We’re landing in Srinagar. I look outside the window and see grey skies casting their shadow over the city of slanting roofs and lakes stretching below us. The temperature outside is 2°C, the pilot announces in a grave voice. I love the cold and this information thrills me.
The air outside is so crisp, I feel it might make a snapping sound if I bite it. My lungs are exhilarated with its freshness. There’s very little traffic on the roads—schools in Srinagar are closed for the season and with everybody being indoors, it feels like a ghost town. I drive past houses with roofs in pink and green–the colours stand out against the grey of the day. I picture a cozy fire lit inside these homes and children and adults sitting around it with their books and needle work like in an Austen novel and promptly rectify my imagination. They’re all sitting around the fire with their phones more likely.
An imposing chinar tree in the centre of the garden of my charming boutique hotel has been laid barren by the cold. With its several arms spreading heavenward, it resembles a contemporary sculpture. The hotel that goes by the name of Dar-es-Salam (abode of peace in Arabic) sits on the edge of the Nigeen Lake that’s covered in mist right now. From the window of my room on the first floor I enjoy the sight of a lone shikara carrying vegetables that quietly sails past us, creating ripples in the still waters of the lake as it moves through the veil of mist.