to the real Srinagar

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After GuHyun left it was time to visit Musood who lives in Soura, an eastern suburb of Srinagar. 13th July however turns out to be Martyr’s Day . So the town was in a shut down stage with nearly all businesses closed down and many streets barricaded. The army and police were everywhere and looked a little tense. It was into this foray that I had to get through if I was to stay at Musood’s that night. So I hired a tuk tuk (auto- rickshaw) after dropping off GuHyun at the bus depot and away we went.

Customer Support [Tanya R.] The driver was still only half enthusiastic after we agree on a price of 300 rupees which is 50% more than it would have been otherwise. However it wasn’t long before we had our options reduced. To get to Soura you have to go normally through the old city. According to the driver that wouldn’t have worked so he chose a longer route but never the  less we ran into road block with barb wire across the road thus effectively stopping us.  The military were adamant that we should go back but by this time I had decided that I would try to circumvent their decisions. I indicated to the controlling officer that I was going to the main hospital SKIMs which I new was convenient being located near Musood’s place. This and perhaps the fact that I was a foreigner seem to work and we went on. However we came to another blockage and this time they told me to get out and walk the rest of the way. No way was I going to do that as empty streets, barb wire and a heavy military presence was giving me a creepy feeling. More explanations to the officers were given and finally permission was given to allow us to proceed to the hospital. Thank goodness I didn’t walk though as it was a very long way.

Soura is a relatively new suburb with many large dwellings in some cases of almost castle like proportions. Concrete is the new median of construction and you won’t see the traditional wooden building anywhere here. Perhaps the only similarity with the older traditional wooden buildings is the high pitch roofs often looking like they are flimsily attached to the top floor of the building. In former times and perhaps still in some places in Soura they are still used for storage of fodder crops etc to be fed to their animals in winter. Lots of construction, roads in a constant state of repair and very hazardous road rules, high and unusable footpaths which are so ridiculous no one uses them and nearly every house has a high wall and a large gate I suppose to protect its occupants.





For me at times it was easy to lapse into a mindframe that you were at home in Australia. For much of the time I  might not notice the differences and complacency would set in. But things are different some more subtle than others. I am trying to give you some understanding of that picture.



Perhaps the main difference between life here and Australia is the strong relationship people have to their faith. In Kashmir generally and in Srinagar particularly the overwhelming majority of people are Muslem. Their faith in these parts is not a passive thing worn behind close doors it is out there everywhere. For myself it is such a new sensation and for someone who has never been particularly religious it could sometimes be daunting. To hear the Mullahs calling people to prayer many times a day and especially during Ramadan we would probably find this intrusive in Australia and not tolerate it.

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