Traditional ear cleaning, which was not uncommon for people to have their ears cleaned by experts working on the streets offering the service to the everyman, is fading away from Bangladesh.
While the service that used to be passed on through ancestries has largely died out, these professional ear cleaners can still be found working in parks and on ferries in Dhaka.
The capital’s lush green Ramna Park Osmani Uddyan is one such place where there are a handful of ear cleaners who are still been offering this service to passersby in need.
Like some street hawkers, they try to woo pedestrians with a small bag that they hang on their shoulders.
They mainly use two instruments—known as a ‘chimti’ and a ‘salaai’—for the job.
Chimti is a long needle-like object, which is slightly flat at one end and this is used to slice through the wax and scoop flakes out of the ears.
The salaai is basically used for cleaning the ear and applying oil after the flakes have been removed by the chimti, reports Xinhua.
According to the report, a traditional ear cleaner earns Tk 400 to Tk 900 a day (1 US dollar equals to Tk 84) from cleaning people's ears.
Mohammad Basu Miah is an ear cleaner who has been based in the Osmani Park for decades. He said that he earns Tk 500 to Tk 600 per day. Somedays Miah said his income reaches up to Tk 800 or Tk 900.
"There are many types of ear issues that if not dealt with can create trouble when water enters the ear canal. We take the necessary measures to ensure our customers' comfort," said Miah, who takes care of his eight-member family through this time-honored profession, which he has been doing for almost 40 years.
"Unfortunately, our children are not interested in working as ear cleaners. This is not a rewarding trade. Many cleaners have long-since been switching to other professions," he said.
Miah said that in recent times he has seen a drop in the number of his patrons as well.
Mohammad Aktar Biswas is a regular ear cleaning recipient. He comes to the park from the Dohar area, on the outskirts of Dhaka, to have his ears attended to.
"I myself can clean my ears at home, but I come here for a professional service by an ear cleaner. They clean very well and I give them some money."
Nazrul Islam, who runs a tea stall near the gate of the park, said the ear cleaners used to be a common sight, but not so much nowadays.
There were many cleaners a decade earlier, but now the number of both cleaners and customers has dropped, he said.
He added that ear cleaners have switched professions because people are seemingly not so interested in traditional cleaning amid easy access to modern healthcare facilities.
Islam said people are now conscious of how to keep their own health sound. "When I'm free, I ask them to clean my ears and I feel more comfortable," Islam said.
"But the young generations are not interested at all in carrying on this tradition. I think it's a pity," he added.
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