Sunday, November 06, 2005

Krazy Kashmir

From Robinder

Here we are in Srinagar, Kashmir now. It was looking like coming here was a mistake at first but we no longer regret it. We arrived on Eid, the last day of Rammadan. It is a big celebration because Muslims had been fasting for a whole month. All the shops were closed so when we found one that was open we ate alot and figured we would just have to go without till the next day. So when the hotel manager called at about 6pm and told us there were shops open we were very happy! Not quite as happy as the Muslims maybe but still. We walked down the road 5 minutes and found 4 "restaurants" open, chalk-full of people. This is our first time where there are NO foreign tourists around and we wanted to eat but didnt want to make asses of ourselves. The restaurant we chose had 5 or 6 huge pots full of different dal and vegetarian things. Alongside you could get chapati(flat bread) and rice. We ordered 3 dishes, with one rice and several chapatis. It ended up being A LOT of food. We didnt want to look like fat Americans but thats exactly the sterotype we were filling. This was also the first time where we really had what Indians regularly eat. "This is the real shit!" I mumbled to Glennjit with a full mouth. He knew exactly what I meant.

While Glennjit was ordering, a well dressed Indian fellow in his 20's asked me where I was from and other small talk. He asked if he could join us and I said of course. He asked where we were staying and I knew exactly where this was going. In Srinagar there is a Lake where tourists stay on House Boats. Everyone in Srinagar either has a houseboat or knows someone who does. Glenn and I DID want to stay on a HB, we just didnt want to have it pushed on us, or to be ripped off. I learned his name is Muneer. He was different then most of the people who approach us because he was not pushy. Perhaps because he know he had our attention for at least the rest of the meal. He also showed Glenn and I how to eat properly but making little spoons out of pieces of chappati. There was no silverwear but Muneer helped us fit in--a bit. Everywhere we go people stare at the white guys but as long as we can avoid being total morons we are happy. We agreed to meet Muneer at that spot the next day.

After freezing all night and not having hot water in the morning, we walked down to the same restaurant and had dal and chapati again for breakfast. We met Muneer and he was very friendly and he took us to there HB in a canoe they call a shikara. We met Muneer's brother, Gulzar at the HB and just talked for a while. We decided we were staying the night there instead of our cold place so we went back to our hotel with Muneer and checked out. He did not walk right in tho because he didn't want the hotel people know who stole their business. Whatever, it was too damn cold there anyway. I tell people that Kashmir is cold like Canada.

I have to run. The owner of the internet place wants to go home. Very fast. We are staying on Hb for 12 days, doing 5 days water trekking, 5 days mountain trekking. Kashmir is very safe despite what it sounds like on tv. Bye for now....


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