It’s been bad enough trapped on this road, the spine running through Kashmir, every one and everything has to use it. There is just no other route to travel. On either side of the road, there are massive mountains that just rise up and up into the clouds, steep and unforgiving with the main feature being thousand meter high shale landslides that are active everywhere. There are ranges in every direction, that’s the choice one has. The road itself is in bad condition, treacherous, the smoke pollution is unbearable, as for the litter, its astonishing to see the extent of it. But it’s the only route at the moment I have to just stick to this road and admire the scenery and take what happens as it come, and it come in many forms.
If you are lucky there is only an apple that’s thrown at you. Then there is the odd blob of the favourite pastime that might float out of a vehicle and smack into you – known as “Gobbing” big lumps from deep in the lungs that spat out of windows, one every now and then tends to find as you pass.
Trucks are probably the most polite on the road, but cars and busses are just the pits, firstly there have the super charged air horns that are blasted right in your ear as they pass leaving them stinging and deaf for a few minutes afterwards, if that blast wasn’t enough, you are then squashed against a rock face as they try to overtake a truck on a blind corner, and of course there is also a motorcycle trying to squeeze in on the action as well on the inside of all of this, three up on the bike, no helmets and texting on their phones.
But the worst of all is yet to come, the fully laden busses carrying military and civilians down these passes at breakneck speed, suspension not well, these buses rock from side to side giving everyone motion sickness, so you can imagine. A convoy of busses will pass, everyone with heads hanging out of the window, spewing the last week’s curry everywhere. Streams of it trickle down the side of the buss, pealing off in the wind and you get whacked with a sheet of this. To top it all there are the passengers that are not close to a window who have to reach for a plastic bag or what ever they can find. Innocently trotting down the valley admiring the view and suddenly your whole world is rocked to its foundations as you are “blatted” with one of these warm projectiles.