Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, March 19, 2009

By Zabir Hasan

It surprises me every time I cross the road. From the decent height of overbridges I wonder how it could be that so many people are living in one city. What are they doing? It isn't like everyone has his or her own 9 to 5 job or booming business. I see living, breathing, shouting people everywhere. The most beautiful thing is they are surviving day after day and dreaming about the faces of their grandchildren. So one day I decided to find out what those people that don't have routine jobs do for a living in this big city. Moving around, I discovered some pretty interesting lines of work.

For your ears only
This is the most interesting occupation I have ever seen in my life. I have seen pedicurists and manicurists. Yet, I haven't found a word to define this job. This old man works at the Judge Court in Old Dhaka. Pay him 15 bucks and he will clean everything that's stuck inside your ear. With an experience of 25 years he claims to be the finest in his field. I don't know how safe it is but you're welcome to try it. It's at your own risk, and your own self-conceived disgust.

The multi purpose weight machine
You are walking alone down the road, minding your own business or day dreaming about the girl next door. Suddenly from nowhere the robotic voice of a woman says “Welcome to measure your height, weight and blood pressure” (with weird high pitched Japanese music in the background). No, it's not a scene from a low budget Sci-Fi movie. It's just an imported weight machine standing around the corner. These things are really the KINGS of multi-tasking. Stand on the platform and you will get your weight. Heads up and with the touch of an automatic mechanical hand, your height will be measured. Within seconds, you will have a little slip in your hand where all the vital parameters of your life are printed. Thus, you have no other option left except feeling scientifically safe.

His keys and the probabilities
Don't you remember the day you got locked out? Well, those days are over and enter the intricate skills of the roadside key maker. But this guy, Shumon, is not a key maker. He is a regular person with a lot of keys, apparently hundreds of them. What does he do? Give him some time and he will try one key at a time to open the lock. Fortunately most of the time he gets his break and the story has a happy ending.

How to kill a balloon
It's a friendly game of wasting ammunition from an air gun. The targets are tiny little balloons. The owner of the air gun monitors every step of this mindless shooting spree. I was really surprised to see the dedication of the owner when he was blowing all the balloons up and the swift reloading of the gun. All you have to do is take a few steps back and shoot. Ten bucks for ten tries. If you miss, better luck next time.

Magic in the bottles
He was standing in Nilkhet with two bottles in his hand. With a voice echoing the bliss of astonishment and newfound discoveries, he was trying to say something. It went a bit like this,

“Science is wonderful. And now it is time to add a new chapter in the book of achievements of science and all of these because of the magic balls. Just give them a little water and they will grow like all the living creatures.”

Everyone in the crowd was surprised with this unconventional growth of inanimate objects. It's not the magic balls that caught my attention. It was the salesman and his art of speech. Words can do magic and he was enough proof for me.

Mindless shooting, robotic invasion, de-waxing ears and jobs you won't take up otherwise, surviving is the only thing that we do best and in my quest I witnessed a small and queer fraction of the struggle. Well, what can I say? It is a strange world of Jacks and all their trades.



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