Dhakaiya Profession

Chicken Butcher-A Case Study

Posted in Chicken Butcher by rrasheeka on March 20, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Muhammad Liton kept chopping the chicken into pieces without even looking at it. He was talking to me, so he was looking at me. He has been doing this work for the last ten years and his face lit up when I praised his expertise. Like most of my interviewees, when asked how he came about to be a butcher, the answer was that his father had been a butcher, his grandfather had been one as well, so he was supposed to be one.

His shop is situated in Aloobazar in Kazi Alauddin Road in Old Dhaka. It is a market place and the entire row where he sat was filled with shops of other butchers. As a result, he faced a lot of competition everyday. To survive among such close competition, Liton tried to provide the best service by being expert in what he did. (more…)


Chicken Butcher

Posted in Chicken Butcher by rrasheeka on March 17, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Butcher carries a multiple number of meanings. In this post, when I say butcher I mean someone who slaughters and dresses animals and sells them. This profession is a very common one, not only in Bangladesh, but also throughout the world. Why then, am I making this post in my blog which talks mostly about professions more-or-less specific to Old Dhaka?

That is because it is one of the oldest professions of Old Dhaka and this type of butchers slaughter and dress only chickens for a living. While walking through the marketplace in Old Dhaka, one is bound to stop for a minute to watch these butchers smoothly work on the chickens. They are such experts that you will be amazed to see the perfection with which they dress the chickens and hang them for sale. (more…)

February 25th 2009-BDR Massacre

Posted in BDR Massacre by rrasheeka on March 14, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

My cell phone shook in my hand as I dialed my brother’s number. I could hear continuous shots being fired. I felt angry and frustrated. Inspite of my objection my brother went to watch it. On the third ring he picked up and tried to calm me down by telling me that the BDR were firing above. And the army wasn’t really doing anything except for keeping a watch. I need not worry.

I knew it was no good trying to make him see the danger I felt, so I hung up and looked at the clock hanging in the wall. It was around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. I looked out of the window, focusing nowhere. My mind went to the events of the day before.

During this time the previous day, I, along with a friend of mine, I had been frantically looking for a way to get back to my home. I had gone to my university and while writing an exam we got the news that the BDR were keeping all the army personnel who where inside the BDR area captive. Shots could be heard from outside and the BDR had also fired some shots randomly on the streets.

My house is very near to gate no.1 of the BDR. By the time I got near my home, the army had positioned themselves on the streets and didn’t want any civilians there as a safety measure. So I was stuck. After a while my friend found a small path and we followed it to my home. (more…)

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Band Party-A Case Study

Posted in Band Party by rrasheeka on March 13, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Mr. Monzur Hossain refused to look at our direction while he was talking about how he came to be running the ‘Dhaka Band Party’. But his attempts to hide his face were futile. We could see the tears glistening in his eyes. When we saw him, he was sitting in a chair in front of his extremely small shop watching passers-by. He was the only person in the shop.

I turned my face away as I saw the tears in his eyes. I felt so helpless. For the last one month,his band has received only one call from one of the prominent Hindu families of old Dhaka to play at their son’s birthday party. (more…)

Band Party

Posted in Band Party by rrasheeka on March 10, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Everything changes. Culture is one such factor that is constantly changing. Along with the culture, changes the demand and supply of various components. It may be difficult to believe, but the change in culture has the potential to change the stream of an entire profession.

Once upon a time, any and every event in the Dhaka city would not be complete without a band party. A band party consists of a group of people who play different kinds of musical instruments. In different occasions like birthday, marriage and even during processions these band parties were once hired. (more…)

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Biriyani Cook

Posted in Biriyani by rrasheeka on March 3, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Biryani, biriani, or beriani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat/vegetables. The name is derived from a persian word which if translated means ‘fried’ or ‘roasted’. It is a very popular dish in Bangladesh. Biriyani can found all over Dhaka but the best biriyani is found in Old Dhaka. This is because it was brought by Muslim rulers to this continent. As they settled in Old Dhaka, their cooks settled there too. Today, there are many food places in Old Dhaka which specialises in biriyani and people from all over Dhaka go there only to have biriyani.

Cooking is an art. And the biriyani-makers are brilliant artists. Each biriyani-maker has mastered this art from anothr biriyani-maker. They have a guru (teacher) who teaches them how to cook biriyani. The biriyani-makers income is quite satisfactory and they usually lead a good life. They do not work independently. They are usually hired by the owners of food places and they are highly valued in the places in which they work.

Bull Cart Puller- A Case Study

Posted in Bull Cart-puller by rrasheeka on February 27, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Turning his head sideways so that the sun did not fall directly on his eyes Mohammad Siraj told me that he used to be the assistant of a cart puller when he was a young boy. From there he had learned how to take care of bulls. But he does not let his son come near the bull cart. He does not want his son to become a bull cart puller. He wants his son to grow up and study and do a proper job where he could have a good living. He lives in Nawabpur and every morning he walks to Kamrangichor to take the two bulls and the cart that he rides. From there he goes to Shadarghat to collect the goods and deliver these goods to the instructed place.

He is not satisfied with what he earns. But there is something about this profession that really thrills him. It’s the ability to be able to control the bulls. While saying this, a smiled formed at the corner of his face. It makes him feel empowered. Hearing him say this made me think. This person who is deprived from so many things in life, who has to take orders from others day in and day out, feels good about the fact that there is some being whom he can boss around, even if it’s just two animals.

Bull Cart Puller

Posted in Bull Cart-puller by rrasheeka on February 24, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Bull carts are not seen in all parts of Dhaka very often. But in Old Dhaka, if you go around the streets you will come across many bull carts everyday. Especially if you are in any street that is linked towards Shadarghat, you will definitely see a number of bull carts pass by.

From early in the morning the work of the bull cart puller starts. These people are very hardworking. They not only look after the bulls but they are also responsible for the bulk of goods that they collect from the Shadarghat and take to the destination. They work from sunrise to sunset taking goods to and fro. Most of the pullers are people who do not own either the bulls or the cart. They cannot afford to buy these. There are people who give bulls and carts for hire. The pullers take it from the owners early in the morning and return them at night. So, everyday, they have to pay the owners a percentage of what they earn everyday. After that, a very small amount is left for these people and their families. The lives of these people have ended up becoming sad tales that people tell to each other. It’s a sad tale of how life has treated these people. The labor that they give is underpaid to the extent to which it can be called exploitation and they don’t even have a voice.

Bottle Cleaner

Posted in bottle cleaners by rrasheeka on February 20, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

I noticed a very interesting profession in Old Dhaka. The profession is that of a bottle cleaner. Interestingly, these bottle cleaners are all women. The bottles that they clean are medicine bottles. These bottles come in sacks. There are hundreds of bottles in one sack. The sacks are of three sizes. The amount a bottle cleaner earns per day depends on the size of the bottle. The cleaner who cleans the bottles of the biggest sack earns tk. 40, the cleaner who cleans the medium sized bottle earns tk. 35 and the cleaner who cleans the bottles of the smallest sack earns tk. 30.

Although the income is not quite satisfactory, most of the women are satisfied with the fact that at least they have a source of income. As only women work in the place, the family members of these women have no objection in their working in this job. Old Dhaka is a very traditional and conservative area. Compared to men, hardly any women can be seen working. So, the fact that these bottle cleaners were all women made me feel better in the sense that it reflected a form of women empowerment to me. But then again, on the other hand, many may argue that women are hired to do this work because then they can be paid less. Men would not work from 7 o’clock in the morning to 7 o’clock at night with only tk. 30-40 per day. Whatever it is, this is a source of earning for some people and their livelihood depend on this.

Kitemaking-A Case Study

Posted in Kitemaking by rrasheeka on February 17, 2009

Photography: Salman Saeed

Watching his father make kites thrilled Faruq when he was very young. One day he asked his father to let him make a kite. Looking at his father making kites everyday had given little Faruq some idea on how a kite should be made. His father gave him the materials necessary to make a kite just to keep him busy. But Faruq successfully made the kite. He felt ecstatic.

Today, Faruq makes and sells kites as a profession. He is around 60 years old. Making kite has no longer remained a mere time-pass. It has become the source of his income. At 6 o’clock every morning, Faruq sits down to sell his kites and sells them till the sun sets. All the time he is waiting for the kites to sell,he also makes kites. Even after he goes home he makes kites. (more…)