4th September 2014 – Srinagar, India
From an idyllic holiday, to a wet, rain-soaked trystPerspectives changed as long as there was time to pass.I had played all my tricks, with sleight, with careful planning.But the rains had dealt their final hand, and a straight flush it was.
So, my plan was very simple when I started my day. Ride to the Mughal gardens in the morning, take a quick look. Then go to Sanwar, to return the rented enfield motorbike, and more importantly, take my passport back (passports are security deposits for bike rentals in India). Then find a bus or train from Srinagar to Jammu, from where I have a train booking to Delhi for the next day. Simple, right?
The only hitch, turned out to be an old saying. “Man proposes, and god disposes”. I proposed a plan, and someone else fed it to the shredder. So, the morning went ok, as there was only light rains when I went to the Mughal gardens and botanical gardens in the morning, and even got some pictures there in the rain. Then, I started to ride to Sanwar, to return my bike. The rain had picked up steam, but i wasn’t bothered, since my backpacks were waterproof, and all my stuff were well-protected.
Throughout the ride, bikers/drivers from the opposite direction kept waving their hands to me. I was confused. Kashmiris were nice people, but they generally don’t do that. It was when I was close to Sanwar, the I found out the problem. The incessant rains, had caused the Jhelum river to flood, bringing water unto 6 feet height in certain low-lying areas of Srinagar. It was flooding, and I couldn’t get to Sanwar! And my passport is there!
One of the locals advised me to take the way around, through the bypass road. So, I took a soaking 4-hour long ride, all around Srinagar, to get to Sanwar from the other side. And heartbreakingly, the road to Sanwar was sealed on the other end too.
By this time, I was sure that there was no way to get out of Srinagar by road or rail today. The national highway connecting Srinagar to Jammu, was washed out. And the railway station almost resembled a submarine. The airport was unreachable too, but even if it was, there is no way that I am leaving Srinagar without getting my passport back. I quickly checked into the only hotel I could find, before the hotel rooms starting filling up with stranded tourists.
A little bit expensive, but I have a feeling that I need a good room to nurse a cold and fever tomorrow.