Don't know why I have been thinking of the Kashmir valley a lot lately. Perhaps the searing heat of the plains makes me subconsciously think of the cool environs of the valley, with the majestic Himalayas in the backdrop.
I visited Kashmir many years back, when "terrorism" was a totally unfamiliar word, and one visited the valley only to figure out what earned it the name 'Paradise on Earth'. I was too young to remember the details of the breathtaking beauty, but some images stay with me till date. Today I bring you two of them...
One was of the colourful shikaras lined up on the Dal lake. Bobbing cheerfully on the edge of the lake, with their typical name placards and the boatmen calling out to us to take a ride.
Waiting Shikaras - charcoal and acrylic
Another was of the flower seller going from one houseboat to the other in his little boat, handing over a fresh bouquet to each, and exchanging pleasantries with the regular customers. I was so awed to see this unusual way of selling that it stayed in my memory.
The Flower Seller - mixed media
Alas, I have never been to the valley thereafter. I remember reading somewhere that the houseboats and shikaras can no longer be seen on the Dal, as security issues override tourism concerns. The price we pay is too high sometimes....