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KASHMIR 2003

KASHMIR 2003

The Summer of Uncertainty & Unrest.

In the month of June 2003, I landed in Srinagar. It was an assignment from an NGO for their export-oriented handicrafts. The reason for accepting the offer was to unleash myself from the usual commercial rut. I, therefore, went there all alone without the coterie of my usual assistants.

Fifteen years ago Kasmir was in the grip of fear and fright. There were hardly any tourists. The roads were continuously patrolled by the military. Most of the hotels were occupied by the green-uniformed personnel. No cell phone connectivity. There was not much to do. As I was casually scouting near the Dal Lake with my Hasselblad Xpan camera hang up sideways on my shoulder, the shutterbug open, I was accosted by the patrolling soldiers. They took my camera for a security check. After a thorough check, being, convinced of my motive they allowed me to click.

The self-sufficient NGO people stationed me in their own dwellings as a special case. I was overwhelmed both by the scenic beauty of the paradise on the earth as well as the hospitality of my NGO hosts.