One of the most fascinating aspects of life is meeting others and learning about what they’ve been through in life. I met a man from Nepal by the name of Raju, who lives and works in Bangkok. Over the past few years we’ve seen each other in passing and eventually I became a customer of his. He runs a tailor shop on Sukhumvit Road in the heart of Bangkok and he now makes my clothes, both casual and dress. He has an eye for detail, a pleasant personality, and he’s a good guy. One day I suggested that we go to dinner, away from the hustle of business life, have a few cocktails and get to know each other.
Nepal is landlocked, which means that it is surrounded by other countries on all sides and must keep friendly relations with its neighbors in order to have access to the shoreline (shipping). Essentially, Nepal is squeezed between China and India. Nepal is a difficult country to make money in and survival is a daily chore, so Bangkok is a paradise by comparison.
Bangkok was recently voted by Travel + Leisure magazine as the World’s Best City and anyone who lives here, knows why. I bought a bottle of Jack Daniels to start us off and over a meal and a few sips of tipple, I learned about Nepal.
It’s important that I add that Raju is married, has a child and shares an apartment with his brother.
Cricket is the number one sport in Nepal and the international teams are followed closely. I admitted that I knew nothing about cricket and the game seemed like a parody of baseball, croquet, and t-ball, but that’s just my American interpretation.
Since we were eating, I had to ask about the food and was surprised to learn that it is basically the same as Indian food, with little, if any, Chinese influence.
The most recognizable city for those who are not familiar with Nepal is probably Katmandu and that is where Raju was born. Katmandu brings to mind a Bog Seger song by the same name and advertisements telling of the extreme poverty of the nation and Katmandu in particular.
In the year 1997, Raju left Katmandu and Nepal at the age of 20 and made his way to Bangkok. He came alone, struggled and survived. The financial crisis of 1997 spread from Bangkok, Thailand and touched all the economies of the world; just check your economic history to see what I mean.
The Thai Baht (the currency of the Kingdom) was allowed to float and the economy suffered with over 300 major construction projects abandoned. The economy of Thailand when Raju left his home in Katmandu, for lack of a better expression, was going down the toilet. The country’s currency was suddenly only worth half as much.
Imagine leaving your native land at the age of 20 and moving to a country where you do not speak the language, don’t know your way around, and have no one to assist you if trouble brews. However, if you met Raju you would see why he’s been able to prosper with a wife and family at the age of 31.
Why Bangkok? He gave an answer that we both giggled about; it’s always warm and it’s cheap to live in Bangkok. If you have never been to Bangkok, you have to take my word for it when I say that you can live in Bangkok on $500 or $5,000 per month, it’s up to you. You would have to choose where you live, eat, what you wear, how you entertain yourself, and what you do for a living.
In the song, Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan sang, “When you ain’t got nothin’, you got, nothin’ to lose.” Raju and I both agreed on that lyric.
Everyone has a dream and Raju’s dream is to have his own tailor shop.
Running the projector 20 years in the future, where will Raju be? He says that his daughter will be married at the age of 22, he will own his own shop, have other small businesses, and live a simple and easy (no stress) life for his remaining years.
Two things that Raju recommends for anyone traveling to Nepal to see are the Himalayas and the Hindu temples which are adorned with gold and art.
The evening became late quickly and we parted the restaurant, a little light-headed, our stomachs full, and even better friends.
About the Author: Lazz Laszlo is a former Investment Executive and Financial Reporter. He spends his time as an emcee, public speaker, enjoying life and writing articles and eBooks about business, travel, retirement, strategy, and pleasure.