton, barbeques and of course, weddings.

Here is how you can merge western and local fashion, be comfortable while making a statement:

1. Shawls: Versatile and lots of choices

Shawls are the most comfortable piece of winter clothing which you can never go wrong with. It is also as easy to pair with a shirt and denim, as with a Panjabi or a  long tunic.

Our pick: Aarong, Deshi Dosh, Shada Kaalo’s winter collection includes a good range of both plain shawls and shawls with embroidery.

2. Turtlenecks: Warm and goes well with a hat

Winter wear roundup

For the inner 90s in all of us, a turtleneck or a sweater with a colorful barrette is the way to go. It is warm, cute and of course, makes you stand out from the crowd. Try fun color combinations.

Our pick: The unpretentious and affordable sweaters and hats at Nurjahan Market and New Market.

3. Sweatshirts

Winter wear roundup

Sweatshirts bring out a real winter vibe, hide the occasional kacchi belly bump and can have fun brands or logos plastered on them. Experiment with colorful ones; beige, baby pink or blue go with denim and black sweatshirts for the less adventurous ones.

Our pick: Lussotica, Gorur Ghash, Yellow and Artisan have a collection of sweatshirts for your choosing.

4. Leather Jacket: Let out the inner rebel

Winter wear roundup

Black leather jackets never disappoint– durable, warm and elegant. Also, with the weather of Dhaka city, winter is the really the only season one can indulge in the badass-ary.

Our pick: Wear with a wrapped shawl around your neck and faded jeans. Wear the jacket with formal clothing to make a bold statement.

5. Bomber jacket: Still trending

Winter wear roundup

Let us face the fact that bomber jackets haven’t fizzled out yet, unlike the high school sweatshirts which were pretty 2016. Bomber jackets are known for the flattering shoulder and neck fit. Originally designed to keep the pilots warm during the war, the bomber jacket has found its way to both mainstream and punk wardrobes. A black or mud-green bomber jacket could be a good addition to your winter look!

Our pick: Keep an eye out for the jackets at the winter sales at Sailor, Cats Eye, Westecs. The website “Shop Hobe” gives easy access and good service to many collections in different online stores.

6. Good Ol’ denim: Still swiping right

Winter wear roundup

When everything fails, you know what doesn’t? Denim. It has been decades and denim is here to stay. It can also be a perfect piece of clothing for a desi fusion with Kurtis and Panjabis. A faded blue denim jacket might be a perfect match for you this winter.

Our pick: Look for denim in different online stores. And of course, Nurjahan Market will not disappoint you!

Enjoy the cold breeze, hazy mornings, hot cuppa all wrapped up in your trendy winter attire. So here’s to winter and ending 2018 with grace and fashion!

7 things to know before starting training in martial arts

If you are someone who grew up watching films like The Karate Kid, chances are at some point in your life you wanted to be able to do the crane kick on that teacher who kept tormenting you in school. Some of you might have even tried and got kicked out of school (but we will never know that cause you probably will never tell), but the point is, we all want to be cool and hardcore and just rock that “bad” attitude. However, training in any form of martial arts is not as easy as it looks like in the movies. It’s a continuous process that transforms you as a person if you manage to stick to it. So, if you’ve been considering taking lessons, here are 7 things you should know about training yourself before you dive into it.

1. It’s never like in the movies.

You will never come out of a fight with perfect hair and un-smudged makeup. Real life situations are rarely as elegant and cool as they portray in the movies. So don’t hope that you will be the lanky guy who magically beats up 20 guys at once and gets away with one small cut on your forehead (which the heroine will patch up). You will probably be the guy who wakes up in the hospital and can’t remember how to pee.

2. It takes time and dedication

Sure, being able to kick some 6 feet tall guy in the face is immensely cool. But you won’t get there in a day. It takes consistency, dedication, hard work, time and patience to throw a proper kick. If you don’t believe me, try doing a complete middle split right now. It will hurt, you won’t be able to do it. Neither can most white belts and some coloured belts. But if you push through the pain and keep doing it, you will eventually get there. Slowly, but surely.

3. It is a pretty effective way to lose weight

Hold your horses, girls. Training in full contact Karate or any form of martial art will not give you a zero figure. You need to starve yourself for that. However, if you watch your diet a little, training will help you lose weight. Since strength training is a large part of any training regime, you will gain muscle mass, and it will help you improve your metabolism. Long story short, you will burn more calories by mere breathing if you train regularly. An excellent reason to start training, right?

4. It will hurt. A LOT.

There are “martial arts” out there that give out black belts as quota protesters get hit. But if you’re training yourself in forms like Shinkyokushin (Kyokushin) (google that), training will be excruciating. You will be kicked and punched and stepped on (literally. Your teacher will stand on your stomach), and it does not end there. The easiest drill in a regular training session is skipping 1000 times in under 5 minutes. Let that sink in. You will be bruised and battered and moving will get hard at times. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Training is hard. And it hurts.

5. BUT your body will change.

If training is so hard and it hurts so much, why do people do it? Because it changes your body. Every inch of you will be brimming with strength if you keep pushing your boundaries. Your knuckles will bleed, your shinbone will hurt, your stomach and outer thighs will be blue from all the kicks and punches, but within a few months, it will stop hurting. And you will notice the difference. You just have to stick it out until then.

6. You will feel like giving up.

Human beings are lazy. We rarely want to go through any hardship to get what we want. There is a possibility that you have already given up on your plans of getting 23 black belts. And you haven’t even started training yet. So imagine how an average white belt student feels for the first few months. After all, it is easy to quit and keep eating, isn’t it?

7. But if you DON’T, you will be reborn

I am going to use this cliché and overused metaphor here- if you don’t give up on your training, you will be reborn like a Phoenix. You will be someone who has been through hell and back, and it will make you a better person. You will be quicker on your feet, you will have excellent stamina, you will be strong and flexible and hardcore. You will also be more disciplined, more hardworking, and gentler. Training in martial arts makes you a better human being- inside and out. And that’s why people do it.

Do you feel like kicking some butts yet, brother?

How to write a cover letter that will stand out

1. Identify a problem in the company. Then tell them why you are the one to help solve the problem

Research the company and the industry. Suggest one thing you would change or problem that you would solve if you came on board. Your challenge is to identify a potential pain point and how valuable a solution can be. Demonstrate that you can help them run their department more efficiently and successfully than what they can achieve with their current hires.

You need to make it clear that you’re approaching this organization for very specific reasons. And ideally, your specific reason should not be the same specific reasons that all other candidates are giving.

Don’t say, If you’re looking for someone who can turn around projects quickly…” Say “I can deliver posts that are more SEO friendly in less time and a website that explains your services more clearly”. Use examples that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

And if you’re new to the industry or the role? Just ask current or former employees. Go on informational interviews and inquire about the company’s challenges.

2. Be the best match to the job description

Going into the room saying “Hey, I’m great. I promise!” is not enough. You need to scrutinize the job description, determine the key requirements and responsibilities for the job, Make it clear to the reviewer that you can deliver the goods on these key things.

Look for the keywords in the job description (they’re typically listed first on the job description or mentioned more than once) then talk about your strengths in connection those priority requirements.

Start sentences with “I have direct experience with…” or “The first reason I want to be in [role] is because I learned [directly related skill] in [experience in it]” or “I am fascinated with [skill included in job description] because of [something you have already done]”.

3. Tell a story, one that’s not on your resume

Do not repeat all the facts in your resume. Use the space to be more personable. Talk about what brings you to the company. What motivates you?

Why you should wear sarees more

When I think about sarees, the first thing I feel is respect for our ancestors. They literally took a large piece of clothing and turned into an attire. And it is an attire no south Asian girl should be able to discard. I know that at times throwing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt on is convenient and comfortable. But at the same time, you cannot deny the appeal of a cotton saree woven in a hut in Tangail.

But unfortunately, the number of girls refusing to put on this magnificent attire is ever increasing. The number of girls bragging about how they cannot walk in a saree scares me. They also break my heart. Why can’t they see how brilliant a piece of clothing can be?

So, here are my reasons for wearing sarees more.

It’s comfortable

comfy

Yes, I know that it sounds very contradictory. Saree and comfort? Can they go hand in hand? Yes, my friend, they can, and they do. All you have to do is pick the right fabric, the right design, and the right colour. And fortunately for you, the choices are endless. Try putting on a chiffon/cotton saree on that particularly sunny day. Opt for georgettes if you feel like it might rain. Buy sarees that are easier to wash and don’t need much ironing to look good, then go out and rock the world.

It looks good on EVERYBODY

There are few dresses that compliment every body type that there is. Thanks to the internet, you know that pear-shaped women should not wear skinny jeans, triangular people should try and add volume to their upper body and what not. However, a saree flatters every body type. It’s possible to look sexy and elegant all at once if you know how to accessorize your saree. And if you don’t want to go through that, just wear a little bit of kajal and a tip. You will be irresistible.

It keeps the tradition alive

Saree is something that is in its entirety our own. No European will ever be able to take credit for this beautiful innovation, because they still don’t get the concept of it. But if you don’t buy and wear sarees, this tradition will slowly die out. Do you know what actual Jamdani looks like? You think you do. But if you go to the market, the businessmen will try to make you buy these cheap, jamdani wannabes and you won’t be able to tell the difference. This is why it is important to know your tradition, what makes it special. Otherwise, in 10 years, traditions like jamdanis will turn into myths like the Muslin.

It helps the economy

Unlike everything you buy from fancy brands, the money you spend buying sarees stays within the country. Isn’t it nice when you can actually help the people who make your clothes?

You can use it on every occasion

Starting from wedding ceremonies to formal interviews with classes to hangouts, you can wear a saree everywhere. And there are so many ways to style it, that you won’t even feel overdressed. You have to admit that you cannot wear your tees everywhere, and salwar kameezes tend to get boring. So pick a saree. Stand out in a crowd without even lifting your finger.

If it is not apparent by now, I am obsessed with sarees. I feel it is one thing that will never go out of style for south Asians, just like ball gowns will never go out of style for Caucasians. I understand that this is a global age and you need to be accepting of other cultures as well, but let’s not completely forget what’s our own. Let’s keep the good traditions, like sarees, alive for the future generation. Because I don’t look forward to a future where every little girl doesn’t have a picture where she is wearing a saree with her mother’s dupatta. That will be heartbreaking.

Cheers.