Our mothers knew about Recycling Business long before us. How? Read this.
Culture is the sum of behaviours, thoughts, perceptions, ideas, life styles, events, habits, and knowledge that are shared among a group of people.
One of those shared ideas is the everyday life of people, the implicit and the explicit form of it, the unfolding and the connections, the type of existing relationships, and the members of the groups. Our mothers had a huge role in the quality of our everyday life back then.
Back in Iran and in our childhood (the good old days), there were special people, only men, who visited our neighbourhood regularly. These men had particular business offers for our mothers; they basically targeted women in general, since our fathers were out there working. Women were enjoying that little unique trade, an exchange of goods and a right-at-the- door-business that was both fair and practical in its form.
Who were those men?
NAMAKI (SALTMAN), KOT-VA-SHALVARI MAN (JACKET AND PANTS MAN), KASSE-BOSHGABI MAN (BOWLS AND PLATES), SABZI-FOROSH (VEGTABLE SALES-MAN), ABHOZI / BARFPAROKONI (POND CLEANING, SNOW SHOVING), and not to forget our ASHGALI(GARBAGE MAN)…
Indeed depending on the city you lived in and status of the citizens in that area, these services would be more or less appreciated.
You could tell that these men did their more than full time jobs. They did this to make a living. However, the mystery is whether these types of trades would really pay enough for a living? How would these men support their families with this type of jobs? Who knows?
Story of Namaki
How many of us recall the voice of namaki early summer days when we still were laying down in our cool beds or were giggling around with our siblings. Many of us have memories of the namaki who really added to the relaxed life back then. Namaki was a multifunction man who was welcomed by our mothers and our women in every street. He asked for noting but our old, uneatable, and mould bread. However, some kind women like my mother would offer him a taste of the food that she had made for our lunch or simply give him a glass of cold water.
Our namaki who would come week after week and he would never forget yelling: Namaki-namaki! He would arrive in different time of the day, some afternoons when the summer heat had made everyone withdraw for a nap in a cool place of the house. In winter time, as we children were in school, we would not notice namaki and his existence.
Our namaki had an extra ordinary loud voice, which he used as a way to announce his arrivals to the neighbourhood. His voice had a song, a tone, a pattern, a specific rhythm that was well-known for the women. His voice would somehow encourage women to come out of their houses and give him all the old bread that was indeed saved for him; bread from the day before or days before.
Namaki was usually an older man, hard working one, who visited our quarters with a horse carrying all his belonging, one sack of salt on one side and the sack of old bread on the other side. I am not sure how long he would walk every day, if he had a type of agreement with other namaki and they had one or several street each?! Most probably these men would know each other and had business amongst them.
Typical namaki was a man, usually illiterate man who had most likely moved to a large city such as Tehran and leaving a farmer life behind. Namaki could also be a man who did not find any other job and he found the liberty of having his own business.
As a child I used to wonder what this man would do with all these bread. Would he eat them all? Or would he make big dough and bake more bread? Later on it was explained to me that he would go and sell all those bread to the local farmers who had cows, lambs, chickens, roosters, and other animals.
Namaki was anyhow a man who would be known in every neighbourhood and in cases of his absence our mothers would wonder what is making him for visiting our street. Another characteristic of this namaki would be the fear that our mothers would instil in us children, saying that if we did not behave, namaki would take us away.
This was a bluff anyway and we children would notice soon, because no mother would give her child to a namaki, yet younger children would fear namaki.
Other days when namaki was not there, we would have kasse-boshgabi man and another day would other men come. Our mothers would always be happy to see these men who were willing to take our old clothes and unfit shoes, or fathers’ shirts and suits, and instead give us some salt, plastic baskets, or household items. The good thing was that a natural recycling business was happening and no one wasted any bread, any food, any clothes, or any household items. We used and re-used everything!
This phenomenon is still going on, however, namaki or other men in that business are much more organized, they come with their trucks and they visit neighbourhoods while using a speaker; to announce their daily business with housewives who would get rid of things they do not want! The question is whether these men still can provide for their families with this exchange business!
Our mothers were real business people in this whole circle. We do agree?! They kept the peace and helped the environment by saving things for Namaki. Oh, our mothers!
July 22, 2007
This article was published in Goonagoon, August 17th 2007. See goonagoon.ca