14 July, Kashmir, another day out of confinement
Yesterday afternoon (Monday) we go out again. I feel excitement and a sense of gratitude as my introduction to Kashmir has been slow but intriguing. My friend and her cousin organize a motor scooter and he rides, taking us out to another garden. We go to a lovely garden overlooking the lake, it costs 10 rupees to go in. It is a cultured garden with rose bushes, chinar trees, a range of flower beds and hydrangers I notice (my mum used to have those in our childhood home). I am again the centre of attention as I am the only westerner there. I took my juggling clubs with me as I want to get some practice in.
So after we walk to the top of the gardens, my friend points out the gardens were created by the Mogul emperor for his wife. The turks had a huge influence around this region and their carved walls and buildings show an ancient style that is really interesting. I decide to pick a spot a little away from people. I start juggling practice and some children come around me. I ended up throwing my juggling balls to them and gave them balloons afterwards. The parents sat nearby smiling. I found my relations with people instantly became warmer and more open. The kids were thrilled to watch me juggle and I can so see it as a way of building harmony. I walked along and smiled at people. Then we left the garden cross the road to get some apples. A man asked for a photo at first I thought he was offering to take mine and charge a fee but it turns out he just wanted my picture. Anyway I pulled out my clubs and I started juggling for his photo, then there was a crowd of men around me asking for my photo. They were very impressed. I had around 10 photo’s taken. I made the peace sign and said ‘peace for kashmir’. I received many smiles from other stall holders around there as I am sure they were surprised. I thought I was the only tourist but the men told me enthusiastically they were also. So it was very interesting. I did want to test how the juggling went, so I will clown probably Thursday and bring some joy to the people.
We jumped on the bike, 3 of us. The soldiers smiled at me and as we left I said ‘be good’. With that we headed back around the boulevard (tracing the lake) and past the Shrine near the university and the back lanes back home. My friends brother was around so we all sat together and had some dinner.
And the next day (today) is a significant day for the people and it is a strict curfew, so tomorrow hopefully I get some normalization and am able to do some sightseeing, cross fingers….