Posts Tagged ‘Srinagar’

Kashmir: mounts and touts

Mountains. Magnificent. Great. As a bus was making curves along serpentine of the road, I was admiring them through the front window. I also tried to convince myself that a driver went there and back hundreds times, and I shouldn’t worry about his tricks like overtaking on narrow turns with other cars driving towards us. All that despite road signs like “Peep peep don’t sleep”, “Speed is knife that cuts life”, and other rather poetical warnings.

An infamous Kashmiri “attraction” is getting involved into multiple touts that houseboats owners arrange in order to take advantage of naive tourists. Like the one which happened to me: with a car stopping the bus, story which makes you almost a criminal because of not having some papers, a fake police officer, and a “helpful” houseboat owner. Since I was not that naive, they didn’t get away with their tout, and everything ended with them dropping me to the place of my destination and apologizing for what had happened. “It’s business, you know,” guy said.

Kashmir is not India. That is what they say, and that is what you see when you get there. Even Kashmiri chai is salty (while Indian is sweet). People identify themselves rather by their religion than by nationality, and when cricket (most popular sport here) matches take place, Kashmiri are always for Pakistan (another Muslim country), and not for India.

As if it was not cold enough (I slept under five blankets with a hot water bottle between my legs), I decided to go to the mountains. While in the summer the Himalayas are green and pretty, this time they are covered with a thick layer of snow, which occasionally produces avalanches. My trekking, or shall I call it crawling, to be more precise, opened precious views of the snowy tops, which were becoming clearer and more beautiful as I was ascending higher. And I thought it was pretty much life-like journey. We awkwardly crowl towards our dreams which are not even very clear, but we know they are there, and this is a path towards them, and as we come closer to our dreams, they become clearer and shine brighter in their beauty.

Not that I am back to India, I am happy to see colorful women, holy cows, and somewhat romantic road dust. The Himalayas? I should see them again in about a week. Inshallah.


Read Full Post »