For others, Kashmir may be a war zone, a no-internet zone,a paradise but for me it is a home, writes Shyamli
Born and brought up in the streets of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, I am Shyamli. I completed my studies from Swaraj India Public School and currently am pursuing my Bachelors from NIFT in Srinagar. After my dad passed away in 2005, I have been through a lot in life, seen a lot. Trust me. I always longed for peace, so I made my decision to study in Kashmir as I have been travel¬ling to Kashmir for photo shoots. I knew doing bach¬elors in Kashmir only will bring peace to me.
Many in Kashmir were also surprised at my deci¬sion as to why I was coming to study in Kashmir when I could have moved to many cities in India with better facilities. I know what city life is, how noisy it is and have experienced every bit of it. As I wanted to study fashion, I choose Kashmir where landscape is so beautiful that every background would make even an ordinary look extraordinary. The background here compliments your looks and your fashion. Kash¬mir is perfect for fashion communication studies. So I always cherished to study in virgin and natural beauty and deliberately chose NIFT Srinagar.
My mother is the only family I have and she knew the traveler in me. She was never really worried about my decisions. She's quite old but came to drop me to Kashmir. She stayed in Kashmir for a few days and went back home. Even though I have been visit¬ing Kashmir since my childhood, living here for four years was absolutely magical. Nobody gets to do that. For you it may be a war zone, no internet zone, para¬dise etc, but for me it is my home. I have observed so much here. I would not talk on a political note but will share my tales from Kashmir.
After 2 years of college, ahead of August 5, 2019, we were airlifted out of Kashmir. It was heartbreak for me. Three months of nothingness and restlessness. I was worried for my people, my career and college. Will I ever go back to Kashmir? What will I do if my campus was shifted to other place? I really had noth¬ing to do for three months but search for mental peace.
I could only pray because I love the people, their warmth that I received all over these years. I prayed for the lives of the people who have never been heard of, prayed for the glory and beauty of the Valley. There are layers to understand Kashmir.
You know, heart is where home is, my heart was aching for Kashmir. I took a flight and went back to Kashmir after three months. Those three months were very tough, not hearing from my people or my faculty due to communication blackout, not being able to go to college and live a simple life, not being able to sit near Dal Lake in the evenings, not being able to sip Kehwa, not being able to explore.
Life seemed to have stopped for me. I wondered if I could ever get out of that anxiety.
This is going to be my last year here at college and I am going to explore so much this year. This place has taught me life in a different perspective. It made me a better person.
Finally, college reopened in November, I complet¬ed our whole SEM in a month to be back on track. I had so many plans to trek to alpine lakes, photo shoots for autumn and skiing on powdery snow in Gulmarg for which I had to keep patience.
Article 370, a big decision, really moved me. People celebrated it in India. They were thinking of buying land here and making other fancy thoughts. But how can one not think about the people? I would not talk much on this issue because I would end up being called an anti-nationalist.
That does not change the truth. Kashmir has my heart and it will always be. No matter where I go, I'll come back home. Every coin has two sides. My deci¬sion for opting for NIFT Srinagar really paid off very well.
I explored places and learnt so much. I sit with locals to hear their stories. I eat local delicious food, cooked with love. I seek for adventure because the more I explore this place, the lesser it is. I do not know how to stop loving this place. I will always belong here. So this will be my last year here. After bachelors, I can't imagine myself leaving this place. I won't. A part of me will always be here. Kashmir is home. A home away from home!
You must be thinking, I will write about my adven¬tures, fun and trips but no, my tales from Kashmir are all about the overwhelming love I got here. I fall in love daily, endlessly for Kashmir. This is for ev¬eryone who's reading this today, come and lose your¬self here.
For once, stop being blinded by the news and be practical in life. For once take a step. You will leave a part of you behind. I have made beautiful friends here, unforgettable memories and felt warmth like never before.
You have to trust this. Ever had of Harissa in the chilly winter mornings? Ever sat in a Shikara while the sun sets? Ever met and stayed with people of Gurez? Ah they are next level.
Come and see how beautiful each season of the Valley is. It makes me so happy when I see people visiting this place. Some of my friends from Kanpur came during November. They had tears in their eyes while leaving this place. They felt so loved, they will come back soon.
It is said, “Gar Firdaus Barue Zamin Ast, Hami Ast, Hami Ast, Hami Ast.” It means if there is heav¬en on earth, here it is, here it is, here it is.
Come stay with me, I will be your guide but you have to have faith. People are super talented here, be it in mountaineering, poetry, art, sports, looks everything has been made by Allah patiently and so are the mountains of this Valley.
I have met crazy photographers here who have helped me so much in my field. Kashmir is perfect for fashion communication studies. People from all over the world come here for photography. Can you for once, keep aside all the political, religious, past issues? Come with a clean and empty heart to Kash¬mir. Take a heart full of love back home.
It's better to see something once than to hear about it a hundred times. Just like a seedling, sowed deep in the ground, Kashmir will rise again.
There's so much to see, so much to learn.
Not even a bit of 'My Tales From Kashmir'. I'm waiting for yours.