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Working for peanuts

  • Published at 05:44 pm June 17th, 2016
  • Last updated at 05:54 pm June 18th, 2016
Working for peanuts

The news of a girl deciding to quit her job from a travel agency to sell peanuts by Rabindra Sarabar in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi area seemed quite intriguing to me. Many have appreciated the jeans-clad girl’s initiative, many have criticised it, some have hated it.

I haven’t spoken to the girl, and that’s why several thoughts popped up in my mind. If I could verify this news from her, perhaps this write-up would have been different. However, I’ll have to depend on my analytical abilities to express my thoughts, which I will do as honestly as I can.

When I saw her picture, from a guy’s point of view, and a chauvinistic one at that, I thought “she’s hot.” Call me a bad guy if you want, but I felt that way -- the so-called male way. I’d love to buy peanuts from her every day if she was around.

No matter how much men deny, I’m pretty sure that this is what most of the male readers of the news felt that way. She’s attractive enough for me to be able to purchase her products every day.

Now, kindly allow me to analyse this from a father’s or parent’s point of view. If the peanut girl were my daughter, I’d go to any length to convince her not to continue with this.

I strongly believe that most fathers would agree with me. As Bangladeshi fathers, we never expect our daughters to become vendors who roam around with a peanut-bucket.

I’d first think of my daughter’s physical security. Given our hawkish social atmosphere, I’d be seriously concerned about my daughter’s safety, as I believe a girl moving around and selling her products like that is never physically secure. If she is out there, as a father, I’d be dead scared about her safety.

Many readers would argue that if a man can roam around doing business, why would a girl be different? Yes, that’s a big question which we need to answer collectively as a nation. I’d also request the female readers of this piece to ask themselves the same question.

No one seems to be believing her version of the story even if she is fervently honest about what she is doing. This is what our society is. To me, what she has shown could be great inspiration for the great number of women and the unemployed people in the country

Would you feel safe allowing your sister or your daughter to sell peanuts or for that matter any product on the streets of Dhaka?

The news has also angered many, as they considered it a strategy to gain some quick popularity in the media; they said this was nothing but trying to draw some attention.

They said maybe she was bored with her life; may be there’s no one to guide her. They have argued that wanting to leave a job for selling peanuts is nothing a whim. This was perfect for a dress-as-you-like contest! They’re arguing that the girl wanted to be news.

And, interestingly, a school of marketeers has immensely welcomed her move, saying that what she did has been great branding and she should build on it.

They say she has great prospects for business in not only selling peanuts, but any product.

However, another school of marketeers objected to her initiative, as they thought she should have been in a shopping complex with her peanut business, leaving the streets to the existing lungi-clad peanut sellers. She shouldn’t be eating up their market share.

Another group of people have objected to the idea of calling her a “smart peanut seller.” They thought one just doesn’t become “smart” by wearing merely a pair of jeans. This school of people didn’t have any problem with the girl becoming a sales-person on the street; rather, their problem was with the diction that the media had used.

See? Everyone has a point of view regarding this girl’s move to leave her job and initiate a business. But what does the girl have to say? She said this has freed her from a monotonous ten-to-five captivity in her job. She said she was inspired by another street seller Likhon’s “Dream Van.”

She added that her boss at the travel agency had never let her go home at five o’clock in the evening. But this made her independent and free.

But no one seems to be believing her version of the story, even if she is fervently honest about what she is doing. This is what our society is.

To me, what she has shown could be great inspiration for the great number of women and the unemployed people in the country.

However, my question is: Has our society yet graduated to that level where a well-dressed girl from a considerably well-off family would choose to sell products on the street and it would be easy for her?