Everything relevant to Dulal's work starts at the village bazar every day between 7 and 7.30. Dulal, who has worked there as a porter for many years, cannot avoid visiting the bazar even on the days in which it is vacated and hardly anyone apart from the few regular shop keepers is there. But on idle days, he will just sit at one of the two local tea stalls and listen to the chats of the other men, who don't bother him much, whereas on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the haat-days at Shadipur, going there in the morning itself is necessary to check the state of the arts. Although the buying price of each sort of vegetables and fruits got set on the day before by the traders, who consider both the current demand-offer trends and the incidence of special occurrences (a bad harvest; an upcoming festival…); and although the actual compare-bargain-purchase phase, at least in Dulal's case, doesn't start but after lunch, it is in the early morning that one gets a sense of the market. At the same time, this visit has the purpose to ensure that his two trusted money-lenders – owners of respective shops around the bazar – grant him a short-term loan. Here, the frequency at the bazar also on normal days finds a practical, in fact strategic, explanation: it strengthens the bonds that are crucial for Dulal to increase his buying power, bonds that testify to the fact that the bazar is, indeed, his “habitat”. 02_DUL_2-2_RHY_PIC_01b.jpg
6pm: while the goods have been loaded on a small pick-up and sent to Goalanda-more directly after the purchase, Dulal sets off later, after a fast snack at home and a tea at the bazar. Goalanda-more, the crossing of three roads, represents the obligatory transit point towards Dhaka for most travellers from Faridpur and Rajbari districts. The traders among them depend on a middleman of the national truck drivers' union that, against a fee, makes up the fares. Waiting for one's turn is unnerving – often, Dulal cannot leave before 11pm – and time is spent smoking far too many biri and chatting with other men, similarly anxious about their trip. The contrast between this tense phase by the roadside and the relaxed evenings at home couldn't be starker. On normal days at the village, he would come back home from one of his long wanderings in the neighbouring villages by sunset, but he might also have spent the afternoon fixing a fence, a thatch roof or a storeroom, and get a light home-made snack. In winter, during the turmeric harvest, he'd work uninterruptedly at the bazar, weighing the fruits from 10am to 5pm. Before dinner, he always joins the men from the hamlet, all farmers or small traders, around a local tea-stall by the road – the only common space provided with electricity – and watch TV or play cards until 9-10pm, time for going back, having dinner and, after chatting a bit with his family and kins in the oil-lamp lit verandah, going to sleep. 02_DUL_2-2_RHY_PIC_02b-1.jpg
If standing up at sunrise, most rural Bangladeshis, obviously also Dulal, find quite idyllic-looking sceneries in front of their houses or in their courtyards, there are two days a week in which the sun rises and finds him in the middle of a city road, struggling with bulks of vegetables pretty unmanageable for one man alone. The street market of Mirpur I, being only partially formalised, doesn't provide the facilities of formal markets, where the supplies can be entrusted to van-pullers and porters; on the other hand, for Dulal the money he should have to pay for those services is better saved than spent and little by little, he downloads and carries the bulk till his place. There, he reports to a rather self-declared than official market manager, who inspects the quantity of his goods and keeps note of those: later, he will ask Dulal to pay his occupancy fee according to his earning. From this moment on, the villager becomes a trader – his gaze focused on potential buyers, his brain concerned with mathematical operations, his tongue quick to debate. But as said, this happens only twice a week… 02_DUL_2-2_RHY_PIC_03b.jpg