POKHARA, Aug 21: With the young increasingly discarding the boating business at Begnas Lake, the paddles seem stuck in old hands.
Purna Bahadur Baral, 67, of Begnas village, Kaski is left to paddle his boad for a living in Begnas Lake as all his sons have gone for greener pastures abroad and their wives have migrated to the city.
Baral spends the whole day waiting in queue for an opportunity to untie his boat from the jetty and take visitors out in the lake.
"After all my three sons flew aboard for employment, I and my wife have to rely on just my earnings from these two boats," Baral said. "My sons might be sending money home directly to their wives; so we are not aware about their earnings," he added.
During each turn at the lake, which hardly comes every day, Baral makes Rs 350, with which he purchases his daily essentials. According to him, in the tourist off-season he makes Rs 3,000 to 4,000 a month while in the peak season it goes up to Rs 10,000. There are 166 boats in operation, and of these, hardly a dozen get a turn in the lake on a given day.
Around 100 boat operators like Baral are to be seen at Begnas Lake, where only a few tourists come for boating.The boatsmen are to be found killing time playing cards or dozing off on the bank. Boat operating has become like a job just for the old.
According to Tika Ram Tiwari, secretary of Begnas Boating Committee, the lake is now left mostly to old-timers.
"It has became harder to make ends meet due to the low number of tourists coming to the lake," said Tiwari.
"I reared my children and provided them an education with the earnings from these very boats and now they have gone abroad, forgetting their parents and their boats," Baral said.