Through the Backwaters of Dal

There is the Dal Lake that tourists see, with shikaras and gorgeous wood-carved houseboats along the Boulevard, the open expanse leading up the Pir Panjal range. The hotels along the waterfront, Dal Gate, seaweed, and all the rest. And then, slip in between two houseboats and go deeper, there is an entire city, populated by Hanji and other mixed peoples, more beautiful and expressive than their urban brethren and still tied to the waters because the majority cultivate the famous floating gardens of Dal, which are much debated but rarely seen. These are their homes and their lives.

And these are three kids who NEEDED me to snap their pic.

Brother, sister, and -- you may have to click and enlarge -- hooded baby sister, scared to death, peaking out window.

Arrgh. This young girl had such an extraordinary face, fierce and full of intent as she bailed water out of a little boat, but I swivelled around in m shikara to catch her very nearly too late -- we were already passing her by, and she was so close that when I snapped the pic there was movement, and the result is not in perfect focus. You can still get some sense of her ferocity, which was just awesome, but it really doesn't do her justice.

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