If I Weren’t a Girl, Here’s Where I Would Sit and Read in Kashmir

Image Credits: Tooba Towfiq

By Sarah Koul 

OUR society, though very encouraging to women in many spheres, still has a long way to go as far as seeing women enjoying in public places is concerned. The “if I weren’t a girl'' is a self-explanatory phrase of helplessness a woman feels. We as a society may think that we have progressed in terms of achieving women’s rights and safety but in actuality we’re far from it. It is woeful how women still find it bothersome to go about their daily lives, struggling and hustling to keep themselves safe.

Sexual harassment on streets, losely termed “eve teasing” or “cat calling” and uneasy stares make it difficult for women to completely access public life unabashedly. Women can never be at ease while going out for any purpose, be it for work or leisure. We always have to look out for ourselves. it is wretched how we are even stripped off of our peace of mind.

It’s always stereotypes and prejudices that stand in the way of everything women tend to do. Thus, no matter how much we want to be able to sit and read in a particular ambience, it is not entirely always possible for us.

For a literature enthusiast, a pacific ambience could play a pivotal role in analysing and creating literary texts. Yet it is downcast and discriminatory how women find it hard to be able to create or find such an environment.

As women, we live our lives aspiring, achieving yet there’s so much of wanting. But if I could, these are the five places I would sit and read a book at.

Jehlum Bund 

Needless to say that Jehlum is not just a river, it carries years of Kashmir’s rich legacy. The banks of Jehlum are a perfect spot to stop and absorb Kashmir’s rich heritage that follows throughout the course of the river. Jehlum cascades throughout Srinagar, carrying with itself thousands of stories from different generations. Pay attention to the scintillating waves of the adept river and you might as well find some of those stories in the enthralling song of the river. If you’re a storyteller, make sure you listen to what Jehlum has to say. If you’re looking forward to a captivating sight and a creative experience, grab your current read and encamp at the Jehlum Bund for the day.

Khanqa-i-Moula

Located in the old city alongside the river Jehlum, Khanqa-I-Moula is the epitome of spirituality and devotion. The place where you can let go of all your worldly obligations and reconnect with your soul and your rabb. The aura creates a serene disposition for anyone to ponder into the questions about the world and hereafter. If you’re reading your Rumi in the right translations , you ought to visit Khanq-I-Moula and sit beside the bank of Jehlum to think and meditate and find answers to your questions about devotion, spirituality and the essence of human existence (love and devotion to the almighty). And reminisce about how Shams and Rumi found their path to spirituality, maybe you find your way too.

Banks of Dal Lake 

Known as the “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir”, a significant historical and natural asset of ours, and one of Srinagar’s most inviting landmarks- the Dal. The coruscating waters of Dal, surrounded by the Zabarwan range provide the most undisturbed and tranquil ambience for anyone to sit back and relax to ruminate on their stories. It yells stories of all dwelling in Dal, how the lake feeds various people just by simply existing. The shikara business, the floating market and the houseboats run by those dwelling in the lake attract many travelers which makes for their livelihood. Dal is a selfless giver, it teaches the lesson of empathy. There is much to learn from the lake, sitting on its bank, while savouring the appealing waterscape.

Pari Mahal 

Located at the top of Zabarwan overlooking the city of Srinagar and Dal, Pari Mahal was built for the Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh. It is said to have been used as an observatory for teaching astronomy and astrology. Pari Mahal is home to many mythical and mysterious tales. The field of vision encompasses the beautiful Dal and adjoining Zabarwan Hills along with the finest display of Mughal style architecture. If myths and folklore excite you and if you are an admirer of Mughal architecture, Pari Mahal is the place where you can spend your time reading and writing about what excites you the most, along with the finest of Srinagar’s scenic view at your disposal.

Nigeen Lake 

Located adjacent to the Hari Parbat hillock, the lake is surrounded by a number of willow and poplar trees. Nigeen Lake is a calm, serene and peaceful getaway for those who prefer a more quiet frame of mind. Usually less crowded, Nigeen Lake is the right choice for watching wondrous sunsets and thousands of birds flying back in the evenings. The scenic arrangement is calming and soothing, making it easier to dwell on abstract ideas. If your current read is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, you should spend a sunset on the brink of Nigeen and contemplate the ideas of fate, self discovery, wisdom, omens and dreams. The spectacle of the setting sun on the gleaming waters of the lake makes the mind muse endlessly.

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