Stitch together, stick togetherThe two brothers work from 8 am to 6 pm everyday. Every morning, they collect their equipment—Bharat from a tyre workshop and Ram from a barber shop nearby. Bharat and Ram make about Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000 per month, respectively.
Ram Kumar Ram and Bharat Ram sit beside the dusty Satdobato road in Lalitpur—Ram with his sewing machine and Bharat with his boot polish, ball of thick twine and a shoe horn. Ram, the older brother, is a roadside tailor while Bharat is a cobbler. They have been working together, side-by-side, at this same spot for two months.
Ram, 22, and Bharat, 18, are both from Sarlahi. Ram has a fourth grade education while Bharat has completed his Plus Two. At 10 years of age, Ram went to Ludhiana in India where he learned to sew. He lived in India for the next 10 years, making a living with his sewing. He moved around, eventually ending up in Delhi, after which he left for Qatar. For two years, he sewed military uniforms for the Pakistan Army. As he had a young three-year-old daughter at home, Ram came back to Nepal, hoping to find employment.
Bharat the younger brother has a different story. Two years ago, he came to Kathmandu with his wife and father. He moved around from place to place cobbling shoes, the family business. It’s been five months since he’s been working at the Satdobato roadside.
At the moment, Bharat and Ram’s wives and children are both back home in Sarlahi. Bharat’s wife is expecting and he plans to go back on the sixth day of his child’s birth to celebrate chhaiti.
It’s only been two months that the Ram brothers have been working side-by-side. Their father Thaga Ram, on the other hand, has been cobbling shoes nearby, just across the Ring Road, for 35 years now.
The two brothers work from 8 am to 6 pm everyday. Every morning, they collect their equipment—Bharat from a tyre workshop and Ram from a barber shop nearby. Bharat and Ram make about Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000 per month, respectively. They send all their savings, apart from basic expenditure, back home to their family of nine, which includes their mother, wives, Ram’s daughter, and one brother and sister-in-law.
Whenever they feel like taking a day off, the brothers explore Kathmandu. They’ve visited Ratnapark, Basantapur and Pashupatinath so far, they say. In their spare time, they enjoy listening to Hindi and Bhojpuri songs, and watching comedy films on their phones. While they might work together, they have different perspectives. Ram has already applied for a visa to Dubai and is planning to leave the country as soon as possible.
“It is easier to work and earn money in a country other than Nepal,” he says. Bharat, meanwhile, does not share his brother’s sentiments. He is willing to work in Nepal. “One should work in their own birthplace,” he says. “It’s easier here.”