I was in Srinagar, Kashmir in the summer and fall of 1989 when all hell broke loose. The Kashmiri people had begun an armed struggle for independence from India. In those days, Kashmiris found themselves wondering if it was safe to go outside at night. Today it is a different place. The fighting left the Valley in somewhat of a cultural vacuum these past 20 plus years. It’s as if time as stood still. With the tensions of the struggle for independence lessened, more people are visiting Kashmir.
Living in Kashmir for 13 years, I was shot at, searched and threatened. I saw far too much blood in the streets. But in all of this, I still saw a wonderful culture of rich history. It is rapidly fading away. Why did I choose not to cover the violence while I was there? It would have been easy. I think that may, in fact, be the reason — it was too easy. It was harder to find the lost normalcy. It was hard to find a boy in the street playing without a soldier standing over him. I tried, successfully I hope, to show life as it might be without a war, without years of blood and tear gas. Kashmir is a rich and ancient culture of the Himalaya. It has a beautiful and varied people with traditions from ancient Persia and Central Asia. If you ever get a chance to go and visit the “Jewel in the Crown of India”, take it. You will never regret it. But hurry.