Tuesday, May 15, 2012


After close to 2 years, I happened to do a trip alone the way generally I did almost every month when I was in Delhi. This was a suddenly planned trip to Kashmir. Though the reason for planning the trip was different but still it gave me an opportunity to explore back my own horizons of lonely travel with nature. I have some beautiful memories of the place from my earlier trip. Every time I travel alone I get to explore more of me. Normally I think that a lonely trip to places like this is a kind of meditation for me where I realize a lot of who actually I am. Right at the arrival at Srinagar I realized that the city is different from my earlier visit. So much of crowd and I hate crowded places.  Decided not to take a houseboat in the Dal Lake and chose to stay in a houseboat in the Jhelum River. It actually saved some bucks as well and gave a peaceful lonely place without crowd around. Got to the lake in the night say around 11.30 and asked for a Shikara ride. Luckily there was an old man who offered a ride and we went around for more than 2 hours talking about various things in life.

My lonely trips have always offered me people from whom I gather new insights into life. Ghulam Nabi was one of them at the age of 55, in the middle of Dal lake sharing a cup of Kehwa answered my question of “Aap is umar me Shikara chalate hue thak nahi jaate ho?” [Don’t you get tired at this age after riding Shikara?]. His answer was a question, “Sahib, aadmi itna mehnat waise kyun karta hai?” [Sir, why does everyone do a lot of hard work]. I replied “bus hum jin logon ko bhaut pyaar karte hain unhe khush rakne ke liye” [To keep the ones who we love the most very happy]. “Bas sahib aapka sawal ka jawab aapke paas hi hai”[That’s it sir, you have the answer to your question]. I remembered one of my earlier quotes that “Question ka answer question nahi ho sakta” [A question’s answer cannot be another question] but now I realize an answer to a question can be another question which will get the answer.

Zillions of thoughts were rushing through by then; I questioned a lot to myself with so much silence, peace and darkness around. The rays of the moon penetrating through the clouds were kind enough not to throw much light around us.  I then wanted Ghulam Nabi to show me the floating vegetable market the next morning. He agreed and asked me to come at 4.30 in the morning and the next day he did wake up early to take me for a lonely ride. We again spoke a lot of things during the hour long ride to the floating market.  He then dropped me back to the Ghat at around 8.00 in the morning. A good long 3.5 hours of ride. He took a very little money than they normally take from the guests. I offered him more but he refused saying “After a long time, I enjoyed riding with you”. He also added, “There is a greed for money among people, probably within me as well but I do identify and understand love”. It was a little bit disturbing when I heard such a statement but I did feel happy before I bid a good bye.

While travelling to Pehalgam in a shared taxi, I could listen to a lot of local people who were my fellow travelers about their opinion on Kashmir, its politics, people, tourism and others. They all were very warm and made sure that I was comfortable. They guided me on everything so that I travel safe. I realized that what you get is what you give. There are times when where you don’t get but it’s still important that you give.  I decided to get down a few kilometers before reaching Pehalgam and  walk through the banks of the Lider river. The flow of the river is very similar to a person’s life. It has the fall, the rise, the hurdles, the obstructions, streams merging in and streams parting off. At times the river roars while flowing and at times it's calm and composed. The very intriguing part I learned is that it never loses its energy. The potential is always there.

I did trek in the virgin woods around 15 kms before I got back to my dormitory in the night.  There were some slight drizzle and chilly wind but they all seemed pleasant as I was completely drenched in thoughts and was hearing to my inner self. I felt happy that I am still the person who does what I want to do. I have always seen many people who say that “I want to do this, I want to do that” and finally ending up saying “don’t have time” and some or the other reasons. I always felt that you do things because you want to do and then you don’t do things because you don’t want to do.. It’s that simple.  People just find a reason to justify that they are always correct. It’s o.k to be wrong as well at times. That’s my humble opinion. And I also strongly believe that if you can’t fight / stand up to do what you actually want to do, then it will be you, the loser. I did climb up to the point where generally people go  on ponies. I knew that I was not well and might not be able to climb up but I did make it.

The next day I went to Gulmarg only to see that there was so much of grass in the same place where I got to see 5 feet of snow. With so much of cloud coming down the view was so very super!. I wanted to do the Gondala ride but I observed a 500m long line which was there to buy the ticket for the ride and another 500 m long line to enter the rope car and people had so much patience to wait in such a long line for hours. I decided to trek up rather than waiting in the line.  After a little trek I did walk around the little sweet town before I departed back to Srinagar. 

Once I reached back, I took an auto back to my dormitory. Spoke to the auto driver for a few moments and I asked him if he can take me through the lanes and streets of Srinagar where normally tourists don’t travel. The next morning at 9.00 he was there ready to take me around for a ride and said that he would drop me back at the airport. Heard that he got engaged  recently and his marriage would be in September. He took me in the most beautiful unexplored places around Srinagar. When he dropped back at the airport, he refused to take money. He said that he will take it if I promise to attend his wedding. He did take very little money. It’s heartening that love and affection is still the most valued thing among people where greed for money dominates. I also realize that if the value for love and affection is more within oneself then that person is always happy. Happiness according to me can be classified into to two. One is the actually happiness for the body, mind and soul where you are free to do and do what you want to irrespective of worrying / bothering anything / anyone around you. The other one where you feel you are happy and still not able to do many things which you want to do because of so and so reason. According to me I would say I am happy only if I belong to category 1 and with all means I felt that I am in category 1 without any hesitation!!!....

My flight which was supposed to reach Delhi didn’t reach Delhi and went to Lucknow because of bad weather and they took me back to Delhi by 10.00 in the night. Everyone de-boards and goes to their home, but I went direct to India Gate to have fun with my friends. “Pagalpandi karna koi Delhiwala se sekhoo” [If you want to be in the state of madness learn it from a Delhiite] and “mein bhi tho delhiwala hoon :-)” [I am also a Delhiwala :-)].