“…We become focused on the small things, the specifics, the politics and bickerings of daily life. We forget the important questions – about what it means to exist, to be happy, to explore our world and universe.”
Srinagar is considered the summer capital of this state and is said to be an astounding and beautiful place. In fact, because of its great reputation, thousands of Indians from all over the country flock to this city everyday to enjoy its wonders. Before arriving I had seen photos of houseboats quietly floating in the river, and small boats paddling in an open and serene lake. Kevin had even seen a documentary depicting it as a secluded piece of paradise.
But boy can photos be misleading.
Now, it is beautiful. There are mountains and hills surrounding the lake, and there are indeed houseboats on the canal. But it’s not one or two peaceful resistances, it’s thousands upon thousands stacked practically on top of each other. And each of those thousands of boats (which are all guest houses) comes with a small boat or two that takes you across (at a slightly outrageous fee). And each of these small boats comes with a money hungry Indian who will hound you on the street, following and chasing you down (especially if you are white) demanding you take a ride on the boat. And of course, once you say no, they don’t stop. They continue to follow you, pestering you until you patience breaks even if all you set out to do is walk to the restaurant around the block.
Though the area surrounding Srinagar is beautiful, it’s extremely hard to appreciate when you can’t walk down the street, or even sit by the water, without being CONSTANTLY harassed. And I mean CONSTANTLY. It was impossible to even walk around the block to eat without gathering a crowd of men hounding us for something. Though Kevin and I took a nice bike ride around the lake where we received less attention, it took us until our third and final evening to figure out where the real beauty of the city lay. Our guest house was situated beside a hill, and after following it around into a quiet residential area, we found an assortment of beautiful old British houses. As we explored further we found a large hillside graveyard with an astounding view of the city at sunset. Not only was the area adorned with beautiful old houses, but the people also didn’t give us a second glance. They had no reason to want our money, so for once, we were left blissfully alone. This was yet another time when it wasn’t the tourist attractions (in this case the lake and floating guest houses) which we will remember, but rather just walking around the real local city.