Kashmir

Photo : Rediff.com

Few of our friends questioned our decision to visit Srinagar and spend a few days there. Frankly speaking even though I knew we would be safe there I was uncertain about the ambience. We landed at the Srinagar airport right on Eid.

As we were waiting with our luggage to be picked up I think to myself

this airport looks like any other small airport in India

During the drive from the airport to the hotel there weren’t many vehicles on the road because of Eid. I saw

ooh!  so many policemen. Are those sandbag barricades on the roadside?

As we reached the hotel

this area looks like any upscale neighbourhood of any city in India

We asked the hotel manager to suggest a  place where we could enjoy a leisurely walk. He suggested Dal lake. We  flagged down an auto and asked him to take us to Dal Lake.

Man! I can’t believe the amount of traffic on the road.

Stroll ! Here! In this crowd ! Forget it!

We bypassed the lake and  asked the auto driver to take us to a less crowded place.He took us to Mughal gardens.

More people!

We tried walking in that crowd but it was very frustrating.

Abort walk! Let’s go back to the hotel

Next day we drove to Gulmarg. We were assigned our cottage and a caretaker.The cottage was on a small mount with a rough path leading to it.

Interesting.

After spending some time in the cottage we went on to  pursue our longstanding wish of taking a leisurely walk.

Plenty of People, Horses, Shit, Shit and more Shit everywhere !

No one bothered to clean the horse shit.

Stopped walking and returned to the cottage to find it very cold.

Brrrrrrrr!  Let’s turn on the heater.

We couldn’t  locate the heater or the caretaker, the only warm place was the bed which had an electric blanket.

Thank you electric blanket, our saviour!

Next day we took a shot at Gondola ride.

What a crowd! Such a mess ! looks totally disorganised!

Bypassed Gondola ride. Returned back to the hotel in Srinagar.

The following day we took an auto to Badgam, the local railway station. We were waiting for the train.

many policemen

One of the policemen eagerly chatted with us and was surprised to hear that we had come all the way just to experience the train ride.

Hurray! No tourists!

We entered the train, found three fairly clean seats and sat down.

more policemen with Ak 47 patrolling the train

The train travelled through different stations gathering the local crowd

so many policemen in every little station

We passed through Banihal rail tunnel.

Yeaaaaaaah! 7 miles long super long tunnel     

The train terminated at Banihal.

OMG! look at the rushing crowd

The compartment was jam packed.The train started its journey back to Badgam.

All the local boys in the compartment were staring at us.

Man ! this is awkward , a bit uneasy

Soon a couple of girls and a bunch of boys started quarrelling in Kashmiri.

What the hell is happening? Is it eve teasing?

A policeman with an Ak 47 appeared on the scene to resolve the issue. He humoured them into going their separate ways.

I was so caught up with all that was happening in the train that I had forgotten that we hadn’t dared to get down from the train at Banihal to buy the return tickets.

Will we get caught? Maybe! But man, this was one exhilarating experience!

 

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