Facebook continues to connect me with really interesting and fascinating individuals. Bhim Barma from Nepal has to be one of the kindest people I ever met online. His friendly morning and evening greetings are very popular with his friends and Bhim always has a kind thing to say.
But Bhim is also an experienced travel expert – he runs an adventure travel company in Nepal. Like many of our readers, I have never been to Nepal myself and don’t know when or if I will ever make it there. That’s why this connection is so wonderful and I thank Bhim for his time in telling us about himself and his country, Nepal.
1. Please tell us about yourself, where were you born, where did you grow up, where do you live now and what did you study?
I was born in the mid-west region of Nepal in 1957 which is today’s Parbat district Dhawalagiri zone. Now there are a few schools and roads in that district but back then there were no roads, no schools, no hospitals and no other means of communication as well. At first, when my father asked to my mother to move there she felt uneasy, but when she noticed that we would get a better education she agreed because most of our family used to go into the army and she did not want me to join the army. I was only eight years old when we moved. It was hard for all family members to be apart.
When we moved to Chitawan, the environment was different. When I went to the school the dialect was different. It took me almost a year or more to adjust to new friends and a new place. After that I did well in school. I passed high school in Chitawan and went to college there. In Chitawan there was one Jungle Safari called “Tiger Tops” close to our village, that’s where we saw many tourists coming and going. Sometimes we got a chance to meet the tourists but there was no communication because we had language problems. I was always thinking, when would I be able to talk with them and I was very curious to know what they talked about.
I came to Kathmandu to get my bachelors degree in economics after college. I studied culture, history and geography in my additional subjects which made things easier in my work in tourism. I got married when I was about 21 years old and the next four or five years went by very fast. Then I noticed in Kathmandu that a hotel management training center was opening and I decided to take some courses there. I took some short courses in front office management, food and beverage service, housekeeping and cooking.
After my program I joined the Soaltee Hotel, a five star hotel in Kathmandu. When I got the job I started another bachelors degree in economics. During those times life was tough with my job, the studies, extra training in the hotel. My wife was still back in Chitawan; these were difficult times.
After completing the bachelors degree in economics, I started a masters’ degree in economics. It was 1986 when I got an offer from Gulf Airlines, the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain. I worked there until 1990 and came back to Kathmandu. Two things were my great achievements during that period. First I saved some money, and secondly, I had a chance to work with different nationalities. I met people from Europe, America, and different Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, the Gulf countries, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and even from Australia and New Zealand.
When I came back to Nepal I joined a company called Asian Trekking. At that time it was one of the busiest companies in Kathmandu. I had good knowledge in food production and service, skills my employer needed because they wanted to operate some lodges and hotels in Kathmandu and the Khumbu area. During this period, I purchased a house in Kathmandu, my wife and children were with me, work was hard, but I felt that my life was meaningful.