Discovering Neighbors

It feels like it’s been a long haul. I’m still trying to recover as my stomach continues to hurt. I’ve been back and forth to the doctor and let’s just say my digestive system is not working properly to avoid, at least, some gruesome details. I had to go for a stool test because he feared I might have gotten a parasite.

Funny story: My dad took me to a nearby hospital to ask if he could get one of those medical tubes for a stool test and the nurse there said, “No worries just put it in a matchbox and bring it in.” I’m not lying. The nurse really did ask me to put it in a matchbox! Now, I know, they don’t have the best medical equipment here and things might not look clean, but even if someone assured me that they were, it’s a hell of a lot of compromise to put it in a matchbox. Regardless, my dad found a proper tube. The results came back all clear. But it’s been interesting to see how medical facilities work here.

Mostly, I’ve been relaxing. Despite my stomach upsets I don’t want to leave. I enjoy it here, and it’s a second home. I’ve made friends and continue to meet people everyday. I met my neighbor who’s actually around my age. I was sitting at home one day, reading alone, when I heard music playing. Some of my favorite artists from Hardwell to Coldplay were blasting on speakers, and I was determined to find out who was playing them. I hadn’t heard my kind of music in Kashmir at all, much less blasting on a speaker, so I wanted to know which random person had the same taste in music as me. I figured he or she must be pretty cool and it turned out that he was.

I met him accidently when my dad introduced me to his friend who lives one house away from us. It was his son who had been playing all the music and it was brought up randomly when his father was complaining that he’s driving other neighbors crazy with the loud noise. I got along with him instantly and have hung out with him a few times since then. He’s pretty cool. It’s nice to have someone around my age, nearby. He continues to play his music and I text him, now and then, to figure out which artist it is. I think between my music and his, the neighbor in between us will unfortunately either move out or have a migraine everyday, until I go back to Dubai and he leaves for New Delhi. Our next-door neighbor also happens to be the PDP for Kashmir. He’s the new Member of Parliament. We know when he’s home everyday because there’s an actual army truck and security parked outside our gate. It’s quite intimidating to walk out of your house and see that much security.

Yesterday, another son of my dad’s childhood friend came to visit us. He’s around my age as well and is quite established. He works for a big company in India, which imports and exports classic luxury cars. He was in Kashmir for the weekend to look at a car that he was thinking about purchasing. His name is Veer and he’s also been picked up to film a reality TV show with his company, which is pretty cool. The show has to do a lot about cars and yesterday’s events would’ve made a good episode. Veer grew up slightly further down the street from my house. His family owned a lot of land they called Sutton Seeds, and his house is still there but has been leased out for many years. We took a pleasant walk on the riverbank that runs along our neighborhood. We went down to look at his old place, which had now been turned into a guesthouse. Crazy thing is, we were looking around when we went up the stairs and saw an old picture of his grandfather with Rajiv Gandhi. Gandhi was the former prime minister of India who was unfortunately killed. The picture was in the same spot it had been for years. It was quite nostalgic for Veer to see that.

Later, Veer and Champika Sayal joined us for dinner. Ms. Sayal is another close neighbor. She is the secretary general of the Women’s Golf Association of India. Golf and cricket are huge sports here. She also organized the first-ever women’s Indian Open. Her life has been dedicated to golf. At 18-years-old, Ms. Sayal represented India for the first time in 1981 at the Queen Siriket Cup in Japan, among many other competitions. She’s played with Arnold Palmer and was even telling me a story about how she played with Engelbert Humperdinck. Now she coaches other girls, preparing them for tournaments.

I’m leaving Kashmir in two days for Dubai again. I will be staying in Dubai for almost two months, unless I decide to travel and explore another country. I’m going to miss everything about Kashmir, especially the weather. The weather here is so pleasant in the summer. Dubai is a furnace. I’m going to miss Nura, Amir, and Yasmin and her kids. Most of all, I’m going to miss my dad and family. It’s sad that I won’t be able to come back to Kashmir next summer and travel as much, starting next year. Life tends to get in the way. I might need to land another internship, take up another job, you never know. Hopefully, I’ll be able to manage all. There’s a good side and bad side to having three homes. When I’m in New York all I can think about is working towards getting another ticket to travel back and see family. When I’m in Dubai I miss New York a little, and when I’m in Kashmir, I don’t want to leave, even though I know I have to. It gets quite confusing. I feel fortunate, though, that I am able to travel and see family. I truly am blessed.

There’s a saying, I found, that I feel relates to me completely: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That’s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

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