Journeying through Kashmir…

The Secret Garden of N Teaser
Photo by Franky Ng on Unsplash

Anything you already know is an understatement

The sheer thrill and joy you experience, following a particularly challenging set of examinations is unparalleled. My euphoria knew no bounds when my father announced a family trip to Kashmir after my 12th-grade examinations in 2014. I couldn’t imagine a happier end to an otherwise frustrating chain of events!

We boarded the flight to Srinagar, giddy with excitement. As the plane neared the state capital, the snow-capped peaks made for a stunning, breathtaking view. I remember forgetting the worries of work undone and impending results. There was something in the enormity of its beauty that made your woes pale in significance. We deplaned to the biting icy wind of Kashmir, cheeks already crimson.

The next few days were spent in shameless awe of the beautiful gardens and structures of Chashme Shahi, Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh. The weather was perfect, a light drizzle setting just the right tone. As far as the mammoth Dal Lake is concerned, it continued to render me speechless as I marveled at the gigantic body of water, alive with shikaras, light flat bottomed boats peculiar to the region. At night, when the shikaras were lit up, the twinkling lights would have my complete admiration. I would sometimes shake my head and wonder if we were in India at all!

We also planned an excursion to Pahalgam. Unlike Gulmarg, which had become a huge tourist trap, Pahalgam was a real delight. Fresh, unadulterated snow, several inches deep lined the town. As someone who has spent her life in the plains, my childhood fantasy of building snowmen was soon realized. A snow fight ensued and I am happy to share I emerged victorious. Next, we gorged on goshtaba, minced meatballs prepared with curd, and mutton rogan josh, a delicate preparation of the most exquisite meat.

This was my first encounter with the excruciatingly cold environs of Kashmir. I experienced life in the chilly valleys of this beautiful place. Contrasted with the relatively monotonous weather patterns of my home in Northern India, I was transported to a wonderland where kids would enjoy a winter vacation of close to three months and find the normalcy of life in the omnipresent biting chill. I developed a newfound appreciation for the harsh winters and began to understand that the realities of my life can be drastically different from those of others in the world. I have always attributed my ability to respect and cherish other cultures to this early exposure to worlds beyond my own.

I remember meeting young students who were my own age but leading such drastically different lives. There were many snow-based after school activities and tighter curfews to follow. From their food to their daily routines, everything was so different from what I have seen all my life. For the few days I was there, I did get a chance to interact with my contemporaries and share their lives. I braved the snow to walk a friend to school, devoured the heavy meat preparations she usually ate, built a post school de-stressing snowman with her and rushed back a while before the dark to return to the warmth of her happy home. While her daily life may not be like mine, I also saw that she was grappling with similar challenges namely school, extracurricular activities, family life, etc. We may lead different lives, but teenagers everywhere were the same! I began to appreciate that despite apparent differences, we were all people striving to be our best selves, at the end of each day. This understanding further engendered a spirit of oneness with the diverse cultures and ethnicities that surrounded me in Singapore.

 

Sabhya

Hi, I’m Sabhya. I grew up in Lucknow, India. After a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Lady Shri College of Women at the University of Delhi, I moved to Singapore in 2018 for my yearlong post graduate studies. I graduated with a Master in Management from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. Since young, I’ve been a prolific writer who has travelled extensively across India and has also been a public speaker since the fifth grade. As I navigate and transits through my new life in the little red dot – Singapore, I hope that I can regale you with my anecdotal tales.

The Secret Garden of N Teaser

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