60 images Created 4 May 2010
I was in Srinagar, Kashmir in the summer and fall of 1989 when all hell broke loose. The Kashmiri people had begun an armed struggle for independence from India. Today, Kashmiris still find themselves wondering if it is safe to go outside at night, but it is much better than it was even 5 years ago. No one in their right mind can call it normalcy, but then again, after 17 years of bombs, bullets and blood, maybe for them this is normal. Living in Kashmir for 13 years, I have been shot at, searched, threatened. I have seen far too much blood in the streets. But in all of this, I still saw a wonderful culture of rich history. It is rapidly fading away. Why did I choose not to cover the violence while I was there? It would have been easy. I think that may in fact be the reason -- it was too easy. It was harder to find the lost normalcy. It was hard to find a boy in the street playing without a soldier standing over him. I tried, successfully, I hope, to show life as it might be without a war, without years of blood and tear gas. Kashmir is a rich and ancient culture of the Himalaya. It has a beautiful and varied people with traditions from ancient Persia and Central Asia. If you ever get a chance to go and visit the "Jewel in the Crown of India", take it. You will never regret it. But hurry.