Travel Diary: One rainy night in Srinagar

November 2013

It’s so cold. I’m looking out the window at a skyline of rooftops. Small green gardens with rickety furniture. Dogs in the street. Someone on a bicycle. An auto rickshaw starting. A woman wrapped in a shawl walking down the road.

We are getting ready to go out. It starts to rain and everything gets colder and misty. We search for the lights switches in the apartment. On and off, locating each one and confirming its position. N lends me blush. S’s dress fits me perfectly. A pity about the hiking shoes. I am eating the Nutella in the kitchen. There’s a light in this place I cannot explain. White cold, the stuff we spin memories out of. I am sick. On the edge of sickness. Almost always since the last few days. I drink lemon and honey water from a big mug. The bed is too low. We buy Coke for the hell of it. Eat too much Pizza. Real pizza. At night we go out in the rain in the wet small streets and catch an auto. He leaves us at a bridge. Not this zero bridge, that one. I get the name wrong. He drives in circles. N doesn’t like giving the money. Our broken Urdu hovers in the air like the fog from our mouths.

It is so cold. We fall asleep in the room they give us on the boat. Someone wakes us up searching for someone else. Wedding house noises. The creak of floorboards. The cold bathroom. It is so cold. We get ready. It’s raining too much. They pack us in a car and take us to the girl’s function even though we are from the boy’s. I eat burfee; it’s not like ours. The cakes here are still the same from the last time I came; small, bright with many candles. They put us next to the brides; sisters, identical except one looks more solemn. They take photos, make us smile, we are important somehow. Foreigners. We are awkward, excited and lonely all at once. I want to share this moment but how? What words? What reconstructions? How can photos tell the whole story. All those lost moments that rainy night in Srinagar.

We drive through the empty streets in the rain, back to the river. They laugh and sing weddings songs. It is so cold. I have burfee in my hand that I don’t know what to do with.

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