Sunday, July 1, 2007

In Kashmir...

After a 26-hr journey from Manali, where I went to fulfill my sole goal (successfully- yes!) of meeting my very good friends, Yuval and Tomer, before they left for Delhi on their way home to Israel, I found myself in peaceful, serene Srinagar, Kashmir.

Kashmir, like the Led Zepplin beat, is utterly captivating.

I arrived around 8pm and caught an autorickshaw into town with my new friend, Farrod, (he also traveled from Manali and is from Srinagar). The rickshaw driver was Farrod's friend-- I was in good hands from the start. (I already had made a connection for a houseboat through Kashmiri friends of mine in Dharamsala.)

Farrod jumped out halfway to my destination, Nigeen Lake, and my rickshaw friend and I continued onward. Upon reaching closer to my destination, the driver asked me for my friend, Ayub's, phone number. I was shocked when the driver placed the call (so that he could get clear instructions). Five minutes later, I was at my houseboat, which is owned by Ayub's cousin.

After a lovely conversation with Karim, Ayub's cousin, I enjoyed a late dinner-- rice, curry, and fresh califlower-- and then settled into my room to watch the full moon rise over the pristine lake. I fell asleep to the sound of frogs and birds singing... Yes, this is "war-torn" Srinagar.

Today, I slept in and awoke to find Ayub talking in the kitchen with Karim. After enjoying some luscious tea, we headed over to Karim's house to savor his wife's mouth-watering cooking abilities. An hour later, Ayub and I were on a boat headed to Dal Lake, the jewel of Kashmir, and a tour of the surroundings. As we made our way to his houseboat, eagles, kingfishers, egrets and herons flew above us masterfully looking for prey. Waterlilies bloomed, lotus blossoms began their long flowering period, and the still water reflected the surrounding mountains perfectly.

More than five hours later, Ayub and I found myself completely relaxed and enjoying stunningly splendid chai at Karim's house.

I plan on staying in this paradise until the 4th or 5th of July before making the long, mountainous trip to Leh. That is, if I haven't started to gather materials to build my own houseboat by then...

I hope that all is well in your world as it is in mine. Life is Beautiful!


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