Every year half a million people migrate to Dhaka city from the different rural corners of Bangladesh. Many of them, for better or for worse, end up living in informal settlements in Dhaka city.
Md Abdul Khalil bhai is one such man. Arriving in Dhaka city 37 years ago from Barguna, he now lives with wife and two children in Ershadnagar bosti.
Since the age of 11, he has worked as a cook for large weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, Pohela Boishakh and other functions. He now manages his own team, working several times a month and earning BDT 18000 for a function of 500 people.
The following timeline recounts Khalil bhai’s schedule when he cooks for a wedding.
8:00 am: Khalil bhai wakes up. Quickly freshens up, and eats breakfast with his family.
8:30 am: He then goes to either Korail bosti or Shattola bosti to meet his team. In total, he has seven core coworkers, six men and one woman. Five of them live in Korail bhosti, and two of them in Shattola. Since most of his team lives in Korail bhosti, that’s where meetings are usually held.
10:30 am: Once the meeting is over, Khalil bhai heads back to Ershadnagar and takes a shower. Then he heads to a tea-stall in the bosti for adda (or hanging out with his friends).
1:00 pm: After a couple hours of talking with his friends, he eats his lunch.
1:30 pm: Following his lunch, he returns home and takes a nap.
4:00 pm: He has to wake up and get ready for work, which will not finish until the next day.
5:00 pm: Khalil bhai with his team heads to the wedding venue, and starts preparing dinner for the guests that night as well as for the main program the following day.
12:00 am: The team does not have dinner until midnight once all the guests of the wedding function have eaten. They then continue cooking throughout the entire night, both for the main program and also for breakfast.
10:00 am: Khalil bhai and his team finally eat breakfast at 10 am.
12:30 pm: Lunch is usually served for the guests around midday. However, if it is Friday, lunch will be served after Friday prayers at about 1.30pm.
5:00 pm: The team finally has its own lunch in the evening, and promptly cleans up and leaves, having worked close to 20 hours.
7:00 pm: Khalil bhai returns back home to Ershadnagor and within the hour has showered and fallen asleep.
Mahmuda Mity is research assistant at ICCCAD, currently working under the migration programme