One day I got a message from Hannah asking if I wanted to join them on their Kashmir trip. I was searching for my next destination and this happened. It was like the Paulo Coelho quote “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
The trip date was so close and I needed to get leave approval from my client. I said I will get back to Hannah and messaged my client asking if we have any major releases on my trip dates. He said it was okay and asked me to go ahead. When he heard it was Kashmir, His first question was “Are you planning for Everest?”. I said no, But yes I have plans for the Annapurna Base camp trek. We started to discuss the places he can visit in India. I did all the bookings in the next few days.
In between these days, I was added to a new project and sadly the release date came colliding with my trip date. On the day before the trip we found out that there was system dependency for the feature we were developing and it was blocking the release. We were trying to find a solution for it and I had to catch an early morning flight the next day. It was raining heavily outside and my flight was continuously rescheduled every hour. Also, we didn’t have any hotel bookings, Our plan was to go there and get a homestay. When Hannah checked booking.com, all the hotels were sold out. We panicked and started to look for hotels also.(Everything was going wrong for me on that day with an humongous amount of pressure)
I told Hannah about my project situation and she took the responsibility of finding a hotel for the day they reach. I was reaching a day before them and had booked Zostel for that day. After rigorous searching, she booked a hotel for some days of our trip. We decided we will figure out the stays for the rest of the days after we reach there.
I was stuck with the work and did not find a solution for the issue, by then it was 5 am in the morning. Sravan and I decided we will stop for today as I had to leave for the airport in half an hour. We agreed to resume work in the evening and said goodbyes. I took a quick shower and grabbed whatever I found and left for the airport.
When I reached the airport, there was a long queue for the baggage drop as most of the flights were delayed. After the security check-in there was an hour left and I was sitting in the waiting area. I was sleep-deprived and I decided to buy the expensive crap coffee to keep me awake from the airport. It did work and I was awake. I was constantly worried about my connecting flight as I had to pick up my luggage and do all the security check-in at Delhi airport too.
I was standing in the baggage drop queue in Delhi and was talking to the person next to me. He was from Srinagar and it was his first flight. I helped him with the airport process and made him comfortable. After sometime he asked the usual question “Are you in the army?”. I said I was not, I was fed up with the security check-in at the Delhi Airport. The police officers were constantly telling people to remove metal, electronic items from their hand luggage while screening, but still the people were ignorant. Luckily I was able to complete all this before the gate closes for my next flight.
Everything was sorted and I got a Masala tea within the flight with the Mountains backdrop view. It was a wonderful experience to see the snow-covered mountains from the flight. When the flight landed at Srinagar airport there was an announcement saying not to click photos of the airport as it was an army area. Still, some stupid people clicked photos outside the airport and got busted by the army officials, they were forced to delete the photos.
Hannah had informed me that only postpaid sims work in Srinagar, So I had changed my plan from prepaid to postpaid. When I landed in Srinagar I got a message saying welcome to Srinagar after that there was no network. Collected my luggage and went outside and on the way I saw a board having the details of the JKTDC bus schedule.
I went outside and went to the prepaid taxi center and showed them where I wanted to go. They told me it will be Rs. 1300 to go there. I said I don’t need it and started to walk away. There was no sign of any autos in my vicinity. After walking a little I saw a man sitting near a minibus and I went and asked him about the Bus and showed him my destination. He said I need to get down at the last stop and catch another bus or auto from there and it only costs Rs. 80.
On the way I spotted more army officials than the locals, after an hour I had reached my destination and was surrounded by auto walas and guides. They were disappointed knowing I already had a hotel booking and one auto rickshaw wala agreed to take me to my destination and charged Rs.500 (It was not needed, I could have taken a minibus which cost only Rs. 20). I was too tired to argue and got into the auto.
On the way I saw the Dal lake and the mountains as backdrop, it was a view for my eyes. I was talking to the autorickshaw person and he was trying to impress me with his English. He told me he has never gone to school and learned English from tourists. He was speaking very good English and I was impressed. I asked him why I didn’t have a mobile network even though my sim is a postpaid one. He told me to restart the mobile and try again. He mentioned that there are jammers near the airport and you won’t get signals near the airport side. Luckily after switching on I got my own network and there was only a 3G network available.
On the way I saw a ghat and opposite to that there was the famous Mughal garden: Nishat Bhag. Within seconds I reached my destination and checked into the Zostel. It was a decent place with no rush of the city and a charming background of mountains. The bed was tempting and I needed a sleep, But my heart told me I could sleep later and I went along with it.I took a quick shower and went for a walk. I knew that the ghat which I saw was close by and I started towards that.
When I reached there I started straight towards the steps where the shikaras were tied up. I was amazed by the golden sunset rays which were giving me an enchanting sunset experience. I sat on the steps and waited for the sun to set.
I went to the nearby shack and ordered some kebabs, it had a different taste. There were a lot of snacks and I ordered a mixed plate of snacks. I decided to go back to my stay and start the pending work.
I found a spot near the reception area, where there was a good network and started to work. Most of the people who were staying in Zostel were from my field, they started to came and ask about my work. One person suggested not to work like this and I felt agreeing to him, But it was a commitment I made and I don’t go back on my word. Sadly we were not able to find a solution that day also and gave up for that day and went to sleep.