As I was walking around Srinagar one day looking for a Rickshaw driver,who one spoke good enough English and two wasn't going to be a complete pain in the ass, and possibly even be a good laugh. I stumbled upon Rafi and his rickshaw, I knew he was the one when I looked at the name of the rick and it wasn't something to do with Allah or a Kashmiri name, the rick was called Bob Marley, I knew I found my man. Rafi is a chubby red faced Kashmiri boy with a big smile. We hit it off immediately and instead of going sightseeing he took me to the Officers bar for a beer and some lunch.
The following day we set off at 10:00 he promised to show me some lake and a Hindu temple, I just wanted to get out of town. As we left the city limits the scenery slowly changed to rice fields and women bent over hard at work pulling the rice up. I had Rafi stop so I could take some pictures. The women smiled at me and I asked them through Rafi translating if it was hard work. They told him I could join them, I was ready to take of my shoes and lend them a hand but Rafi stopped me saying the water would give my skin a rash. So instead I slowly marched out there on a very thin mud path faltering a few times nearly falling in and listening to Rafi screaming at me, "Slowly,Slowly".
I do not envy these women one bit it looks like back breaking work but watching them I see the female camaraderie and community.
Next stop was the Hindu temple. a sign says to take off your shoes and anything leather you may be wearing. We walked around there a Muslim and a Christian but the Hindu's were very warm and friendly and kept trying to feed me. The soldiers there also pointed to the trees and explained that the way the trees came together with the sky in the middle looked like the map of India I didn't see it myself but I agreed with them. As we were leaving the temple I saw another sign and I had another OOPS! moment before we arrived at the temple we had stopped for breakfast which consisted of mutton wrapped in pastry dough. Hey it was the Muslims fault, LOL!
Afterward we did go to the lake and found a mountain with a Shepard and his flock of sheep and children. I don't know who was more curious about the meeting the children or me. This little girl looked to me like what the Virgin Mary would have looked like, ok that may be stretching it but she had a look. As did her two sisters, the chubby cheeked boy is Rafi holding a baby lamb. WHen we came down from the mountain we were greeted by the most amazing site a family of six on one motorcycle to see 4 on a bike is normal in Asia but I had never seen six, they must of known it was an oddity as well and stopped to allow me to take photos.
As we were driving back to Srinagar I realized that my Rickshaw driver had no idea where he was going, lol thank God I have a great sense of direction. The country roads weren't very traffic laden so Rafi asked me if I wanted to drive the Rik, you should of seen the faces of the police officers as we drove past them. Next stop was a Muslim festival which was just ending but I got some great pics of the guys on top of the buses, I did wish that they were holding their Kalashnikov's in the air but alas I guess it was safer this way. The pics of the white Mosque were taken the previous day, when I had gone there only to get drenched!
Then we ended the day with a visit to a Church, it was closed up but they did open it to allow me to go inside, not very lavish like the churches in Europe but the warm sunlight coming in through the windows put such a spiritual glow on the occasion.