Varun Suchday
The bus ride from Srinagar to Kangan takes you through some prime Kashmiri countryside not usually seen in the brochures. Manicured farms tended by Kashmiri men and women wearing traditional dresses and colorful hijabs. Smoke coming out of wooden houses. Tiny villages and their local markets. And, the bus stops frequently replacing Srinagar passengers with joyful villagers and their local produce or livestock. As you cross the Sind River the mighty mountains reappear. You get a feeling that you are traveling deeper into the valley, far far away from the shikaras and char chinaars of Dal Lake.The bus ride to Kangan took two hours. Fortunately, I found a Toyota Sumo heading to Naranag. Naranag is a hamlet hidden in the hills. And, the road is full of twists and turns. Drivers in hilly areas have a deep confidence in their driving. One of the co-passengers didn’t share the same confidence. He cried out from behind, “8 logon ki sumo mai tum 14 log bithaye ho aur ek murga bhi. Sabki zindagi ki zimedari tum par hai. Allah tallah ko kya jawab doge?” Roughly translates to “You are carrying 14 people in an 8-seater car including one hen. You are responsible for their lives. How are you going to give an answer to go?” The driver reduced the pressure on the paddle.