Kashmir’s tourism department often prints out posters and postcards that tell you that when it comes to Kashmir, you just can’t have enough of it.
And I certainly agree.
Even today, the tourists just can’t have enough of it.
(Though the Kashmiris have had enough of a lot of things…)
The cool waters of Dal await tourists – for tourists means business. Tourists means that for a fraction of second you might want to believe that things in Kashmir are normal.
These ‘tourists’ over the past some years have been mainly the Indian crowd, unlike the ‘good old days of tourism’ when people from round the globe stormed this ‘paradise on earth.’
And, it is almost cynical when you hear them speak with wonderment of Kashmir – the snow, the cool breeze, the blue waters, green Chinars, the colorful flowers – and you as a Kashmiri look at yourself and wonder why isn’t it that we get so amazed.
The same Dal that is crowded with Shikaras waiting for anyone willing to give time (and money) to sit and listen to the slow and rythmic movement of the oars…
is also a mundane part of life for those who have lived in and around it.
And over the years, Kashmir continues to be a worth visiting place for the tourists. Just that certain things have changed over time.
Now instead of ‘Monj Gaer’ that were available around Dal, you’d see multitude of Bhel-puri sellers with their portable shops – certainly a treat for the Indian crowd who cherish the taste.
Just as the many ironies that are part and parcel of the Kashmiri life, the security guards merge with the beautiful backdrop – and the contrast between the serenity in nature and the chaos in life is so well portrayed.
Truly Kashmir is beautiful. And certainly worth visiting.
Kashmiris want the tourists back.
And so does the government who tries all sorts of efforts e.g. wooden bunkers (so that the ugliness becomes less)…
As a Kashmiri, I can only hope that tourists – Come, Enjoy – and while they go home and narrate the tales of how beautiful this place is, reflect a little on the lives we Kashmiris live.
A life in paradise on earth.