Yangyel Lhaden

A car arrives at Zamlha Automobile Workshop in Tsirang, and the owner wants to swap out the worn tyres for two new ones. The tyre expert, Shibu Raj Pradhan, comes over. In addition to asking for a tyre change, the owner brings up changing the brake pads.

Shibu Raj Pradhan gathers his tools and gets to work. He starts by loosening the screws with a wrench, then employs a hydraulic jack to lift the car and opens the tires. Bringing out the new tyres, he places the old tyre on a machine designed to remove the metal frame, and then skillfully attaches the new tire onto the frame.

Once done, he fills the tire with air, meticulously checking the pressure with his seasoned hands. To ensure a proper seal, he closes his eyes to shield them from dust, then spits on the tyre to check for any escaping air bubbles. Finally, he reinstalls the car with the new tyres and replaces the brake pads.

Shibu Raj Pradhan’s journey into the world of car mechanics began unexpectedly at the age of eleven. Alongside fourteen friends, he left Lhamoizhingkha with only Nu 1,000 in hand. This journey eventually led him to become the highly skilled mechanic sought after at Zamlha’s automotive hub today.

Shibu Raj Pradhan’s path took a turn due to a distressing incident during his schooling years. When he and his friends were denied their school result certificates, they discovered that their headmaster had burned them. This was in the early 1990s. This injustice led to a confrontation, resulting in Shibu Raj Pradhan and his friends fleeing their hometown to avoid arrest.

For over a month, they survived in the forest, relying on its resources for sustenance. Eventually, they stumbled upon Gedu, where they encountered a contractor who offered them work. For the first time in many days, they got proper food. “I bought Nu 500 worth of food, and we all shared.”

After completing their duties, they continued their journey. Shibu Raj Pradhan eventually settled in Paro.

In Paro, Shibu Raj Pradhan initially worked in a bakery but transitioned to mechanics upon the advice of an Indian mechanic named Abdul. Despite the lower pay, Shibu Raj Pradhan embraced the profession, learning various skills from his mentor, Guruji. Despite regrets about not being able to pursue formal education, Shibu Raj Pradhan finds fulfillment in his profession.

“I wanted to study. The past incident still tears me up; for no fault of mine I had to give up education. But I am happy that in my faith, I got to learn this profession,” says Shibu Raj Pradhan.

With two daughters, Shibu Raj Pradhan prioritises their education and dreams of establishing an automobile workshop in his village one day. He emphasises the importance of embracing learning, especially in a field like mechanics, which continually evolves with technology.

Shibu Raj Pradhan encourages the younger generation not to shy away from getting their hands dirty, offering to mentor and even pay those willing to learn. His aspirations reflect a desire to pass on his knowledge and expertise while ensuring a sustainable future for his profession.