Water, Winter, Woe – after the Kashmir floods

Srinagar — The roads were muddied by rain on the morning I met Shafia Rashid. Her black shoes, poking out from under her burqa, were caked in mud. I met the 24-year-old in Tengpora, Kashmir, earlier this month as she was returning from a busy morning of completing some paperwork for her teacher’s training degree. A postgraduate student in English, she had considered pursuing a PhD but then decided last year that it was time to start earning. She still has dreams of studying at universities like Cambridge or Oxford, or clearing the exams for the Indian Administrative Service.

We were walking from Tengpora square in the direction of Shafia’s house. There wasn’t much to see along the way, really, and I was mostly looking down to avoid stepping into the small pools of slush and muddy water. I looked up when she pointed out the watermarks on the walls. This route, Shafia explained, took longer than usual because the original path was still slippery with sludge, a remnant from the calamitous floods that hit Jammu and Kashmir in September. As we walked, she stopped thrice along the way and stood on tiptoe to point out the 6- to 7-foot high marks on the walls of houses – to show me how high the water had reached.

Heavy rainfall had lashed Jammu and Kashmir for a week in September and led to the one of the worst floods to ever hit the state. Towns and villages in the Kashmir Valley were completely immobilized as the Jhelum River broke its banks and coursed through the roads and by lanes, leaving hundreds of thousands of families stranded on the upper floors or roofs of their houses without food, water and electricity.

“I’ve heard some of the elderly people say that such a flood has not hit Kashmir for over a 100 years. We were hearing of the situation being bad but we never thought the water would fill up here and so quickly. The water rose suddenly from here to here in fifteen minutes,” she said, pointing to her ankle and then to her waist….read it at Yahoo Originals

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