i mentioned in class today that i used the title "strangers in the mist" on the mock cover because of an essay i'd written... this was something of an introduction. here it is:
... we go through life often wondering, sometimes doing, but never truly knowing who we are, where we come from, and where we're going from here. do we really meet when we meet? do we speak when we speak? do we hear when we hear? do we see when we see? do we feel when we feel? or do we merely pass as ghosts among shadows?
as travelers we have been to places, hoping to learn, to experience, to make a difference. we sometimes think, we sometimes hope that we might make a difference, but somehow life keeps us away from doing so. such is the tragedy of the human condition... while it is always one of hope, it is rarely changed.
as observers, the question we must ask is whether our observations are deep reflections of our own souls... if we see who we are in what we see; and we see who we are not in what we see. even then, that understanding, that reflection from our most personal stance cannot stop us from engaging reality. reality is in itself an illusion... as false and yet as true as an illusion can be, for it is nothing more than the sum of perceptions that together form the shared human condition.
history is written on the fault-lines of reality, and in few places in the World are the fault-lines as pronounced as in Kashmir, where the aspirations of those who are pro-India, pro-Pakistan, and pro-independent Kashmir are intertwined with the physical realities of partition and occupation and the insurgency.
every time one steps out of the warm comforts of Mumbai--or any other metro, for that matter--out of one's home and the various areas of varying affluence, one is reminded that there is another India. this was never as obvious as in Kashmir though, where the very notion of India was challenged occasionally.
our journey took us from the uneasy quiet and beauty of Srinagar, to the imperious serenity of Leh, to the bustle of a Manali splitting at its seams, and many other places along the way. we met the common folk, bus drivers, students, politicians, military and police officers and the occasional monk, and gained different perspectives from all.
through these interactions we developed perhaps not the definitive take on Kashmir and Ladakh, but we certainly developed an interesting perspective--a thesis, if you will--on the region as it stands today. we may have met as strangers in the mist--not knowing, not seeing, not hearing, not feeling; but we parted company as fond travelers on a journey that few seldom experience. it is that experience we bring here. this is our story.