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Humans of Wanderlust #24: Tongbram Khalen, Thanga

Tongbram Khalen is 26 years old. He has a general store in Thanga and belongs to Oinam village.

He lives in Thanga with his family including his mother, father and younger brother. His family owns a grocery shop near Thanga community hall. He is born and brought up in Thanga.

Manipur Loktak lake

Khalen wants to make his family financially stable. “As the elder son in the family, I helped my family in farming as well as this retail business but I’m looking for a more meaningful job right now. I want to sell something as my background has always been selling commodities like fish or daily use product. I was 10 years old when I used to go to Moirang bazaar with my mother to sell fish.


By afternoon time, I used to come back to my house to help my dad in the grocery store. Later in the evening, I used to go to Loktak Lake and spread a fishing net to catch fish for the next day. That’s how I started but now I want to earn more and support my family more financially. I’m heading to Imphal to see whether I could get any job related to selling in there.”

What do the majority people your age do here?

Loktak lake fisherman hut

“They fish and sell it in the market. I have done that from childhood and now am looking for better things. Even the fishermen have increased compared to the past, so getting the right spot is quite difficult nowadays. Fishes are also not available because of the changes happening in the lake,” he said.

See also  Humans of Wanderlust #8 : Lubzin Lolo from Ladakh

The hydropower project has affected the marine as well as the human life who are dependent on the lake. Majority of the people are shifting to other cities to earn more money.

Do you get enough business from the grocery store?


“People have started small shops everywhere in Thanga. They are not even getting a profitable business because commodities are available everywhere. Earlier this wasn’t the scenario. It used to be fewer shops. Now commercialisation has become too much. People are starting shops but not getting the proper business,” Khalen said.

What do you think about the future of this place?

Tanga Manipur

“The place is good and even development is happening really well. Only the monotonous way of businesses is the trouble. If the government takes an initiative to start some employment here, people like us won’t be shifting to do business in other cities. Less number of employment divides family I think. If people get employment in their own village, why would anybody move to cities? City life is so complicated and expensive, I hate being in the city but to earn my bread and butter, I had to compromise and stay,” he ended with a sad smile.

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