29 July, 2021

Bound To A Sinking Boat

Covid dealt death and near-death, and its all-consuming maw took our livelihoods and ate away our savings too­—leaving us staring at a future destitute of hope

Bound To A Sinking Boat

Photograph by Umer Asif

Bilal Ahmad Pathoo

Owner of a houseboat in Srinagar

His family has been in the houseboat business for the past 100 years. But Bilal Ahmad Pathoo, owner of Young Hollywood, is sure that the past three years, including the Covid period, were the toughest over several generations. Thanks to the lockdowns (pandemic), shutdowns (Article 370-related) and breakdowns (lack of travel), Bilal spent most of the past 24 months idling away on the deck of his houseboat at the Golden Lake area. “There is no work. We are frustrated due to growing poverty, but most of us cannot talk about it,” he laments.

The saving grace is the close-knit community of houseboat owners and shikara-wallas. “We...

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