Story of a tourist! Part II

Irtif Lone

We finished our coffee. But the conversation had just started to pick up. It was getting dark outside. So, his family headed to the hotel while we decided to take a stroll. It was a pleasant evening and breeze alongside the banks of Dal Lake made me remember how in my childhood I would write an essay over this moment in Urdu, “Chandni Raat Main Jheela Dal Ki Sair” (In moonlit night, a walk along Dal Lake).  I was remembering every point that I would write about, the beauty of moon’s reflection in the lake, the background of Zabarvan hills and the stillness of waters. I was just living that essay for now.

The only thing that didn’t fit the scene was the headlights and the honking noise.  And thus began the conversation again. “See, this is what I was talking about. I would have admired some silence”, he said with a grin on his face. And all I could do was agree with him. Before I could say anything, he started again, “You know how much this traffic management is a problem in your city.” I remember, two things, whenever I have got caught in a traffic jam, there are two blame points. The state government to which the people complain that we have had the same roads but the number of vehicles on roads are multiplying, hence the traffic jam. And the other part, where all these traffic jams have at its root in Jammu and Kashmir Bank, which provides loans to people to buy these cars. And by some non-quantitative measures it is said that every household in Kashmir has at least two cars.

 And he continued, “Yesterday, we had planned to go to Gulmarg, so we left in the morning but were caught for couple of hours in a traffic jam from Parimpora to HMT and then we had to cancel the trip and come back to the city but the city was so much sailing in the same boat that we preferred to go back to the hotel and spent the day there”.  All that he was saying was true but they were just the problems, I didn’t see the solution. And I told him this. But, by this time we had walked quiet a distance. And then he continued again, “I know, I am not giving solutions neither do I intend to. All, I am saying is that these problems exist and should be taken care of. I have been here for couple of days, so it is very unlikely that I give a solution. Now, look at this lake. I have read that this has at some point of time has been 55 sq.kms and even more but today has been shrunk to less than 10 sq.kms. It should have been taken care of.”

It was true. But, the fact remains we have been a conflict zone. While thousands of people died in the conflict who then would have been worried about the environment. And it was my time to speak now, “For you as a tourist, Kashmir is all beauty. But for the people who live here it’s much more. It has been a story of death and horror. People have suffered to the hilt. It is the resilience of the people that they are living normal life, at least as it looks to people like you, who come as tourist.” And, then I realised my tone was getting shriller. So, I toned down and gave him a smile. After all it was a friendly discussion. And we didn’t plan to discuss politics. “You have been responsible for it”, was what he said. I looked at him for some time. I did not say a word. But, I knew this was not ending any soon.

And, what happened later that night would come next week. Adios!

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