Nov 10, 2009


She is lost in her deep thoughts. The bamboo swing gently sways due to the cold monsoon breeze. The effects of the distant drizzle and the dark clouds creates a slight shiver but aptly alleviated by the steaming ginger tea held tightly onto her palms. The complimentary effects are sublime and soothing. Her gaze is directed at the tiny squirrel running on the grills of the balcony. "A very active creature", she wonders. Her woolen shawl wrapped nicely around her shoulders provides the much needed coziness. A pink colored journal and a blue fountain pen on the side table are her best friends in these pristine solitary moments. She rambles everything that was going through in her mind - her dreams, her wishes, the past and the present.

The doubtful sunshine peers through the dark clouds once in a while announcing its erstwhile presence. The gentle breeze transforms into a sudden wind, wiping out the dark clouds in a jiffy. The clear sky with patches of clouds interspersed in a random fashion becomes visible to her dreamy eyes. A sense of clarity emerges. She quickly picks up her journal and writes as though there is no end to her sudden realization.

"My morning walk around this beautiful lake gives me a refreshing feel. With the peak season in the vicinity, this lake will no longer be my possessed asset. I have to share it with the rest of the world. The motor boats will cause a deafening noise, disrupting the serene surroundings.

As expected, the peak season started and the tourists thronged from all possible directions. Some were in a hurry, picking up tickets for the boat ride, hiring the fastest motor boat and racing past everyone and experiencing the adrenaline rush as navigated by the boatman. Some were not so in a hurry but impatient, yelling at everyone to maintain discipline and stand in a queue. When their turn came, they chose a colorful big boat and a skilled boatman who can paddle very well. Some more people wanted to experience the ride on their own. They hired a pedal boat and slowly pedaled through their way on the lake. Their feet hurt a little with constant pedaling but they seemed to enjoy the pain in return for the pleasure of their self drive. There I was, standing amidst these different sets of people, wondering where I belong. "What kind of a boat do I want to hire? Is there a need for a boat? What is the higher order purpose of this journey?", I asked myself. Valid questions to ponder over. That's exactly what I was brooding over during those long morning walks.

With a few skills picked up earlier, I trusted my instinct and went back home to the basement. There it was, the old rugged canoe, unused and untouched for a long time. It was heavy but I decided to lug it over towards the lake. My shoulders hurt because of the heavy weight of the canoe but I was determined. "Let me be the one who rides through my lake", I made up my mind. The accessories were neatly wrapped around in a cloth. I walked slowly, panting for breath and took breaks every 15 minutes until I reached the lake. Having placed the canoe in a safe spot, I returned back home to bring the accessories.

It was my turn and I slowly pulled the canoe onto the lake, with a thick coir tied to a metal handle on the shore. At first, it rocked and looked like it was about to topple. But I balanced its position and slowly untied the coir. I clutched the paddle tightly and started to steer towards the direction I wanted to go. The old canoe seemed to have understood my intentions and we moved, slowly and steadily. After a while, my hands started to hurt but I started to appreciate the pain. We ventured out onto areas typically unexplored by the other boats - the quiet corners filled with white lilies, the low hanging mango trees on the sides of the lake. At some spots, I lost the balance and was about to topple but recovered at the last minute. I slipped into the lake once and was holding onto the edge of the canoe and after much effort, I pulled up myself and got onto the canoe. Quite an experience, I should say.

I paddled towards the center of the lake where the tourists were sitting on their row and pedal boats and clicking pictures. I waved at them and gave a big smile. Some of them responded by waving their hands while others seemed to be in a grumpy mood, either unhappy with the boat, the boatman or the journey itself.

After spending the whole evening, I steered my canoe back to the shore. The sun had already set. I looked all wet and dirty but the experience I gathered in the past few hours was rather memorable and exhilarating. It was my own effort using my own boat. I was in the driver's seat and I decided where to go and what to do than leaving the fate of the experience in the hands of a boatman. It was a satisfying ride and I went home for a peaceful sleep...."

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