“What Do You Do for a Living, Daddy?”
“And why are you making so much extra money lately?”
“Well, son, I manufacture and sell burnable flags and flammable effigy characters.”
Like most manufacturers, Rasheed is also a firm believer in economies of scale. He prefers bigger orders for flags, for he can then deploy his newer screen-printing versus the traditional and tedious hand-painted techniques. But if stuck with a smaller order of fifty or less, he prefers making the less popular – but still staple Pakistani choices, Israel and India – rather than Old Glory.
“American flags take time. The stripes and stars demand a lot of attention. Israel and India are simpler. Just a couple of lines on the edges, their symbols in the middle, and that’s it,” says Rasheed, who sells his wares from between 80 rupees (90 cents) to 200 rupees ($2.20), depending on dimensions and order quantities.
“Once in a while, we make effigies too. Ariel Sharon was rather popular, back when he was around. [George W.] Bush was very popular too. But now, increasingly, we are seeing more orders for Obama too. This wasn’t the case earlier. He had a better reputation in Pakistan.”
“…the recent crises between Pakistan and the United States. If things get better, we will suffer. Honestly. A quarter of my business is based on these tensions. … But only a quarter.”
(H. T. Dr. John Pepple)