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    Volume 9 Issue 6 | February 5, 2010|

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The City of Life

Nabila Chowdhury

City of dreams now shattered.

The whole world is in recession. The unemployment rate has been rising everyday, and hasn't got any better. Even New York, which is often referred to as the business capital of the world, is in the same state. Many families have suffered from recession. The air of uncertainty, as they cope with this period of unemployment, makes them say: "I'm going to lose my job sooner or later, I am actually ready for it."

People are losing jobs every day. In addition, recent graduates are struggling with the frustrating job hunt. Friends of mine, who graduated in June 2009, are still unable to find jobs. Besides frustration, they hang on to the belief that in 2010 they will get the job that they truly desire. The time is scary yet the hope is there that there will be a better tomorrow.

Consumers are really making some serious choices on how and on what to spend their money. Restaurants have noticed that when families come to eat, they don't order appetisers or desserts anymore. What seemed unheard of many years ago, consumers today are actually downloading coupons, recycling cans in return for cash, and celebration of birthdays takes places at home rather than at a restaurant. After all, what would be another best way to teach children on how to value money at this time?

Many also think that when there is a loss of job, families should be open and honest with their children. Obviously, the understanding level of a high school student and a first grader is very different, but it is wise to make things clear and evident, that some changes will be taking place around. For example dining out every Friday night has become optional. People are constantly reconsidering their choices, but how much can they cut back on, their cellular plan, Internet connection, or newspaper subscription every morning?

Among the wide array of diverse New Yorkers, Bengali Americans are regulating normal business, as they are incurring losses. In comparison, some were unable to lift the burden of debt anymore, and decided to leave their businesses. However, at present some of these same people who once operated their own businesses, are left without jobs, which means they are left with no source of income.

Mohammad Hamid, who operates a café that sell cold sandwiches in Woodside, New York says, "I have been doing business for almost 15 years. I started it when I first came here. But I've never seen such bad days."

Kamal Islam manages his own garment store, and says, "I sit and read my morning newspaper all day. There is nothing else to do. It is very depressing."

Ashraful Ahmed who runs two Indian-cuisine restaurants in Jackson Heights, New York adds, " I had to take loans. I'm currently on heavy debt and I don't know how I'll repay. I had losses for the last three years." Recession has affected the business men enormously.

Businessmen like Mohammad Hamid, Kamal Islam and Ashraful Ahmed are losing hope each day. They are not the ones at fault.

City of dreams now shattered.

Maqsud Chowdhury has been running a gift store in Downtown, New York that sells colognes, perfumes, watches and winter essentials. He is doing business for the last seven years. He says, "The last seven years have been the major years of crisis. Even on Christmas Eve and the Dec 31st when residents didn't care or think on how much they spend, this year they were very thrifty. Customers are always bargaining. For example if we demand 40 dollars for a pack of cologne, they wish to get it for 25 dollars." People think so much before spending a dollar these days that it is shocking. Even though, it is not their fault. They are just anxious about tomorrow."

Mustafa Kamal who maintains his own gyro stand in Manhattan, New York says, "It's dead. Business is just dead." A customer says, "15 dollars is like 500 dollars now."

New Yorkers have been humble towards life, and if they like something, for example a particular brand of clothing or sneakers, or their favourite cologne that they love so much, they will make every effort to shop around after getting their weekly pay check.

Ahsan Ahmed who supervises a grocery in Flushing, New York says, "I always wanted to operate two separate businesses, one under me and the other under my son's authority. But seeing the economy I advised my son to keep his savings and continue with his job. It's much more relaxing, and allows one to sleep during the night."

Zahir Khan, a goldsmith in Jackson heights, New York for the past five years. Frustrated, he says, "No-one is willing to buy gold anymore. The good days are over, and these are the days only with necessity. I paid the rent from my pocket in the last year." Gold prices have risen to such an extent that people cannot afford it anymore. Even seasoned businessmen like Khan himself admits that the wholesale prices for gold are very high.

Mahmadul Hassan who deals in winter essentials in 23rd street Broadway, New York says, "We cannot pay rent or pay bills. Wholesale prices are rising and we cannot make enough profit like we used to make five years ago. The weather is also a big issue. It snows almost every weekend. As a result, residents don't come out when the temperature reaches the freezing mark minus."

Mafizur Rahman, who owns a restaurant in Hillside, New York shared, "Almost everyday in a week, I see groups of young men aged 15-20 in search of jobs. I usually need a lot of help for my restaurant. Three years ago, I hired a group of new people, and provided them with a chance to start somewhere. I cannot afford any new people. If it saves some money, then that's what I will have to do. But if I could, I would love to give these new people a chance, especially when I think that they are my own people, from Bangladesh."



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