Strange Survival

From bus driver to ‘King Bazza’, the Chepstow man revered as monarch in Indian village

Among the Yanadi tribe of Andhra Pradesh, he is known as “King Bazza” and held in such awe that his “subjects” have been known to walk ten paces behind him, and children have feared to approach him.

However, at home in Chepstow, he is an ordinary father-of-four whose children constantly “take the mick”.

Mr Watson was given the title after helping villagers, who once lived on a rubbish tip and had a life expectancy of around 40, to make a new home for themselves — which has been named Barrypuram in his honour.

But he was regarded as special from the moment he arrived by the tribe — who are at the bottom of the caste system and are descended from ratcatchers to the local kings.

“They said there was an ancient prophecy one day a white man would come and build them a village,” he said.

“King Bazza” now has around 130 subjects, who work as agricultural workers and rickshaw drivers.

Though he has no crown or official regalia, since his people live in poverty, and refuses to take the role too seriously, he enjoys their enduring gratitude after helping them start new lives.

His experience has drawn comparisons with The Man Who Would Be King, the 1975 film starring Michael Caine and Sean Connery, in which Connery’s character Danny is crowned leader of a fictional tribe on the sub-continent.

Now, every time the businessman visits Barrypuram he is surrounded by adoring inhabitants and consulted on all major decisions.

Mr Watson was accorded the title of king in 2010 after visiting the area with a charity, which provides support for the poor of the region. He paid £20,000 for the materials to construct their new village.

He said: “It really was like Sean Connery and The Man Who Would Be King, when I said I was going to build them a village. About half believed me and half didn’t.

“To start with they were in total awe of me. They would walk ten paces behind me, none of the children would come up to me.”

Now they were starting to realise that he was an “ordinary guy” but he is still greeted with great fanfare on his visits.

“They throng round me, holding my hand, pulling me about,” he said.

“Every time I get there, there is a big village meeting and I have to sit in the middle of all of them.

“They had nothing. Now they have education because I built them a school, nutrition because I built them vegetable farms.”

He also provided materials to erect 31 huts with lighting, install water pumps, and build a chicken farm and a church. They are now starting to put up stone buildings. The Indian government is taking steps to name Barrypuram officially.

His reign comes as the culmination of a forty-year love affair with India, which began in 1972 when Mr Watson answered a classified ad in The Daily Telegraph to work as a bus driver taking “hippies” on overland trips to the country.

He decided to return to help the Elizabeth-Ann charity and in 2009 founded his own branch, called Help The Village. …

via Telegraph.

I’ve wondered why a billionaire doesn’t decide to make villages and homes for any and all homeless people in the world willing to work and be good citizens to create a better situation. It’s a dream of mine to do something like this, not to be a King, but to make a difference in the lives of people who need a chance.

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