The nostalgia of pop-up Eid card shops
During the 90s and early 2000s, there was a phenomenon that used to sweep most streets of Dhaka during Ramadan – Eid card shops.
These pop-up card shops were constructed with bamboo or discarded planks and fabric with the only purpose of selling "Eid cards" and quirky gifts, and they'd play what some might say terrible music all day long on stereo. These shops were mostly run by local pre-teens, teenagers or adolescent kids in the hopes of making some extra cash for Eid and trying to spend some time with their friends.
Since it was run by kids, these shops opened after school hours. Evenings and late afternoons were the prime business hours. Kids who were friends with the shop owners would also gather in front of the shops. It used to be the social platform for all the "cool kids" in the neighbourhood.
From the age of 12-14, I was involved in setting up these card shops. There were four of us who'd collect money a week or two before Ramadan for setting up a shop. At the top of our road, there was a building with a long wall that we used as our station. This meant we had a display board of sorts, and helped us decorate the shop a lot better. We'd collect our equal shares of money to buy the materials for the shop and supplies.
Once we had finished setting up, we'd then focus on buying supplies. This was early 2000s when meagre collections from four teenagers could help you set up a card shop and have money left over to buy some snacks. We'd always go to Purana Paltan or Kakrail to all the wholesalers and go nuts on picking cards. There'd be a serious discussion at some stage of buying supplies on how many of which cards to get, which card would sell the most, why we like this design and who'd buy these cards. Oh, and there was always a vote on certain "premium products". Once everything was bought then the fun part of running the shop would start. Who'd work on what shift? Who'd take the cash home at night? As if we were going to make a fortune overnight, the joys of the entrepreneurial dream were well and truly alive.
We'd need to restock twice during the month of Ramadan as supplies would run low. We used the money to buy new stocks. We'd always go together as a team to buy these supplies. But as the times changed, people evolved, and pop-up Eid card shops seemed to have disappeared.
The joys of running a shop, going to buy supplies, sharing ideas, and feeling like you're accomplishing something with your friends were honestly the Eid feeling I never had once I grew up. When I left Dhaka for Europe, I was only a teenager. My Eids were never the same and the joys of running a card shop would only be a joyous memory that I shared with my friends.