November 9, 1961 – India

Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi, India – Clear

     I woke up and felt much better this morning.  I thought the full night of rest had helped me fight off a cold.  I was glad I felt better because we had to catch our flight for Kashmir at 8am.  After hurriedly getting ready, Edith and I met the rest of our group in the lobby so we could take a motor coach to the airport.  I had looked forward to this part of our trip because we were going to Srinagar to stay on a houseboat.  I’d heard wonderful things about them.

      Our wait at the airport wasn’t a long one for a change and we boarded our plane for Kashmir.  We had a good flight flying parallel to some of the higher peaks of the Himalayas and giving me a chance to take pictures of them since it was so clear.  It was different from the gorgeous view we had previously had of Mt. Everest.  We arrived at Srinagar, Kashmir at 1pm and were taken to the houseboats on Lake Dal.  We were to stay there for three nights. 

Mt Everest from Plane

Another View of Mt Everest from Plane

Flying Over the Himalayas

     Each houseboat accommodated five people and my first view was that they were very quant with an old world appearance.  Each one was larger than I thought it would be and had three bedrooms, each bedroom had its own little bathroom.  In addition to the bedrooms there was a dining room, a small kitchen, living room or lounge and a balcony in front with a lovely garden on the side.  Each of the houseboats had a name and ours was called the Sheila Anne.  Edith and I felt very fortunate we would be sharing the same houseboat with Eva, Wanda and Flo because we knew they would be very good company for sure.  Edith and I were to share one bedroom, as usual.  Flo and Eva were to get the second room while Wanda was fortunate to have the third one to herself.  We found out we would have two houseboys to wait on us and that made me feel a little like royalty. 

     It turned out the father of our guide during our stay in Srinagar, Gulam Nabi, was the owner of four houseboats including the one we were staying on.  Gulam made a point of letting us know he would stay close by at all times so he could look after our needs. 

     After getting settled into our rooms, Edith and I excitedly joined Wanda and Flo to look around the area.  It was exciting because we went boating in some Shikares (rowboats) and then had a chance to ride on a Dongas (a little pony cart).  I enjoyed riding in both and we were given little blankets to put over our legs to keep us warm while riding around.

Lake Dal, Srinagar, Kashmir

Sightseeing on Lake Dal in Shikares

Shikares in Evening

Dongas

     When we got back to our houseboat there was a trader pulled up a long side and we were told he was there to try and sell his wares to us.  Gulum told us that traders will pull right up to the balcony and call out what they were selling.  I thought it was marvelous that they came to us and I didn’t have to go find shops to look through.  I couldn’t resist buying a couple of beautiful scarves from that vendor.  I was sure they would come in handy because I’d found it was a little breezy earlier when we were out.  Several other vendors stopped by to sell us something but I resisted the temptation to buy anything.

     At dinner all we could talk about was how much we were enjoying our stay in Srinagar even though it had been for one short afternoon.  Our little houseboat felt like a home and it was great.  The food, cooked in a kitchen next door, had been brought to our dining room and surprisingly the meal we had for dinner was one of the best we’d had in a long time.  The food they prepared for us was so much like food we might have had back in Ventura that I wondered if there wouldn’t be apple pie for dessert.  To my surprise I had almost been right because it turned out to be a delicious apple pudding.  With our dinner we were served a local wine that was very sweet and made us all feel quite relaxed.

      While we ate Gulum and Feelamnabi (one of our two houseboys) lit the little pot bellied stove in each room and that made our little houseboat snuggly warm.  After eating all of us had a wonderful evening playing cards together and discussing what we liked best and least about our trip so far.  The drink they had given us had relaxed us so much we did a lot of giggling and laughing over silly little things.

     When it came time to go to bed I was concerned I would get cold when I got into bed.  However, I was very surprised when I crawled under the covers to find that a little elf (probably Feelamnabi) had slipped into our room to put hot water bottles in our beds to help keep our feet warm.  I felt all snuggly laying there with a hot water bottle next to my feet and some nice warm, heavy blankets on top of me.  It didn’t take very long for me to fall asleep.

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