Anita and the art of motorcycle maintenance
Anita Tamang was a home-maker, and was struggling to find a job to supplement her income. One day ten years ago, she enrolled in a motorcycle repair workshop at a vocational training centre in Thimi. Her instructors found she had a knack for mechanics, and encouraged her to take it up as a profession. She started interning at a repair shop, but the pay was not good and her male colleagues did not trust her skills.
“They made me clean the workshop, and I was not allowed to repair bikes,” she recalled. Disheartened, Anita started work at a factory assembling two-wheelers, and realised she had a passion for motorcycles.
She wanted to start her own repair shop, but banks refused to lend her money. Finally, with a loan from a foundation, Anita could fulfil her dream of owning her own motorcycle repair shop in Thimi.
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Originally from Tholo Phakar village in Sindhupalchok, Anita Tamang was gifted with strong workmanship and dedication to detail – both proudly shown in her work and muscular forearms. She also had close family bonds with two brothers, Pradip and Buddha, and a younger sister, Renu. Pradip and Renu help Anita as mechanics, and Renu also studies education.
In the beginning, customers used to approach Pradip first because they thought he was the chief mechanic. “People ignored me, did not trust a woman. They thought I was joking when I said I could fix their bikes,” Anita recalls.
Now, Anita helps other interns from the vocational centre where she learned the craft. But often they never finish their internship, drifting to other jobs.
“I like to teach motorbike repair skills, where you need to identify the problem before taking the bike apart and most struggle with this,” says Anita who would like to open her own motorcycle repair school, and perhaps integrate it with a café where her customers can relax while their bikes are repaired.
Anita also intends to learn English, and expand her clientele, exploring new business prospects. Funding is a problem, and the bureaucracy does not make it any easier.
She says: “I want to do more, and I know I can achieve more with financing. I would like to learn how they maintain bikes in other countries and bring those new perspectives and techniques to Kathmandu.”