Srinagar Travel Blog› entry 36 of 41 › view all entries
Srenegar's old city offered fine crafts of wood, leather, cashmere, paper mache products, furs, shawls, and carpets. After leaving Chris to browse for embroidered table cloth sets, I set out to explore one of the narrow back-streets. While loading film, I heard the word "photo" chattered excitedly from behind closed doors and walls as neighbors cackled gossip. I had no idea what was being said and wondered whether I was in a bad area. A thick door creaked open and a young Kashmiri woman stepped into the narrow lane. Her black hair was pulled back tightly and her rounded cheekbones framed a beaming smile as she motioned alluring brown eyes toward my Minolta single lens reflex. After several photos as her sister looked on, she clutched my arm and led me through the doorway.
Upon entering a courtyard about a dozen children aged four to fourteen ran up to me cheering wildly and reaching out to shake my hand. I felt like a Pakistani pop star. They gestured a picture be taken. When I pointed toward the steps leading to a brick building they practically trampled each other racing for position. Several of the smallest fell down. At each click of the shutter, the kids broke into more loud cheers. As I made my way toward the alleyway the kids clung to my arms and legs and once more shook hands. One of the young women wrote down an address and I motioned her they would receive copies of the pictures. I judged the place to be some kind of children's hospital or an orphanage. The brief visit made their day - and mine.
It wasn't difficult to find Chris. A shopkeeper nodded towards the Government Emporium showroom. That was the ideal place to see what crafts were available and their going prices. Their prices were fixed, eliminating the need to barter, and we used them as a baseline to haggle with the local merchants.