Men with Yaks, Women with White Rabbits in Manali: Doesn’t Confinement Hurt?

Tourism is a service industry with a strong multiplier effect. Even animals could not escape the effect. Animals have been, indeed, used to entertain their social counterparts (social animals) since ages. Be it a circus, zoo, or a street show-animal acrobatics and dance. Bears, monkeys and snakes are commonly used for street shows. If you go to popular Indian hill stations, monkeys are no more an object of amusement. In fact, monkeys are menace. No body wants monkeys any more.

Spotting and watching animals in the wild habitat is a challenging and time-consuming activity even if you want to see harmless animals like a rabbit. But, many of us like to be with animals without putting an effort. Cashing in on this urge of tourists, many people tame the animals and let tourists hold them / sit on them, and get pictures clicked for memory. They charge tourists a fee for that. It seems being photographed with animals is a popular tourist activity in some hill stations.

Last year when we visited Manali, women carrying spotless white furry rabbits with gorgeous red glassy eyes approached us and other visitors in public parks, nearHidambaTemple and other popular touristy places. Men with white and black yaks also occupied good amount of public space in these areas.  Yaks were made to stand still for 6-8 hours, so that tourists could sit on them, and get their pictures clicked. Although these photographs cost just INR 10.00 per person to start with, we heard a tourist group haggling with women carrying rabbits. Yak men even had dead rifles and hard leather hats to hold and wear while sitting on the yak. The funniest part of this photography exercise was total reliance on yak men.  On one occasion we noticed, tourists were so engrossed in arranging their dresses, borrowed hats and unusable rifles that they forgot that yak was peeing when photo was being clicked. Poor yak, a victim of tourists’ fantasies! No time to even pee. Were they trying to prove that they were proud and brave enough to sit on a animal that was urinating? Or, were they cruel?

Mass tourists want everything on platter, so creative and entrepreneurial breed thought of taming animals.  White rabbits in the arms of women dressed in traditional vibrant pattu and headscarves stand out and look pretty. However, some times they arouse pity, for confinement always hurts.