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August 16th, 2017

Back in the oh-so-green hills

“Mera naam Rashidbhai hai. Me aapka room boy hu. Mera number likh do,” said the grey haired grizzled Kashmiri who showed us to our room in the quaint Nedous Hotel.

Quick translation for non-Hindi/Urdu speakers – “My name is Rashidbhai. I am your room boy. Take down my phone number.”

Room boy.

Now how’s that for an antiquated expression?

We have just arrived in Gulmarg, for 3 days of partying to celebrate our dear friend Shoki Bhatia’s 80th birthday, and thus far it has poured with rain, stopped raining, re-poured, re-stopped, re-re-rained and so on & so forth, all afternoon.

Looking out of our hotel window as I write, I see we’re back in the re-re-stopped phase and a pale blue sky is emerging. It is chilly enough to require a fleece, which, after Delhi’s heat is a real treat.

With all the rain, Gulmarg is looking spectacularly green, and there are wild flowers everywhere.

Lots of marguerites, the odd remaining foxglove, but the lupins that usually flood the “marg” with purple and mauve are over for the year.

There were ponies wandering around in the rain, chomping away on the marg.

When we landed at Srinagar airport, as a foreigner I had to register at a special desk, and as on previous trips here over the years, the police couldn’t have been nicer, smiling away at my bad Hindi.

Not much traffic on the way up to Gulmarg, though I guess the main Indian holiday season is over, now the school holidays are over. And as to how many foreigners come here, who knows?

I’ll go for a wander in a while, and see what the buzz is in town.

As it is, right now, I’m feeling ever so slightly light-headed, and have the slightest of slight headaches – we are at 2500 metres after all – so an afternoon of reading and acclimatising is on the cards.

Gulmarg, it’s lovely to be back.

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