It’s been three weeks since we returned to home base, and I still haven’t managed to say one coherent thing about Kashmir. It’s a classic case of being overwhelmed, and it doesn’t happen to me often. Although B and I have seen our fair share of other cultures, we realized that we harboured the deeply Indian standard of the entire country being one big homogeneous mass – and this notion was shattered the instant we stepped into Srinagar. Kashmir felt like a whole different country, sitting awkwardly between India and Pakistan; one moment proudly declaring its independence, the next scrambling to be a part of either mother-ship.
When I think about our weeklong trek and another week that followed wandering in the tourist parts of the scenic, strife-stricken valley, I think about a hundred things at the same time – the scenes, the people and the strife. My heart jumps when alpine views float across my mind, and it plummets when I think of the people and where the constant state of tussle has left them. I’ve filed away the photos in widely shared albums and yet I flip through my red travel book every few days, unable to close the chapter on all that I thought about there. I get a feeling I’m going to need some more time to settle down and put pen to paper about this little mysterious corner of India.
In the meantime, here’s a picture.