Apart from the police, does someone else take money from you?

No, you don’t need to pay anyone else. You don’t need to pay, I mean, when I carry the supplies from place to place, I don’t need to give the money but the driver does need to. For example, the driver will give 20 Taka…

But this is not bribe…

Oh yes, of course, this is bribe. It is not for the supplies, it is not us but the driver who has to pay: it’s about getting ahead on a line. For example, if I give 20 Taka to those who guard the entrance to the ferry, they’ll let me pass over to get on. Otherwise, you will spend the whole night in the queue. It is Baksheesh. Yes, there are the tickets, you cannot do without paying, that’s another thing [it’s normal]. But it is also necessary to give 10 Taka to the persons controlling the ferry when you get in, and another 10 Taka when you get off. This is baksheesh. We, those who do business, we detract those costs, for the truck rent and the other expenses on the road, from the earnings, not from our pocket. Whoever does business, he needs to cover the costs from the business itself. We do buy our supplies taking those expenses into account. Say, I call in the wholesale market and I ask about the current prices – we’ll think of the truck rent, our own expenses, and 2-3 Taka profit, then we know at what [maximum] price we should buy; we buy according to this calculation.

We decide, see, on the night before the haat takes place: we discuss the current rate, for example, eggplant: what is the rate, how much does a pala [5kg] cost? If it is 100 Tk, how much is it for a kg? 20 Taka. So, I’d I buy 5kg for 100 Tk. If a mon [sack à 40kg] is 500 Taka, it’s 12,5 Taka/kg. And my expenditure [for transportation] will be 100 Tk/mon, so how much will my total cost be? 500 plus 100, 600. To that add another 50 Tk for taxes and commission to the aarothdar [market boss]. So we are at 650. For how much will I sell? 800. I will have to sell at 800 or 750 Taka per sack, in an average. Now you can calculate how much I’m left with.

How much do you carry?

I don’t buy in definite quantities, sometimes I take 10 sacks, sometimes 20 or 15. I don’t define how much I’ll buy ahead, I only calculate according to the money available. I am little educated. For example, if I have 7,000 Taka, I’ll buy for that amount. After having sold the supplies, I will take those 7,000 aside and calculate my costs and profit. From the moment I leave my home and I am on the road, all costs decrease my income. Our expenditures for a tea in the bazar, or on the road, will be cut away from the revenues I got from selling the supplies. As long as I remain at home, the expenditures are mine, but when I go out, they are of the revenue.

How do you make out how much to pay?

It depends on luck. Suppose, I heard that something is at 100 Tk/pala, and I sell it at 90, then I’d have a loss of 10 Tk. That is loss. Last year in Savar, I had to leave 5 sacks of eggplant. I could not understand what was going on. In the morning I did not want to sell because the price was low. Here I bought at 2 Taka/kg, they didn’t get sold there! I left them as they were. It happens seldom. There are a lot of flaws in Savar, so I do not sell there anymore. For example, there [Mirpur-1], I can get off the truck beside the place I sell from. But in Savar, from the truck, I need to hire a van, I need to pay for that, again I need to pay the labours, there are taxes, I mean, illegal taxes. That is why I don’t bring my supplies there. The supplies brought there will be taxed. Whereas in Mirpur, I carry by myself, I don’t need to pay labourers. No need to pay labourers, no need for van rent, no taxes. In Savar, the tax for one sack is 10, if I bring 10 sacks, I need to pay 100 Tk of taxes; in Mirpur I don’t have these expenses. If the van rent is 10, then I need 100 Tk. If carrying costs 100 Taka/sack, the labourer will cost me another 100; so, I can save 300 Tk. That is why I don’t go there but to ek-number [Mirpur].

Don’t you have to pay rent in Mirpur?

Of course, in Mirpur, I have an aarothdar [market boss], I have to go pay in his office. Suppose I sold five sacks: then I’d pay 200 Taka commission, for using that place. It is proportional. A certain portion will have one owner, in another place there will be another owner… they are locals. The locals control the place. It is [like] a company, the company has an office, they do the bidding.