Razia ka Kashmir

Razia! She was as beautiful as a painting. She was fair,with naturally red cheeks, her hair was long and black. Her lips pink and slender long fingers, just like that of an artist. Her eyes, I will never forget them. They were brown, and there was sadness in them. It seemed that though she was young and smiling her eyes told a different story. I met her in one of my train journeys. She was such a pretty sight that I had to stop myself from staring at her. We offered each other some food and broke the ice. We spoke about various things, in our conversations she told me that she was from Kashmir, and that now she and her family had shifted base to Bombay. I asked her if Kashmir was as beautiful as I had read. She replied, ” It is much better than that. You have to actually see it to believe it. I lived in one of the mountains with my family. We never had taps in our houses or  needed to filter our water. We got water from a waterfall near our house,the water was so pure. The air so pure, the huge Chinar trees that hosted so many different birds. It was really heaven on earth.” I then asked her why did her family leave Kashmir, I would never let go of such a place. She smiled, ” Neither would I, but life isnt that easy. I was 13, and had just come back from school. All my family was crying, my mother later told me that my uncles house  was burned down and my cousin missing. I was angry,depressed, and really helpless. The soldiers tell us that they are here to protect us, but they actually destroy us.  My father, in a span of two weeks packed all our stuff and took us to Bombay. We havent got back home since its been ten years, my cousin is still missing.” We didnt say anything for a while, then I asked her, “Razia dont you want to go back home?” She looked at me for a while with those beautiful eyes and then looked outside the window and said, ” There is no such place, Aditi! Aisi koi jagah nahi!” After this I knew there wasnt much left to say, I retired to sleep. The next morning I did not see her, she must have got down at her stop in the morning. Since then when I think of Kashmir I think of the beautiful Razia. I just cannot forget those eyes.

AT THE QUTUBMINAR

THE MUTATKARS AT THE DELHI STATION

ON OUR WAY TO KASHMIR

KASHMIRI SUNSET
THE VALLEY

My father planned a  yearly family trip this time around to Kashmir. I have missed several family trips before ,but this time I wasnt too busy and I was always curious about Kashmir, so I joined in. We were 13 of us, which included three granddads, two grandmoms, an uncle and an aunt and my three younger cousins. The Mutatkar men are traditional in their ways. ” Bees pe naukri, 25 pe shaddi, 28 pe bacche aur 60 pe retirement.”( basically everything that Ranbir doesnt want to do in his latest movie) They are intelligent men, high on general knowledge. They love politics, bollywood, cricket and food. They are honest in their dealings, straight as an arrow, and are very sensitive people. The Mutatkar women are traditional too. Most of them are housewives and unbelievably great cooks, which is reflected in their husbands bellies. They are shadows to their husbands and sometimes taken for granted. Behind every successful Mutatkar story lies the woman in the kitchen. They put the family first and sacrifice most of their personal ambitions. I have always been in awe of this particular trait.

OUTSIDE OUR HOTEL WITH THE COUSINS
BREAKFASTING

We left from Delhi, and took the train to Jammu. From Jammu, it was a 10 hour drive to Srinagar. The drive in itself is a beautiful one, its extremely picturesque. Though the road is really bad and by the end of ten hours you could have a really stiff back.Also there are not too many nice places to eat, but we managed well thanks to the Mutatkar women filling up a bag full of delicious goodies. We left Jammu in the morning and reached our hotel in Srinagar in the night. Our hotel was really good, with great food and importantly 24 hours of hot water supply. The next day we took a drive around Srinagar. We saw the Shankaracharya temple which is atop a mountain from where you get the whole view of Srinagar. Srinagar is host to a lot of gardens which have been built by the Mughals. Every garden is unique in its ways. There are diiferent types and colours of flowers and atleast 500 old Chinar trees. Every garden is surrounded by mountains and host a lot of fountains. They are just the perfect picnic spot. Ofcourse the main attraction was the Tulip Garden, where so many of our romantic songs from our movies have been shot.  The Tulips are  in every colour. Every picture you take is a postcard picture. You have to experience it atleast once in your lifetime.

MUGHAL GARDEN

AT ONE OF THE FOUNTAINS
TULIPS

MUTATKAR WOMEN
LOVE IS IN THE AIR

BOTANICAL GARDEN

The next day for me was and will be the most memorable one. We went to Pehelgam which is a 3 hour drive from Srinagar. The driver left us in the parking from where we had to take horses to go into the mountains. It was a total of 12 kms on the horse with around 4 spots to see. I was really excited about the horse ride. I do love horses.  The above 60 crowd of the gang was petrified at first. Though they all did the ride anyway and did  it with complete enthusiasm. The oldest member of the group is almost 75! I was pretty proud of the Mutatkars. I sat on Tiger.  He was  handsome and seemed like an obedient horse, till ofcourse I spiked him. After we started riding I dropped my jacket and that made him go crazy. He went round and round around the place, I almost fell down but managed to get back on his back. Luckily he didnt do a wheelie on me or I would have died. After a lot of anger on my mothers part( for not wearing my jacket and dropping it) and lots of laughter on mine we started marching again. After a bad start Tiger and I both behaved ensuring a classic ride.

PEHELGAM

ITS BEAUTIFUL

AT ONE OF THE WATERFALLS

RABBIT….TOO CUTE IT WAS!

MUTATKAR WARRIORS

Pehelgam by far is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The snow clad mountains, the long trees, the waterfalls, the different shades of green, the blue sky…its all a dream! I rated Paris as the most beautiful place in my list but Pehelgam has overtaken it. As all said and done Paris is still manmade, Pehelgam is all nature every bit of it. There can never be any comparison between manmade and natural. Nature will always beat man, hands down! I was completely enchanted by the place and just didnt want to leave.

The next day was Gulmarg!. The main attraction here is the snow. I didnt enjoy Gulmarg as much. Firstly I was really annoyed by the amount of garbage that was thrown on the mountains and also it was too crowded. Though it was nice to see the oldies playing with the snow and couples playing snow fights. It was cute! I have hardly seen Mutatkars go romantic! A snow fight was romantic enough.

AGE NO BAR- SNOW FIGHT

SLIP AND FALL

The same evening we had to check in into our houseboats on the Dal lake. The Dal lake again is a popular with bollywood. Our houseboat was almost palatial. They had antiques and jhummars all over the place. The furniture was from the Mughal period. Our houseboat incharge Asimbhai told us that the houseboat costs around 4 crores, and Amitabh Bacchan had lived in it. Asimbhai has a picture with Amitabh and Abhishek when they were on the boat. The houseboat has a bathroom complete with a tub and hot water, its better than any five star hotel I have lived in. The view from the houseboat is amazing as well. We also had a Shikara ride which took us along the lake and also to the floating market for some shopping.

SHIKARA

RELAXING
ASIMBHAI IN HIS 4CRORE KI HOUSEBOAT

THE BEDROOM

FLOATING MARKET

After  awesome three nights we left Srinagar with satisfaction and really fond memories. Though there is beauty all around there is also another side to Kashmir where all is not good. The people in kashmir are struggling to make ends meet. There is no employment, as there is not much development here. The roads and infrastructure is bare minimum and life for the locals is not easy. The only income and employment that is generated is from tourism. There are lot of abandoned houses in Kashmir, the windows of each and every house is shut. The only people smiling or talking are the children. You hardly see youngsters having fun, talking loudly or even catching up over a movie. There is no theatre in Kashmir. There is military patrolling at every corner. I cant imagine living under military rule. People seem to live in fear, whatever few are still living there. The men and women in Kashmir are insanely good looking. They are ten times better than all the Katrinas and Ranbirs of Bollywood. There is still a transit camp in kashmir called the 216 Tranit Camp. I saw a queue of people getting in the camp and it was a disturbing image. I took my camera out but somehow just couldnt get a picture. The Kashmir valley is wounded and I have no doubts about that.

MAN WEARING THE TRADITIONAL PHERON

ABANDONED HOUSES

THE KAWAH CHAI
IN ONE OF THE GARDENS

BADMINTON

I hoped to see Razia there, but I didnt. I just hope Razia can come back home soon, because her home is by far the best place I have ever been to. I really hope there is peace in the Kashmir valley, the people of Kashmir deserve to live without fear just like I do!

WITH THE BEAUTIFUL KASHMIRI GIRLS!

 

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