The small but busy town of Katra is located 36 kms away from Jammu. Home to the holy Vaisnodevi Shrine, the town is usually the starting point for most people on a tour of Jammu & Kashmir. Two distinct groups of visitors are usually found there. One group is religious. They go there to make the 14 km trek to visit the temple, to offer pujas, to throw some money in the donation box as their shortcut to salvation, to collect some apparently sacred Prasad to take home. They come to see God. The other group consists of tourists. The temple is just another item in their itinerary which usually covers the entire state. They come to drink in the scenic beauty, the wonderful sights of the mountains the trek has to offer, to snap pictures of the valley in all kinds of cameras. They come to see nature.
I belonged to neither group. I had run away there, like a whipped dog, to escape.
There’s a funny thing about relations. Sometimes we get into normal ones. Like with our parents, siblings, maybe a husband or a wife we married 10 years ago and have no more doubts or illusions about. With these people, we laugh some and we fight some, but in the end we learn to live with them, having satisfied ourselves over time that even if they aren’t exceptional human beings by themselves, they are and can expected to be consistently good to ourselves. These normal ones are also the good ones. Then there are bad ones. Like the bully at school, the inhuman games teacher, the dumb boss you have to suck up to etc. And finally, there are the extraordinary ones. Like that girl you always knew was too good for you, and who shyly proposed to you on a chilly winter morning anyway. So what is this funny thing about relations that you were promised at the beginning of this rather pointless paragraph? Well, I’m sorry for misleading you, but that will have to wait…