“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 and 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 😉
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
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.
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 😉
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.
Do you know whats a Pumm Bhucch? Its a unique edible offering to find here and is the Lotus seed pod. 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.
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.
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.
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 lens It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Sulekha at Memoirs: Sulekha Rawat
My first post in this series is – Outside my Window