What! You are not a Kashmiri???

'Really! You are not a Kashmiri?' I was asked this so many times that I actually started even enjoying this question :)

I am on my way back from some really awesome time in Kashmir, and I have been thinking for the past couple of days about what could be my first post from the trip. Anyway without much ado here it is - a post more about me and much less about Kashmir...or perhaps actually it's actually about both of us together in multiple ways...

From the day I landed in Srinagar, people have been coming up to me to start a conversation in Kashmiri - a language I am barely familiar with. They simply assume that I am a Kashmiri like most people, and not one of the tourists. And its not just the kids who take me for one of their own, even much older men have shown much surprise about me not being from the valley. 

Two of the best such mini-stories happened today. The first one happened at the play-ground on the outskirts of Srinagar where I landed after a fantastic Paraglyding jump, when young boys on their way to school ran towards me and animatedly started asking many many questions, and all in Kashmiri! They actually left rather unimpressed when I offered to talk to them in Urdu :( 

The second story happened was at the airport when the guard at the 'security check' asked me which part of Kashmir was I from...I smiled and told him that I am actually from Uttarakhand. I mentioned that the facial similarities could be because of the geographical closeness between the two states (I had to make something up), and the guard simply gave me a suspicious smiled and stamped my bag tag :)

What's also curiously interesting is that I have also started talking a little like Kashmiris, emphasising a few sounds here and there, stretching a few words and I think I am actually doing quite ok at that. It actually happened rather naturally, but even when I realized it was happening, I kept up with it :) I guess I liked being one of them :)

Anyway, here is a shot from the first day earlier this week on the backside of the houseboat I was staying at. And now that I look at it, I don't think I come even close to the stunningly beautiful people of Kashmir!


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