Fahamida Mahajabin Nipu arrives in Dhanmondi at around 4 pm to start her shift as a food delivery woman. There are many restaurants and coffee shops in the area and her delivery schedule is always full.
Nipu is a third-year student in the Food and Nutrition Department at the Government College of Applied Human Science at Azimpur. She has been earning money to cover her academic and personal expenses as a food delivery woman in the Dhanmondi area for the last eight months.
"While I am still riding, orders keep flooding in. I take calls one after another while doing the deliveries," said Fahamida.
Nipu was raised in Thakurgaon, where she completed her SSC. But her home town is in Gaibandha. She came to Dhaka to study in 2016 and stayed back with her elder sister. That was when she gathered the courage to ride a bicycle around the city. For around the next two years she commuted to the university on her cycle.
"But I started riding the bicycle when I was an 8th-grade student in Thakurgaon. My friends always encouraged me to ride a bicycle," she said.
On average, she earns Tk300 every day doing this part-time job for five hours. Her monthly target is to earn around Tk9,000 - Tk10,000.
"The most important thing is that I can avail myself a break whenever I want," she said.
Her daily routine is to wake up at 7am in the morning and go to bed late at night. She has to attend five classes almost every day. Once her shift ends at 8pm, she returns home to cook her own food and start her studies like a regular student.
"Sometimes in the gaps between my classes, I step out of my university, turn on the app and make some quick deliveries," she said.
Nipu's goal is to become a nutritionist and she is hopeful that her study area - food and nutrition - has a promising future. She added that the government has created two posts for dieticians in every hospital.
"I can work as a researcher in food and beverage companies too. We also have a scope in international organisations like the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). I want to get a PhD in food and nutrition.
My father could not afford to let me study at a private university. But I have no regrets," she said. She wanted to take charge of her own life and succeed in her goals.
When asked if she faces any problems on the job, she replied, "I deliver the food from a safe distance. I hand over the parcel, take the money, that's all. It takes a maximum of two minutes. Dhanmondi is more female-friendly and the customers behave formally. But in other areas, people occasionally look at me differently."
Nipu lamented the lack of part-time jobs for females in Bangladesh. The options for women are mostly restricted to working in a restaurant, a shopping mall or a showroom.
"There is no job shorter than nine hours, be it for a student or full-time job-holders. It is very tough to do a nine-hour job while studying. You cannot do both well enough. The income is not that high either. Jobs in a shopping mall fetch you Tk8,000 to Tk9,000. Food delivery is a good job in comparison to that. And if you give in extra time, you will make more money," said Nipu.
But there are negative aspects to it too. When an order gets cancelled, the delivery drivers do not get any money. The restaurant never takes the food back. Rather, it has to be sent back to the company's office. There is also the aspect of having to deal with rude customers.
When her extended family came to know about her mode of work, she had to explain the benefits to them and break the stigma. Since then her parents have been supportive of her decision.
After an exhausting day, cycling around the city, she feels the happiest when she hits her target of delivering at least 10 food parcels.
"That is when I feel the happiest," Nipu said proudly.