Grooming Dal Lake
Grassy weeds choking Dal Lake were harvested by both man and machine. Left unchecked, they would eventually reclaim the entire lake. A floating Swiss-built contraption pulled the murky weeds by a wide conveyor-type collector. After several passes across the lake, the machine off-loaded tons of seaweed-like cargo onto trucks that hauled it away to backwater landfills of rich dark soil and green lotus gardens.
The weeds were also harvested by hand. Mahmud resembled a tight-rope walker as he stood in his shikhara balancing a long pole. He swept one end into the lake to scoop the seaweed and add it to the huge pile in his boat. He only stopped collecting long enough to bail water - water from the wet and soggy spinach-looking load. The gunnels of his shikhara floated just above the surface. Chris and I thought surely he'd sink but the man knew what he was doing. When it looked like the center of the boat was underwater, he casually paddled toward the backwaters of the lake.