By Nawara Fattahova
What does the life of a baker in Kuwait look like? Kuwait Times spoke to Naamatullah Pirmohammed, a 59-year-old Afghan, who has been working in local Iranian bakeries for the past 22 years. The wide, flat bread known as ‘Iranian bread’ is a local favorite.
As a baker, Naamatullah works daily on the traditional oven (tandoor) from 6:00 am till 10:00 am, then from 11:30 am till 2:00 pm, then from 5:00 pm till 10:00 pm. So Naamatullah actually remains at the bakery from 6:00 am till 10:00 pm, as he is still at the place during breaks when the oven is turned off.
He arrives early in the morning and gets to work. “I prepare the dough and bake the bread. I work in this bakery along with two colleagues. We produce around 1,500 pieces of bread every day,” he told Kuwait Times. He learnt this profession in Afghanistan, where he also worked as a baker. “The shape of the bread is different in Afghanistan, where it’s oval or elliptical, while here in Kuwait it’s round,” he said.
Naamatullah is married with six children. “I have three girls and three boys, who are all in Afghanistan. I travel every two years to see them, but once I couldn’t travel for seven years,” he said. His work is dangerous. “I like my work although I face many problems. The most dangerous thing about my work is the fire. I have got burned many times by the fire from the oven. But I have got used to it, as all my work is with fire. I haven’t faced any problem with customers, as the people here are good,” he remarked.
Naamatullah’s other problem is financial. “Since I came to Kuwait 22 years ago, the price of bread hasn’t changed. It still costs 20 fils, although the prices of all the ingredients including yeast, flour, salt and sesame have hiked many times in these 22 years. So the bakery is negatively affected by this difference,” he pointed out.
This situation led the co-op to relieve the bakery from paying rent. “Five years back, we were paying KD 50 in rent, but fortunately now we don’t have to pay anything. But even the rent that we used to pay in the past was symbolic compared to other areas, where the rent ranges between KD 150 in Mishref to KD 250 in Jahra, for instance. Also in Salwa it used to be KD 240, but they shut the bakery there a few years back,” Naamatulah said.
He has previously worked in bakeries in various areas. “I have worked in Jahra, Sabah Al-Salem, Fahaheel and Salwa, where I was working before coming to this bakery in Bayan. I’m satisfied at this place, and I don’t know to do anything else other than baking,” concluded Naamatulah.