There is no place in Bangladesh where I did not go. For some time, I was in lemon business, Shylet: I brought lemons from Shrimongal. Then, for some time, I did business in Chittagong. Again, say, one or two years later, seeing my business was not running well, and that another type of business was going well, I changed. Say, I traded in lemons, do you know lemons? I brought these lemons from Shylet, Shrimongal. When again the lemon business was not good, I went to Chittagong; from there, I brought peas, barbati [long bean], tomato, okra… I brought all these things from Chittagong. There are many other vegetables I traded, I can’t even remember! But nowadays, I don’t travel around in Bangladesh anymore, I have one permanent business, I am not moving anymore; I trade in green chilies all over the year.
I have customers that owe me money, I have built up good relationship with customers, I can make it do with this. I don’t [need to] trade with different products anymore. And especially, while travelling, I had five accidents. Five! While the vehicle was running, it looped and fell in a big hole, I fell in a river. It’s thanks to the blessings of my mother that nothing happened to me. Once I was almost going to die, in that vehicle we were 13 people, including the driver and helper. We were 11 wholesalers and there were one driver and one helper. Among those 13, one died and one was so injured that he went crazy. He has become crazy for his entire life, he will never recover. It was very very hard, it is really very hard to travel all the time. One cannot sleep regularly, one cannot eat timely, one cannot bathe timely…
Where did you sleep?
For an example, once the truck started, I laid down on the supplies and fell asleep. While the truck was going, I slept on the supplies. At midday, time for bath, I couldn’t bath. Only after returning to Dhaka, I took a shower. I have done this for 17 – 18 years; here in Bangladesh, there are 65 districts, I think I visited 53 or 54 of them.
[I stopped to travel] after those five accidents [but] I don’t feel like doing business anymore… if I could earn in a legal way, without cheating… say, if I would have gotten a job where I could get 700 to 1,000 Taka everyday, then I would have long left this job at Kawran Bazar! I don’t like Kawran Bazar anymore… I feel very bad. I have to stay awake all night and do business.. this is why I feel very bad, very bad…
Isn’t business going well there?
Business… nowadays, for the last two, three years, business has been very bad… with the present situation, it becomes difficult to run a family properly… this is why I have made a vote; I sworn myself I will stop being in business. If I get a good person and if he helps me a bit… If need be, I will go abroad myself. You have seen my children; my life is towards the end, but I can’t let their lives to be over. This is why I want to move, I can’t raise them properly by selling in Kawran Bazar: education is very costly here; if I stayed abroad and sent 20,000, 30,000 Taka every month, the family will run smoothly. Can I earn 20, 30,000 Taka every month from Kawran Bazar? Business has become very difficult, this is why, if I would have met a kind person and through him got to go abroad, I would have long left Kawran Bazar. I can’t tolerate it anymore, you know… when I wake up and go to the market at 11pm o’clock, then I feel very unconfident, I don’t feel like going there at all.
Why did you say you make loss there?
This is our Bangladesh, there is loss in every business over here… the only field that doesn’t have losses is in the interests business: moneylenders don’t have any loss, isn’t it true?! See, if I got stuck somewhere and I wanted 10,000 Taka from you, and you have the money, you will not lend it… but if I say I’ll give you an interest of 1,000 Taka a month, then you will lend me the money… no other country has this system but Bangladesh! This is their advantage, you ask for 20,000 Taka but you will not get it anywhere; you agree to give an interest of 2,000 Tk every month, then you will get it… Everyone has the money but no one will lend it for free.
And what about business in India?
In India, I took chilies from Kawran Bazar – in Agortola, did you hear of Agortola? Agortola is in Tripura. I sold chilies there. You know, there would be an agent with us; he would take us to the boarder and into India and then to the market; after we sold the goods, he’d bring us up to the boarder again, cross and make sure that we get home. But I do not want to go to India, and I have a good reason for it: it is difficult to make business illegally. I buy legally, with legal money, but I have to stay like a thief; and leaving the country, we have to get out like thieves. Isn’t this a risk? If the BSF [India’s Boarder Security Forces] catch us, they will beat us… so why would I do this? I do business with my own money, why should I go like a thief… why would I go in such a bad way?