Women waiters who look forward to weddings -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Women waiters who look forward to weddings

Karachi:The trend of segregated weddings has opened new vistas of employment for many. What is interesting is that along with Bengali male waiters, we now have Bengali female waiters as well. They are fulfilling a demand as orthodox families prefer to limit the interaction of men and women in public gatherings.

This demand has created opportunities where there were none in the past thanks to the initiative of some. Shahnaz Haq, 24 years old and a mother of six, considers herself lucky to have found a job even though she isn’t highly educated. She started work as a waitress for the Al Uroosa Ladies Waiters Service, an organisation that trains female waitresses, in order to support her husband financially.

Although most women employed in the catering business are noted to be of Bengali descent, some are from other ethnic backgrounds like Punjabi and Memon. They come from a variety of areas of the city such as Khuda ki Basti, Surjani Town and Korangi.

From serving food to cleaning up the tables and dishes afterwards, to picking up tips, the female waitresses are expected to work just as hard as their male counterparts. “These segregated weddings make us feel comfortable as we strictly observe a veil too,” says Shahnaz.

They do not have a fixed amount of salary and earn daily wages of around Rs100 to Rs150 from the organizer. Apart from this, the women servers also earn tips which add to their take home income. These can be high in some cases when the hosts are obliging. “I make around Rs5,000 which is sufficient for me,” she says with a glint in her eye.

The long hours in the night get tiring, she says, and it is also irritating at times because some guests look down upon the waitresses “But that happens everywhere. It’s our job to remain polite and calm – whether or not we like it,” she adds.

However, she says unlike a typical 9-5 job the night shift gives her the opportunity to finish her household chores in the early hours of the day.

After gaining enough experience in the job, Shahnaz now also supervises other junior waitresses at functions and she is responsible for their performance at the end of the weddings. “I have earned tips in thousands,” she quickly adds, a testament to the fact that her leadership has never been a disappointment.

The young Bengali lady is a resident of Moosa Colony, a lower income locality in Federal B Area where many other Bengalis reside as well. She attained education till class seven and believes the small stipend she earns through this day-to-day job is enough for her as she needs the money for her children’s education.

“I believe a woman who misses out on her education has no right to be ambitious. I got married at an early age after which I couldn’t pursue my aims and education. Today my children have become my priority and I earn to give them a better lifestyle that my parents couldn’t afford to give me.”

Her husband, who is a driver by profession, is extremely supportive of Shahnaz’s decision because he can trust the work environment. Keeping in mind the trend of late weddings in the city, she disclosed that her employers provide her with a conveyance facility at her doorstep.

“There have been times I returned home at 4am as well. Our manager, Uroosa and her husband (who are also Bengalis) always accompany us on our way back home to assure we reach home safely,” she says proudly adding “The credit goes to the sincere couple who have pushed us married women to earn and support our families or for unmarried women who want to collect some money for their dowry,” she proudly adds.

Shahnaz finds her job extremely fascinating as she learns about new trends and fashion through these weddings. “I admire the different brides we get to see everyday and also learn about different kinds of people and their wedding rituals. I don’t think my job is boring or monotonous from any aspect. Observing different kinds of people is an entertainment in itself,” she shyly adds. Shahnaz believes Karachi is a city for opportunities and women can especially benefit from this city where their presence is gradually being recognised in every field.

“I think women can work in any field and also maintain the values they have been raised with,” she believes. Shahnaz and her community is an example of the many young dedicated hardworking women in the entire city who long for a chance to prove themselves, but do not have access to the right people or guidance to channelise their efforts.

aroosa.khan@thenews.com.pk
Source: The News
Date:9/18/2007