shikara-ho

we’d been travelling rough
local transport and tents
heard nirvana was
on Dal Lake in Kashmir

getting thru Jammu was
exciting as an official
wined and dined us well
glad of foreign company

the houseboats were
beyond our dreams
a cook and lad to serve
a soothing welcome break

brightly decorated and
furnished in exotic splendour
plush Asian indulgence
with a foreign influence

shikar’s taxied us about
seeing all the local sights
floating gardens, lotuses
and ancient island temple

we ate well but most
got ill, guess hygiene
was not known then
solution was to party hard

as alcohol was banned
other substances were
procured and I observed
sanity turn absurd

when absent from home
restriction and observance
people took outrageous risks
far beyond most imaginations

but we survived
so some went for a ride
to escape the trader blitz
up Ganga Mountain

then as we left troops arrived
heralding decades of fighting
fighting where nobody wins
Kashmiris now traders in HP

d’Verse, boats, Sarah – an internet image

dedicated to all those locals who have died and suffered at the hands of two egotistical countries who should leave now, make it a no-man’s land immune from any invasions! You may well have their handicrafts in your home …

47 comments

      • Australia, Timor, Bali, Java, Tanjanpenang, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Africa for me…Exciting times.Lots of opportunities because we were two youngish women traveling alone but also many dangers… all circumvented. Exciting and in an era with no cellphones and no bank machines where you left home and were totally on your own for years! So exciting.

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  1. Something with so much light in it is tantalizing to darkness. You’ve described a magical place, Kate. Nothing in my experience has come close to the freedom of traveling the globe. I admire anyone who does it. I feel deep sorrow for beautiful places being destroyed for evil, senseless exploitive reasons.

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  2. Greed and ego can destroy any paradise. Your empathy must have been honed on this trip. What a juxtaposition – beauty overlapped with misadventure and the horror of war.

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  3. The stuff that’s happening in Kashmir is sooo SAD, honestly they’ve been under lockdown for really long…first due to disputes and now due to the virus.
    Beautiful place and poem!

    Like

  4. We missed out on Kashmir when we were travelling in that area – it was too dangerous right then. I still regret it. It is so sad, and so forgotten, the injustice of the dispute there. Thank you for the reminder.

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  5. I’ve sailed the Dal lake on a Shikara too. It was 10 years ago. I can relate with everything you’ve put in your poetry. The experience was a mixed bag of feelings. Awe, fear, glee and sadness. You poem captures it all, Kate

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      • tourists stopped going there after 2017-18 I think.. the tension between Ind.-Pak. concerning Kashmir had escalated.. but last year the conflict came to a threshold point and Kashmir became a part of India. So tourists can now come, but the state of that area is worse than ever, so I don’t think anyone would tour around for few more years.. We must count ourselves lucky, I guess.. when I visited Jammu Kashmir I was with my family.. it was a nice trip.

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  6. Staying in India haven’t been to Kashmir as yet. Once had planned a vacation there, but trouble broke out and had to cancel our trip.
    You have beautifully captured the magic of the valley and the shikaras, Kate!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I suppose every tourist felt the same way as you felt, Kate.
    The region is now under constant lock down by Indian government since 5th August 2019. Think about how you spent your life for few months during the COVID-19 lock down.

    The very people of Kashmir, which is their birthplace for generations, are enduring the much worse kind of lock down since last year and the ending of this is not in sight, as of now.

    https://hammadrais.wordpress.com/2020/02/05/what-was-today/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is very sad between our two countries and these poor Kashmiris are getting caught in all this warfare. Lovely poem Kate on this wonderful place. I had gone with my family just before the war started and what a place. Heaven on earth. We too stayed in boathouse and yes their food does not agree with us. We also went and saw the spectacular places and went to Gulmarg and played in the ice as we had never seen in Mumbai. Enjoyed the scenic beauty and the people of Kashmir too. Such a beautiful picture. Nostalgic memories I had reading your poem, Kate.

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  9. So much changes. One can only hope for those left behind.
    What is it with those who take over other countries large or small that any rich heritage needs to be destroyed?

    I have a relative who did much traveling and may have items that perhaps should never have been sold? Quite a few museums have pieces that should be returned to the country of origin too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Breathtakingly beautiful, Kate, both in the picture you took, and in the poetic tale that follows.

    Matter of fact, I do have Kashmiri handicrafts. One in particular is a placemat, which I intend to use in presenting a future entry. See if you can spot it when I do!

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  11. I do still have my Kashmiri shawl from 1974! It is a beautiful place and your poem and thoughts are so apt. If only there wasn’t this constant battle for Kashmir. It’s tragic amidst so much beauty and potential.

    Liked by 1 person

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