theindialog

July 28, 2009

Shikara Ride on the Dal

Filed under: J&K,Leisure,Small Businesses — loggers @ 7:41 pm

After a meeting with Nisar Ali, Chief Coordinator of Post-Graduate Studies, University of Kashmir and member of the state Finance Commission (more on that later), we sat down for nun-chai (salty Kashmiri tea) with a friendly houseboat owner.

nun-chai and Kashmiri bagels

nun-chai and Chochuru (Kashmiri bagels)

The octogenarian houseboat owner told us that this was his family business and that his father and he had managed the business for 2 generations. He introduced us to his son, Basheer, who, despite his mother’s reservations, migrated to the US to pursue a career in medical technology. Basheer is now based in Los Angeles where he works in the radiology department of a local hospital. He lives in Srinagar during the summer months and is in the process of building a house here. Since we are interested in unearthing evidence of intergenerational economic mobility, we found his story compelling. When asked about his family, Basheer mentioned that he wants his children (2 daughters) to pursue their education in Srinagar until they are 15 to instill local cultural values.

After our rendezvous with Basheer we boarded our Shikara on the Nageen Lake. The 1.5 hour ride took 5 of us from the New Majestic House Boat to the Dal lake gate for INR 500.

Common Shikara

Common Shikara

During the ride we saw an active lake-community , which included shops for vegetables, handicrafts, carpets, telecom and pharmaceuticals. The majority of the population belongs to the Shia sect of Islam. The market was open despite the city-wide strike. A large part of the community has been developed illegally. As the lake economy is thriving, the size of the Dal lake itself is decreasing- a negative externality for a state whose primary industry is tourism.

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