Monday, 4 June 2007

Stranger Strangers

Twenty days.

Twenty days in another world, another universe. Parts of which I never knew existed. Places I never could have imagined held so much beauty. People and a way of life so foreign and so different from everything I knew before.

I am still in a trance of some sort. I can't understand or explain what it feels like to suddenly be ensconced in a new place among people who look at you like you are the stranger in their midst. This is probably because when I reached there, I was looking at them like they were the aliens. When reality struck, I came to the conclusion that I was a foreigner on my own soil.

This realisation, that you are the stranger, and not the people around you, dawns very slowly.
In Kashmir, the enlightenment comes in the form of hot-blooded youth who rebel against the army and security forces they see as oppressive. In Ladakh, you stand apart because you see the distinctly East Asian features that dominate everywhere, making you feel like you've entered Tibet, or China when you weren't looking.

Yes, I felt like a stranger on my own soil.

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