LAMJUNG, Sept 12: The primary aim of most ethnic groups in the villages of Lamjung is either to get recruited in the British or Indian armies. Young boys running to get their chest measured is a common practice here.
Born and raised in a laure (army) family in Gauda Bhirkuna, Gau Prasad Gurung’s father and in-laws were involved in the Indian Army. A son of an army officer and an in-law to an army officer, Gau Prasad in the city of Besisahar chose to become a cobbler. This decision of his came as a surprise and mostly shock to most of his neighbors.
Thirty-four-year-old year Gau Prasad has been working as a cobbler at Besisahar for two years now. He makes a good living by producing, selling and repairing leather shoes. Traditionally, only people belonging to the Mijar caste would produce and repair shoes in Lamjung. However, Gau Prasad adapted and established himself in this sector after being introduced to Kathmandu’s Krishna Mijaar, who taught him the nitty-gritty of the business.
He believes that no work should be specified or categorized on the basis of caste and if an individual has the willpower to do any good work, he/she should go forward with it.
Gau Prasad specifically focuses on shoes that are simple, long lasting and can be worn on a daily basis. He says the shoes in his shop range from Rs 400-Rs 2,800. Farmers, businesspersons, teachers, school and college kids are his regular and loyal customers.
He also sells his products in wholesale to government as well as boarding schools in Besisahar, Bhedetar, Sundar Bazaar, Khudi, Bhulbhule and Rainas. Free repairing and stitching along with guarantee and warranty have attracted more customers to his shop.
Despite being born to a military family, he was never interested in joining the force. He rather went abroad to Saudi Arabia and worked there for three years as a tea boy and as a security in-charge in Malaysia for seven years. Then, money was no issue for him as he used to send at least Rs 100,000 back home. But, he decided to come to Nepal for satisfaction in his birth land.
Upon being back, he started with shoes stitching and repairing before opening a shop of his own at the cost of Rs 600,000. “No one in my family has worked as a cobbler as yet. They think this is a job for lower cast people. But I think in a different way,” he said.
Now currently earns Rs10,000 on a daily basis and almost Rs 300,000 monthly.