Have you ever been to Kashmir ??Kashmir is glorious crown of India which attracts people to come and create some special moments for them.When first downpour of snow get starts in winter , which slowly converts in a thick layer of blanket over mountains, it becomes fascinating.During that time first ray of sun in the morning gives a peace in mind.Summer has its own charm. I too had a memorable trip to Kashmir.
In January 2006 while I had already started graduation ,my father surprised us with air tickets of Kashmir.Though me and mom was in fear due to imagined terrible environment of violence in Kashmir which I had seen in movies and news before ,but we were left with no other option instead of packing our bags because he had already did all bookings.Finally the day came when we left for Delhi to depart.
We reached two hours before our flight time for security check in and after finishing it ,we were again left with one hour to wait to get on board.My father sat on the bench with newspaper in boarding lounge which was enough for him to spend leisure till the flight staff called us.My younger brother was in very much enthusiasm for traveling to new place ,so he was sorting out his queries regarding new place by talking to Mom.Only I was left who was having nothing to do,except roaming here and there .When I came back to sit on bench with my family,I slightly noticed the young handsome guy with blue eyes was sitting opposite to us,reading newspaper with his glances on me little bit,which I ignored .After sometime when the boarding get started , we moved towards the flight and grabbed our seats as per the numbers.Me,my brother and mom were in one row,while my father sat in opposite row.Coincidentally that same handsome guy got the seat in the same row in which we were having seats.So amidst both of us was the aisle. Till now after so many years of that trip,I had never seen so many seats remaining vacant specially in Jet Airways,if it is about spice jet than it is well understood.Fortunately on that day seats were vacant.While we settled down my Mom took out candies from her purse and distributed among us,my bro gave them to my father too who was on the window seat, out of which he gave few to that guy.He liked the friendly nature of my Dad,about which he told me later, and accepted candies.Astonishingly when the flight was ready for take off,Dad asked me if I want that window seat,because he could grab another window seat for which he had already confirmed from Air Hostess due to vacancy and also he didn’t knew that he is going to give a chance to that guy to start conversation with me ….. he..he
I was watching out of window,when unexpectedly I heard a voice asking,”Hello,If you don’t mind can we talk ?” Hesitatingly, because my parents were around us and he was a stranger firstly I thought to refuse,but there was nothing to worry about and even I was getting bored ,so I nodded my head “Yeah tell me “.From here our one hour fifteen minutes journey started,,,,,,,
He:Hi,my name is Sameer, Sameer Shah and yours???
Me : Payal Tyagi
He: Is this your first trip to Kashmir??
He:Oh!! I belong to Srinagar(Kashmir) only.
Me:OK,that’s great !
He: Well I am in third year of M.B.B.S and doing it from Nagpur,and you??
Me: I am in first year of my graduation in Biotechnology.
He: Oh Wow!! It is having good scope, now a days(Grinning)!!
Me: Yeah,but not much in India.Well I have a question in mind,as you belongs to Srinagar,How do you people manage to live ,when there is such terrifying environment of riots,conflicts?? I am very fearful for going as a tourist even.
He:Giggled,,, my parents sent me outside Kashmir for studies,just because of terror only,so that I may concentrate on studies,forgetting everything.For us these bomb blasts and firings are like crackers bursting on festivals.But it’s my home town which is having a golden side too and I can’t leave coming to this place,to my family.Believe me,it is very much safe for tourists…..
Me: Startled by what he told, but impressed by his spirit.So who all are there in your family??
He: Mine is nuclear family with my father,mother & my younger sister Shama.
Me: OK !! giggled..(while looking outside window)
He: Well I found your father’s nature very friendly,as I have never seen anyone asking for any thing to stranger in flight.
Me: Yeah,he is !!!(grinned)
He: So where you all will be staying in Srinagar??
Me: In some hotel,name I don’t know ,my father would be knowing.
He: Why don’t you people stay at our home.We will show your family all the places around as per their wish.
Me: Well that would be our pleasure!! but for this you need to ask my father( which I was sure,he will never do) because he only planned the whole trip( again watching outside window,as I knew my bro and mother was staring at me sometimes as I was continuously talking to a stranger and that too a boy.Might be I could stop this conversation in between,but I didn’t want that because I found him gentle and genuine.
He:I brought three boxes of oranges from Nagpur,I always bring them for my family,when ever I come for vacations,So would you like to take one??
Me: No,Thanks !! We already have lots of baggage with us.
Me: Another question popped in my head,”Surely you would be having any girl friend ??”
He: Guffawed!! How you are so sure??
Me: No I mean,you are medical student with good looks,what else any girl wants??
He: Ha…ha Even I can ask you same question,as you are also good in looks,so do you have boyfriend ?Anyways I don’t have,because I don’t have time for it with hell burden of medical books.
Me: ( with smiling heart,as I was complimented).No I don’t have.So when ever you will look for,what will be your priority??
He: Though I have not set any priority,but want a girl with beautiful heart much more than her looks.
Me: (Can’t say whether the line was to impress or he really believes that,but I was impressed)Oh ! ! If you really think so,I must say you have beautiful spirit.
He: Thanks !! Yes I really believe so…
Me:(Srinagar was about to come as mountains covered with layers of ice became visible)I was looking outside window to enjoy the beauty of nature and the landscape seems like a black & white sketch drawn on extreme canvas with sharp black graphite pencil.While I was totally adrift in the scenic beauty,again I heard his voice….
He:This time outside temperature would be in minus,so keep yourself covered with multiple sweaters and an overcoat.In summertime ,it turns up in to green.
Me: OK !! (simply nodded)
He: Take my number as I will be here for ten days , in case you needed any help…9259……
Me: I didn’t hear his number ,because I knew if I took his number,I won’t be able to control my self from calling him and I also knew we are not going to have any future ,because he was from different religion and state,and my family won’t support so better to leave it at that turn.
He: Do you have any mail id,so that sometimes I may send you message??
He: (with a shock)Seriously I can’t believe that,how is it possible ???? You must be lying.
Me: But this is true…I am sorry.
He: I am really impressed !!
In few minutes we were about to land in Srinagar as per the instructions of Air hostess.
He : Hopefully will catch you somewhere in Srinagar (grinned)
Me: Let’s see!!(from heart I really wanted if we could meet again)
The flight landed………
Me: Take care. Bye( felt quite sad )
He: Bye . You too….
While we got down from flight, my father attacked me with bullets of questions……Why I was talking to him ?what we were talking about? Did we exchanged numbers….and I exclaimed NO.
My Mom supported me with her interruption,”It’s fine if she was talking at least she was talking in front of us and I have confidence on her”.
We arrived at the airport and reached to belt at which our luggage was loaded.While we collected all bags, unexpectedly Sameer came to my father and asked,”Uncle Kindly come with us and stay at our home”,which my father refused with acknowledgement of his pre-bookings of hotels etc and he left the place with gesture of final bye.
Though I don’t know whether he had the real identity, he told and expressed ,but his last expression had earned lot of respect for him in my heart .I don’t know what would have happened, if I had taken his number, but the turn at which I left it was unforgettable ,even today I remember it as an alluring memoir and this trip had changed my opinion about Kashmir too.We roamed on streets of Kashmir ,around Dal lake even on 26th January and there was nothing to worry about.One of the Kashmiri locals offered us Kahwa(kashmiri green tea flavoured with cardamom and saffron) on Shikara. With all my experience I concluded, it’s not the local residents who are earning money by simple living, creating problems in Kashmir, but the separatists who don’t count themselves as Indians.