Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face,
Stars to fill my dreams.
I am a traveller of all time and space,
To be where I have been.
To sit with elders of a gentle race,
The world has seldom seen.
They talk of days for which they sit and wait,
When all will be revealed.
Talk and song from tongues of lilting grace,
Whose sounds caress my ear.
Not a word I heard could I relate,
The story was quite clear.
...Trying to find where I've been...
Kashmir, lyrics by Robert Plant (nod to Randy as well)
|eagles. everywhere. really.|
Out near Dagapora, the mustard is in full bloom and it adds a gorgeous yellow welcome mat to the grey of the villages. I have decided to stay with Christine, Manzur and their son Tawseef for one or two nights – they have invited me to stay longer but we’ll see. I have thoroughly explored as much of the city asI want, and I look forward to the slower pace of the country. Plus, it is a rare chance to experience authentic life in a Kashmiri village. Sure, I could spend my money going to Gulmarg (the number one skiing resort in all of India and a prime tourist spot. No one can believe that I am not dashing off to see it. Indians flock there to see snow for the first time. “Believe me, I have seen snow before!”) but I am done with being a tourist.
|vegetable vendor in shikara, dal lake|
|kangri prep on dal lake|
Back in the village, we lounge about. His job right now consists of filling out the odd paper and praying that he will get this job. Oh, and also mailing packets of Kashmiri shawls to Switzerland where Christine’s family and connection of extended friends manage to sell them so that the profits can come back here and fund the school and medical clinic they run. Anybody in Canada want to buy honestly priced, finely made kashmiri shawls and scarves? He will mail them to me when I get back if anyone wants, and I would love to help. I’ll bring home photos. We’ll see.
|shepherd who wanted his photo taken|
|women who had collected wild mushrooms, plucking stems|
|Manzur and Tawseef|
Otherwise, life here in the country is interesting, and interestingly slow. I haven’t seen a TV yet – though I hear that some people have them. Family is important in a way I could never fathom – they may live in separate homes but they gather for dinner, share funds, have their kids sleep together, and hang out with each other – drinking tea and doing nothing for hours on end. There is no way that I could handle so much doing of virtually nothing. Can you imagine just sitting around waiting for electricity for 3 hours? Or mastering the art of making coals red-hot so that you can use them in a pot under your robe so you can stay warm? I don’t know how Christine has made the transition. But, her heart is huge and selfless and all she wants is to help this beautiful land of beautiful people. I can’t blame her for one second for abandoning our emotionally cold and self-centered culture for this. I know that I couldn’t do it, but I have been wondering ever since I got here – how could I possibly do something to help Kashmir? I believe hat this is one of the few places truly in dire need of international help that, once assisted, could be a place that would give back again to the world. It was once such a celebrated, abundant and talented land. Still its handicrafts and natural products are desired all over the world. I hope and pray that it may find peace and balance again some day, and then be a paradise again.