John was zigzagging through masses when he noticed a young woman frying and selling local dumplings. She was sitting under an old banyan tree, carrying a little baby in a sack wrapped around her backside. There were a number of small red plastic chairs and tables in front of her operation, in case any customer wanted to sit down while enjoying her fresh dumplings. John, though very careful about consuming street foods while traveling, kept aside his worries, bought some dumplings, sat (barely) on a little chair and began enjoying the fresh dumplings.
And that’s when he noticed the completely bleached-out arms of the lady, without affecting any other visible part. John’s medical curiosity forced him to start a conversation with her while the baby was in a deep afternoon nap. She spoke broken English. After a few preliminary exchanges, John went directly to the issue and inquired whether the lady had suffered any kind of medical ailment while growing up, that would only affect the color of her both arms! Her answer was negative. As the crowd was thinning out, she took a break from her activity to engage into conversation.
After her high school graduation, she wanted to go to college, but her poor parents could not afford the cost. To save some money, she decided to get a job in the fishing industry, a lucrative business in this part of the world supplying to all those giant networks of grocery stores both in US and Europe. Initially she was assigned to peeling shrimps, at the impossible rate of several hundred per hour for a meager pay rate. As she continuously failed in her daily output, she was reassigned to a different job of cleaning different areas of the operation throughout the day.
She was given a pair of thick rubber gloves to dip the wash-clothes into a bleach solution inside a long narrow bucket. Once the initial pair worn out, the owner blamed her. Then to save money, he only supplied her with thin and cheap latex ones that would crack open right after one use. She only survived three months, by which time her both arms would bleach out along with blisters with severe pain. Once slightly recovered, she started this new business.
Then, with a pause, she asked John “Do people in the west know how their clean fish gets processed before showing up in their grocery isle?”