Posted: 16 Oct 2011 03:24 AM PDT Over the past few weeks I have been working on a series in Dhaka photographing beggars that frequent an area called Gulshan One and Two. Gulshan is the major banking sector in Dhaka where some of the wealthiest people live and do their business. Gulshan One and Two are completely separate areas each having their own major intersection where shops, banks, markets, and street stands surround the intersection circle where many beggars congregate.
The traffic in Dhaka is a REAL PROBLEM and that is an understatement. To give you a comparison, I traveled by local bus from Saderghat to Banani which is about 12km. Now in any western city to cover this sort of distance should only take maybe 30-45 minutes on a bad day. Now imagine 2.5 hours… and that’s EVERYDAY in Dhaka. It gets even worse during Ramadan where it took on several occasions 1.5 hours to travel 3 km. You ask why don’t I walk… after those instances, I now do.
The reason I bring up the traffic is because when traffic builds up; which is a ALL the time, these beggars in the street capitalize on the traffic situation; especially in the wealthy areas which allows them to walk between the cars hitting up about 40 cars in a single session before the light turns green.
These beggars work in teams using any possible way to make a quick buck selling everything from balloons, stickers, maps, and even using elderly people to gain the sympathy card. You will also see beggars with severe deformities begging from the side of the road trying to get money from any person who walks by. Some of these beggars are on their own, some are homeless, and surprisingly some even go to school. I was shocked when I met 11 year old Rubina who attends school during the day but comes to Gulshan two begging for money at night from 4pm-10pm. When I asked why, she responded by saying ” Dad has no work and Mum is gone, I need to take care of dad, he is sick”.
Everyone that begs in Gulshan has a similar story. I met Irene who has three children and her husband works as a rickshaw driver. She recently was arrested because the police started cracking down on the majority of people begging in Gulshan One and Two circle and Irene now stays at home until the police situations begins to calms down.
In this series I’m trying to photograph the contrast between the rich and the poor. I want to capture each individuals personality where their situation in life does not hinder the energy that comes across in each photograph.
Thanks for reading…
Irene and one of her two sons.
Rubina begging on the streets.
Johnny and Kobita.