Rural migrants face reality check

Kathmandu, December 11

Like many people from his village, Navaraj Baral believed in the myth of the capital city, where he thought he would get better job opportunities and a brighter future for his children.

With an School Leaving Certificate certificate in hand he was certain that it would help him secure a stable job and he and his family moved from his home in Syangja to Kathmandu.

“I soon realised how naive I was. People used to tell me that the city had jobs for everyone, and I truly believed that I was doing the right thing for my family. Instead, I wandered through the streets in Kathmandu for days looking for a job but with no success. In the end, I had to resort to selling peanuts on the streets,” Baral said.

Baral wakes up early in the morning to buy Rs 5,000’s worth of peanuts, which he sells over the next few days.

There are thousands of street vendors all over the city, selling street food like peanuts, maize cobs, panipuri, fruits, and many other things.

The vendors change their products according to the season, and some switch to selling clothes, watches, vegetables, anything that sells on the streets.

Hari Bahadur Karki, 60, came to the capital over 10 years ago from Ghyasu Thokar of Dolakha, and has been selling food on the streets for 10 years. Although he too carried big dreams when he came to the capital, he said he was happy with his job.

“This may not be an ideal job, but it gets food on the table and pays for my children’s school fees. That is after all, what I had wanted when I came here  to be able to make a living and educate my children,” he said.

“This job isn’t just about selling food,” Karki said, “You need to be great conversationalists. Customers love that. I tell them the stories of my life, and they come to my stall again and again not just for the food but for the conversations. That is how you succeed in this business.”

Karki said he makes around Rs 300 to Rs 400 a day.