Cradled in the foothills of the Eastern Ghats, Kondakarla Ava is a large freshwater lake. Considered to be one of the natural wonders of Vizag, this picturesque location of Kondakarla Ava is just about a 60 km drive from the city. Boasting a rich aquatic biodiversity, the place offers livelihood for many locals here. They ferry tourists on boat rides which is quite an experience. The boatmen here would carry passengers in boats made of palm logs. It was only recently that they shifted gears to conventional boats. On one of the boat escapades, Sruthi Sahini from Team Yo!, interacted with Ganesh, the boatman at Kondakarla Ava to know his story.
Hailing from Vadrapalli, a village on the bank of Kondakarla Ava, Ganesh’s forefathers were boatmen as well. Taking the legacy forward, Ganesh is the only boatman in this generation from his family. Stating that life isn’t a cakewalk for people like him, he says, “The pandemic had a terrible impact on us. For weeks together, we were out of work as the tourism had come to a standstill. On top of that, we had to pay an annual fee to get the permission to row our boats. Everyday is a battle of survival for us.”
However, Ganesh points at the bright side of being a boatman. Adding further, the Vizag boatman says, “I get to meet people from all the walks of life. From Government employees to wedding photographers, I delight my customers by sharing about the unique features of this place.” Boasting about his clientele, the boatman from Vizag shares, “I can proudly tell that I have contacts of around forty top-class wedding photographers in the state.”
As he rowed against the current, the 35-year-old boatman reminisced his good old days. He notes, “This Ava (lake) has been my home for as long as I remember. I would swim, fish, and make merry with my friends, when I was a kid. Now my children are growing up in the lap of nature. Life comes a full circle indeed.”
After giving a boat ride for an hour, he was sweating profusely. But he didn’t want to acknowledge it. Because the show must go on.