The Merchants of Dal Lake
Srinagar Travel Blog› entry 37 of 41 › view all entries
Just about anything that was sold in the tailor shops or grocery stores of Srinagar could also be purchased right on the lake. Precarious shops dotted the backwaters. Most were weathered wooden shacks either free-standing or tucked between equally rustic houseboats of local Kashmiris. Customers paddled right up to the merchant and made transactions without setting foot on land. Factosoon's was such a 'general store' and nearest to the Erin. Chris and I stopped there to buy Kashmiri firepots - complete with burning coals - then again on occasion to replenish candles for our hut.
Dozens of other merchants sold a wide variety of goods from prowling shikharas.
The busiest of all the floating merchants seemed to be the grocers. Their shikharas were well stocked with everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to soft drinks, cigarettes, spices, canned foods, and a wide assortment of dry goods. They crept the lake in random patterns catering to locals as well as foreigners. They were also the least aggressive. They'd slowly paddle past the Erin knowing that if we wanted something we would let them know with a shout or a wave. Chris and I preferred paddling out to them, always happy to have a 'mission' like teenagers with a brand new drivers license.