Hot Job: They sweat it out, make fine bricks and a tidy sum

They are often the tallest structures in the outskirts of Kathmandu. A few kilometres away from the city, in almost all directions, towering kilns cook up bricks in tonnes to meet the demand of the ever-expanding metropolis.

While the workings of a brick factory can be summed up in a few steps – mud is shaped into bricks which are then laid out to dry in the sun after which they are heated in a kiln – the skill required to manufacture a well-crafted brick takes years to master.

To meet the demand of a skilled workforce, every year, hundreds of Indian workers from Bihar and surrounding areas arrive in Kathmandu to work in these factories. These workers are not only skilled in the craft of making bricks, they are also, almost always, the only ones, who can navigate the impossibly hot kilns.

Photojournalist Kabin Adhikari visited a brick factory in Bhaktapur and found out both Nepali and Indian workers working in unison to build bricks.

Every year, hundreds of workers from Bihar and surrounding areas arrive in Kathmandu to work in its many brick factories. These workers, aged 16-45, are often the only ones, who can work with the impossibly hot kiln, something Nepali workers avoid doing.


The Musahars, Kalwars and Paswans make up the majority of Indian workforce in these factories. These workers mostly come to Kathmandu during the onset of winter and work for a few months before going back to their native towns during Holi, the festival of colours.


While Nepali workers work the mud to shape it into bricks and then sun-dry them, Indian workers do the majority of the labour-intensive tasks. The Indians carry coals to the kiln before roasting the bricks after which they are neatly stacked for delivery.


An advance of Rs 50,000 is given to each worker. During the four months of working in these factories, a worker can earn upto Rs 1,00,000 excluding the advance.


Working at these factories is often a way to earn extra income for both the Nepali and Indian workers. Most of these seasonal workers also attend to their farms during the remaining months.


For workers ready to brave the heat and the demanding physicality of the job, working at these factories is a viable option. “During my 19-month-long stay in Dubai, I hardly saved Rs 3,00,000,” says Jeetendra BK (not pictured). “I can not only earn Rs 1,50,000 in four months at the factory, I can also go to my village and tend to my farm during off-season,” he says.



See also

In photos: The craft of making khukuris

Why Karnali is not just Rara, it’s Nepal’s intangible heritage

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