Let’s Meet: The men who steer the dhow
Walking along the Corniche, the traditional wooden boats nestled on the waters are a sight hard to miss. And sitting patiently on the berth are the dhow operators, who wait for customers all day. Business may be at a lull, but not their spirits.
JustHere came across a father-son duo who operate a dhow named Shajarat Aldor. They share their story.
Meet: The Father
Name: Anar Bandu Das
Age: 48 years
In Qatar since… 1978
Anar was a primary school teacher in Bangladesh. Though content with his job, he had always wanted to start a business. So when a friend suggested coming to Qatar, he didn’t think twice.
He began with a fishing business, followed by a retail store. Both suffered losses, and he took to operating the dhow. It’s been 15 years since.
On an average, Anar gets about 10 customers a day. Some days he barely gets three. Business is low, he says, and so do the other dhow operators who have a hard time getting customers.
“It doesn’t matter now if I like or dislike this job. As long as I get money, I am happy.”
There are three dhow ride options that customers can choose from. A 15-minute ride is priced at QR20 per head; 30 minutes at QR70; while an hour-long ride is QR150, which includes a drop-off at the Safuliya Island.
But the prices are not fixed, and Anar allows customers to bargain.
“We dhow operators never compete with each other. If my dhow is not available, I send the customer to the next available dhow.”
The best view…
With the dhows stationed at the Corniche, Anar and the other operators enjoy the best view of the city. On one side is the clean turquoise water, and on the other, tall towers gracing Doha’s skyline.
“I love this part of Doha. The country has changed so much since the day I landed. This area (Dafna) never even existed, and now see how it has become.”
Meet: The Son
Name: Nayan Das
In Qatar since… 2010
Nayan was a young political activist back home in Bangladesh. However, with the country facing political turmoil, his father feared for his safety and brought him to Qatar to work with him.
“Qatar is very different from home. But I like it here; it’s safe. The law and order is good. The only thing I don’t like is there is too much of construction work all over the place. They shouldn’t dig up all the places at the same time.”
“I haven’t visited home since I got here. Flight tickets are too expensive. I miss home, my mother, sisters. I wish to bring my mother here, but we don’t have enough money.”
“I like this job, it doesn’t involve a lot of labour. Plus I get to talk to people who take a ride. I don’t know how the time passes.
“I have only studied till tenth grade and haven’t thought of what I want to do ahead. But I would like to work in an office some day.”
[Photography: Kenneth Ta-asan]