Tuesday, June 25, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Under the shade of flags

Update : 13 Dec 2013, 08:36 PM

Giasuddin is a flag seller.

For a man at his age, on the wrong end of 60 and with deteriorating eyesight, it is not easy to find gainful employment.

But over the last five to six years, Giasuddin has found seasonal work during the months the average Bangladeshi feels a sharp surge in patriotic fervour: March and December.

His typical day starts, during the season leading up to Victory Day or Independence Day, by making the long trip to Sadarghat on foot, where he purchases flags in bulk.

He then ties the flags up according to size on the long pole, which he will be carrying over his shoulder all day – from the giant marquee sized banners to little pocket sizes ones, he’s got a flag for every purpose.

From Sadarghat, the rest of the day is a slow-paced walk around town – to Shahbag, Banglamotor, Begunbari, Farm Gate, Panthapath, Gulistan.

As we chatted, I almost envied him. A nice stroll across town seemed more appealing than sitting behind a desk all day.

Of course, the job is not without its challenges. Once, Giasuddin’s main worry was erratic weather. These days, he has to contend with lack of safety on the road.

“There aren’t as many people in the streets. And when there are, they have too many things to be constantly worried about to take the time to stop and purchase a flag. Safety comes first.”

Giasuddin came to Dhaka six years ago in search of work. He finds odd jobs throughout the year, but during these patriotic months, selling flags used to be his most lucrative business.

Previously, he would sell an average of Tk3,000 worth of flags, wristbands and headbands per day, which set him up for months to come. This December however, his record day’s earning was only Tk700.

But Giasuddin goes back out there everyday, because he has to. As I watched him walk away, I began to understand the resilience of the Bangladeshi people. They carry on, undaunted, firmly hopeful. L

Do you know: Who holds the current record for the World’s Largest Human Flag?

Email your answer to [email protected] for a chance to win exclusive passes to the World’s Largest Human Flag event on December 16, and see history in the making.

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