Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi
Mail to: email@example.com
MD Humayun (Bangladesh)
Managing chef of a Bangladeshi restaurant
(He’s been in Japan since ’87)
Have you enjoyed a great New Year’s vacation? My Eyes Tokyo wishes you and your families the best during the year 2010.
We bring you the first interview in this year with a guy from Bangladesh. He is MD Humayun, who is managing a Bangladeshi restaurant in Tokyo. Humayun has been living in Tokyo for more than 20 years and he speaks Japanese very fluently. He doesn’t uncap his toque blanche even at lunchtime. He looks like a born culinarian but his background has nothing to do with cooking.
*A story of his restaurant …. Click here!
I used to be a professional soccer player.
Before coming to Japan, I was a professional soccer player in Bangladesh. Soccer is very popular in my hometown and many people enjoy playing it in a field at a corner in town. I was famous among Bangladeshi people.
But my country is not rich. Athletes have to eat a lot to built up their physical strength so they spend much money on food. That’s why it was tough to live not only for ordinary people but also for professional athletes including me. I was living in a dormitory and I ate with my family on weekends.
My team paid for our uniforms and soccer shoes but they didn’t allocate more than a certain amount. So I thought of going abroad. I thought of going to a rich country, working there, saving money, coming back home and starting my own business.
“There are many good people in Japan.”
I’ve loved Japan since I was in Bangladesh. My teacher said that there were many good people in Japan when I was a child. I got interested in such a good country. Actually before coming to Japan, I met a Japanese man who was working for the Japanese government. He was an old gentleman and we talked a lot. Those were the reasons why I wanted to come to Japan.
Moving toward my dream.
After coming to Japan, I worked at many kinds of factories in the daytime. And I worked at restaurants in Tokyo in the nighttime and holidays.
Originally my father owned his own restaurant and I also wanted to open my own one. So I’d learned how to cook for more than 15 years after I came to Japan. When I was working at a box lunch (bento) factory, I made lunches by hand so I learned about cooking a lot there.
I saved money little by little and finally I opened my own restaurant in July 2004. It took almost 20 years to realize my dream since I came here. I didn’t get a loan at all. I got to the point where I started my business by spending only my savings. But I wanted to open a restaurant earlier.
I can’t respond to a family emergency.
I got married here in Japan and I’ve made my livelihood here. Then a problem arises. I cannot respond to a family emergency which occurs at home. It was really tough for me.
It costs a lot to buy a round-trip ticket between Japan and Bangladesh and also it takes much time to make arrangements for a trip. So I regretted coming here every time I got involved in family emergencies.
I couldn’t understand the Japanese language at all when I came here. I thought how difficult the language is. But I didn’t go to any language school. I learned it by talking to coworkers. I’ve not read any textbook. However I had little difficulty communicating in day-to-day situations for six months after I came here.
Everything is expensive in Japan so it’s really hard for me to survive. In this prolonged recession, even Japanese people are having a hard time of it. There are many small factories near here but no one comes to my restaurant from there. That shows how bad the economic situation is.
It must be very tough for parents who support their child/children. They have to spend a lot to send their children to school. They want to buy something for children but they hesitate. They must be aching for it.
I have no time to care about my appearance because I have to live through hard times. I don’t uncap my toque blanche even when I have lunch in my restaurant. Because I have to prepare for making dinnertime menus as soon as I finish my lunch. Hardworking is much more important than your looks here in Japan.
There are times when I thought I wanted to close my business. But I don’t do it because I’d worked hard for 20 years to have my own restaurant. So if I want to keep doing my own business here, I have to work relentlessly.
Even if the economic situation would worsen, I will stay here in Japan. Even if I would have to close shutters, I won’t go back home.
What is Tokyo to you?
A town where many good people live.
Especially in this area, there are people who came from rural regions.
So they are warm-hearted.
I lived in Gunma Prefecture which is located 100km (about 60miles) north of Tokyo. I was working at a meatpacking factory there for one year after coming to Japan. Then I moved to this area.
I’ve been living in the same area since I came here so I can say that is my town. I know every stone of the town.
That’s why I cannot leave Tokyo.
*If you want to know about his restaurant, click here!