‘I had 28 jobs in 28 weeks!’
It was 5am and Jubanashwa Mishra, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, looked out the window of his sparse room in the mountainous region of McLeod Ganj in India’s Himachal Pradesh. It was drizzling and the mist was thick. Slipping on his jacket and jeans, he laced his trekking boots and headed to the camp kitchen where, after downing a cup of tea, he picked up an empty rubbish bag and stepped out into the freezing dawn.
Clutching his jacket tightly closed to keep out the cold breeze, he began following his colleague up the 4,946-metre Gaurjunda peak.
“I was cold and clammy and desperate to return to the camp to snuggle under a blanket,” says Jubanashwa. But he had work to do – as a waste warrior it was his job to clean the mountainside of rubbish left behind by travellers, trekkers and thrillseekers. In a couple of hours, he had picked up enough trash – plastic bags, empty packets, juice cans, food containers and water bottles – to fill his bag, and with the 15kg haul on his back, he began making his way down.
“The route was slippery and dangerous. One wrong step and I could topple over a precipice injuring or even killing myself,” he says.
Through the blinding rain and in low-visibility conditions, the 30-yearold gingerly made his way down the mountainside. At around 10am he stumbled into the camp with the load for the charityWastewarriors.org, which recycles part of the waste and disposes of the remainder responsibly.
But he could barely afford to rest. After leaving the bag there, he took a fresh one and was off up the mountain again to bring down more rubbish. “Some days I did the trip maybe four times,” he says. It was hard, dirty and dangerous work, but Jubanashwa didn’t have to worry – he knew that in six days he would finish this job and start another.
As part of a mission to encourage youth in India to choose jobs they are passionate about, Jubanashwa gave up his comfortable job as a software engineer to work as everything from a fashion photographer to a tea picker, cremation assistant to motorbike mechanic, houseboat driver to tattoo artist. A resident of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, he holds the unofficial record for having done 28 jobs in 28 Indian states in 28 weeks.
Ask him which was the most challenging and he doesn’t think twice. “As a teacher at a playschool,” says the softly spoken man. “Believe me, managing a bunch of three-yearold kids is the most difficult job I’ve