I didn’t have the best night.. largely due to the mountainous supper of Kashmiri chicken with rice and vegetables, followed by banana fritters. .. on top of those doughnuts. I didn’t shut my curtains, so that I would open my eyes in the morning to the view across the lake. But I was woken at 3am by dogs barking a mile away across the lake, which was followed by the amplified call to prayer from several different directions that bounced round the lake at 4am. No matter, I had enough sleep.
I asked for poached eggs and a mango for breakfast and they arrived - with a plate of pancakes, honey, and a basket of special Kashmiri breads... This has got to stop! Laughing, Mr Butt says he likes all his guests to put on weight while they are here. Here is one obliging guest..
Then Lassa arrived. He is the most enchanting man... owner of ‘Stranger in Paradise’ – the shikara you see in the last blog. He took me out for an hour on the lake. He speaks brilliant English – also quite a lot of French and Italian I think - in a strangely lilting voice and has the most amazing smile.. He is a fund of knowledge about the lake and the people who live there and the birds.. “Lassa, is that a pied kingfisher?” “Yes please, Madam.” “Lassa is that a grebe?” “No please Madam... a young moorhen.” Silly me. “Madam you see the ladies there? They are gathering the leaves of the Marsh Marigolds to feed the cows. Very good for milky cows.”
I have also been out today with Mr Butt’s son, Niwas, to see incredible embroidery being made –shawls which take 3 years to make - and crewelweavers. Designers from all over the world have their designs made here... someone from New York has a line in crewel (chain stitch) fish which are being created in a garret in the old part of Srinagar. Incredible fine craftsmanship... they have also created a Noah’s Ark rug which would look amazing in a modern seaside house – on the wall I think. It’s 10’ square.
Back at the houseboat Ramzan had timed the boiler perfectly for a hot bath before supper.