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Meanwhile on the Dal (lake) August 30, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in geo-politics.
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Once every while you see news that makes you real happy.

On the pavement under the poplars men labour over charcoal grills; their children dart across the road to clients with plates of kebabs, rotis, and rose-coloured, yogurt-laced Kashmiri chutney; a girl about 20 walks by in — God forbid — jeans, her head uncovered; another, older, caught in the traffic, blares the horn from the driver’s seat of an economy car; a dark, thin youth, who lives with 14 others from Bihar in a room in downtown Srinagar, sells coconut slices from a steel tray he holds aloft and says he has been coming here for three years and makes twice the money he did back home; and all along the waterfront businesses are open.

Most of the hotels occupied by security forces for years on the Dal are open to tourists. Open also are the Queen’s Lap, Monalisa, Young Monalisa, Young Fairy Queen, Neil Armstrong, and hundreds of other such interestingly-named houseboats built for vacationing British administrators in the days of the Raj.

The Dal is Wi-Fi, the first lake to provide wireless connectivity in the world, or so says the promotional literature.

Although the last line there is most certainly not true, the fact that a community as battered by violence, bloodshed and hatred as Srinagar could even muster that optimism is heartening.

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