Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 18, Tuesday May 6, 2008





THE government has recently hiked the price of compressed natural gas, or CNG as we know it. The news is stale but its effect on Dhaka life is profound. And from what it seems, long lasting. The CNG price hike adds to the agony of rising prices of rice and other commodities of sustenance. Looking back to this upward trend, the whole affair was attributed to the sinister acts of unscrupulous importers, hoarders, and retailers. A syndicate was believed to have been the puppeteer behind the scene.

Recent months has seen a steep rise in global food prices. The trend is not a result of simple equation of supply against demand. Rice production may not have reached a level sufficient enough to feed the hunger-striven humanity, but production of the current year is sufficient enough to prevent a crisis. Nevertheless, we have a crisis in hand, not only in Bangladesh but also in other countries where rice is the staple. The current trend of using food grains as bio fuel has not significantly effected the price of rice in the global market, which has been the main reason for crops like wheat and maize. The underlying reason remains that major exporters like Vietnam and India have imposed export bans on rice to maintain local demands.

Economic theories are not the concern of the common people. At the end of the day more than half the nation just wants to see their hard earned money make both ends meet. It is not possible for us to analyse market situations and foresee future prices. The role market analysts and politicians have played in helping people understanding the 'crisis' in hand has been insufficient and often misleading.

The same is true for the recent price hike of CNG fuel. Starting from the late nineties, the government has advocated for the use of CNG as a replacement of fossil fuel. The price difference made it a viable and popular option. The recent price hike almost by a hundred percent has affected fares of three-wheelers to such an extent that it has gone beyond the reach of a large segment of Dhakaites.

Opting for buses as a mode of communication has its own share of predicaments. CNG driven buses had increased their fare for a couple of days, but fortunately, with the government intervening, at least that section is back to normal. True, the price of rice will have a deep impact on all strata of society. But it must not be used as a tool to manipulate market prices of all commodities and services that are being offered. In a society that is sensitive to prices, the government must plan ahead to keep a leash on market speculation and exploitation. Analysts should be alert in forecasting future trends, keeping in mind that ours is a sensitive market, where every little thing affects the other.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif

Pineapple Mint Lemonade
1 (6 oz) can frozen lemonade
1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup packed mint leaves
Prepare lemonade according to the directions on the can. Stir in pineapple juice. Crush mint leaves with your hands and add to the lemonade. Chill.

Iced Mocha
4 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee
3/4 cup chocolate syrup
2 1/2 cups milk
frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
Cool coffee to room temperature. Stir in syrup and milk, mixing well with a spoon or whisk. Chill. Serve with ice with a dollop of whipped topping.

Picnic Lemonade Punch
2 bottles unsweetened lemonade drink
1 (46 oz) can pineapple juice
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 (28 oz) bottle ginger ale
Combine drink mix, pineapple juice, water, sugar and ginger ale in a large container and mix well. Chill, covered, until serving time.

Ice Berry Spice Tea
3 tea bags
3 cups boiling water
1/3 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
15 whole cloves
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
3 lemon slices, to garnish
Pour boiling water over tea bags. Steep for 5 minutes and strain; discard bags. Add sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Cover and let stand until cool.
Strain again and add juice. Serve with ice.

Honey Apple Tea
4 black tea bags
3 cups boiling water
1/3 cup honey
3 cups unsweetened apple juice
lemon slices, to garnish
Place tea bags in a heatproof pitcher or teapot. Pour boiling water over bags and steep, about 15 minutes. Pour into 2-quart serving pitcher.
Discard bags, add honey and apple juice and stir well. Serve with ice.

For the love of food
By Kaniska Chakraborty

The bounties of the sea

THE river, which borders Calcutta is commonly called Ganges. The famous Howrah Bridge is across this river. The name of the river is actually Hooghly and it is a tributary of the Ganges, which flows through Farakka and enters Bangladesh to become Padma.

As a result of the influence of this river, Calcutta is rich in fresh water fish of many kinds. A visit to the fish market in Calcutta is a veritable lesson in the subject of fish. From large to small, flat to round, thick to thin, live to dead, fish of all ilk and look are found, glistening scales and all. If you can get past the smell that hangs thick, you are in for a visual treat.

But if you want to have fresh seafood, you have very limited options. The fact is, fresh seafood is best found next to the sea. My recent trip to Mumbai is a prime example of this. A mega polis, next to the Arabian Sea. Funnily enough, that city has no beach feel to it. It is a very big city and the sea is completely incidental.

Nonetheless, being the commercial capital of India, it is frequently visited by the likes of me. And what is a visit to Mumbai if you do not plan your meals? You are spoilt for choices when it comes to food. From very good Italian to fusion Indo-European to great coastal cuisine, Mumbai has it all. And has it in plenty.

It was very hot in Mumbai. Two of my colleagues and I had just come out of a long meeting after traveling across town. We were famished. Across the street we could see several restaurants with glass windows and cloth awning. The frosty windows looked very enticing and cool from outside. We crossed the street and were in the process of deciding which one to go to. It is then that I noticed the familiar word on one of the awnings Trishna.

This needs a bit of a background. Trishna is a long-standing good eatery serving quality seafood. In many of my trips, I have spent many a happy hour in their original outlet, which is in the middle of the city. I certainly did not expect to see a branch in the suburbs. Nonetheless, we were ecstatic. So much so, that one of my colleagues, who has recently turned vegetarian, decided to forgo his resolve for a day!

We trooped in and were seated in a comfortable place. Cold water was served. And the menu was offered. This is not needed with Trishna as I probably know the menu like the back of my hand. More importantly, I know what works for me.

So I went ahead and ordered my favourites. Squids and fish. I used to order butter garlic squids. But keeping in mind the health issues looming large these days, I stuck to Chilli Garlic Squids. Fish was the tried and tested Pomfret Gussy. What was encouraging was the presence of Neer Dosa, the steamed rice pancakes.

It all arrived in one blazing marine glory. The mysterious red smoking rings of squid and the mellow yellow of gussy hiding the pristine white pomfret. All to be wiped off with the soft, supple neer dosas. For the next ten minutes, not much could be heard from our table besides “gulp” and “chomp”. The first word that one of my colleagues uttered was a very profound “wow”. That summed it up very nicely.

Fed, soporific, we traveled back to our guesthouse to finish some unfinished business. In reality, we came back and dozed off to a very comfortable slumber, aided by some great seafood.



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