Hari Krishna Bolake
Incharge, King's College Canteen

I have been studying in King’s for last two years. Beyond class I have spent the most time in canteen. Be it early morning Table tennis matches or yelling, “Dai bhok lagyo” after class gets over. Canteen is the place I will remember beyond my college days aswell. We have played, ate, celebrated birthdays, hosted important meeting and even completed assignments here.

We at bizonomics are always on look out for micro business stories that might not have made a really big difference in the society but were there to change some lives for better. King’s College Canteen is exactly one of those. Number of people who work here are not that big nor is their impact going out on national or international level but every day they help satisfy hungry soul and meanwhile securing future for couple of people working here.

The story starts with our beloved Hari dai;

Hari dai completed his high school and migrated to Kathmandu for better life. Here, he enrolled in college and was also working to survive in this city. His routine was selling things on the street of Asan and then attending college classes. Things were going on good until metro politician police started taking things away that were sold on the road. From then on it was a game of cat and mouse. Police being the cat coming to snatch things, and the vendor being the mouse trying to survive with things that helped them survive. Even though this hassle was treacherous it paid good money at the end of the day.

Studies were getting tougher. It was hard to maintain both selling things in the road and studying, so he had to prioritize one. Though selling made more money but Hari dai knew studying was the long term shot. He left working and started focusing on studies. While working he had made some good friends. One of them helped him get a job at a store in Bishal bazar. This job was paying him half of what he made selling things on the streets but dai was satisfied because he could take time out for studying and still have fine amount at the end of the day. This went on for nearly next six years. He completed college and life was going good.

The year was 2056 and he was running on bachelors now. This is when life changed once again. He married! Now, the income that was enough for one was bit hard to manage for two. Thus, he started looking for alternatives. From years of selling things both at the road and the shop, one thing he had learn was “art of selling”. He was confident that he could sell his own things now. Thus, this was where his first micro business emerged. He started a cosmetic shop along with his wife. This period was full of ups and downs but was able to pay a fine living in the end of the day.

Meanwhile Hari dai was having his roller coaster ride of life, the culture of going abroad had started in Nepal. Foreign employment seemed a safe shot at earning money for a lot of Nepalese. For Hari dai as well, it was no different. Though, he knew art of selling things, he ended up reaching Malaysia in 2005 to sell physical labor. After they landed in airport he and his fellow Nepali workers had to wait for company representative for two days to come pick them up. This is where the first realization of being away from home came.

There he started working in a company called “Country farm” which sourced organically produced good and sold them in both wholesale and retails. He says that the feeling of bully was always there for immigrant workers. They were treated as inferior compared to local workers. On the good side though this is where his love for food started growing. Twelve hours duty shift was not easy but he took it more like a learning opportunity. For, first time he was seeing how computers operated, how raw ingredients were sorted, how customers were served in high end eatery.

He worked with full effort and was able to jump to supervisor position. Good people and good worked in praised everywhere he says. The senior managers and owners were satisfied with his work. He given paid leaves to come Nepal visit his families. He got chance to go out to international branch opening of the company in Thailand and Singapore. This is where all his year’s effort in foreign land was becoming worth it.

After 5 years of experience in the organic market he was now able to make his own ice-creams, knew all in and outs about organic food’s processing and most importantly was key person in making sure work was getting done and every worker was happy and satisfied. This earned him the position of assistant manager. (While talking to him I was feeling proud of being there and listening to his story, I recalled how his story started from selling things in the street of Asan and now he was assistant manager of international company. All due to his hard work and effort.)

Life was all he worked hard for; Good positing, Handsome salary yet one thing was missing, “Family”. This is when another turn took place. He wanted to return Nepal and do something while living with his family. Seeing his wife and son through a mobile display for a handsome salary and post was not worth it. He left everything, the well earned position, good salary and took a flight back home.

Now, he was in Nepal among his family with no job and no salary. First couple of days were went along with reunion but then once it was over, the question “What should I do?” started hovering over. He had art of selling, had experience of running a restaurant, had served in international cafes, knew all in and outs of organic food and yet was not finding a clear way ahead about what to do. That is when one of this relative brother Ramesh introduced him to King’s college…..”

Today Hari dai is a known, respected and loved person in entire college. I have ended up in canteen in most awkward of times like when everything cooked was over, when he was locking door to go home and yet I never returned empty stomach. He always takes out time to see what can be done. I remember when he made only 2 bread chops because the cooked ones were over and I still wanted to eat some.

This year he is going to mark 9 years of running the canteen and is a satisfied soul. As per him there are hardships working, like the menu has to be for majority and cannot be edited for individuals which might cause few people to not like it, finding workers in hospitality field is hard and those who are found also have very less chances of working for a long time. Yet it has been a wonderful journey. He thanks Ramesh, Meena Di who were the connection builders to help him connect to Kings and thanks the entire King’s family for being there.

For me this story was ground double zero story. How a person started with nothing reached the destination and again came back to ground zero to start another chapter. Upon comparing two grounds he says there are a lot of things that can be done in Nepal and it should be done by us. For him staying in his own country with his own happily is already an earninng in itself :)

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