MIDWAY: Hari Porter

Hari, a regular porter in the Himalayan region, is no Harry Potter. However, he too, can perform magical feats. The only difference is that while J K Rowling’s wizard boy uses a magic wand, Hari the porter uses his head.

Harry Potter doesn’t need to carry anything, his magic wand does the trick. Irrespective of the distance which might be either a stone’s throw away or miles apart, whether the weight is one kilo or one ton, the magic wand is always ready to discharge its duty without much ado. To top it all, it never errs!

As is obvious, Hari the porter, doesn’t possess any such wand. However, he is no less competent in performing magical feats like trotting the Himalayan trails with cumbersome loads outweighing his own weight. From dawn to dusk, with a crushing burden on his head and back, he has climbed up and down under all kinds of climatic conditions — sweltering heat, pouring rain, or snowing gales. He has done it on steep, snow-covered trails that are often as slippery as an eel. He has been shunting the trekkers’ bags from Manang to Thorung Pass, from Jomsom to Lo-manthang, from Lukla to Kala Patthar.

I ran into Hari while walking down from Chhomrong towards Machhapuchhre Base Camp. When I saw him walking precariously with his worn out chappals, I couldn’t help entering into a chat. Hari coyly said: “I have never managed to buy good trekking boots and this prevents me from walking faster. Mud gets stuck and makes them quite slippery, so I have to take them off and move ahead with chappals in my hands instead. There is no option than to walk barefoot but bare feet are a haven for leeches. Quite often I apply salt to keep the leeches at bay.”

Hari’s magical story doesn’t end here. Being on time is his top priority. “These trekkers will be unhappy if I don’t be on time. Their disappointment would translate into meagre tips. I do my job more for tips than wages,” he said, adding that he has never been late so far. Life isn’t a bed of roses for porters like Hari.

There is yet another magical quality about him - consciousness about time. Can’t our babus and good-for-nothing fellows learn a lesson from our very own Hari, the porter?