Jag Bahadur’s father, a retired British Army Gurkha, and mother were preparing to settle in the UK. But the couple refused to go with them. “We are not well-educated and the most we could expect to do once we got there was wash dishes or work in someone’s house. I felt like we could do better if we stayed back,” says Karna Maya.
But having lived abroad for so long, they did not know anyone in Nepal and did not have enough capital or skill to start a business. Jag Bahadur once again went abroad, this time to Abu Dhabi. His salary of Rs30,000 was barely enough to cover expenses at home.
Karna Maya opened a clothing store but, since she had to take care of the house and children, her shop remained closed during the peak hours. She called her husband back to Nepal and the two discussed their next move.
Jag Bahadur wanted to buy a twelve-wheeler truck and drive it around the country. Karna Maya and the family opposed the idea.
“There was a time when we did not even have Rs500 in our pockets. People looked at our house and land and refused to believe we did not have money for daily expenses. Those were the most difficult days,” says Jag Bahadur. Meanwhile, Jag Bahadur’s parents in the UK kept asking the couple to relocate too. “They called me mad for staying on in Nepal, and accused me of making my husband lose his mind as well,” says Karna Maya.
Out of work and in desperate need of money, the two decided to use the land they had. Sitting idly at home was not an option, neither was selling land because they thought that would make them lazy. After considering the options, they dived into farming.
The first year they invested Rs100,000 to grow wheat and maize but after a whole year of working in the fields they made just Rs10,000 in profit. They decided to start fish farming, but, since they couldn’t afford to hire workers, they dug the ponds and ferried pipes themselves.
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