Kashmir, exquisite!

IT was ‘love at first sight’ from the clouds as the aeroplane introduced us to the lush green landscapes of Kashmir. From high above we admired mountains and valleys which looked so beautifully arranged in-between streams and waterways. A paradise, I thought, in comparison to many harsh environments we had experienced in the rest of India. To have made it this far north was daunting as we headed further away from home but we were reassured by a cooler climate, fresh air and the kindness and hospitality of the Kashmiris.

We made our way to the hills of Harvan, our home for the first week. Here we experienced at first glance a more rural side to the Kashmiri way of life and I admired how hard working and pleased with progress everyone seemed to be. With many homes being built into double storeys and the final layers of paint still needed on stark cement walls we were told the story of the migration towards higher land since the floods devastated the Srinagar valley. “My heartfelt sympathy goes out to those who suffered so much loss and continue to battle with the after effects of the flood.” I envisioned how integrated with their environment and nature these homes and families would become and that somehow settled my conflicting thoughts. As safe as we felt in our surroundings in Harvan, enjoying short walks for fresh bread each day, pleasing views and perturbed stares which constantly humoured us, we were itching to find out more about local life and the house boats of Dal Lake.

It’s easy for someone like me to admire old buildings, naively reminding myself of the thousands of years of history and heritage here, but certainly some of what I had seen during our drive through town from the airport was due to excessive water damage and perhaps the need to neglect maintenance after a time of fruitless efforts. These are the stories I was searching for…the truth behind the beauty. I’m not a pessimist or a realist, in fact more and more as I try to live as a Karma Yogi those hard walls have broken and I exercise my mind to love unconditionally wishing to find only the best in everything. But India has many problems, of which we all know, and these problems not only separate Kashmir from the rest of India, socially and politically, but make it that much harder for this region to streamline municipal responsibilities and enjoy educational benefits, a big pot of ‘mixed vegetables’!

Water is symbolic of cleansing and healing but nature is unpredictable and without warning that which brings so much abundance and resource to Kashmir can also be that which destroys. A disturbing contradictory reality which should encourage those living here to respect and have gratitude each day for this life, and this exquisite place. With that in mind I will continue to look positively on our time here reaffirming the purpose of our journey with sweet poetic words.

The beauty of nature is wildly abundant here
As though all the birds and bees have retreated here for respite
    The land is green as far as the eye can see and hills cuddle the vibrant town
    Eagles circle and glide freely above, waltzing around scattered clouds
In the distance the sun is gleaming, dancing on Dal Lake
Snow-capped peaks beyond all this bring a cooling and refreshing glow to the horizon
    It’s like Eden as I bird watch, the branches bobbing under the weight of the birds
    Their insistent dusk calls amplified make me feel like I am at the highest point
The song of nature is here in the hills, the air so crisp and clear
Streams of water chorus from all directions soothing the earth
    Beyond the boundary a rice paddy with puzzle shapes of green
    Glitters as it catches the last of the sunlight
Allah! Allah! Allah! The mosque resounds
And I embrace with all gratitude that which brought me here.     --- Pamela Tosh

Pamela and her husband Anton aim to expand on their current yoga practice towards a more holistic way of living. With the understanding that what we ‘do’ and what we ‘touch’ has a vital impact on everything around us. You can get in touch with the couple currently in Srinagar by visiting Www.Indipam.Com. Email: [email protected] 

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