We reached Srinagar at 12.30 PM on 12 May amidst a shower that had dipped the temperature to 15 degrees Celsius. The moment I alighted from the plane, icy winds stung me from all sides. I scanned the crowd of drivers and relatives, all holding placards and shouting names till my sister caught sight of our surname fluttering in the breeze. Turned out that Imran, our booked driver was off to Kargil and he had sent his brother, Nasir to take us to our hotel. So on we drove, past the asbestos-covered sloping roofs of the dainty little houses along the road, taking in every nook and corner of the Paradise City. We checked into a pretty little cottage-styled hotel, complete with a Bengali dhaba and all the strange complementarities that follow a familiar acquaintance in an unfamiliar surrounding. I had just scanned the carpet that crept up to the wooden window when Papa answered a knock on the door. “Imran!”, he exclaimed and I turned round to see what the cause of the surprise was. And there he stood.
Tall and handsome, dressed in a wheat coloured jacket and blue washed jeans, his hair all wet from the rain, his eyes glinting with a strange smile that shaped his lips… the most wonderful face that I had ever imagined anyone’s to be. And when he spoke, the broken Hindi words floated onto the air in a blend of his Kashmiri accent, a delight to the ears.To hell with the fact that he was going to drive us through Kashmir. Here was a trip that I was never going to forget!
I dressed up quickly and followed my parents downstairs. He saw us coming and quickly opened the car door. I slipped into the seat behind him, trying to appear very subtle about it. The entire journey to Shalimar was filled with he relating to us his story of Kargil in that diabetic accent of his, accentuating every sentence with an enlivening smile that lit up the mirror where I could see his face. His eyes bore that constant mischievous look all day round. We parked near Shalimar and he quickly came around to open my side of the door. And……I tripped.Wow. Out of all the bad things that could have happened to me at different points of time, I had to have my trademark trip in front of this fabulous guy who had just begun to smile at me. Damn!
Swasti is a Guest author for LSD. She wrote this story(and there’s more to come!) when she experienced ‘Love at First Sight’ during her journey to Kashmir.