Rustam Sheikh does not want to come to Dhaka. The smoke, the dust, the noise of the cars make him dizzy.
The high-rises and the fast-paced life of the metropolitan hold no allure for him.
"I had to come for my grandson, Shariful. He wants to go to Qatar. He came here for his medicals," Rustam says as the sun's rays beat down on him.
Now he is waiting for the same avenues to open for Shariful, 17. Shariful, however, isn't a willing migrant. He cried when he heard that he would have to go abroad.
But the burden of his father's debts had been heaped on his shoulders at a young age. There was no choice. Perhaps, there never had been for boys like Shariful.
Rustam's son, who also lives in Qatar, arranged a visa for Shariful. Shariful pleaded that the move be pushed back a few months.
"Please let me complete my secondary school certificate exams first," he pleaded until Rustam finally relented.
A gathering seen, rarely examined
Anyone who lives in Dhaka has probably seen Rustam and Shariful, or others similar to them.
They queue on the main road in the capital's Eskaton Garden, where the Rupayan Trading Centre nests in front of a busy four-road intersection.
The towering building is where medical tests are done for those aspiring to go to Qatar, where more than four lakh Bangladeshis work, according to estimates.
Prospective migrants line up in front of the road, many seeking respite from the sun by sitting on road dividers, shaded by the under-construction metro rail above.
The government of Qatar had stopped issuing new visas for a long time due to the Covid pandemic and the 2022 World Cup.
After Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attended the Qatar Economic Forum last May, the process of issuing new visas was accelerated.
Since mid-June, people have been flocking to get their medicals, which are conducted by Stemz Healthcare, situated on the 11th floor of the Rupayan Trading Centre.
Stemz has been entrusted with the management of the Qatar Medical Centre (QMC) in Dhaka.
The entire online process is directly supervised by Qatar's Ministry of Interior, Steamz officials said.
Dreaming on dividers
Amin Uddin waits sitting on the road divider opposite the trading centre.
His duty as a security guard starts at night. Amin arrived in Dhaka some 21 years ago, leaving behind his work of cutting soil and working on road construction.
After his arrival in the capital, he took up a job at a salary of Tk1,800, which currently stands at Tk8,000.
He has three sons and a daughter.
One of his sons works in the garments section, while another is a bus conductor.
Amin has brought his youngest son with him today. He has much bigger dreams for the young one, who has just passed his HSC examination and also has trained in electrical work.
There is a good demand for drivers, plumbers, construction labourers, painters and electricians in Qatar and Amin was hoping to tap into that market.
Amin has also hired a broker. A total of four lakh will have to be spent, aside from the airfare.
Amin has gotten his son a "company visa", which is specific to an organisation.
Generally, the salary, in this case, starts from Tk30,000.
In addition, many people go to Qatar with a three-month visit visa and then renew it again.
His dreams are feeling a little dusty now, however.
He arrived with his son at around 9am. Now sitting on the road divider, they were under the constant onslaught of the dust kicked up by the traffic. Often they would have to make quick evasive moves so a bus didn't run over their feet.
But the shade is of more importance because the wait is quite long.
How did Amin collect the money he needed?
"I can gather the money if the medical comes out right. People will give you loans if you want to go abroad. Everyone understands," he replies.
Next to him is Ayesha Begum, with her son in tow. Both are sitting on the divider, waiting their turn.
Her eldest son – who has been in Qatar for around eight years – had arranged the visa for her younger one.
Even though things started off well, his company doesn't always pay the salaries on time. Even then, with the money he sent, his family managed to build a brick house.
Ayesha's husband is a farmer. As he could not come, Ayesha had to accompany her son to the capital.
But Ayesha isn't worried about money. She says she has enough.
Across the road stood Shamshuddin from Munshiganj. His serial was still far behind. At 45, he decided to go to Qatar.
Why at this age?
"I went to Saudi Arabia in 2002 and had been coming back for 15 years. I gave my younger brother money to go abroad twice. But, he never succeeded. A lot of money was wasted because of it. Then in 2017, I moved back to the country. I had some money at that time, which I invested in the potato trade."
Shamshuddin explained that he also invested in the jute business. His luck took a turn for the worst when his investments did not pay off. His savings also ran dry.
"My cousin who lives in Qatar started giving me some financial help. But now he has asked me to join him. He said I don't have to worry about the costs and can repay him once I get a job there," he said.
Shamshuddin, however, wished he could spend more time with his youngest son.
He doesn't know when he will be able to return, but he knows that by that time his son will no longer be a little boy. It's a childhood missed, something Shamshuddin thought he would no longer have to face in regard to his children.
Three hundred and thirty people per day
As there is no other authorised centre in the country for medicals or health examinations for those travelling to Qatar, people from all over the country have to congregate at the Rupayan Trading Centre.
The examinations of around 330 people are held per day. The tests include eyesight, and blood pressure tests, alongside chest x-rays.
The Covid-19 vaccination is also administered. In total, the tests take around six hours.
Stemz officials said there was no seating arrangement or rest areas in embassies or visa centres, so people had to wait on the dividers.
The medical fee is $137 dollars, which comes to around Tk14,500. The date of the medical is also determined by the Qatar Ministry of Interior.
A sudden commotion
Amid the waiting, a sudden commotion broke out outside the Stemz office.
Some people said they had been asked to come all the way again due to a "technical error".
Among them is Mashiur, who brought his younger brother with him here all the way from Chattogram's Fatikchhari.
They were staying at a hotel, which was also draining their wallet. Taking the arduous trip again wasn't a pleasant or cost-effective option either.
How much had he already spent?
"Around Tk1 lakh. More money is needed mainly for brokers. In our country there is less work, less salary, less education, more unemployment - so no matter how hard it is, we have no choice but to go abroad."
What about the difficulties one had to face?
"There are difficulties everywhere. One should become proficient in any work abroad. Good benefits are available if you know the work," he replied.
Then he trudged back, knowing he would have to repeat the process all over again the next day.