Back home, as I flipped through the pages, my heart strings tugged at the vestiges of my memory of my first home. I was just 11 when we left Kashmir. I didn't understand why we had to leave all my friends, my school and my beloved goat, Daisy, behind. But slowly and steadily, my parents succeeded in setting a life up for us in the lively city of Mumbai. Initially, the whirlwind of all the activity had me lost and slightly intimidated. However, I settled into my new life after a few months.
Now a thoroughbred city person, I felt a strange pang of nostalgia as I read about vast meadows and meandering streams where we used to play as kids. Impulsively, maybe in a subconscious attempt to relive my memories, I booked two tickets to Kashmir – for me and my husband. But after my hasty decision, I realised that I had not picked an accommodation.
I pondered over several stay options, all of which seemed to have the same look and feel, and the same sterile atmosphere. After an hour of nervously biting the remnants of my fingernails off, I turned to Airbnb. My spirits lifted as I browsed through quaint houses in the valley. I wanted to pick a place that would allow me to re-live my childhood, something that had the old world charm and the warmth of a home.
I researched for a while, and ended up finding two places that I instantly fell in love with. I spoke with the hosts, and finalised one in Srinagar, which was my mother's favourite place in Kashmir, and the other in Pahalgam, where we lived before we had to leave the valley.