This is not your India

Yes, this is what I and my wife have been told but with all due respect to us and in the best possible polite manner. Recently, after all those curfews and stone pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, we have been advised not to visit there as it was unstable and won’t be safe for outsiders. But on the flip side, we wanted to visit valley for its panoramic view and of course for that world famous Shikara ride on Dal Lake. All thanks to news channels, they actually helped us to convince everyone here that the situation was normal and the city was coming back to its life.

Boarded the flight and was in Srinagar in less than 2 hours, wow! That was quick.

Greetings from unknown people at the airport, felt good. Something was wrong, as we noticed a good amount of security forces on our way to Hotel. Something was wrong, my wife gave me a perplexed look, to which I acted as everything was normal and that was just like the other days (although it was my first visit too). After sometime, upon enquiring the driver added, “Bhaiya abhi curfew mei dheel di hai”, (the curfew is still on and a bit of relaxation is given to the citizens). Holy Shit! Excitement turned into sense of security and uncertainty as I am with my wife. After 25 minutes, the Driver said we have reached, where? Because there were several gates and they all were locked, after honking one of the gates gets opened, oh! The hotel was there and we saw a beautiful park as we have booked one of the highest rated hotels near Dal Lake. Surprises, surprises and surprises this was the only thing which we were getting in abundance and for free, we were the only guests in that hotel, Wifi was not working, mobile internet was down, poor network signals on mobile. Anyways we reached safely and thanked the driver on behalf of all of my organs.

We decided not to inform anyone about the situation out there and took a call to fly back. Tickets, get the date changed, we struggled a bit and finally landed on the IVR a sigh of relief and we have got the dates changed and was flying back tomorrow. All thanks to Indigo Airlines and their agent who made it possible and charged a normal fee for this.

Have ordered dinner, and went down to have a look around. SSSSShhhhhhh, first time ever this pin drop silence was hitting me hard that we went back to our room. My eternal love for Chicken Biryani was a sigh of relief for me as it was there on their menu, at least won’t be sleeping empty stomach. The waiter, who came with the food, said “Aapka Hindustan ka media kuch nahi dikhata, ki yahan pe kya chal raha hai isiliye aap jaise kuch log aa jaate hai”. He was not at all rude, trust me not at all, instead he was empathising with us that because of this tense situation our trip got ruined. He tried his level best to serve us with his world class hospitality but that didn’t worked for us after his remark – “AAPKA HINDUSTAN”.I mean you are also a part of this country and system.

My wife was taken aback by that comment. But this was not the end; we heard even more harsh words.

Next day, we had a word with Hotel Manager and he somehow managed to give us printout of our tickets and also, suggested to visit Dal Lake atleast, as that area was safe and few tourists were there. Went into the cab and headed straight to Dal Lake, our driver negotiated well with the Shikara owner and the deal was not bad. We enjoyed a lot and learnt this– “water Lilly don’t be silly, anarkali disco chali” and the shikara owner gifted one water lily to my wife. Dal Lake was so amazing, the view, the Shikaras, floating markets, floating post office and that Mission Kashmir House Boat. Wow! what a beautiful place and the day seemed to be perfect and beautiful but then comes the thought of this guy, will get “azaadi soon”, what ? you gotta be kidding me ? that was enough for me and was about to start an argument and then realised that was not the right time. We boarded the cab and reached airport after all the needed security checks. Our driver literally took a sigh of relief and said thank god that we are safe and sound because we have crossed two main chowks (roads) which were amongst the prime spots which got affected the most during curfews. Anyways after reaching Delhi, we went somewhere else.

At the end, I must say we do have different opinions but they behaved very well with us, were very friendly and tried to help us in all best possible way. We wish to visit Srinagar and valley again soon to make some good memories. Till then let’s spread love and peace.

Proud to be an Indian…

Shashank Sarkar

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