Sri Pratap Singh Museum, Srinagar
There are a number of activities one can enjoy in Srinagar- go for a shikara ride, paragliding, take a bus ride on the hop on-hop off, visit the floating post office but the winter, especially the chilian kalan-forty days of the cold, put a damper on everything. Since most of the locals leave for the summer capital of Jammu and there are hardly any tourists around, everything kind of comes to a halt. But the museum is open-sort of.
Though the new wing is yet to be inaugurated and the old building is closed to the public, one is pleasantly surprised. A few years ago I had sent an article to GK (which was never printed), about how mismanaged the museum was, with broken cases and bukharis being used close to national treasures.
The staff remains primarily the same so it still not like a nice, quiet, well organised place but it’s a great initiative, a must see for the different kinds of galleries. On the ground floor are the Archeology gallery, Numismatics Gallery and the museum shop. On the first floor are the Culture and Society, Jewellery, Arms and Armory and Decorative Arts Galleries. On the second floor which is at the moment non functional, are the Textile and Painting galleries.
Pakeeza Restaurant, Rajbagh.
Though there are a number of fancy restaurants in Srinagar that serve the wazwan- kashmiri cuisine, which consists of various non vegetarian dishes like seekh kabab, rista, gushtaba, tabak-maaz,waze kokur, kashmir methi etc, eating at a local dhaba has it’s own charm.
The best rista I’ve ever had, is at a local nameless dhaba close to Ganderbal. The Pakeeza restaurant in Rajbagh, which comes a close second also serves the juiciest gushtabas and the lahabi kabab is to die for. The two young waiters from neighbouring villages, always have the tele on, so one can enjoy a meal, while watching some old bollywood flick.
Makai Point Srinagar
The Makai Point is a favoured haunt of the locals as the delectable, local, mutton barbecued dish-tuji is served by a number of vendors at this spot. I wouldn’t suggest going there late in the evening by yourself, since it has a notorious reputation.
Though tuji isn’t my favourite local dish, I would rather have harisa downtown or the trami at Grand, or even a mirchi korma at Ahdoos, at 4.30 in evening one seekh, with a lavasa (bread) and radish and curd chutney, is enough to fill up my tummy. Plus, I can catch up with my buddy.
So off I go, on the Boulevard road, towards the Nishat/Harwan side. I can’t find my favourite tuji walla-J. One quick phone call and he appears in five minutes. ‘Chal ghar chal, chai pee!’. I decline the offer, promising to drop in next time. Since, he’s not working, I ask him to sit in the car and have a tuji. All the other vendors are very amused as we enjoy the meal and chat about the haalat.
In one corner a man washes utensils. J points towards him and tells me that once upon a time, people were terrified of this particular person as he was a militant. He was caught -imprisoned but by the time he was released he had lost a bit of his mind. ‘Itna accha aadmi he, kissi ko kuch nahin bolta he, ‘ he tells me, feeling bad for M.
I hang around for a while and then bid him farewell. ‘Mummy ko salaam bolna aur kehna agli dafa milne aongee.’ He sulks a little, ‘marzi he!’, but I know his mum will fuss over me, like she usually does and it’s an inconvenient hour to drop in. ‘Next time’, I promise him as I speed away.
Not much has changed in the past year. Your face hasn’t totally disappeared from my memory, like I frequently worry, it will.
Before I forget Majnu, the love of your life sent a message on your birthday. Turns out you will remain in everyone’s heart…for a long time. Zyaada khush hone ka nahin he! Thank your stars I didn’t tell our father. He hurls abuses at your impractical ashqui.All your childhood pranks are etched in his memory and he gets drunk and cries about his ‘changa puttar’, at least once a week.
So our Mom was all set to have a rendezvous, with you last year. Though you remain her favourite- at least once every couple of days I’m told,’you’re very bad, if my son was here, he would have done…..’, but she worries about me, now. So sorry, she’s staying here for a bit. You have half the khandaan to keep you company. Manage without your mommy. She’ll come when it’s her time.
Me? I’m good..mujhko kyaa hota he? Once in a blue moon, on a drunk night, I make terrible company. You were such a cry baby, so is our daddy and the mamas..I don’t understand men who can’t stand tears. Uff, it’s a terrible turn off. Prerequisite for a consideration for a relationship should be- the man should be good at handling tears.
God, I miss you when I got to deal with the boys. No one is around to warn them (nicely) about me. No one tells them I have the temper of a ‘jungli suar’. There is no one who tells them, ‘tum meri bhen ko jante nahin ho!’ and there’s no one who smiles and says, ‘But she’ll always love me most!’….You didn’t have to die on me to ensure that.