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Boat-Driven Door-Delivery & Impromptu Music Gigs—This Is Kashmir Like You Haven’t Seen Before

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Jammu & Kashmir has had a troubled history for several years. However, in the midst of all the turmoil, the state’s ordinary people attempt to keep living their lives in search of a semblance of normalcy.

The budding cricketer who hopes to make it one day to the big stage, playing cricket for his country. The humble trinket seller whom you’ll invariably pass by at every tourist spot, selling locally-made handicrafts at a bargain.

The street-side vegetable vendor, from whom we buy our daily stock of vegetables, be it farm-fresh radish or the exotic lotus stems. Your door-to-door service by shikara boat by the old man who has seen many-a-Kashmir winter.

Then there is the budding Kashmiri rock star belting out local numbers at an impromptu gig at the on-going Tulip Flower Show in Srinagar.

The seasons are a-changing, and a mother and daughter seem to enjoy a walk along the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar after a long winter. It’s pure joie de vivre, a cheerful enjoyment of life, an exultation of spirit.

This photo essay is a tribute to the undying spirit of the ordinary people of Kashmir who are leading extraordinary lives in troubled times there. Men and women who are pursuing their daily lives in the hope of a distant peace and prosperity, holding on to that dream at all costs.

As beautiful as the Magnolia flowers

Took this photograph of the proud father holding his baby girl against the backdrop of magnificent Magnolia flowers blooming at the on-going Tulip Flower Festival in Srinagar.

The starry-eyed young cricketer

Was returning from a visit to Pahalgam when I spotted this young cricketer trying to cross the road at the biggest cricket bat manufacturing hub in Kashmir—the towns of Pulwama, Bijbehara, Baramulla, and Sangam. To me, he looked like a young cricketer from England who seems to have lost his way here in Kashmir.

The makers of cricket bats, and dreams

Here’s how they make the cricket bats. A small-scale bat manufacturing unit in Bijbehara, Kashmir.

The traditional Kashmiri delivery service

Met this wonderful gentleman who sells vegetables the traditional Kashmiri way—door-delivery of farm-fresh vegetables by boat.

Photographing the man behind the camera

It was bitterly cold, and snowing all day at Sonamarg, 9,000 ft. above sea level. At this tourist spot, I found your ever-present tourist photographer, with his camera and portable printer. Photos anyone? ₹50 only.

The gardeners of Srinagar

Srinagar is also known as the Garden City of Kashmir. There are several Mughal Gardens dotted throughout the city, immaculately maintained by a dedicated team of gardeners. Here is one of these unsung heroes, hard at work.

The impromptu gig

On a visit to the on-going Tulip Flower Show in Srinagar, I came across this local Kashmiri Singer belting out the latest Kashmiri Songs in an impromptu gig. He even had an appreciative audience singing along.

The joy of spring

While driving around the famous Dal Lake area in Srinagar, I spotted this wonderful scene of mother and daughter enjoying a walk. It was a sunny day, and you could see the joy on the faces of both.

Waiting for a bite!

Patiently waiting by the Dal Lake with his home-made tackle, hoping to catch some fish for the table.

Interest you in a trinket?

You’ll find them everywhere, selling local handicrafts outside most tourist spots. Here is a young gentleman I befriended, selling trinkets outside the Srinagar Botanical Gardens.

Marital bliss in Gulmarg

While on a visit to picturesque Gulmarg, I requested these young newlyweds to pose for a photo and they obliged.

All photographs taken by Sharath Ahuja, Bengaluru.

Visit the website of Jammu & Kashmir Tourism to learn more about the beautiful state and its people.

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Written by Sharath Ahuja

Sharath Ahuja works at the Indian Institute of Science, plays badminton, billiards and snooker and is also an amateur photographer.