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         Volume 11 |Issue 21| May 25, 2012 |


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Anika Hossain

This article is dedicated to people who think Dhaka city lacks entertainment. When you run out of things to do, it's best to use your imagination and come up with activities to amuse yourself. I have spent the past two days roaming the streets in pursuit of diversion and discovered that I didn't have to look too far. The streets themselves provide ample sources of entertainment—No, I'm not talking about people-watching. My discovery involves reading. Once I started reading what was around me, I found my own personal entertainment centre, right in the middle of the streets.

From the little I know about advertisement, I always thought the best way to promote one's store/product is to use clever, witty names and phrases that serve to attract attention. Most of our entrepreneurs, it seems have taken the attracting attention part a bit too seriously forgetting all the rest.

Let's start with the food stores because that's our primary source of entertainment. If Mc Donald's was ever to open a branch in this city they would be up against some tough competition. The fast food chain that has taken on this challenge has not only attempted to revamp its menu, it has also, it seems, attempted to confuse the customers and pass their chain off as the original by calling themselves “MAC DONALS.” Rumour has it, that the strategy has been successful among many.

Some of the Chinese restaurants have done even better. Determined to promote themselves as authentic, they have chosen names like “Jing Ling,” “Xenial,” names that are vaguely East Asian sounding but are nowhere to be found in the Chinese dictionary. When asked what the name of their restaurant means, an employee of one of the establishments after some uncertainty, stated that he had absolutely no idea.

Another fast food store, determined to be different from the many that have the phrase “Friend Chicken” attached to their name, has proudly christened itself, “Fried King,” which probably means king of fried food, but aside from bringing many disturbing cannibalistic images to mind (mine is an active imagination), it also makes one wonder what would happen to the poor shop owner if we still had a monarchy system in this country.

Then there is the “Seven Lounge Twelve,” which could mean their business hours are seven to twelve but somehow I doubt it. One store that I have often passed by and never stopped to think about is “Burger and Boost,” while the food is great, their fried, greasy offerings gave me the opposite of an energy boost. Perhaps “Burger and Sleep,” might be a better choice.

Photos: Star File

Then there are those names that are simple enough to decipher, but just don't sound right—“Star Hotel and Kebab?” “Decent Pastry?” I mean, why not just call it “Edible Pastry,” or “Okay Food,” if they're not interested in doing business!

Ofcourse there are those names (and these fall into the majority), that make no sense at all no matter how hard we try to decode them. Some entrepreneurs, (perhaps trying to be cool and with it), try a mix of Bangla and English to add uniqueness to their names. The result is quite comical. I have recently come across a sweetshop called “Agun Sweets,” (translated as ‘Fire Sweets’)and no, they don't serve special hot and spicy mishti in case anyone was wondering.

Once I moved on from food stores, I was delighted to find the tradition of absurd naming is quite common everywhere in the city. A popular optical store called “Blue Eyes,” caught my eye. I asked one of the employees if they specialise in blue contacts or if they only cater to foreigners with blue eyes. He was highly confused and explained, “Black eyes doesn't sound that good, blue eyes look better than black eyes..don't they?” Somehow I don't think this explanation will go over well with their dark eyed Bangladeshi customers, but that's a risk they're prepared to take.

Another optical store calls itself “Today Vision.” When I saw this I immediately thought “Tomorrow Blindness”— perhaps they should refrain from mentioning days and dates as one may very well mistake this for the expiry date of their products. The owner of “Vision Forever,” has a much better grasp of this concept.

Men's clothing stores are a whole different story. While some names have absolutely nothing to do with the store's products, such as “Gentle Park,” and “Silver Rain,” selling suits, t shirts and a host of other clothing items for men, others are downright emasculating. If I were a man, I would certainly think twice before going into stores named “The New Cinderella Men's Wear,” and “Moony Garments.”

Others proudly name their stores, “Rich Man,” “Nice Man,” and “VIP Shoppers,” apparently saving themselves the trouble of refusing service to those who do not meet their obviously targeted clientele. Although the shopkeeper at “Rich Man,” did look utterly baffled when I asked him how rich one would have to be to shop at the store.

One store that has been around forever but its name never questioned is “Big Boss.” Why does no one wonder why with a name that promises a Wall Street style wardrobe, this store sells shorts and shirts which are mostly rejects from the local garments factories? Talk about disappointing!

Then there are the nonsensical names such as “Genetic Plaza,” which has nothing to do with genes and “One-Ness Fashion,” which probably got its name because the owner is either not familiar with the word unique or has something pretty bad against it.

The beauty parlours and salons have their share of absurdities as well, namely, “Care Lady,” “Menz Grooms Salon,” and “Stylee,” among others. Recenly established English Medium Schools have also made remarkable contributions to this naming tradition. “Glossy Kids School,” “Fanny International,” not to mention “Stamford” and “Harvard International”-- just imagine how proud their students will be if they ever apply to universities abroad.

Among other wacky names I came across were “Hardy Care,” a medical, garments and electronics enterprise, “Alien Properties (Life, Living & Legend),” “Carry Home,” which sells beds, “Impress Real Estate,” and “Wastage,” a furniture warehouse. When I came across “Darling Point,” I was intrigued, thinking it must be a dating joint, but it turned out to be a large supermarket.

That about sums up my two day excavation into the entertainment scene of Dhaka city and I must say I was not disappointed. So whenever you feel like there isn't anything to do, just take a walk down any street of your choice and you are almost guaranteed a few good laughs. Its free entertainment and worth a shot!


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