Tuesday, 13 July 2010
13th July 2010
Monju, the managing director of Artisan Hut came to pick me up from the hotel at 10. He is not impressed with our choice of residence and would prefer we were in the much quieter, posher district of Gulshan.
We are going to visit the Shuvo Weaving group in Norshindi – it is a long drive compounded by the traffic and we finally reach there at 12.30. The weaver are about to finish for the day as they get a 1 and a half day holiday. The difference between this set up and Swallows is immense. Most notably, all the weavers are men, the only women are the bobbiners – which is a comparatively lower skilled and paid job. The other thing is, because there is currently a power cut, it is very dimly lit and it looks dark and foreboding. I know that the weavers here are well looked after, they get lunch provided every day and their wages range from 3500 taka to 5000 taka per month so it is far more than they would expect elsewhere, but I can’t help but feel taken aback by the contrast with this and the other projects that I have seen.
Because the project is based in Norshindi, it is cheaper to live here than in Dhaka city, but it is still convenient for transporting the fabric to Monju’s tailoring unit.
After lunch I am taken by Monju and Shafi Mahamud (the Shuvo weaving director) to the Norshindi market to meet the yarn wholesalers. Monju and Shafi have been struggling to get good quality yarn for export, the vast majority of yarn that is sold in this area is only good for domestic product. They are currently trying to figure out ways that they can procure yarn with more stability .
The most fascinating thing about this market is the cycle rickshaws hauling along GIGANTIC loads of unbleached calico, every second vehicle that passes is overloaded with the stuff and the poor rickshaw wallers have succeeded in being more shiny than me!
Getting back to the lovely Hotel Pacific is even more stressful than before – instead of 2 hours it takes 3, and even then we are stuck in traffic jam about a ten minute walk from the hotel for about 20 minutes before Monju decides that we should walk. It turns out that we were stuck behind a Hindu festival procession – just what you need in the crowded streets of Dhaka.
I am very excited, because I have managed to arrange a visit to a Dhaka garment factory on Thursday, however it is probably the picture of best practice because why else would the guy have so readily agreed to take me there????