This gentleman is Ranjit Das. He runs a laundry in the neighbourhood where we stay. And he’s just one of the nearly 20 such businesses in the area.
He’s also just one among the hundreds of thousands of people who come to work in this part of the world from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, The Philippines and Sri Lanka, among other countries after paying, usually, exorbitant amounts to unscrupulous ‘agents’, to earn a pittance as a living and only after toiling long hours.
Yet, people like Mr. Das are happy – or so they seem. He always greets us with a smile, asks about our welfare, has a pleasant personality and hands over the washed and ironed clothes meticulously either wrapped in plastic or arranged in hangers.
As I took these pictures during the weekend, he told me a few things about how he came to live and work in Bahrain, his village in Bangladesh and his family who he supports. He said he is happy doing what he is and earns a “decent” living. He said he is fortunate to be among the “lucky few” from his village who has “made it good” in a foreign land.
Seeing him I felt how we would manage without people like him to serve us and look after our needs, and what we would do if they weren’t around.
Thank God for delivery men, farm workers, road and construction workers, cobblers, convenience store hands and newspaper boys, not to mention the house boys an and housemaids.
As I left, I asked Mr. Das his email address so I could email him the pictures. He didn’t have any. I asked him his cellphone number and said I would send him the pictures by Whatsapp. “What’s that?” was his question.
I let it rest at that and left.
Soon I will print out the pictures, perhaps frame one, and give it to him. Maybe he will put it up on some space on the wall.
That way, at least, he will remember us and occasionally, say a small blessing.
And that’s what I am counting on!