As Sunil (my younger nephew) and I went on this trip to Nainital we tried things like boating and some silly rides at the end of the rope way. Sesha and I we often just end up waking from here to there but that also is pretty nice.
So with Sunil soon it was time to take boat ride that cost us Rupees 120. As you try to enter the narrow boat it sways a bit and I like that feeling. Soon, we were out in the lake and Sunil asked the boatman if he could try rowing. The boatman was all game for it. Sunil was a miserable flop at it. Then he came and sat next to me. The boatman could probably sense from my face that I too wanted to try my hand but was too hesitant to ask. So he offered, “Aao app bhi try karo” (come, you too give it a try). Of course, I too was a miserable flop at it! And while he did it, rowing looked so simple.
This broke the ice and we started chatting. We learned that the boatman’s name was Harish and he is from Almora. His family lives with him at Nainital and they go back in October to Almora for farming. He has been coming to Nainital in tourist season for the past 20 years (he didn’t look that old)!
Then we asked him if he knew to swim? He said to become a boatman one has to clear a swimming test and yes he could swim. Then I asked, “Has it ever happened that a tourist fell down in the lake by accident?” He replied, “Nahin per kuch suicide karne chale aate hain, us case mein saab boat wale sath aa jate hain aur bacha hi lete hain” (No, but a few come with an intention to commit suicide, then all the boats try to come quickly together and save the person). Hmm, that was something I could never have imagined!
Then we asked him to take a picture of us. He said, “camera do” (Pass the camera) looking at my DSLR. I was all hesitation again and we requested him to take a picture with the point and shoot digital. After taking the picture he again asked for my camera. Looking at my hesitation again he said, “Aaare laao do, meine eak se eak camera chalaya hai” (Ohh, give me the camera, I have used some real fancy ones). So, I gave it to him and he immediately adjusted the focal lense and took out a masterful picture! And Sunil and I really laughed and laughed at my city bred notions! So much so for my hesitation over handing him the camera! The picture Harish took can be seen here.