By Megan Caldwell
It was about midnight on a Thursday when I stopped by the 99% Pizza window in Murray Hill and met Amar, a young Bangladeshi worker who makes pizzas for a living.
Amar, 27, is a Bangladeshi immigrant living in Queens. He has only been in
the states for 16 months. Amar originally moved to America after he watched his cousins immigrate and get jobs as taxi drivers. They were able to send money back to their families that helped keep the family rice farms alive. Deciding to leave his wife and baby, Amar moved to the U.S. where his cousins had secured him a job at the pizzeria.
Although making Pizzas is not something Amar hopes to continue, he believes “Life is good and pizza makes it better . . . if I have learned one thing at this job, it is how to make the best pizza in under 10 minutes.” He joked that everyone in his village will love him since pizza is a luxury in Bangladesh; he will be a celebrity as a pizza maker! To work at a pizzeria in his country is a good job with good pay, enough money to send his kid to school, but in the U.S. it is not even enough to pay his rent.
While immersing himself in a foreign culture has been incredibly difficult, Amar has found a Hindi community in Queens that reminds him of home. He has discovered some fun that comes with being an “American”, such as joining indoor sports leagues and driving his cousin’s car (in his village they use mostly bicycles). Amar’s dodge ball league meets once a week, he showed me their bright blue t-shirt design, which had “Bangladodgy” written in green letters across the front with the Bangladeshi flag pasted on the bottom. He laughed, and said the one thing he has enjoyed about being in America is that there is time for fun and that people take that for granted. Back in his village, life revolves around farm work, sleep and providing for children. “It is a great life but a simple life that doesn’t involve technology”.
Amar hopes to stay in the states for 3 years, than return home for a year and then come back to the states again, as it is the only way for him to make enough money to give his family the life they deserve. Bangladesh is a great country and Amar hopes his family will be able to stay there because he does not think America is a good place for immigrants. He says, “Immigrants are worked to the bone and get very little in return.”