By Kinley Tshering


Twenty year old, scruffy looking Nikhil, his hair tied into a pony tail scurries with plates of shawarma at the Al-bake restaurant at the Community Center in New Friends Colony. Speaking fluent Hindi as he takes the orders, at a glance, he looks like any other waiter. A closer look however confirms that he is not an Indian.

Leaving back his ailing father at home, Nikhil immigrated from Nepal in search of employment in 2006. Having landed a job at the restaurant, he has been working as a waiter since then.

Nikhil is not the only Nepali working at the restaurant. There are more than 12 others from across rural Nepal who work at the restaurant. There are still many other Nepalis who work in the various restaurants and eateries at the Community Center.

“We employ those boys who are good at work. I pay them salaries according to their work. The more skilled they are, more they are paid,” says Sonu Aggarwal, owner of Brijwasi restaurant. “For those who are not skilled, we train them with a minimal salary. When they become skilled, we increase their salaries.”

Most of these Nepali waiters have one thing in common to say: that they came to Delhi for want of employment opportunities back at home. And most of them come from poor backgrounds and have little or no education at all. The grim scenario at home has pushed these young men to look for greener pastures beyond the boundaries.

Dev Raj, 18, from Solokhombo village in Nepal, traveled to Delhi 15 months back looking for a job and a livelihood. Today he works at the Brijwasi restaurant at the community center. He earns a salary of Rs 2,200 a month. The restaurant he works at also employs about 20 other Nepalis.

The porous border shared by India and Nepal, lax immigration rules and a lack of VISA regime between the two countries also makes things easier for them.

Kamal Thapa, another waiter at the Al-bake, says that they just pack their bags, board a train and travel to Delhi. “That is as easy as that,” he adds.

Once in Delhi, through acquaintances, relatives and friends, they hunt for work. To curtail their expenses, most of the Nepali workers put up together in the same house. “We eat from the restaurant and share our rents. This way we are able to save some money from our meager salary,” Dev Raj says.

Nepalis are not just working for others. There are quite a few of them who run their own small businesses as well. And that is exactly what Sher Singh Lama, 30, from Dhaling village in Nepal, has been doing for the past 8 years.

“I used to work as a domestic help for more than 6 years. My employer had promised to send me to London to work for one of their cousin’s house but he did not keep his promise,” he narrates. “After that I started this momo business with two of my friends.” He earns a daily profit of about Rs1, 500-2,000 a day.

Lama lives at Lajpat Nagar along with more than 50 other Nepalis in a building, fully occupied by them. All of them are into momo business and go as far as Khan Market and Nehru place, to sell momos.

Be it working as waiters or selling momos on the streets, the Nepali immigrants have a reason to be glad. “It is better to be here, working and earning rather than being at home jobless,” says Kamal Thapa.