Dhakaiya Profession

Tiffin Distributer-A Case Study

Posted in tiffin distributers by rrasheeka on April 24, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Every morning Rahima Khatun wakes up, cooks breakfast and lunch, takes shower, feeds herself and her sick husband and goes out to work. She is assigned in the Nawabganj area where she goes to the houses where she is supposed to collect tiffin boxes from. After she collects them she goes to the market where she distributes the tiffin boxes.

Before she used to carry them on a basket over her head and walk to the marketplace. Nowadays, she takes a rickshaw as her right foot has become weak and she can’t carry such heavy load. She has been in this profession for the last 18 years and her current monthly income is tk. 2000 per month. When she first joined 18 years ago, she was given 200 taka per month. The money that she earns is very small and it is very difficult to manage her family with this income. She believes only if she had a child, all her problems would be solved. But she has no children. Her husband was a rickshawpuller and had an accident around 15 years ago. Since then, she became the sole income earner of their small family. She just hopes she doesn’t fall sick before the death of her husband because then there’d be no one to take care of him. Everyday she prays to God to keep her in good health so that she can look after herself and her husband.

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Tiffin Distributers

Posted in tiffin distributers by rrasheeka on April 21, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

In Old Dhaka there are a number of markets. In these markets there are many shopkeepers who sit there from the time they open the shop to the time the shop gets closed. Many of these shopkeepers don’t take their lunch with them from their homes. Have you ever wondered how they get their lunch?

They get their lunch from people who go to their homes,carry it from their to shops and give it to them. They are the tiffin distributers. These people work under a particular person with whom these shopkeepers make a contract. The shopkeepers pay to the people with whom they make the contract and the tiffin carriers are paid a fixed amount monthly by their employers. They are assigned a particular area in which they go from house to house and collect the tiffin boxes and then go to the markets and distribute the tiffin boxes.Most of the tiffin distributers are women who are middle-aged or above. This is probably because these women didn’t find any alternative source of income. We do not get to see these type of people in other parts of Dhaka. Only in Old Dhaka such a profession seems to exist. This is what is wonderful about Old Dhaka. There are such different types of professions that one comes across in that area.

Clock and Watch Repairer- A Case study

Posted in Watch repairman by rrasheeka on April 17, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Md. Atikullah looked at me with eyes that were filled with sadness. He has been a clock and watch repairer for the last 50 years. His shop was a very small cubic room just large enough to place a table and two chairs inside it. Clocks of many shapes and sizes were hanging from the walls of the shop. At the first glance the shop looked like an antique shop where old clocks were the choice of collection. But actually it was a shop were clocks and watches were repaired.

He started this work when he was around 20 years old. His uncle had taught him how to repair clocks. He loved repairing clocks and watches and he always wanted to take this up as a profession. But today, he feels sorry that he didn’t join some other profession which would give him a better income. He lives with his wife nearby his shop. Their children have grown-up, gotten married and started their own families. Day in and day out, Md. Atikullah sits in his shops waiting for people to come and ask him to repair their clocks or watches. But that rarely happens. Almost everyday, he opens his shop and sits their alone watching people go by doing their work. The nearby shopkeepers come and sit with him in his shop for a short time some of the days. This has become his everyday routine. The sad tale of this old man made me think how difficult life can become. This is no age for a man to worry about how to feed himself and his wife. But this man has to. Everyday is a struggle for him. A struggle for survival.

Clock and Watch Repairer

Posted in Watch repairman by rrasheeka on April 14, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

To be able to repair anything is to be able to master an art. Repairing,to me, is an art which requires a lot of patience and dedication. At one time, one of the major sources of income of the people living in Old Dhaka was by repairing things. Clock and Watch repairing was one such profession.

Although repairing clock and watches did not generate a large income, yet the income that was earned from it was enough to enable the repairer to feed his family properly. Life was not easy, but it wasn’t so difficult. Clocks and watches were expensive accessories then and so difficult to purchase. So the people brought their clocks and watches to be repaired if it gave them any trouble. But now, clocks and watches are available as well as affordable for most people. They hardly need to repair a watch or a clock if it doesn’t work properly. They can just buy a new one. Moreover, at one time, only Old Dhaka had watch repairers. Now there are watch repairers throughout the city. So, only the people who live in Old Dhaka get their watches repaired by the repairers of Old Dhaka. All these have resulted in the fall in demand for such people. With the very small income that they earn, their survival

Blacksmith- A Case Study

Posted in Blacksmith by rrasheeka on April 10, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Shonjib Kormokar hit the hammer hard on the black piece of metal. He was trying to bring about a shape in it. He asked us to come inside his shop which was made out of tin walls. I walked in only to realise that standing inside the shop could not be possible for me. I could not breathe. The shop was extremely hot,dark and smoke was coming out of the coals that were burning.

His father had started this business and he had helped his father as a young boy. After his father’s death, he started working full-time in the shop. His home was in Kamalbagh which was quite near his shop. He starts working at 8 o’clock in the morning and his work finishes at 10 o’clock at night. He has 3 children all of whom go to school. The environment in which he works is very unhealthy as he has to inhale a lot pf poisonous chemicals. The saddest fact is that he is aware of the harm that is being done to his body, but this is his life. This is his sole source of income and he has to continue with this work.

Blacksmith

Posted in Blacksmith by rrasheeka on April 7, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from iron or steel by forging the metal; i.e., by using tools to hammer, bend, cut, and otherwise shape it in its non-liquid form. Usually the metal is heated until it glows red or orange as part of the forging process. Blacksmiths produce things like wrought iron gates, grills, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, horse shoes and weapons.

The profession of a blacksmith is not very easy. It is difficult in the sense that the working environment is not very healthy. The smoke that is emitted in the process of making objects is extremely unhealthy.A blacksmith continuously inhales that smoke all day long. But inspite of working in a hazardous environment, his income is very small. The life of a blacksmith is a vary sad tale.

Lassi Maker- A Case Study

Posted in Lassi Maker by rrasheeka on April 3, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Lassi-making is an art and not everyone can make it. Although lassi is widely available, good lassi-makers are difficult to find. The best lassi-makers can be found in the Chak Bazar in Old Dhaka. I went to the first lassi shop in Chak bazar and talked with the lassi maker there. His name is Mr. Siraj and he has been making lassi in this shop since the shop opened.

The shop first started around 60 years ago. The owner of the shop died around 25 years ago and his only son has taken over the ownership since then. For the last 60 years Mr. Siraj has been employed in this shop and his loyalty towards this shop is such that even though he has been offered the job of lassi-maker in various places, he kept continuing to work in this shop. He is very satisfied with his work and the shop is like his second home. (more…)

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Lassi Maker

Posted in Lassi Maker by rrasheeka on March 31, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Lassi is a popular and traditional drink and it originates from North India. It is made by blending yogurt with water, sugar and ice. It is also sometimes consumed in another form by mixing spices, salt and pepper with it.

This drink was brought to Bangladesh by the Sindh of Pakistan as this was one of their favourite drinks. It remained popular even after the Independence. It has now become an integral part of the Bangladesh’i culture. It can be found in many Bengali food places all over Bangladesh but the taste of the traditional lassi can only be found in Old Dhaka. The Lassi makers of Old Dhaka have been in the profession for a long time and they are very popular for the lassi that they make.

Television and Radio Repairer- A Case Study

Posted in Television and Watch Repairer by rrasheeka on March 27, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Jogodish Mallick sat behind his desk and asked us if he could help us in any way. I could see that he was expecting us to give him some work. When I explained the reason for my visit, I could see the disappointment in his face but he quickly controlled his emotions and asked us to sit down and ask him what we wanted to know.

I took the opportunity to look around the room. The small room was filled with televisions and radio but all of them were covered with thick layers of dust which showed that these haven’t been touched for ages.There was a single desk behind which Mr. Mallick sat. He was the sole owner of the business.

Mr. Mallick told us that he has been doing this business for almost 20 years now. For the first few years his business ran quite smoothly. But once the demand for such profession fell, it kept falling. Every morning he opens his shop at 11 am and closes it at 9 pm waiting for some customer to bring a radio or television for repair. But there are some days when not a single customer comes. All day long Mr. Mallick stares at the door waiting for someone to walk in through the door and give him work.

Television and Radio Repairer

Posted in Television and Watch Repairer by rrasheeka on March 24, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

There was a time when television repairing and radio repairing were a common phenomenon in the lives of the common people. So the demand for people who repaired these items was very high. Not every household had a television or a radio. Only the rich people could afford a television and needless to say, a large number of the rich population lived in Old Dhaka. So, television and radio repairing workshops opened in that area.

This business became very successful as people often needed to fix their television or radio as buying a new one would become very expensive. But for the last decade or so, the scenario took a grim turn for the repairmen. As Bangladesh started to become technologically more advanced, television and radio companies started to open their showrooms in the city. As a result of this, customers were given guarantee of the product they purchased for a certain period of time which meant that during that period the repairing charge was free of cost and in case the problem was irreparable, they replaced the product. (more…)