Junoon

‘ Gar kiya naaseh ne hum ko qaid, achha yoon sahi

Ye junnon-e ishq ke andaaz chhut jaaweinge kya?

Hazrat-e naaseh gar aavein, deeda-o-dil, farsh-e-raah

Koi hum ko yeh toh samjha do, ke samjhaaveinge kya?’

The rumours around one, remain as potent as they’ve always been. Sizzling! Any chances of them dying down soon? Not a chance in hell! Not even in death, I’ve learnt from my Amma’s life. But like I said to someone yesterday, it’s a small price to pay for getting away with all that this world, allows only men to get away with! A part of me, does get hurt, which turns it into Hulk. But it seems better sense, is slowly starting to dawn on me, too slowly, though.

I said to myself the other day, when I started to slip, into the darkest corners of my mind-If you have done something and people talk about it, you shouldn’t feel bad because you have done it and if you haven’t done something then that too shouldn’t matter because you didn’t do it in the first place! Does that make sense or does it sound like the end is the beginning is the end? Rantings of a twisted mind?

Coming back from Kashmir, where apparently I’ve tucked a couple of lovers away ( I so wish) is always hard. Leaves one confused and achey, constantly longing for the part of me, I leave behind: hidden by the side of a lake. The softer one tussles with the bitchier one, as soon one reaches Delhi. The ditching of the nocturnal drives and walks too, makes the fight more ferocious and one more aggressive and more melancholic, completely insufferable basically, more than one usually is.

Anyhow, I sit in the basement, staring at book, I can’t seem to comprehend at all, due to my thoughts penduluming from one thing to the other. Bidis and my brother’s photograph smiling at me, from the wall, keep me company. ‘What’s going to happen to you? What are you going to do?’ the question everyone keeps asking me, plays on my mind. The mind draws a complete blank. Not that anyone knows the answers to those questions but in my case I guess, it’s my unsettled state that perturbs people. Once in while, I do wonder, myself.

It’s worrying the Father, one can see. The news that one of the prospects he wanted me to end up with ( till my mom’s death, at least) is going to tie the knot, got me an earful. ‘ What will you do if I fall ill? Who will be by your side? You’re absolutely unwilling to commit to anyone!’ He went on and on, last night, as I sat in front of him, laughing like a jackass. Suddenly, something dawned on him, he realised the fat lady hasn’t sung yet and all this remains a moot point till then. Stubbornness runs in the blood and a promise made to oneself at twenty five, one will keep, however many other boys come and go. He enquired about that and then dropped the topic, in totality. Of course, he sat glaring at me today, yelling for no rhyme or reason. Worry manifests in anger, many a times.

Kyaa hoga, Khudda jaane, but if I made it in one piece, last year, when I couldn’t get through a day, I’m sure, I’ll be able to get through, somehow. If not, we all have to die of something, loneliness seems better compared to a passionless life. I may not know, where I’m going, but I know what I want. A life full of passion and adventure, a small house away from the hustle bustle of a city, full of books, animals and babies.

Igloo Cafe- Gulmarg

The Igloo, in Gulmarg isn’t an abode for Eskimos and hunters, rather it’s a cafe for travellers, an attraction for anyone who likes the snow or kahwa to bear the chilly winters of the Vale. My solo trip to Gulmarg, wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the newest, trendiest cafe in Kashmir.

Syed Waseem Shah, the owner/ creator/ artist, of the Igloo Cafe, is the brain behind this innovative space. I didn’t get to meet him nor did I meet many people there, as I went too early. The tourists were busy skiing, so they would saunter in much later, told me the manager. He was kind enough to keep me entertained, by providing information and taking pictures of me.

If like me, you’re strolling around Gulmarg and can’t figure out where it is, look for the Kolhai Hotel. Pay the nominal entry fee and step into an approximately fifteen feet high, cave like structure made of snow, which can accommodate maximum sixteen people at a time. As of now, there are limited items on the menu, since there’s always the fear of the snow structure melting, with the heat of the food and beverages, I was told. I didn’t care. Give me any kind of tea, anywhere, anytime and I’m sold.

Solo travels- Pahalgam

Solo travels

Pahalgam, also known as the ‘Valley of Shepherds’, is frequented by yatries as well, as tourists in the summer. But in the winters, it’s relatively less crowded than the favourite destination of Kashmiris and tourists alike-Gulmarg. Neither the shepherds, nor the locals crowd the main market and most hotels and shops are still closed. Yet, this time around, I saw more tourists here and everywhere else, than I have ever seen in Kashmir, during the winters.

Posing with the girls, who picked me up after my fall. They all wanted selfies. Me too!
I was stopped while walking down the Main market road, for a selfie. I felt like half celebrity, half Martian.

A few years ago, I journeyed to Baisaran in the winter, with a couple of Kashmiri photographers for a day. That’s when I realized, that Pahalgam has it’s own charm in the winter. The mini- Switzerland or so it’s called is a quaint place, surrounded by snow capped mountains. Of course, I was driving then, this time around Farookh Uncle (my cab guy) traversed the terrain, with me. Being driven around by someone who can handle the winding roads of Kashmir and not be afraid or maniacal, is a bit hard. How I’ll explain later. But Uncle, is an experienced older man, with tremendous skill. For someone who hates being driven around, to say that, means the man must be fabulous at what he does.

Shot around Pahalgam, met a bunch of people, who wanted to take selfies with me. Slipped and fell on the snow and hurt my back badly but my models were kind enough to pick me up, while giggling non stop. Saw breathtaking scenic beauty and actually enjoyed being there for a change.

This time around I had my customary solo date, at a restraunt in Pahalgam. I sat by myself, ordered some yakhni, butted into someone’s conversation about Kashmir and got told, ‘You’re lying, I’m sure you’re Kashmiri!’ Each time someone says that to me, I can always imagine my mum’s fairness obsessed family going, ‘ae, andhera kum kerah!’ ( as dark as a dense, dark night, that’s what they used to call me, when I was little). I get a tan and it stays for months, plus I love the sun and I happen to work outdoors..so mostly I’m a shade of beige to light brown. That’s apparently horrible coming from a family that’s primarily been born white as milk or has got fairness treatments done, to look as white as milk. So, this statement always amuses me.

Anyhow, Uncle wanted to eat by himself but I somehow managed to drag him into the eatery for one of my favourite beverages- kahwa. We shared an awkward few minutes, as he sat on another table, facing me and talking, making me acutely aware of my gender or class. We rarely meet others, where that doesn’t come into play. After, which we headed to Betaab Valley.

Faking snowfall

The entry fee at the park is around fifty bucks, right now, goes upto a hundred later. There were more than enough tourists from – Punjab, Bengal and Kerala, who had flocked this serene spot. I had the best time, as I met the cutest guide cum photographer. ‘Ma’am, please let me come with you. This is how we run our homes.’ he kept trying to coax me. I kept trying to convince him that I was there to take pictures and not to pose, but eventually gave in. I’m so glad I did. After I finished my work, he made me slap a ball of snow, to fake snowfall. Took me around various spots and made me pose. Oddly enough, none of the photographers that you meet at the gate carry cameras (they use your phone to take the pictures), only when you walk inside, you find DSLR’s swinging from the shoulders of men, sitting next to different colours of velvet phirans. But I would personally vouch for these cameraless guides calling themselves photographers. They make you have loads of fun.

With the photographer and the sledge guy

Valentines Day

Amma,

Sitting at the airport, heading back to Delhi. I don’t like going back to that house, which is supposed to be ‘home’, there’s an eerie silence, in it. God, how much you used to scream, we only realize now, that you’re not there! It’s a pity, I don’t have anyone to buy flowers for, from your son’s side this Valentine’s Day. No reminders to write, ‘ I love you the most, Mom’ from him. Anyhow, hope the ass is telling you, himself.