It's 10pm and in Dhaka, a lot of people have already reached their homes and are preparing to have dinner or watching TV before it's time to sleep. But not in Kawran Bazar: at the city's huge fruits and vegetables wholesale market, the traders have just started to pour in; they exchange information on the current rates, make phone calls to various deliverers to check whether their trucks are on time, and drink sweet teas to push the energies up. Among them, in white shirt and white-blue-chequered lungi, is Milton. The nervous shadow on his friendly face and deep rings under his eyes reveal with far more efficacy than any explanation how he's feeling: “business in this country is never clean, it cannot be clean”, he always says. The supplies all are waiting for are allowed in the city at midnight and it doesn't take long until the first trucks reach the market area. This is when Milton's job goes on: from ca. 1 to 3am, he will be monitoring the delivery of the chillies he's ordered and from then on till 6-7am, he'll be reselling those. All of this, of course, isn't but a pale memory at home. There, the evenings pass in the intimacy of the home, chatting with his wife and mother or attending to the children, once they are tired of playing outside. No phone calls, no trucks, no bargaining. And at 11pm, when Kawran Bazar has just woken up, all go to sleep. 03_MIT_2-2_RHY_PIC_01b.jpg
Milton takes it easy also in the mornings when he's at home: on a Saturday, his wife would wake up early and get things ready for the boys to go to school, while he would definitely stand up after 8; on Sundays, everything is even more relaxed. To tea-biscuits to wake up follow, a little later, a portion of freshly baked roti accompanied by a hot vegetable curry; only after that, he dresses up and goes to the local market to make purchases. It sometimes happens that colleagues in Dhaka, those who hail from his area and cannot come back as frequently, give him remittance money: then, he visits their families one by one and submits the respective amounts. And in Dhaka? What does he do when he re-emerges from that “mess”, as he calls it, into the fresh morning air? He treats himself to a breakfast at a decent restaurant close to the market and then, it will be 8-8.30am, walks home, takes a shower and goes to sleep. 03_MIT_2-2_RHY_PIC_02b-1.jpg
Although the rhythms that govern Milton's life at home and in Dhaka couldn't be more contrasting, a common factor is the complete absence of activities in the afternoon hours. In Dhaka, after coming home and refreshing himself, he would be sleeping and recovering from the night – i.e. also gathering energies for the next night duty – until 6-7pm; at home, given the opportunity to make up for the prolonged lack of proper sleep, he goes straight to bed after lunch, taking his two smallest children along. It is probably also because of such rhythms, which are somewhat uncommon both in a city and in a village context, that Milton doesn't seem able to entertain any relevant social relationships apart from the mandatory professional relationships with other traders in the bazar and with his deliverers, who are spread around the country. This “solitary fighter” existence, which many a rural-urban commuter will recognise, is often explained via the necessity and/or responsibility to build up something for the next generation: stubborn concentration on a goal, discipline, as well as a logic according to which the individual comes after the family are its pillars; a desperate backbone is its cement. 'My life is already over, let me try and give a better one to my children', he says. His age, by the way, is 38. 03_MIT_2-2_RHY_PIC_03b-1.jpg