This oral history interview is an intimate conversation between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share this recording with Oral History Summer School, and with you. Please listen in the spirit with which this was shared.
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This interview with Safiqul Islam Nasir was conducted on June 29th, 2016 at the Hudson Library in Hudson, NY. The interview was conducted in Bengali.
Safiqul Nasir is a Bangladeshi man who has lived in the Hudson Terrace apartments by the river since 2008. In this interview, Nasir remembers his time in villages and cities of Bangladesh, where he lived until he was thirty-two years old. He talks about his love for gardening, farming, and caring and tending for fruit trees and vegetables. He describes his family life in Bangladesh, and the time he spent learning how to make bamboo baskets, picking and packaging mangoes from his family farm, and fishing in the rivers. He describes himself as a farmer, factory worker and laborer, and shares stories of the types of work he’s done in his life, including working in a donut frosting facility and as a contractor in Hudson, at a cinema theater and NGO, and as a record keeper for a distributer of fertilizer and rice paddy field farmer in Bangladesh, and more. Nasir talks about his immigration journey, and how he moved from Bangladesh to Hudson, NY with nineteen of his family members. He discusses his struggles in sending remittances and financial support overseas to his family, and talks about his nieces and nephews who still live in Bangladesh. Nasir shares memories about his college in Bangladesh where he completed his undergraduate studies. He also shares his deep love for cultivating and tending to specific Bengali fruits and vegetables, including types of mangos, custard apples, guavas, litchis, bitter gourd, pointed gourd, drumsticks, and more. He talks about his work in the Hudson garden on Front Street, and shares his hopes and dreams for the future to move to Florida with his family, where the summer season is longer so he can grow more fruit trees and vegetables and raise animals on a small farm. This interview was conducted during the month of Ramadan, and Nasir describes roza fasting and Ramadan, and discusses his hunger and how it affects his ability to recall memories during the interview.
This interview may be of interest to those who want to learn about the history of Hudson, NY; the lives and contributions of Bangladeshi immigrants to the local community; Islamic life in Hudson; rural and agrarian life in Bangladesh; Bengali diets and food preferences; Ramadan; influx and settling of Bangladeshi communities in Hudson, NY.
Nayantara Sen is a Brooklyn-based racial and gender justice educator, trainer, writer, and interviewer. She is a trilingual storyteller, with proficiency in Hindi, Bengali and English. She writes and produces curricula and stories at the intersections of race, gender, immigration and sexuality. She is an M.A candidate at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, where she studies the relationships between literature, storytelling and social change movements. She previously worked as the Project Associate for Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations at the Brooklyn Historical Society, an oral history and public programs project on mixed-heritage families.
This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.
Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”