Around nine million people walk the streets of Dhaka every day. Although most people return to the comfort of their homes after a long day at work with a warm meal to look forward to, it isn’t the same for bachelors.
For them, maintaining a regular eating schedule is a far-fetched dream, let alone a tasty and hygienic meal waiting for them at home.
Riazul Haque is a fresh graduate who works at a private pharmaceutical company. He lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his roommate Shams Rahman. He recalled the initial phase of planning to cook his own food.
“I remember when I first moved in with my roommate, we both had planned to cook on different days of the week. But once we started going to the office we realised that we didn’t have enough time or energy for that after coming back home”.
As cooking wasn’t an option, Riazul and his roommate would have lunch and dinner in small restaurants or food stalls they would find on their way. On most days, they ended up with food that was too oily and spicy. Apart from some lucky days, foods were usually stale and un-appetising.
Such experiences often led them to order foods online. These meal purchases, more often than not, led them to spend way past their budgets almost every other week.
Out of frustration, Shams shared that both Riaz and he would often have to ask for help from their families at the end of the month to pay house rent because they would end up spending a significant portion on food only.
Minhajul Abedin, a final year CSE student from Dhaka University, however, says that even spending a large sum of money doesn’t ensure quality food.
“Be it ordering online or eating in roadside restaurants, the food is too much oily and spicy. Too much turmeric makes it so yellowish that appetite vapours at the sight of it.”
Yet, Minhaj eats these not appealing, not good in taste and not hygienic food just to survive, not remain healthy. One might wonder why, after so much trouble, Minhaj doesn’t cook.
“You see,” Minhaj goes on explaining, “maintaining 4 home tuitions and academic studies is already a tough job. You simply don’t want to spend any further time or energy in cooking with those on the table already.”
Isn’t there any option available? One common alternative that most bachelors opt for is to find a part-time cook who would come and prepare their meals every day.
Hygienic and somewhat quality food is ensured in the process since it's being prepared at home. Additionally, it happens to be a more economically viable option. The costs that go into grocery shopping and paying the person who cooked their meals turn out to be a lot more affordable than anticipated.
As a matter of fact, many bachelors living in the city today manage their daily meals in this manner as it helps them to stay on a more steady budget all the while enjoying homemade food.
But it’s not easy to find a good cook. And if you are not living with a group, you simply can’t afford to have a cook. Mohammad Saiful Islam, a Journalism graduate from Dhaka University had this issue as he live in a single room with one of his friends. Keeping a cook wasn’t a financially viable option for these two. So Saiful tried several options.
“I tried local catering services, cloud kitchens, and what not? After years of suffering from metabolism issues, now I’ve reduced eating foods that need curry, for instance, rice. Rather, bread and bananas and instant noodles are my daily intakes now.”
No wonder Riaz and Shams decided to reconsider their options as they had suffered the horrors of food poisoning and other metabolism issues like Minhaj and Saiful.
According to the Stamford Journal of Microbiology, approximately 30 million people in Bangladesh suffer from foodborne illnesses every year. So food-related illnesses among bachelors living away from home is a severe issue.
Saiful, in this regard, hopes that the government or proper authority will take some measures someday.
“Many seniors of mine, of young ages, are dying from heart diseases. It’s obvious they suffer from a high intake of unhealthy oily and cholesterol-rich foods. I wish our government would take some measures, say, for instance, making govt run restaurants that will strictly maintain quality. Or a concerned government body that would keep an eye on the restaurants.”
It is no secret that nothing beats a nice and warm, home-cooked meal. But those who are living by themselves, be it for work purposes, or any other personal reasons, miss out on that comfort for a prolonged period which costs them both money and health.
Hence, the best option out there is to cook your own food, no matter how time-consuming it is. As the famous The Vegetarian Epicure, Anna Thomas, once said - “We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.”