Even with CCTV cameras, Gurkhas find jobs in Chennai

Nar Bahadur Singh

Chennai: Before police patrolling became more systematic and CCTV cameras came into existence in the city, residents went to sleep trusting the frequent whistles of a Gurkha who dragged his lathi on the tarred road assuring everyone that all is well.

In Tansi Nagar, people are familiar with the smiling face of Nar Bahadur Singh (55), who has been working in the city for decades making a living here and supporting his family back home in Nepal. His father Dev Singh was a Gurkha as well.

“He passed away at the age of 92’, says Bahadur in fluent Tamil. ‘I became a Ghurkha at 18 and started working in Tansi Nagar. My father taught me how to go about it. I still have the khukuri (a forward-curving Nepali knife) he had used’. ‘I have worked only in Velacheri and have witnessed how it developed from a village to a city over the years. It was an agricultural land and just had a few houses located far away from each other,”’ he says.

Back home in Nepal, he has his wife and three school-going children. So why does he prefer to work here? “‘We do not need a passport to come and work here, and it is also for the Rupee value.’”

A resident of Bharathi Nagar, he works from night till 4 am, going around the neighbourhood on his bicycle and whistling. During the daytime, he goes around the streets collecting money from every house. “‘Over the years I have never hiked the fee. I am happy with Rs 30 or Rs 10 they give me.’ However, the difficult part is that some families hesitate to pay. ‘Previously I used to tell an association secretary if any family denied me money and he would come to my help,’” he says.

“The local police who come for patrolling are friendly with him. ‘They know that I cover every single street here,’” he adds.

During the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816) between the Gorkha Kingdom (present-day Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal) and the East India Company, the Gorkhali soldiers made an impression on the British, who called them Gurkhas.


Naomi N