100 People. 100 Photos. 100 Stories

Stranger #17 – A Hope from Kashmir

The Stranger:

The Story:

We stood shivering outside her tent. The kind woman that she was, she invited us inside their cozy tent, we smiled at each other. The plan worked.

Earlier that day when we arrived at our campsite in Kashmir, there was a tent of a local shepherd pitched close to us. As much as I wanted to photograph the locals, my friend told me he tried in vain to get the women’s photograph. So we devised a plan to first acquaint ourselves with them and then ask for a photograph.

Once inside the tent, the cold winds were blocked completely and it was unbelievably comfortable there. She offered to prepare Kashmiri Kahwa, a traditional tea from these valleys. There was a certain charm in the wrinkles that covered her face. The kahwa looked amazing in the traditional cups. We asked her how they kept themselves warm?

Promptly she pointed to a wooden basket in the corner of the tent. These baskets would contain burnt coal and it will be carried inside their flowing robe which keeps them warm. They jokingly even call it Winter Wife! It is amazing how people have devised infinite ways to live with nature. She has been coming here for three months since the last 25 years or so. And us, the so called trekkers took 2 days to reach this place while her family claims they do it in a day. I didn’t doubt them for a second! Between all this I took many photos of her.

Meet Asha, from the valleys of Kashmir.

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14 responses

  1. Yes, even I realized that’s how it works! You need to get used to the environment before asking for a photograph! After all, they are human beings and not mere moving subjects 🙂 I really like the flow of light in the frame and especially on her face. A good moment.

    September 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

    • True, without interaction, the shots might as well be just record shots. 🙂

      September 23, 2012 at 2:38 am

  2. vani

    Awesome da, looking forward to know many more strangers through your eyes 🙂

    September 7, 2012 at 10:50 am

    • Thanks Vani, more to come! 🙂

      September 23, 2012 at 2:39 am

  3. Mridula Hanjura

    Hi Neelima… Nice to read something about my hometown.. Wanted to add few more details to what you discovered in Kashmir ..

    These baskets would contain burnt coal — The basket is called as “Kangar”
    robe which keeps them warm– This is called as “Ferhan” (All young children in kashmir usually got into the Ferhan of their Grandparents, parents and put their head out of the neckline of Ferhan )

    The charm on the face is due to the pure water they get to drink.. Water makes a lot of difference to health and that’s what adds to the beauty of Kashmiri women.. The skin glows as if you got a facial done few minutes back 🙂 And this is why a saying about Kashmir goes like this “If there is heaven on earth.. its is here.. it is here ”

    Kehwa is a tea without milk.. just add some ilaichi, dalchini , Kehwa leaves,sugar into boiling water… and before u serve add badam (powdered) on top of it 🙂 If you hav cold, headache it helps you a lot.. My parents drink it every morning even in Bangalore.. 🙂

    Unfortunately Kashmiri Pandits had to leave the valley in 1989 and i was just a 4 yr old kid.. But the memories of Kangar and Ferhan forced me to write here 🙂

    Thanks for bringing back those memories 🙂

    September 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    • Hey Mridula, thanks for this lovely comment! I had comfortably forgotten all this stuff I heard sitting inside the tent. Awesome info this. 🙂
      It was quite interesting and enlightening to see the way these guys were handling the cold.

      September 23, 2012 at 2:36 am

  4. Amazing work.

    September 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm

  5. Reblogged this on Kashmir Global Blog.

    September 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm

  6. awesome stuff. love the idea! i talk to strangers & take their photos but never thought of documenting it like this… 🙂 inspirational. should do it! plus i like your photos.

    November 11, 2012 at 9:11 am

    • Thanks! With so much travel it is easy to forget all those small but interesting interactions. Plus I hope this project will make a better photographer! 🙂

      Do let me know the link of your 100 Strangers Project too.

      November 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm

  7. Hi Neelima. Firstly, this photo is sheer genius. And combining it with the story together, is pure awesomeness! Loved it 🙂

    November 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    • Thank you! Do check back for more strangers. 🙂

      November 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

  8. I am so definitely doing that! 😀

    November 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm

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