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Bangladesh Economic & Infrastructure Development - Updates & Discussions

Bilal9

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Shahjalal airport 3rd Terminal Construction Update (will look like S'pore Changi newer terminals when done)

 

Bilal9

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Still not up to Indian standards but getting there. Our well-off people don't ride trains.

Subarna Express (DAC-CTG)

Mohanganj Express (DAC-Mymensingh-Netrokona)
 

Bilal9

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Rail history in Bangladesh is ancient. During the British Raj period, the British Govt. established railways in different parts of Bangladesh and India to collect various resources from different regions of these regions. These railroads were then the only rapid way to go from one end of the country to the other. In fact, the entire Indian subcontinent was connected by railways. At that time a railway factory was set up at Saidpur in the present Nilphamari district, which is still operational. The city of Saidpur was the center of this railway factory, whose economic importance has been increasing over time.

 

Bilal9

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Couple of stories on the Restaurant and food service sector in Dhaka
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Arsalan Ahmed | Connecting Cultures: One Flavour at a Time
by ICE TODAY

One of the three Peyala locations (interior)




Wandering around the world in a quest for getting his palate tantalised, Arsalan Ahmed’s love for food seems eternal. A foodie since childhood, Arsalan is now working towards his passion for food for over four years. Currently working with local chain restaurant Peyala, he shares his plans for a post-pandemic era. Here’s what he shared with ICE Today and much more!

What intrigued you to become a foodie? Any memorable childhood or travel memories?
I’ve always enjoyed the food and yes, its cliche. Since I was a kid (a rather overweight one), from binging on Biriyani and Burgers to exploring many new flavours around the globe, food has always been and still is, the one thing myself and my family delve into. I think the most memorable childhood food memory is to be able to share the moment of enjoying good food with family and friends.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a globe trotter? Do you think that aspect of being a traveller is threatened right now due to the pandemic?
I wouldn’t call myself a globe trotter, but I most definitely miss travelling. The most rewarding aspect of travelling is to see how cuisine comes without borders and how it connects people from different backgrounds with different stories.

The majority of the world came to a halt a few months ago. As everything’s slowly reopening, I’m sure many people, including myself, are looking forward to border restrictions getting lifted. Since our customers can’t travel to explore different cuisines and flavours, we will continue to bring that to them at Peyala cafe. We’ve been able to deep dive into several cuisines and remake iconic dishes by learning from the locals.



What attracts you most while visiting a new city? The people, the culture, or the shopping scene?




Most definitely, the food and the culture.
Please give us a lowdown about the current projects you are working on. How do you plan to proceed in the post-COVID era considering all the existing challenges?


I’m currently working with a local restaurant chain called Peyala Cafe. Currently, we have three stores and have plans to expand our reach in the future.

Our concept is based on the travelling and global food scene. From the spicy shores of Chittagong’s Beef Bhuna to the Hawker Centers in Singapore serving up Satays, it could all be packed in a day’s travel. We take popular items from different cuisines and put them in a Wrap or a Salad Bowl with the add-ons and dressings of the customer’s choice, so there are that collaboration and a bit of ‘DIY’ that adds to the whole experience.

We just re-launched dine-in, but it’s not the same as it was before. We’ve taken strict precautionary measures and were among the first restaurants to close down, to keep our staff and customers safe. We plan on continuing to push the boundary and try to recreate the experience more safely. The DIY experience has entirely been digitized, thanks to the Peyala App that has been running for a year.




We have also set a limit on the number of guests per table; we’re even providing pick-ups and drop-offs for our colleagues to commute safely.

Other policies and procedures have been placed to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues at every outlet, and of course, be able to satisfy every single diner.

As far as our management team goes, everything’s been digitized as well. We just launched a whole new Burger line not too long ago. Usually, we’d be visiting our Test Kitchen to conduct R&D sessions and experiment with different recipes, ingredients and taste test.

However, this time around, due to the current circumstances, we had to dial in on Zoom to work on our biggest launch of the year. And yes, we’ve faced challenges and will continue to do so, but it’s just a matter of keeping our head up to ensure we keep delivering a high-quality product to our customers.


In the post-COVID world, do you think foodies will enjoy their food in a restaurant with the same ease they used to do it earlier? How can restaurants work to offer them the same feelings?


I don’t believe we can ultimately go back to normal, at least not until there’s a vaccine. For now, we have to be careful and responsible as our actions and whereabouts may affect our loved ones around us.

And it’s the restaurants’ responsibility to ensure there is safe distancing, constant disinfecting and sanitization of surfaces and utensils, masks being worn by staff and also guests as they enter until they’re at least seated. All of us must have more patience as we go through this uncertain time.

What’s your vision with the ventures you look after in Bangladesh?


Arsalan Ahmed with Gaggan Anand at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. The latter earned Michelin stars and was awarded Best Restaurant in Asia a handful of times.

The vision is to see Peyala cafe as an extension to every Dhaka citizen’s life.

We know a lot is going on in everyone’s lives, so we want to create that environment where they can come in for a cup of Cha, maybe some food, listen to some tunes and escape from the madness. We intend to have every single customer that walks into an outlet have the full Peyala experience.

One of our core values is to provide the best product possible. By product, we don’t only mean the food and beverages, but also the warmth of our service and the ambience.

Any plan for global expansion of business? It depends, you know?
We’ve got three stores and a couple more coming up. But we have had Non-Resident Bangladeshis appreciate our food and more so the ambience, especially when they still can’t believe it’s a homegrown brand! Only time will tell, but a great response from our customers will give us the courage to consider taking Peyala international.

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Peyala Café — A cup of delight





Ashif Ahmed Rudro

Have you ever felt a sudden craving for a good cup of coffee, or a soothing cup of tea out of nowhere?

You are not alone. We have all been there, but sadly, more often than not, our need for a delightful hot beverage is not met either because we cannot find the proper place to sit down, or because we could not pick a suitable snack that goes with it.
The wonderful news is that Peyala café is prepared to greet you and meet your need for a light meal, even a heavier one as well should you feel the strong bite of hunger.

Peyala Café has three outlets at the moment throughout Dhaka city, with a flagship café at Gulshan Avenue, overseeing Banani Lake and opposite to Gulshan Club. The first thing you will notice is its modern design, with the glass walls allowing plenty of natural light to enter the establishment creating a soothing sense of freedom that is rather uncommon in most restaurants.

There is a sitting area up the stairs, which will surely remind you of a crow’s nest — Ship’s lookout point — and you can enjoy your snacks up there in privacy. And the subtle decorations of the ongoing festival hold a promise to cheer you up.

You will notice the latest pop music playing in the background in a light tone, complemented with a strong coffee or any one of their breakfast items will boost you for your day.

For those of you who like brunch, you can find even the breakfast items at any time of the day.

What’s more interesting about this café is that instead of having a hard and rigid menu, they have the basics on their menu such as wraps, salads, and rice bowls. But, every time you go there, you are likely to find a different taste as they rotate their ‘flavour of the day’ regularly. Currently, they are hosting multiple cuisines from different regions which include, but are not limited to, Indian, Mexican, Italian, English, Thai and so on. And every day, there is a different flavour for the day.

“We want people to be pleasantly surprised,” pointed out Arsalan Ahmed, senior brand executive of Peyala.

Of course, a café would not be complete without desserts and they are very confident about their gulab jamun cheesecake and six-layered Nutella cake.

But that is just the icing on the cake (or cup?). The real exciting addition is their newest launch of the ‘high tea.’ This is a very British approach, with the creative idea of serving everything in a large cup which will have three different layers, each layer embedded with either desserts or snacks. And do not forget about the tea as they have a number of options available for you to pick from.



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Opulent Oasis- Smith’s Caffe Regalo

A little European style upscale boutique cafe suddenly seemed to bloom at Progress Tower, Gulshan-1. The space that previously held a flower-gift shop went through a minimal facelift to now house the welcoming Smith’s Caffe Regalo.


Smith’s gives off a strong contemporary vibe with the bright colour palette interspaced with black and matte gold. Yet, the cafe was designed with enough care that it retains a significant aura of elegance.

The establishment is a small nook, about 1000 sq ft altogether. Use of ample lighting and splashes of white everywhere gives the illusion that it’s larger. The white shelves running across the cafe showcases handcrafted ceramics, artwork, handmade espresso machines etc. which help to give the interior some extra personality.
The focus of the interior is perhaps the sprawling retro wooden counter, but let’s not overlook the vintage iron table bases either.

But this specific nook is really eye-catching because of its exterior which is the smoking zone. Clever sitting arrangement and potted plants aside, the classic lighting that look like old gas lamps really gives this cafe that vintage European look. The custom made zig-zag awning is an absolute show-stopper.

A surprising fact is that this cafe came into being only a month after conceptualization, which is no small feat.
 
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Bilal9

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More places to have a bite in Dhaka, I find it nice to cover this, won't be able to do it in real life now for sure...
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Retreat amidst the Hustle – The Courtyard at Park Heights

The Courtyard at Park Heights restaurant located in the heart of Dhanmondi brings a rare retreat amidst the daily hustle and bustle. It has two significant functions: an art gallery and a multi-concept restaurant. The lounge-inspired space also serves as an ideal venue to display paintings and sculptures during exhibitions. With a rock pool beside the gallery, the eatery combines an environment that is alluring and intimate.



The Courtyard at Park Heights is the second restaurant project of Bay Developments Ltd.

The venture began its journey back in 1990 by architect Iftekhar A. Khan. With a team of hundreds of members, today Bay has footprints in real estate business, building maintenance and logistics, F & B projects, and as well fine art ventures.

The Courtyard at Park Heights was launched in October 2019 and its interior design is done by InterStudio, Bay’s in-house design team. Since its launch, it has become a go-to destination for the Dhanmondi locals that bring together the passion for food and art with an exciting ambience.

Covering 5,200 square feet, the restaurant includes spacious seating, kitchen, drink station and an exclusive courtyard. As soon the guests enter the restaurant, they indulge in the panoramic experience. Its open-plan has large and spacious seating arrangements, surrounded by gardens, an open courtyard, murals, gallery walls and all the essential amenities.

In the day time, diffused natural light is borrowed from the glass-covered patio.
The designers also took advantage of the view to the south- palm trees swaying against the southern sky above the park next door.
“We aimed to create a pleasant destination that combined a chic eatery with a patio that doubled as a sculpture gallery. We set the tone with a surprise water feature, to help guests transit from the busy street into this retreat”, says Saffat Sanin, lead architect of InterStudio.

“We went for an urban-chic theme, by offsetting the hard-grey of the fair face concrete structure with the soft salmon of recycled handmade bricks.

Then we tied the whole thing together with a dark grey acid finish. Finally, some handpicked plants and shrubbery was added to set the mood for sunshine or rain, and cool winter evenings,” the architect continues.
Sitting in a garden with a view of the sky; with works of art hanging amidst greenery and flowers, guests can relish on the varied delightful cuisines of the Courtyard.
One can start with the Bengali street food, served up with a twist or some fusion Dim Sum. Others may enjoy the exotic Asian noodle bowls with an authentic touch of Thai and Schezwan. For more homely tastes, one can try the continental classics as well as Old Dhaka’s famous ‘mutton kosha’ and ‘kala bhuna’ with ‘jeera rice’. The Courtyard is the perfect choice expressing the coalescence of space and purpose, transporting the guests into a surprise retreat.
The main dining area is given a minimalist gallery look and feel. The designers concentrated on getting the cooling and lighting just right for the diners and channelled their budget towards the rich teakwood and high-quality solid surface for the endless bar area for hygiene and durability. Some coloured upholstered pieces are positioned in two areas to soften up the lines and give that welcoming all-day coffee shop look. Great care was taken to plan the flow of incoming fresh supplies, proper storage and hygienic services. The back of the house and the dining areas have been separated with an L-shaped service bar and digital art which gives a backdrop of subtle colours and patterns to the service activity.


The design team further shared that the lighting design had been a challenge when the interiors needed to compete with the natural light of the patio. Essentially, a clever and variable ambient lighting system was adopted that modulates from the bright daytime settings to the night, as well highlights variable surfaces, while focusing on each of the artworks in the studio.

Another major challenge for the design team was to use materials that would be one of a kind and which had to be built on-site with the desired physical qualities. In order to do so, the team had to go through rigorous sampling until they found the perfect match. Although the process was time-consuming, it was worth it in the end.

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Inside look at Ajo Idea Space

In conversation with Khalid Mahmud


Foysal Mahmud Niloy



Khalid Mahmud. Photo: STAR

Khalid Mahmud, Owner of Ajo Idea Spcae, speaks to The Daily Star about the story behind the origins of Ajo, Which has especially picked up distinction for its unique establishment. He talks about his journey from being an artist to creating a tranquil idea space in Dhaka and how he has managed to overcome tough competition in recent years through his eccentric architecture style and distinctive ways of management.

1. Ajo has established itself as a thought leader in revolutionizing how a restaurant should operate in Dhaka, focusing not only on food, but also providing a different ambience for its consumers. How did the inspiration strike you?

I had a couple inspiration. I wanted to contribute in reality, not only on the surface level. I wanted to connect with people in reality with a simple thing outside my artistic work. I traveled in a lot of countries because of my art and I saw how people in some countries valued every single job as essential. So, when a lot of people told me not to go into this business, out of fear or laughter, I did not get frazzled by their words. I found the idea of opening up a place where people can come, relax and even brainstorm ideas in an ideal place very comforting and simple.

My family business was food as well. My family has been in the business of food for nearly 60 years. Growing up, I saw my father work in his small local bakery for a long time and saw him being happy where he was. I wanted to urbanize his idea of delivering quality food and keep the legacy of our food business alive through Ajo.






2. What challenges did you face initially?

My background was not something related to food or the restaurant business. But, when I was constructing Ajo, I realized that it did not fall into a restaurant category, we were more in relax dining and fine casual category. I wanted to focus on the space more, because this was the bigger part of our story, food is just a small part. We wanted to create a place for you to create memories, because food is something that you don't remember quite often.

We wanted focus on creating a space where you will come with your friends and family and create wonderful memories. Next, we wanted to focus on our pricing. Anyone can procure coffee and sell them, the main thing is to give the best quality of coffee in a price where most people could afford it and we can sustain our business as well. Designing a process of delivering quality food at an affordable price is more important than designing interior.

We wanted to keep our interior simple, keep the price of food right and provide quality food. And if you look at our interior, furniture's and everything, it is all refurbished items that we have collected to make it more environmentally friendly. Metals that were thrown away, wood boards from old ships and other things have been refurbished and made into materials that we can use in our restaurant and make it environmentally sustainable, organic and simple.




3. Ajo has managed to stay as one of the hangout spots in Dhaka for many years now. How did you manage to keep it relevant for so long in an age where consumers rapidly move on to newer things?

I don't like to think that I have competitors. Competitor word belongs to a kind of a war mentality. I just want my space to exist and work in a sustainable way. Newer restaurants are more and more getting dependent in their interior, flashiness and other stuff that are constantly increasing their operational cost. As a result, they are increasing the price of their food as well, which in turn is discouraging the customers to come.

I try to cut back on those operational costs through new innovations and try to keep my prices constant so that customers don't hesitate to come to my restaurant by looking at the prices. I don't use AC in Ajo because the architectural design of Ajo is done in a way that there is constant air flow within the restaurant and it is saving me thousands of Taka every month. Simple design, interior, tranquility and quality food will drive the customers in no matter what.

I also try to treat my employees as colleagues rather than employees and make them feel a part of my establishments. They are always paid on time, their medical expenses is taken care of if they get into an accident and I even rented them an apartment to stay together.

4. What are the steps you have taken for your restaurants to adopt to the new normal?



Our business policies of cutting cost and not over extending our operational costs have helped us in keeping our business afloat during the pandemic. We have trained the people who worked in Ajo through the help of health expert as to how to maintain the health safety measures during the pandemic.

We also constantly share videos from YouTube about this matter within our working group. We also have hand sanitizers in all the tables for the safety of our customers and the whole establishment is constantly being clean as well. We use Evaporator Machines as well where we use a certain chemical that travels through the air to kill germs in the vicinity.

5. We have seen a lot of people trying their hands in different cuisine during the lockdown. Any advice for the aspiring Chefs/home cooks of Dhaka?

My advice for them is to completely go for it. Jump at any opportunity they can get their hands on. Because we don't have enough Job for the people who are graduating every year. Hence, they need to use these opportunities to make their own establishments or earning source.

Online is a place where it is very easy to market products. So, Young Entrepreneurs should make use of these opportunities for the betterment of themselves. Lastly, I would say for them to love this city. If you love your city, treat it kindly, it will love you back.




6. We know you are not someone to stay quiet for long. Any exciting news for coming anytime soon?




Next for us is to make a new Ajo, with a new architect and a new language. But we are yet to decide on a place where we could construct it. We have a foundation as well, which is called "Satori", which is a meditation practice & research establishment. So we are now doing meditation as well, apart from food and gastronomy. So, if you're looking for peace in your mind and soul, you can seek Satori out.
 
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Bilal9

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Bangladesh's largest solar power plant was inaugurated in Mymensingh recently. The government is putting more emphasis on power generation by using renewable energy to maintain the balance of the environment. To meet the demand for electricity, 95 per cent work of the country's largest solar power project at Mymensingh's Gauripur has been completed, now awaiting inauguration.

26,000 mounting piles have been installed in a solar power plant on 164 acres of land in Bhangnamari village on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. 183,000 solar panels have been installed. These panels will generate 50 MW of electricity per day through 332 inverters. The generated power will be connected to the national grid within the next three months through Kewatkhali power substation.
 

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Bus Route Rationalization | Uplift Bangladesh

Company based bus service will be launched in Dhaka in March The bus owners' chaos is coming to an end

The Dhaka City Corporations are finally launching company-based bus service in Dhaka. In all, 22 companies will operate buses on 42 routes. The first route is Ghatarchar-Motijheel-Kanchpur.

An initial list of 206 buses have been drawn up for the routes, which are now being operated by three companies. The joint venture formed with these companies will be in charge of management.

According to the plan, the company will run six-color buses in Dhaka. The colors are pink, blue, maroon, orange, green, purple. The buses on Ghatarchar-Motijheel-Kanchpur route will be green. The two city corporations of Dhaka are planning to launch the route on the first day of Boishakh or any day in April.

Video shows a planned inter-district bus services terminal outside Dhaka connecting long distance and local buses and waterways.


City corporation meeting detailing decisions in Bengali.

 
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Bilal9

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Recent Dhaka updates, sorry Bengali only.

Dhaka Metro Rail Depot and Station Infra proceeding apace. Coach maintenance and storage facilities visible at 2:00.


Airport road infra (near Kurmitola) being fixed up.
 

Bilal9

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Automated Hollow Brick, Hollow Block, Erosion control block, Pavers, embossed block and Curbstone manufacturing in Bangladesh

 

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