The people in Dal Lake are living in a different way than the others. What is different one might ask? It is that their whole life is floating, filled with lotuses and algae. Their houses are boats, their cars are boats, their shops are boats too. Everything here is floating and touching the water.
Let’s say you live inside Dal Lake and want to buy breakfast, a begonia plant pot, zucchini or a ball pen – all you have to do is go sit on your porch next to your stairs going down directly into the water, and wait for a peddler to pass by. If you wait for some time and nobody passes you can just jump in your own shikara (type of boat) and paddle to the closest pile shop.
This type of life lets you participate in many interesting activities. For example you can get up at 5 a.m., sit in your boat, paddle to the green mosque and praise the divine, or you can wander the multitude of shadowy canals, enjoying the slob and the algae, talk to a neighbor and then sleep in the soft bed of the boat.
Most people here prefer to go out and “hunt” tourists. Which means local people get out on the street next to the lake and try to allure some tourists to take a walk with their shikara or to sleep at their boat-hotel.
People who enjoy working spend their time taking care of their floating vegetable gardens, gathering lotus roots and leaves (lotus roots are recognized as the most delicious food among the lake inhabitants) or washing their clothes in the water in front of their homes.
In this town that floats above water there are many different occupations. Highly respected for example is the digger who sits in his floating excavator, digs algae and makes pathways in the jungle of lotuses and duckweed. There are other, not so honored jobs, like the garbage man who goes around with his water truck and gathers algae and plastics, and the policeman who checks the documents and the permits of the tourist boats. Luckily the police precinct is high above the lake and is surrounded by thick lotus circle far away deep inside the lake.
In the lake town there is even a librarian who carefully gathers book after book through the years and puts them on shelves. Unfortunately he can’t read and the content of his most precious treasure always remains hidden for him.
There are also people who like to observe – like fishermen and board game players. Often you can see someone who gazes at the far away mountains dreamily, smoking narghile. Children like anywhere in the world are occupied with the most pleasant of activities: endless swimming in the water and jumping in the lake from wooden bridges.
Maybe you’ve noticed that all of the time I use the words “algae and lotus”. I do it because in my long boat trips on the lake’s water these two plants always got tangled in my paddle and since then are en-tangled in my mind. It is long since I had been there, but the secret I learned in the lake still works wonders for me.
What is that secret which was revealed to me by the lake’s inhabitants I couldn’t tell you. But if you come here someday and start paddling around maybe you will discover it by yourself.