Smart Hawker: Story of Three Bangladeshi People Taking the Unusual Path to Success
In Bangladesh, most of us have negative views towards street vendors, who are commonly known as hawkers. When we think of them, the image that comes to our mind is of a person dressed in old and dirty cloths, inexpensive sandal on his foot carries products in a big bamboo basket or three-wheel van and sale the items roaming across the city. To catch the attention of the buyers, he shouts out loud mentioning the products’ name he has. Lives of urban dwellers would become more difficult if street vendors did not vital role by fulfilling their demands. However, in this post, I will take about three smart hawker (s) who will force you to change your traditional notion regarding peddler.
Taijul Islam Lekhon:
The young man is dressed in jeans and white Panjabi. He wears expensive shoes on his foot, headphones in his ears, and carries expensive DSLR camera in his hand. All these things give him prestigious look. That is why, at first sight, it becomes difficult to believe that this handsome guy is a street vendor. He sells ladies’ and gents’ products by a three-wheel vehicle named ‘Dream Van’ on Dhanmondi 7/A road. His name is Taijul Islam (29). Family and friends address him as Lekhon. He was born in Faridpur, but now lives in Mohammadpur.
Coming from an affluent and educated family, he did not feel shy to choose this profession for living. He has enough property to lead a comfortable life. With his hard earned money in Korea, he has bought two plots. One of them is at Bashundhara river view, a posh area. He also has a crore-taka worth flat in the eighth floor of Ocean Girl in Cox’s Bazar. Despite having secured life, he has chosen this work to break the shyness of young unemployed people. He said, when we go abroad, we can do all kinds of odd jobs. But, why cannot we do this staying in our own country? He has proved that no work is inferior to him. According to him, there should be no discrimination in the work. Nowadays unemployment is increasing for dividing work into various classes and sectors.
While studying diploma in one of the colleges in Dhaka, Lekhon moved to South Korea in 2011. After five years, he returned to his country. Afterwards, he inaugurated a vehicle, Dream Van, for peddling in 2011. He spent 15,000 taka to buy this van. He has products worth Tk. 15,000. He sales college bag and money bag, belt, sunglass, sandal, t-shirt, cap and beautiful cactus. Lekhon said the money he earns every day is enough to cover his expenses. He also said he will be happy if all jobless young boys choose different kinds of jobs following his example.
She has been inspired by Taijul Islam Lekhon. She read an article about him. There, Lekhon hinted about selling nuts. She took this word seriously and started selling nuts. Because of her gorgeous attire, many people do not want to believe that she is a nut seller. Some people even think that she is selling nuts to raise funds for any person or any organization. Then she has to tell them, ‘I have come here to help myself and I want to do something.’ She is often seen selling nuts in the afternoon in Dhanmondi Rabindra Sarobar and surrounding areas. Dressed in jeans and shirt, wearing headphones in her ears, and carrying bag on her back, she ferries nuts in a medium sized bamboo basket hanging on her neck. She sells nuts in a small packet.
After the end of college hour, she goes out with nuts. Tahmina studies in Lalmatia Girls’ College. She is the third-year student of management department. Everyone calls her in the name ‘Kotha’. She got the opportunity to go to Malaysia for higher education after passing higher secondary examination. But Kotha did not want to leave the country. Even she would do a job in a travel agency while she was a student. But she did not like the obligations of the job. She felt herself like a robot for going to the office following the time table. Tahmina does not think that there is a difference between the jobs of nut selling and travel agency. Both works are great to her.
Her family members and college friends also take her profession positively. Tahmina said, ‘Many people talk many things about my work, but ninety-five percent is positive. It increases my courage. But some say that I have come here to destroy the earnings of other nut sellers or doing this job to get the attention of others. It is not right.’ Her intention behind selling nuts is very noble. She says that selling nuts is not her profession, but if you have will, you can do all the works even doing study.
According to her, Government is spending lots of money for education. Those who are selling nuts today, they can do it in a more aesthetic way if they become educated. It is possible if they study, ideas are created in a better way. The difference between her and other nut sellers is aesthetics. Therefore, she is selling nuts by herself to break the notion.
She buys nuts from Saturia, per kilogram costs Tk 80-90. She fries and selects nuts carefully by herself at home. Afterwards, she delivers nuts in the hands of the customers in a beautiful black-colored paper bag. She earns around Tk 250 within few hours. She does not give importance to the income. To her, it is important to do something in life.
His appearance will confuse you. He wears shiny shirt neatly tucked in black trouser, tie on his neck, shoe on his foot, glasses on his eyes and earphones in his ears. You may mistakenly think that he is an officer of any corporate office. But the surprising thing is that he is a vendor. He sells spiced puffed rice (??? ????) in front of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) at Shahbag in Dhaka. He is a familiar face to those who regularly use this path. He has been selling Jhal Muri for five years. He is familiar not for the taste of his Jhal Muri but for his tidy cloths. He says that he likes to present himself in an orderly. According to him, whatever the work is, everybody should present himself or herself beautifully.
He used to work as a caretaker. He left the job and opened his own shop of spiced puffed rice. He feels proud for his own business organization. He does not consider any work as inferior. He is now earning honest means of life and happy with his family members. Though he sells Jhal Muri in footpath, he carries a trash can and places it beside him. After eating Jhal Muri, people keep the paper inside the basket. He also carries soap, water for washing hand and tissue. He calls him ‘Digital- Jhal Muri’ seller and he feels proud for his work. The 45-year-old Zulhash earns Tk 500-600 every day.
His home district is Shariatpur, but he lives in a small rented house just behind the Bashundhara shopping mall. Zulhash is happily married with two children. His son reads in class seven, and daughter in third grade.
Unemployment is a big problem in our country. With the advancement of time, the rate of unemployed educated people is increasing. Not everyone can manage to get government job. Even getting a job in private sector, especially in corporate offices or bank jobs, has become very competitive. Because many people do not get jobs of their choices, they stay idle. In that case, they can follow the example set by Lekhon, Tahmina and Zulhash and can concentrate on any work leaving all frustrations. We can earn respect, fame and wealth by doing any work if we do it with all our dedication and sincere.
Last words about smart hawker-
The aim of writing this post is to show the youth that no work is inferior. We should respect all works equally and do not make any discrimination. We often forget that people who do menial labors are the biggest contributors in our national economy. More than 80 percent of our foreign currency comes from garments export. Thousands of Bangladeshi people are doing blue collar jobs in Middle Eastern countries and sending money to the country. If we want to develop then we must not be afraid of taking risks, we must not be afraid of hardships, we should be ready to get down to the mud and get dirty.