Thursday, 28 May 2009

Kashmir People 5

Mushtaq Ahmed, “Write the caste name after the name,” he says, “Mir.” He is a horseman in Sonamarg. He doesn’t own the horse, he accompanies it. In the tourist season, Mushtaq reaches the Pony Union’s office in Sonamarg early in the morning. He takes his number and waits until his turn comes. Tied to his destiny are the destinies of the gumboot renters and sled-wallahs. The tourists can’t choose their gumboot rental shop. Mushtaq will lead them to the one whose number is tied to his. The sled-wallah , if you choose to hire his services, will pull you up the snow clad slope next to the two hundred-year old glacier and then sit in the front while you zip down at breakneck speed. The tourist season lasts three or four months. For the rest of the year, Mushtaq lives in his village and grows potatoes. Nothing else grows here.

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