Because of the language barrier, most interactions with local inhabitants will not go beyond a kind namaste and a smile. Like many other travellers in Nepal, I constantly wished I could communicate with the locals I met, to learn something about them. These portraits, therefore, shines a light on the lives of people you may encounter on a journey through Nepal.
This is the story of Thuli Maya Tamang, a 45-year old fruit seller in Bhaktapur from Kavrepalanchok District. Rs100 not only buys you a bunch of delicious bananas, but also a friendly smile and a positive vibe.
Can you tell me about your business?
Ten years ago my family left our village to resettle in Bhaktapur in pursuit of a better life, but most of all for the education of our three daughters. First I started selling vegetables, as it was easy and cheap to set up a vegetable stand. After the earthquake in 2015 I changed to fruits, because fruits are less perishable and have larger profit margins. Now I sell fruits and peanuts in Gapali Suryabinayak, just off the highway from Bhaktapur to Kathmandu.
What are your working hours?
I wake up at 5 in the morning and go with my husband to the wholesale market to buy my merchandise, which is imported from India. Then we visit a temple for our daily prayers. Afterwards, my husband does his own work, which is buying dairy products from a factory and selling them to sweet shops. My busiest hours are in the morning, from 6 till 11 a.m., then I go home to grab a quick lunch. My shop is open 7 days a week until 8 p.m. My daughters help out around the house, so we can enjoy a family dal bhat after a long day at work. They also help out at my fruit stand after school. My daughters are really good girls.
What do you like about your job?
My job gives me the means to send my daughters to school. And I love festivals, as my customers spend extra money on fruits on these days.
Do you dislike anything about your job?
The fierce competition between other sellers sometimes causes tension and during hot summer days, my customers get lazy and don’t come out of the house to buy my fruits.
What do you do in your free time?
I help my daughters with their homework and I chat with my friends. Sometimes we visit our village in Kavrepalanchok, which is a four-hour drive from Bhaktapur.
What are your dreams for the future?
I wish and pray for my daughters to get a good education and that they will find good marriage partners. I hope for us to save money, so one day we can build our own house.”
Text by Ira de Reuver.
Photos by Pranav Joshi.