Friday, June 30, 2006

Varanasi notes - The boatman

We met yesterday. He was slightly inebriated at 10:30am. How can an ordinary human stand beside thieves, he had said when I asked him to join in a group picture at the tea shop. Meet me two hours later, he said then, remember, two hours. Eariler, the hopeful had said about the boatman when we met: "This man here? We are good friends."

Two hours later we looked high and low, he had disappeared.

***

We met today. "I don't remember what I said yesterday. And I always say too much when I'm drunk. What did I say to you yesterday?" He listened and then rowed for a while, saying nothing. We were in the middle of the Ganges at noon, just talking. He talked about Water, and the good money he would have made had Deepa Mehta not been chased away. His good friend is a nuisance around here.

***

The boatman's family had rowed boats across the river for over 400 years. His blue wooden boat was nearly 200 years old and still very sturdy. "It's made of sakkoo wood. From Nepal and Gorakhpur only." The boat will run for 300 years, he said, before singing quietly: "Sau saal padaa, sau saal khada, uske baad leke sau saal sadaa."

2 comments:

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Superb series. More!

J.A.P.

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