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#WordsMatter-When it rains, the rainbow is not far behind

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rains or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

I have a unique affinity with the rains, largely due to the story of the day of my birth as it poured non-stop for three days. While my Nanuji recounts it as the happiest day of his life when even the heavens opened up to pour out their hearts. My Nani ma andย Beeji ( my great grandmom) count it as the day a girl child was born, leading the gods to weep in despair.

Over the years, I have romanticized this story to suit my notions and consequently profess to be utterly in love with the rains. While others bemoan the lack of sunshine and the wet muck all around, I love to sit on my favorite window seat and daydream. Rains were also the excuse to plague the kitchen staff to make pakoras and hot tea for me to consume in copious amounts.

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So its no surprise that I revel the rains here in Kashmir too. But you wont find a Kashmiri being thrilled about it as they fear a flood as soon a drop falls out of the sky. Dont believe me? Let me get you acquainted with Badi Bi the next time it pours here ๐Ÿ˜‰

According to folklore, Kashmir valley was once a huge lake which was drained by Sage Kashyap who then requested the Brahmins to settle here. Literal translation of Kashmir means desiccated land in which Ka comes from Sanskrit water and shimeera meaning to desiccate.

So its unique geography makes this region susceptible to floods.But it was the huge flood crisis in 2014 due to excessive rains that set the trigger for the fear psychosis.. Massive water logging led to people trapped in homes for days. Post 2014, anytime it rains the whole day, you will hear dire mutterings of a flood happening.

A walk on the Boulevard in the rains

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Rains grace Kashmir with their presence in last week of August and linger on till September. I love going for a walk on the boulevard to enjoy the sight of low hanging clouds ringing the Dal lake. One might spot an occasional shikara but most shy away from going out on the lake in the rains. The fountains would be spraying in full strength even as you gaze beyond them to spot the Taj hotel up on the hill. The walk works up a great appetite and thats what I truly love about it.

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Unique food offerings on the Dal Lake

There is this hot spot opposite the Dal Lake where carts are set up and one gets the most juicy and succulent meat skewers. These are accompanied by the famous Kashmiri chutney of Radish and curd (Muj Chatin) – trust me you have to eat it to believe the taste. I can gorge at least three of these with ease and maybe share one more with a friend. Of course then I get in trouble with Sakina at home as she would have cooked ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Its not uncommon to come upon a gaggle of Kashmiri women sitting on the roadsides with huge piles of muddy rocks. A closer inspection will reveal that these are freshly plucked walnuts which still have the soft green cover on the outside. This fully hardens into the dark brown one if left longer on the trees. Early plucking means there is still a layer of green left. Even the kernel inside is still wet and juicy and these are left to dry for a few months to get them in the variant we are familiar with. The green layer leaves a terrible brown stain which simply refuses to wash off. I think someone is experimenting with it to make natural hair color.

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PummBucch

Do you know whats a Pumm Bhucch? Its a unique edible offering to find here and is the Lotus seed pod.ย One can peel these green seed heads to uncover the white pearls which can be ingested straight off. I find them quite the delicacy and enjoy them for the taste. And the lotus stem or Kamalkakdi or Nadru in local language is a revered delicacy and an integral part of the Kashmiri cuisine. Both are loaded up with vitamins and minerals and are very nourishing.

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Royal-Tea and the Apple boughs

Rain drenched apple laden boughs are a delight to steal apples from and I have often done this at the Grand Palace hotel. It sits just off the Dal Lake and affords a magnificent view of the lake as well as the forests surrounding it. Its the perfect spot to sip a cup of tea while watching the clouds drift down on the lake. I have spent many rain soaked days just lazing in the gardens here with a book.

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Trust me, Kashmir is gorgeous in the rains and affords splendid walks all across town. It has the most romantic rain setting as the geography conspires with the weather brilliantly. I truly recommend you come down for a visit here in this season to see it for yourself. Dont forget to sample the edible offerings as they are one of the best thing about Kashmir.

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I am participating in the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and this post is in response to the prompt “When it rains”. This bloghop has about 42 participants. I received this tag from Keerti Vydula at Thoughts thru lensย Itโ€™s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Sulekhaย at Memoirs: Sulekha Rawat

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My first post in this series is – Outside my Window

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39 thoughts on “#WordsMatter-When it rains, the rainbow is not far behind

  1. Your post has brought back so many memories of our stay in J&K. We have witnessed rains when we were in Pahalgam and the weather before and after the rains was simply amazing and the rains made the valley looked all the more beautiful. Our landlady in Jammu used to make radish chutney and share it with us. I loved nadru too. Have not tasted lotus stem pods!
    I so want to go to J&K… hopefully soon!

    1. Oh thats wonderful to hear Shilpa; readers connecting with one’s writing is so heartwarming to hear. I hope for things to be calm there once again as I have been moping too for a visit to the Valley. Hopefully soon!!

  2. Truly delightful. We were just thinking of a holiday in December and almost chose Kashmir but were scared of the snow… Perhaps the rains is not such a bad idea to visit this beautiful part of India. ( Baby has holidays in June-July). The best part about travelling is the food and the food you have described seems unique to Kashmir…. I loved the rainbow in the sky and the skies cried because a girl was born? They must have been tears of joy.

    1. Thanks Sunita. A trip to Kasmir is always delightful and the snow is amazing. You must visit it in Feb to enjoy the snow, December hardly has snow that lasts that long. The huge pile ups start in mid Jan onwards. I hope your trip pans out and I get to hear and see some gorgeous pics and tales of it ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Oh that’s ood to know that end Feb/March is a good time to visit. These days I have to plan visits with the grandchildren and in March we were thinking of going to Kabini River Lodge. You know how little kids are fascinated by lions and tigers…. ( I know they aren’t both there at Kabini). We have planned a trip to Pench this December and should get some fantastic pics and tales because we will stay in a tree house.

        1. Snow in Kashmir starts in November but the one that stays on the ground starts from end Jan- that when it starts getting really cold. Gulmarg hosts the winter festival December onwards and last week jan to end feb is delightful there, based on my experience. Check with a travel agent/hotel operator to know more for this. But do take into account google weather to see the snowfall days.

          Pench and Kabini would be lovely for the kids if they love outdoorsy activity; yes spotting a tiger is delightful in the wild. I hope you get to plan a gorgeous holiday with your grandkids Sunita and share some pics with us ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Your narrative makes Kashmir such a beautiful place to be in especially during the monsoons. Its sad to know about the constant fear of floods, but at the same time the sight of the food, the apples and the women brings cheer to the heart. I didnt quite know about the mythical story. That makes this place all the more interesting.

    1. I really love Kashmir and if I had my way, I would be living in a cottage somewhere there all by myself, surrounded with all this gorgeous beauty. Sigh-someday my wish will come true!

      The flood threat is scary for the locals as they had a very bad time during 2014 and the ripple effects of it are still there. But the spirit is resilient and I am hoping things settle down soonest and we have our gorgeous valley back as a hot tourist destination again!!!

  4. I learnt so many new things about Kashmir lifestyle today! Thanks for sharing those wonderful pics, Shalini.
    Thanks for participating in the Words Matter blog hop. Hope you have fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I am glad you liked the post, its been fun writing for this bloghop. This series has been developed because of Words Matter ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh thats sad Atul; let things settle down. Then it would be the best time to plan a trip there. I hope you do get to try the lotus head seeds. We know the puffy version of this as Makhana – do you know it?

        1. Dried lotus seeds are Makhana – we know it in this form here. But the fresh ones are available wherever the lotus grows in abundance. Its full of calcium, even more than milk and is a great add to one’s dietary component.

  5. That was a tantalizing peep into the delights the valley has to offer in the rains! I was surprised to learn the Sanskrit interpretation of the name “Kashmir”. Your heart and soul truly belong to this beautiful land, your writings are witness to that!

    1. Its amazing what this valley holds within itself. Its long been a region fraught with violence and tension. When things will settle down, then the glory and beauty of this place will re-emerge to the world! A phoenix if you will…………..

  6. O My God Shalini I’m absolutely loving your posts on Kashmir. I’d never imagined, let alone seen green walnuts. Also curd and radish chutney is a new one.
    It’s amazing how little we know of Kashmir and I’m so grateful to you for rectifying that.

    1. Oh you are so so sweet Tulika – thank you for the lovely words. I am in love with Kashmir and am waiting to go there for a holiday again and soon. The radish chutney is amazing- google to see it. Once you begin to make it, you wont stop. Its absolutely delish. Curd is added to cut the stinginess of the radish and cool the chutney for the tummy ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Thanks for sharing so many things about Kashmir ; the meaning of its name, the green walnuts and the snacks. I visited Gulmarg in 1989 January and tried my hand at skiing. Kashmir is a beautiful place and I hope to visit it again soon. I havenโ€™t taken a shikara ride yet.

    1. Oh wow Skiing in gulmarg sounds very romantic; I cant ski but I have been to Gulmarg and its my fav destinations of all in Kashmir. I love its valleys full of flowers and snow. I hope you get to take a shikara ride soonest.

  8. what a delightful post. You know what, I had never seen a green walnut before. It looks like raw beetle nut though. Fascinating. And those lotus pods for some reason gave me chills. Makes me wonder if I have Trypophobia

    1. Ouch didnt mean to give anyone trypophobia Raj ๐Ÿ˜‰ I loved the look, feel and taste of these a lot and didnt realise they would appear scary to someone!! The raw walnut is delicious – the kernels are juicy and sweet though a little tough to get out of the shells. There is a prasad that Kashmiri households make during Shivratri I think when they soak dried walnuts in water and do something with it – its delicious. Infact walnut is used quite liberally in their cuisine and I love some of their chutneys using it – you must give it a try whenever you are next in India.

    1. Hey Keerthi thats so good to hear- Thanks. I am glad you could connect with my writings about Kashmir. I didnt know they served lotus stem in Manali – I learned something new today ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Wow! You have painted such a beautiful picture of Kashmir with this post, Shalz!
    As much as I would love to visit the place during the rains, I would love to have a bite of all the special offerings you have mentioned here. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks Shilpa – I love going to Kashmir and just enjoying everything it has to offer. I hope you get to travel here or eat these delicacies some day ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Gorgeous post Shalini and very information on how the name Kashmir came, truly Jannat on earth through your vivid description making the image unfurling itself.

    1. Thanks Vishal I am so happy to hear such lovely words on this post. I have been a huge Kashmir fan and praying things settle down there soonest.

    1. Thanks so much Corinne; glad you enjoyed this piece and the pics. Believe you me, the food is just out of this world. I am smacking my lips even as I write this down ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Loved the pictures and the way you described Kashmir. If it was possible, I would have lived some where in the mountains. What a beautiful post and I am so glad to see Kashmir the way you showed. I wish things would have been normal. Thanks for joining #WordsMatter, Shalini!

    1. Thanks so much Parul- I have been just loving the prompts and its been a great way to exercise the writing muscles. If it was possible, I would live in the mountains too, preferably in Kashmir!! Waiting for things to get normal there with fingers and toes crossed!!

  12. Your description made me feel like I was experiencing it all, right by your side. Thank you for this lovely glimpse into Kashmir. I canโ€™t wait to see it all in person.

    1. Thank you Apeksha-its good to hear you could connect with what I wrote. And yes experiencing it first hand would be just amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

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