Relationship: Im/migrant

When my dad was just 10 years old, my grandfather bought him this model rikshaw as a gift, and it has been in our family since. When my dad first came to America in 1975, he came in search of a stable job and a community that would be suitable for an immigrant Bengali family. He had just gotten married to my mother back then, and he was planning on saving up so he could bring her to America from Bangladesh. While he was in America, he brought the rikshaw with him. To him, it was a memento from his own father, and it was a solid reminder of his own home country. In Bangladesh, rikshaws are used as a go-to, cheap and easy form of transportation, much like ubers are in America nowadays. Unlike American rikshaws, however, Bangladeshi rikshaws are driven by people. As rikshaw rides are one of the cheapest forms of transportation in Bangladesh, drivers must work extremely long hours to compensate and be able to provide for their families. As a result, it is very common for any one rikshaw driver to drive over fifty passengers in any given day. Although rikshaw driving isn't exactly a profession that is looked up to, the immense physical and mental labor that rikshaws drivers go through is more or less universally understood. Because of this, to my dad, and now for me, rikshaws aren't simply just a mode of transportation, but also a symbol of the hard work that their drivers put in and the key role that they play in the daily lives of millions of Bangladeshi people.

Place(s): Bangladesh
Year: 1975

– Tanim Ahmed

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant