‘I had 28 jobs in 28 weeks!’

Friday - - Front Page -

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

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