Story of a tourist!

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Irtif Lone

On a beautiful spring evening I meet this guy at a Coffee Shop. We had met before at an interview for which both of us appeared at the Delhi headquarters of a MNC. We spent some good week long evenings together while going through the induction process. Then as the postings came, as we had wished, we were sent to our respective places to work.  This was some 5 years ago. I had changed a couple of jobs since then and so had he. But it didn’t take us time to recognise each other. It’s on my way out of the coffee house that I see him and he sees me.  He was with his family. And he invited me to have coffee with them.  I agreed without hesitation. Hence, this story.

As we sit down, he starts the conversation, “Where have you been? We haven’t met since our early induction days?”  So we shared our stories, what we did all these years and what we were doing now.  After we shared the pleasantries about the past, we moved to present.

I came to know, he is holidaying here. No work. He had planned a visit long back but could not materialise it.  But now, he has been here for some five days and is leaving the next morning. So, I started by asking him, what is it that you did’nt like here? “There isn’t a thing I didn’t like here. It’s an amazing place to live. I wish I was born here. But, you see, to travel to Kashmir has become a costly affair. The air tickets cost so much that, I had to drop the idea of coming to Kashmir last time when we planned the visit to valley . On such expenses I could have gone easily to an international destination.  And I wish the government does something about it. At least put an upper slab on the costs,” he says.

I realised that this is an unending discussion and tried to cut it short, considering not much can be done about the same. And, I anyways wanted to hear about Kashmir. I asked again, so you think it’s a perfect place, no improvements to be made. “No, I did’nt say that”, came the reply. “I have wished, since the day I was planning my visit that there were lesser number of tourists around. Not, that I want people related to tourism industry earn less, but too many tourists only disturb the ecological equilibrium of a place.  Last evening, we went for a Shikara ride, it was so pleasant out there, but there was lot of noise around. I just wanted to hear the rowing noise of my Shikara.”

“Also from the experience of couple of days of travel around this place, I began to realise that you are making roads to the mountain peaks. I just don’t understand why? It is meant to remain as non- macadamized and non-motorable roads and calls to be travelled through the forests and on foot. That’s how one could enjoy the natural beauty of this place. But for now it seems you are destroying the natural beauty of this heaven on earth. You know, when I first landed here, I realised why it is called the heaven on earth. From 47 degrees I had landed at a place which was blossoming at 27 degrees. It was refreshing.”

The conversation continued and from ecology we were making our way to the politics, but that would need more space. So let’s leave it for the next week.

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