Being a lady tempo driver in Kathmandu. There is much of boldness and beauty that speaks for itself.

Initially, her husband scolded. She knew, there was unconditional trust in their relationship. She went an existing female driver parking her tempo in Sundhara, inquired and easily found out the procedure of learning to drive. Husband accepted the new work desire of his wife. The couple traveled Kavre, to get a citizenship card for Ishwori, then later got a driving licence. She is driving Safa Tempo for 5 years already.

हाम्रो कथा २०७५ साउन १८ गते १४:३३

Ishwori Bishworkarma is a woman with clarity and straightforwardness. She believes, she is well aware of her strengths and weaknesses. She ultimately does what-so-ever she dreams of.

Ishwori is originally from Panchkhal, Kavre and lives with her husband and two children in Sundhara. She is 32 years old. After, her family moved to Kathmandu, her husband worked as a taxi driver. Depending on the income of one man, was not sufficient in Kathmandu. Ishwori used to work as housemaid in few houses around Sundhara Area. Work was fine, still she wondered if she is confining her life. She is a working women, still inside houses. She seems to enjoy outdoor work. She says, she loved the crowd around Kathmandu Mall, Sundhara and NAC building. She really is an extrovert, a sociable lady.

She requested her husband, if she could quit doing household chores and start a cosmetic shop in Sundhara. On mutual agreement, Ishwori then started selling cosmetics as a street vendor. After, six months of her selling cosmetics, she felt she is done with all this. Now, she wants to drive a safa tempo. (a three wheeler clean energy electric vehicle, commonly called TukTuk in many other countries)

Initially, her husband scolded. She knew, there was unconditional trust in their relationship. She went an existing female driver parking her tempo in Sundhara, inquired and easily found out the procedure of learning to drive. Husband accepted the new work desire of his wife. The couple traveled Kavre, to get a citizenship card for Ishwori, then later got a driving licence. She is driving Safa Tempo for 5 years already.

This shows, everything is simple if done. It is we humans who complicate things for no reason. This is mantra of happy life Ishwori discovered.

She informs, “There are 90+ safa tempo that run from Sundhara to different corners of Kathmandu. And, the majority of the safa tempo drivers are female”. The tempo drivers, owners have an association to safeguard them. Yatayat Swotantra Majdur Sangathan (Independent Transportation Labors’ Union), is the place Ishwori believes her second home, where her work problems can be shared and solved, festival celebrations take place, work regulations are set up.”

The beauty of this lady lies in her increasing career goals. She is currently learning to drive taxi. She has convinced her husband, in-laws, parents and children, that she is willing to become a taxi driver soon.

Final question asked to her, “If you are someday asked, can you support all your finances and your two children’s school fee without your husband’s support, can you?”

Her responded modestly, “Of course, a female tempo driver can survive all by herself and educate her children. I am lucky, I have a supportive loving husband. There are so many single, divorced, widowed women who are supporting their families. I will myself introduce them.”

Moving on to the next,

Changpa Rani is a tempo driver in her late twenties. She learned driving at a young age of 17. She belongs to Tamang community of Kavre. She got married at the age of 19, her marriage didn’t work well. Its been 4 years, she separated from her husband. Legal divorce is yet to happen. She has two small kids studying in primary school. She believes, driving was the only skill she had. There was no much education she acquired, family support she ever got. This is the only skill she has to feed her small kids. Changpa lives in Kapan.

Why didn’t she think of doing a job instead of driving? She answered, “Any job that would suit me would pay fixed salary. Salaries to my kind of barely education could not help me sustain my family. Being a tempo driver, I can earn more if I carry a shift of travelers more.”

Being a driver, you carry a spirit of ultimately becoming an entrepreneur. Risk taking, determination, focus and confidence. Few people with less education and exposure can acquire. Hence, there is a distinct boldness in the eyes of each tempo driver in Kathmandu.

Three examples put together can perfect a perfect picture of the scenario…

Srijana Khadgi, a 38 years lady is another interviewed. She is also driving a tempo since 5 years now. She has grown up two sons, one of 19 years and the other of 17 years by driving a tempo. She believes, she is bit self-centered. She takes her personal decisions independently, that makes her who she is, good or bad, successful or disgraceful. She is happy and content with her life.

She was not happy with her husband, she left him. Her sons choose to live with her, she accepted her life and moved on. Little regret she has is, her younger son dropped school after studying Grade 5 only. The elder one has completed his schooling. Now, both of her sons are also employed. Someday soon, they will choose their life tracks and her responsibilities are done. She smokes whenever she is waiting on the Sundhara tempo queue for fill up her tempo with travelers. She says not just smoking, she is also habituated to playing mobile games, she plays all the remaining time she is free from work.

A little misfortune, none of the women wanted their stories to be written with their photographs. There is still a level of personal shyness to overcome.

Respect and gratitude to the first lady tempo drivers in Kathmandu, who alone set up a trend, a worthy culture in Kathmandu

The woman who paved the way for all of them is Laxmi Sharma, Nepal’s first female tempo driver. At present, she is 69 years old.  Laxmi too started her work life after her husband left her. She had three daughters to grow.

Laxmi Sharma was not literate, drove a tempo without a license for four years, unaware she needed one until a traffic officer fined her. Laxmi Sharma dropped driving tempo in 1988 and started a handicraft business. She makes buttons out of animal bones, wood and other natural materials. Today, she is popularly known as the “Button Lady”.

(Excerpts of Laxmi Sharma referred from Global Press Journal, Nepal’s First Female Tempo Driver Establishes Reliable Route to Financial Independence published on April 16, 2014.)

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