They say, Kashmir is heaven on earth, my trip to Kashmir affirmed that notion and also made me realise that there’s a little bit of heaven in its people too.
My story revolves around our bond with Riyaz, who was our tour guide for the trip. Who is now like a family member to us and I guess that was the best part of my Kashmir trip.
This goes back to the time when I visited Kashmir with my family in the year 2011, The moment we stepped foot out of the airport we were greeted by this well-built man with a broad smile on his face who was extremely humble and welcoming, this man was Riyaz, our Guide and tour operator.
It was a good one hour drive from the airport before we could reach his Shikara (house boat in a lake) where our stay was organised. There was something in Riyaz’s kind nature and humbleness that charmed all of us and we built a friendly rapport with him within just an hour, he was kind enough to answer our endless questions about Kashmir with a smile.
Ours was a 7 day trip and those 7 days further cemented our bond of friendship. He introduced us to all his family members’ right from his mother, father to brothers and sisters and even uncle. His family members just like him were very welcoming and didn’t fail to win our heart.
We forgot we were tourists and it felt as though we had gone there to visit our family members. We really enjoyed our 7 day trip and saw all the attractions not like tourists but like locals. It was by far one of the best trips of my life.
We still are good friends and always keep in touch. He invited us for his sister’s marriage and he even visited our home in Mumbai twice. We send gifts and goodies to each other on festive occasions.
I guess this is the beauty of travelling, where you meet new people and they etch a place in your heart, no matter what language we may speak, no matter what culture we may follow, the language of kindness and love is one, the entire world is our home, and everyone’s family, all we need to do is go, explore and connect.