Expecting the Unexpected in India Day 217: Trying to Stay Afloat

Shitty cheapass breakfast for what I paid to stay here

Went to banks and then market to get some fireworks to celebrate Eid
Tried some sweets
Chaos of the market with so many people bumping shoulders
The many colors of India: food, clothing, people
Hot weather: not as hot as Delhi but not what I wanted from the far north amongst the foothills of the Himalayas
Me and the Swiss decided to go paddle on the lake and get towards the somewhat deeper center of Dal Lake for a swim
The water was cool and refreshing
We were quite the novelty the two of us paddling our own canoe/shikara
For some stupid reason, shikara rowers were asking us if we wanted a ride on their shikara even though we were already sitting in our own
With the green mountains setback as a background, the place reminded me slightly of Lake Bled in Slovenia, a place I hold dearly in my heart
For all the heat I have experienced over these past several months this more temperate weather and a lake to cool off in hit the spot
Chatting with indian tourists passing by who wanted to take photos of us for the novelty that we were
Not many foreign tourists: tourism is dominated by Indians thanks to the tensions by india and Pakistan scaring off western tourists
Chatting with boat salesmen trying to sell their crafts
On the way back to Safina houseboat we stopped and chatted with a houseboat owner who gave me a quick lesson to identify fake saffron since I was interested in buying but when we left a man quickly approached asking if I wanted to buy his saffron: coincidence perhaps?
Back at Safina ate dinner and told him I wasn’t going to be trekking since it was too expensive but he kept emphasizing that he would hate for me to come all the way to Kashmir so far from home and not see the beauty of the area
I kept trying to look up alternatives with organized trekking groups or any other suggestions but nothing was turning up whether few legitimate companies existed outside of the swindlers manning the boulevard of dal lake and the lake itself or the Internet was extremely slow
Arm wrestling Kashmiri: like an Islamic Indian Nonni
Later at night looking around at the pictures of Kashmir I began chatting with the man about where these had been taken knowing that I would sadly not get the chance to visit them
He brought me into his office to again review the prices showing me for 7 days for return and 10 days trek ($2200) for cross
He tried getting me these “deals” with my student I.D. and such
I looked again at those prices wanting to trek but knowing something didn’t feel right besides the fact how much it costed
Private guide, cook, horse, food, tent accommodation, yada yada
I told them I would Skype my family and see what they said hoping they would advise/veer me in the right direction
Knowing the price, my dad said to basically go for it even though I told him I was leaning towards not doing it: he said this was a rare lifetime opportunity which I understood but I hated the price and again saying I shouldn’t put money in the way of me seeing and accomplishing something that I have always wanted
Plus, I didn’t have access to enough of that money so I needed my family’s approval
So there I went to book the trek on this last day for some time according to the houseboat owner or whatever his title happened to be
It was all said and done
He was excited thanking me for blessing him and his family in this month of Ramadan and so close to Eid
I kept thinking it over and even asked to upgrade to the 10 day trek until I realized how further expensive it would have cost me
I hadn’t paid anything but made arrangements to take care of it the next day
I went to the other houseboat where we usually hung out to eat some snacks, play Karam, smoke hash, and chat the night away
After everyone was asleep, I went ahead to sit at the houseboat’s edge soaking up the quiet over the dark, still late night/early morning and Skype my mom 
She said I should go on the trek as well, agreeing with the fact that dad probably advised me in this direction knowing he wishes he could have always done this kind of thing in his lifetime
Hearing this from my parents made me feel better but even when I was talking to my mom I was hyperventilating
She said I should put this past me and enjoy the trek for what it is
I went to sleep at 3 a.m. still wide awake

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