Monday, January 3, 2011

DAY 92 – In Srinagar

It was like an obsession. I got up at various parts of the night to check if it was snowing. When I saw that the snow on the trees nearby had started melting I felt some comfort. When the sky was lit up enough by a quarter past seven there was enough reason for a few sparks of hope. The haze was much less than the previous day. In a way it is sad to see the snow melt from the trees and fall off to the ground. It looked as if they had been decked out in winter fineries for a show, and now, with the show over they are being shorn off the jewels. From early in the day avian life was more visible and audible; a couple of parakeets flew past my window and the chirping of birds sounded like they are happy with the ‘mausam’ change. Pigeons are up and about and mynas hopping from branch to branch hasten the dislodging of snow from the branches. The positive was that the birds, who are better predictors of climate change, are possibly signaling a better day.
In the morning I was told that if the Border Roads Organisation gets a clear day today the NH44 will be opened for traffic by tomorrow. I hope they do. It is colder when it does not snow. Despite the room heater I froze in the room. The pitter patter of melting snow could be heard constantly from the window. Large chunks of snow fell off from roof tops. I kept myself busy playing Solitaire on the laptop and in between games I kept looking out of the window for signs of improving weather. I heard that the highway is likely to be opened in the afternoon and was advised not to leave earlier than tomorrow morning as the pending vehicular traffic on the road is heavy.
Like a shy bride (they are out of fashion now; today’s brides are ones with ‘attitude’) the sun managed a few peeps from behind a strong haze. When I saw these ‘sunny’ attempts I exhorted the Sun mentally: Peep, Peep, Don’t Sleep (plagiarized from a warning sign on the NH44). I watched a lonely bird preening its feathers on the branch of a tree near my window. When I travelled through Bihar and Uttar Pradesh I found that cattle and dogs were ‘clothed’ to protect them from the cold. What about birds? They must take consolation in the fact that when they hop from branch to branch of the trees, with the Sun in alliance, they dislodge the ‘mighty’ snow from them.
By 3 pm, for the first time in 72 hours, the Sun was out in ‘full strength’. Bits of blue sky were also visible as against the dour grey clouds that hung low just a few hours back. I thought it a good time to move outdoors and try to locate a cybercafé to upload the blog posts. As I got out of the gate I was surprised to see the roads absolutely clear with the left over snow moved to the sides. I located an internet café on the way to the Dal Lake and completed the upload in quick time. With the sun out shopping activity was also in full swing. The locals and tourists, keen to utilize the fair weather, were out on the streets in strength. I went to a bakery and picked up a few ‘Sheermal’, which looks like a bun but is actually a puff. I headed for the Dal Lake and found it absolutely gorgeous. Shikaras were back in business. Seekh kebabs were being sold by street vendors around the Dal Lake. I sampled the delicious, juicy kebabs and got back to the GH. I am packed and ready to leave early morning, weather permitting.

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