We should be sitting in a roof-top bar in Delhi with a cold Kingfisher complaining about the heat and the noise, but in fact we’re in a hotel room, still in Kashmir, looking at a winter scene and wondering whether we’re going to make the flight home at 3am on Thursday morning.
The day started badly. We woke at 6pm to find six inches of snow outside and still falling heavily. The power was off. There were no lights and no hot water. The only sign of life at the normally busy taxi stand was a huddle of drivers at a chai stall warming themselves by a fire. No-one was prepared to drive to the airport. We got the surly receptionist at the hotel out of bed to ring for a taxi for us and several calls and 40 minutes later a car arrived which took us on slush-covered roads to Srinagar’s airport. Such is the security, we were made to stand shivering outside the terminal building until Indigo, the carrier’s staff, arrived to man the baggage scanners which are set up on the door to the terminal rather than inside. They arrived 45 minutes later. When they plugged the trailing wires of the baggage scanner into the plug socket the machine refused to come to life, a problem solved by tracing two other wires from the machine and putting the bare electric copper wires directly into the socket.
We went through the rather chaotic security procedure and sat down to wait to check-in in the freezing terminal building.
As the snow continued to fall, it became increasingly clear that nothing was going to fly in or out of the airport but it was mid afternoon before the airlines confirmed this; then began the scramble at the counters for the limited numbers of seats on tomorrow’s flights. Realizing that we had in international connection to make, they took pity on us and gave us priority. We have seats on tomorrow’s flight which we must make if we are to catch the flight home. But it still hasn’t stopped snowing and there is more snow forecast for tomorrow ….. ‘Most unusual … Most unseasonable’ we are told by everyone, but it’s little consolation.
So, back into the city in a shared taxi, now frozen to the bone even wearing everything we have with us with the prime objective of finding a hotel with heating. We visited and rejected three before ending up here at the Royal Batoo – in bed, fully clothed, with the electric blanket on full and a blow heater blasting out some glorious heat.
And we get to do the whole thing again tomorrow.