21 October, 2020

Garden Of Miasma

Tulips and tourists aren't enough. Kashmir still looks and feels 'occupied'.

Garden Of Miasma
Srinagar's newest delight is a garden of tulips being laid out in rows in the colours of the rainbow on the slope below the high ridge to the north of the city. Below is the Dal lake and above the famed Chashm-e-Shai springs. Further along the boulevard skirting the lake are the 16th century Nishat and Shalimar Mughal gardens.

A long crocodile of schoolgirls, in regulation white salwar-kameez and headscarf, is walking up the potholed road to the gardens. With them is a smaller section of boys. Each is carrying a banana, a boiled egg and a carton of juice; evidently a school picnic. The children, the few adults among them, the setting—nothing could seem more peaceful. Yet every 100 yards or so, gun-toting uniformed men patrol either side of the path leading to the garden.

The contrast is heightened by glimpses of change; of what could be. For instance, Srinagar's new international airport. Like the tulip garden, it is incomplete, but the gleaming glass-and-steel structure attracts attention. It is guarded by unarmed J&K policemen....


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