It’s 5:14am in Srinagar, and I sit on the front porch, facing the Dal Lake typing my love to you.
Bidding farewell to Ganga gets only more difficult every year. Teary as the goodbye was, I pleaded the river to call me back sooner than later. The train from there to Jammu wad a ceaselessly beautiful sight. Ninety percent of the passengers were off to Katra, to visit the Vaishnodevi temple. Have you ever been there jaan? Once again, I was blown away with the kind of belief an entire sect of our population nourished; they’d walk ascending miles relentlessly, through sleet and ice, just for a three second view of an idol of ice. I don’t know if idols house godly spirits, but I know for certain that even if one of these hundred thousand people who visit Vaishnodevi every month truly and earnestly believes the idol to be a symbol of divinity, then divine grace does manifest itself a piece of wood or stone or ice. I believe in faith, and its powers.
We reached Jammu in the wee hours of morning. Couldn’t explore much, we were to fly to Srinagar before Jammu broke out of its Sunday sleep. But I know this about Jammu – Jammu is safe. Jammu has sardars. This isn’t a racist predisposition. I just happen to have instinctual faith in the goodness and the kindheartedness and the valour of the Sikh community, for reasons I can’t really explain.
And then, we were in Srinagar. What to tell you about this place love
We’ve come in the peak of its tourist season; the traffic and the blaring of hours and incessant human chirping is infuriating after an extent, but – BUT, this city makes up for all of it and much more. Flying over the Himalayas was exhilarating! The airport to Almond Villa traffic was slightly a turn off, but I fell asleep on the way, so for me it was like sleeping off when the world was a heaven and then waking up straight in paradise, and by paradise, I’m referring to Almond Villa.
At the edges of the Dal Lake, but properly distanced from the noisy hordes of traffic, Almond Villa is MAGNIFICENT. I wish I was being paid to promote the place, because oh boy I can go on and on about how great this place is. It’s owned by Dr. Jyoti Singh, who happens to be the granddaughter of Raja Hari Singh – the last king of Kashmir. Her charm and hospitality make her beautiful. I have SO MANY questions to ask, but the people I’m traveling with have told me in more than a few words that my questions aren’t going to be taken well received well. So well, that’s that. No promises to bring you any revelations of history in this trip.
But who even has the time for curiosities like that here. (Me.) Every flower here blooms out of earth with a purpose, with a story to tell; the sadder the story, the more gorgeous the flower is – it doesn’t want to be forgotten. Srinagar is Nature’s gift to us, a bouquet of the most heart melting tales of travesty, tragedy, compassion and love, packaged and preserved in the fragrance of every flower that grows here. Srinagar is am endless candle with both it ends – chaos and serenity – burning. It’s all about which side you’re standing on; one could burn you down, the other could light you up.
I was strolling by the Dal Lake last evening, thinking about what this place would be like in your company and smiling to myself.
You are, after all, my personal paradise