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How did a shikara ride on Dal lake, an overtly chiched travel experience in Kashmir touch our hearts?
Twenty-five years is generally is a long enough period for a place to go through an upheaval. It’s long enough for a place to feel “nothing like before”. Not so the Dal lake of Kashmir!
“Some fresh flowers for the Madam, Sir?”
“No thank you, we don’t want to buy anything.”
“Aah, those flowers were too bright? How about these ones?”
Aah madam, you will love to be Kashmir ki kali
Kashmir ki kali literally translates to Flower of Kashmir! The obsession of the people of Kashmir with this movie made way back in 1964 is still intact. Generations have passed. But the young entrepreneurs of Dal lake are still heard referring to the same movie!
The professional attitude of these budding photographers impressed us. They might all shout out, “Kashmir ki kali photos”. But their pitch is well prepared. They’ve done their homework.
You choose the dress depending on the shade of red and the amount of bling you prefer – they have 2 or 3 options. These are accompanied with jewelry to match. It’s clunky stuff, some of which you don’t know how to wear, you’ve never seen it before. But there’s nothing to worry. These guys are true entrepreneurs – they are well versed in all aspects of the job.
Or so you think. You aren’t just going to leave you hands by your sides, are you? You’ve got to pick a prop – a pot of water you’ve just fetched from the stream? Or maybe a bunch of flowers (plastic ones, mind you!)?
“Oh, that is beautiful madam!”
“The photos will reach your hotel by this evening.”
“You are very kind, sir. Enjoy your stay in Kashmir. Come to my home for a cup of tea if you have the time!”
Just like that, as you are doing the most touristy thing there can ever be, you are given a warm friendly invite into a stranger’s home. You now notice the young guy smiling before you. From a “photographer on Dal lake”, he transforms into an entrepreneur with dreams in his eyes.
All this while, he was creating a memory for you to carry back home. But the real memory you’ll remember forever is the connection you made with him in those few moments.
Our shikara ride on the Dal lake was a severe case of déjà vu. It felt like a childhood memory calling out, “Come, let’s be that little girl again.”