By Suketu Mehta
Monir is lying on a mattress in a dark room in a Queens basement, smoking, dressed in a sarong. He is in his 50s, and has lost most of his hair and his life-spirit. He left Bangladesh thirty-six years ago, first going to Germany, where he worked in restaurants, then to New York, then to Michigan, where he bought a house and lost it during the foreclosure crisis. He went back to Bangladesh for a spell, and is now back in New York driving a cab, earning money to send to his three kids; his eldest daughter is finishing medical school. He has no network of financial support here that he can fall back on. So, for the last two and a half years, he’s been forced to live below ground in this windowless cell, because it only costs $300 a month including heat and electricity and television.
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