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In the day gone by, I had discovered it’s easy to drown in the beauty that I find myself wallowing in – willingly. A day of discovering a new people, a way of life – a floating life, and watching that familiar sun washing everything golden on its way down (Read: Kashmir #2: A golden sunset on the Nigeen) and then as it shone again after a clear starlit night.Colorful-jewelry-on-the-Nigeen As time approached to head out to the next destination, I felt a slight pain in my heart, as if something was tugging at it – a frantic desperation.

Nigeen-22-silhouetteMay be it was the lake, by the side of which I had spent a few hours sitting quietly and watching shikaras drift by, ever so quietly – lustily – sending out gentle quivers across the waters.

Nigeen-6May be it was that surge of humanity I felt when I looked over my houseboat’s backyard, and it wasn’t a fence but an open stream of the lake that greeted me and the adjacent “house” owner playing a nostalgic local tune on his banjo.

Picture39_1May be it was those endless floating lotus and lily fronds, that seemed to glide past me as I had made my way through to the charming little floating market on the Dal, when the previous night had lusciously melted into a new day (Read: Kashmir #3: At the floating market on the Dal.. at 4 am!).Picture33_1Picture32_1

I waved.. they waved back in glee
I waved.. they waved back in glee

May be it was that couple ferrying their kids, on their family shikara, as the kids giggled and waved back at me. May be it was the lone pambach vendor sitting by the shade of his wide-brimmed black umbrella by the side of the little bridge spanning the divide between the grand Dal and the modest Nigeen, facing the evening sun.

He.. with his lot of 'pambach'
He.. with his lot of ‘pambach’

May be it was those many rivulets that crisscrossed the city of Srinagar, negotiated by wooden stilted bridges, with boats crossing beneath them – the ones I have since dreamed of spending delectable early mornings on, dangling my legs by the edge.Nigeen-19-stilted-bridge-spanning-nigeen

May be it was the exuberance that seemed to have erupted in a rapture all over the Valley as a new moon brought in Eid. The beauty in little eyes as they turned out in their glittering finery and waved at me. The charm where hordes thronged the local mosques to offer special prayers. Where one man hugged another and wished him well. Where numerous firecrackers lighted up the night sky.

Or, may be it was that underlying threat everyone warned me against while visiting the Valley. A threat that lurked around corners they said. The threat against which the Army was posted permanently in the beautiful city of Srinagar.

Strangely, I didn’t feel any such thing.Picture43_1

The vehicle hummed through the city traffic as our driver attempted to snake through the meandering lanes that seemed to get lost behind some old building every time. Srinagar can be a congested maze of lanes and markets, the famed Lal Bazaar, phiran clad men and school children in monogrammed blazers, wrinkled women in phirans with piercing hazel eyes and the fresh-faced doe-eyed school girls. The city seems to have a heart-breaking charm about it. As I reflect back now, what stands out from the images in my head is the color brown. It seemed to be everywhere. The shops made of brown wood, the tiled roofs of the houses, and the ramshackle buildings with wooden planks peeling away steeped in generations of history, mystery behind each wall, each crumbling doorway.Picture37_1

May be it was the peace tugging at me!