Boatman At Princep Ghat | Milaap

Boatman At Princep Ghat

There are many of us who want to do many things in our life but for one or the other reason, we cannot. Yet, we keep thinking about it with a hope that one day we will be able to do the things that we have always wanted to do. This was our topic of discussion one Sunday evening after getting back from the church. I, along with 3 of my other friends, was drinking tea while listening to the songs that we listed out for an upcoming cultural event. My friends told me how the previous year's program was and that this year, they'd want to do it in a much better way. We were discussing about the event but slowly our topic was going somewhere else. We ended up talking about a thing which was not at all related to what we were talking about at the beginning.

Now, the reason why I am writing about this conversation topic is because I met a man, 6 days later, who got me into thinking about not thinking. A college friend of mine had come to visit me from Guwahati. We went out to some of the tourist spots in Kolkata – Victoria's Memorial, Princep Ghat and Park Street area.

The wooden boats at Princep Ghat

We first went to Victoria's Memorial and then to Princep Ghat which is located on the banks of River Hooghly. One the best thing to do in this ghat is boating. So we got onto a wooden boat. The man I mentioned earlier is the owner of the boat we got onto for the boat ride. His name is Emam. He is a resident of Diamond Harbour, about 60 km away from Princep Ghat. It takes him about 2 and a half hours to travel from his home to his workplace. At times when it gets late, he stays back in his boat instead of returning home. He started rowing boats and making a living out of it since he was a young boy. His father was his teacher who taught him how to row a boat. "Even my father was a boatman. He died a boatman and now I am carrying on the legacy of my father and forefathers by becoming a boatman," said Emam.

Owner of the boat, Emam

The income that he earns in a day is barely enough to provide his family with all the basic necessities of life. But he does not have any other option because rowing boat is the only thing he has been involved in his entire life. This profession has helped his family, past and present, to survive. So he does not want to forego the boatman tradition that his family has been following all these years.  Though the income he earns in a day is less, he is still happy that he is at least able to earn some money. And since the other family members also work, they all make just enough to get them through the day.

The man on the other end of the boat

While he was talking, the man standing on the other end of the boat said: "We all have the same problems in our life so we understand each other's problems. Depending on boats for our livelihood is not easy. And we can't compete to earn more money than the other because we are in the same condition." They know that competing with each other will be of no good to none of them because not everyone who goes to Princep ghat climb on their boat for a ride. To tackle their problem, they formed a group where the income they make is collected. And at the end of the day, the total income is divided equally amongst the group members. Emam said, "There are 48 of us. Our daily income differs each day. It depends on the number of people who come for boating."

Waiting for their customer

 Struggling every day to make ends meet, this man, however, was thankful for what he has. He said, “I don’t go to bed empty stomach and I don’t let my family members go to bed empty stomach. Together we are able to keep our bellies filled each day. That is enough.” It seems that the saying “live in the moment” is what he literally does.
Can living in the moment be as easy as he makes it look like?