Bengali does not need any occasion to visit Digha, Puri, Darjeeling or Sikkim. It is their right to visit these places, whenever they feel bored or have free time or have little savings to spend on pleasures. On one such moment, I booked my bus ticket for Sikkim in November. I planned to see Changu Lake or Tsomgo Lake, Nathula Pass and Baba Mandir in a day. In November the lake gets covered with white ice. I felt excited thinking about the beautiful sight.
It was very disappointing to see the usual Changu Lake with no ice cover. Global warming took the pleasure away from me. Some yak owners were roaming around, offering 10 minutes ride for rupees 100 bucks on the animals. Two ladies were selling woollen clothes. Few magi, momo, tea sellers were there too. These all were as usual sights. I had no reason to be there. I bought a hot tea before the bye, and that’s when the doll walked towards the lake.
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The Doll and the Giant in Sikkim
A 4 feet tall, fair, but covered with winter clothes; doll was dragging a giant yak. He brought it down the lane and bound it with a pole and went up again. I thought the cute looking child must be helping his father in business. But in no time he was back with two more giant yaks, dragging those all alone. My eyes got stuck at him. The kid had something very attractive, called attitude. He did not go near or not even looked at the first yak. The 8/9 years old, a lollipop in his mouth, brought the yaks at the business. With his tiny hands, he bound them tight and went towards the first one and unbound it. Now he started tolling on the road with his giant companion.
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The boy got all my attention. He did not exchange any notes with his co-vendors. Those two ladies tried to initiate a conversation with him but went silent when he did not reply. I wondered how that kid would attract customers. But I was so wrong. A Punjabi couple, who were bargaining with other yak owners, noticed him too.
“I will give you 25 bucks per person for a 10 minutes ride?” The man with an overpowering tone said to the boy and did not wait for his reply. They started planning who would ride which yak. The boy stared them. As those so-called educated rich people were trying to fool a kid. How disgusting? I felt the heat.
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The art of not giving a damn…
“200 bucks for a 10 minutes ride”. While saying that, the boy did not get hyper, neither blinked nor shifted his position. There was no sign of anxiety in his tone. “WHAT? WHY?” said the hyper man, “do you have gem-studded yak?” The boy looked at them calmly while rolling the lollipop in his mouth. His stare was enough to irritate anyone. “That person was asking for 100 bucks. Why are you asking double?” that man shouted in anger.
The kiddo said, “Who had told you that you can pay me 25 rupees?” I felt like appreciating his sense of logic. Bravo! What a reply! The man had no words left. But the boy continued, “if you still want a ride then pay 100 bucks. I am small not the rate.” The wife could not bear the husband’s insult. Now she dragged him to another direction.
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The memorable interaction
I went to him and asked for his name. But he did not reply but did not walk away either, rather kept on looking at me. I asked again more politely, “where do you leave?” Now he pointed above a cliff. “Don’t you feel afraid of these yaks? Are not they big and hard to tackle for your age?” “They listen to me.” His words were so pure and showed his great faith in those animals. I was flattered by him. “Can I click a picture?” I waited for his consent, but again he did not say no neither said yes but kept looking at me. I slowly took out my camera and clicked two pictures. He looked at the camera without shifting his gaze or position. Post clicking a few pictures I went near the yak to adore.
“Do you want a ride? 100 bucks for 10 minutes”. he said. I said, “I don’t ride animals. I don’t like to ride them. But I respect your occupation.” But before I could complete my sentences, he uttered, “50 rupees then for clicking pictures”. I smiled and gave him 50 bucks. That Punjabi couple came back to click a picture from far. The boy said, “give 50, then take a picture”. The man looked at me and said, “why are you spoiling the kid? a picture for 50 rupees? “Really!” I looked at them and smiled. I did not feel like taking or giving any lesson to them. “Take it or leave it”. The boy said and made a hasty sound in his mouth. The yak shrugs his horns aggressively. The couple moved away.
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