Charlie here. I am writing this from our room in a lovely homestay in Srinagar. We are staying with a very nice Muslim family who are providing us with a delicious breakfast and dinner each day, which must take a impressive self-restraint as they are fasting for Rammadam!
However the 12hr trip from Jammu to our homestay was far less idyllic. The journey can be described in terms of a twisting mountain drive up to a ski resort, but replace snow with sand, wooden chalets with metal shacks and the Highway Code with utter roadside anarchy. Many times I attempted to escape from the chaos unfolding outside our window into a peaceful slumber. However this proved very difficult as, squished in next to the driver, I was periodically greeted by the thwacking of the gearstick into my legs.
Luckily regular signs which warned drivers that ‘After whiskey driving risky’, and ‘if married, divorce speed’ kept us chuckling for most of the journey.
Given that we had spent most of the previous day hunched up and sitting down, (and most of the day before that on a heavily delayed train from Amritsar)
we decided to go for long walk around lake Dal this morning. We spent around 2 hours skirting around admiring it’s beautiful silver mirrored surface which reflected both the imposing mountains which looked down onto it and the colourful local boats dotted along the water front. The walk and scenery gave me a good chance to practice with the canon dslr I bought in the airport. It still feels strange having moved from the 1980’s Minolta (which takes film) of some many past trips to a digital model. With the Minolta you had to be certain that each shot was ‘right’ before you pressed the shutter button as you didn’t want to waste the film. In contrast my new digital companion allows you to be far more ‘trigger happy’. At the same time I do miss the tactile satisfaction of rolling on the film reel after each shot. Anyway that is probably enough niche camera chat for now so back to our day… Throughout our walk around the lake we were engaged in a one-sided war of attrition with local hawkers who were offering (in the strongest sense of the word) paddle boats trips across the lake for varying prices. Hardened from our experiences in India last year we politely refused again and again yet as time passed and we grew increasing tired our defences were finally worn down. However the excursion proved to be far more relaxing and enjoyable than the hawkers methods of selling it. The scenery was beautiful (esp the water lillies) and our boat driver was nice, talkative and funny. A personal favourite was him joking, after having a go with my canon, that he was going to immediately quit his lake job and become a cameraman when we landed back at shore.
We are staying in Srinagar for a few
more days so are looking forward to spending more time on the lakeside and hopefully in a houseboat for one night!