I’ve been fortunate to have travelled all over the world and had the good fortune to have met some amazing people. People who, I suspect, might resent Westerners for one reason or another. Cambodia and Vietnam for example. People’s whose lives have been torn apart by war and conflict at the hands of the West, well, America to be fair. However, when I visited these countries I was welcomed with open arms. No malice was directed at tourists, for the best part.
That can’t be said for Kashmir (Jammu exempt)
The reality is you’re going to get arseholes the world over. There’s plenty of them in London. But, when it’s one thing after another with no respite, you can’t help but form an opinion. I’m sad to say my impression of Kashmiri people is extremely negative.
Why does everyone hate the people of Kashmir?
Never have I met such unfriendly, aggressive, rude, and dishonest people as the people of Kashmir (although Jammu seems to be the exception)
My Indian friends warned me to take care and have my guard up. "The Kashmiris are not to be trusted, they are very dishonest people” I was warned. This advice came from friends from around the world, but also included fellow Indians I’ve met since arriving in India.
They joked that the only people who like Kashmiri people are Kashmiri's themselves.
As much as I appreciated their advice, my Indian friends can be somewhat dramatic when discussing certain topics they are passionate about. Politics for example; don’t even go there. Cricket, don’t even get them started as they’ll recall every stat from the last decade. Indians get extremely excited about certain topics and that's one of the reasons I love the people and the country. I understand they wanted to prepare me for the worse and I greatly underestimated their sentiments.
However, I like to take people on face value and form my own opinion.
Boy, were they right when it came to the people of Kashmir. In all my time travelling around the world, I have never met such unfriendly and dishonest people, and I’m not just talking about the normal scammers like rickshaw drivers and touts. I’m not a small guy by any means, nor am I easily intimidated but even I was taken back by the aggressiveness of the locals in Srinagar. It was like they resented me being there. I’ll smile and say hello to anyone, even more so when I’m in another country. Yet, I found myself smiling at people, giving a nod of the head in acknowledgment only to be scowled at with such hate and resentment that I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I understand that isolated incidents can happen, I take great pride in not taring everyone with the same brush. But, it’s hard not to so with the Kashmiris, as it happened on so many occasions in such a short space of time whilst I was in Srinagar. It’s no wonder I cut my stay short by several days.
I met an elderly Aussie guy who did the same. He had been physically assaulted by a rickshaw driver and his goons when he refused to pay double what had been agreed for an hour of sightseeing. The old boy was 76, clearly shaken up and was nearly in tears when he recalled the incident.
Here is a list of my own personal experiences within the 24 hours I was in Srinagar.
Spat at when I refused to let the rickshaw driver keep the 300 rupees change I was owed. When he declared “no change” (that old scam) within just 5 minutes of arriving in Srinagar, I started to wonder if what I had heard was true.
Being charged double the price for water and soft drinks in all but one shop.
Being handed my change only to have a perfectly good 50 rupee note taken back from my hand and replaced with an old note, literally torn in half, and adamant refusal to give me the original, as requested.
Brought a bottle of 7up to find out later, the seal was broken and it had been refilled with water.
Shortchanged when I went out for dinner and then the waiter demanded a tip - for the record, I normally tip, but not when I’m told to do so, and certainly not when I’m deliberately shortchanged in the first place.
Agreed 700 rupees for a taxi to the airport only for the driver to demand 850 when he dropped me off claiming I needed to tip him. He started yelling and causing a scene and I was then surrounded by approximately 5 taxi drivers. (He got 700 rupees and not a penny more)
The cashier in KFC at the airport charge me 60 rupees for mayonnaise in my two Zinger burgers. When I asked for a receipt. He claimed the machine wasn't working. I eventually got a receipt from his colleague. The bill clearly stating 390 rupees, not the 450 he had charged me.
I mentioned my experience on social media and was met with a number of people recalling incidents involving Kashmiri’s both in Kashmir but, many more in other parts of India too. I was also reminded of some of my own experiences with Kashmiris when travelling across India back in 2005.
I’ll refrain from posting the incidents reported to me because such incidents can be perpetrated by anyone not just Kashmiris. It would be wrong of me to highlight them in this post.
The thing that baffles me is why the people of Kashmir are so unfriendly (again, I stress Jammu being the refreshing exception). When I landed in Jammu, it was like I had arrived in another country. People were so much more friendly. I’d arrived back in the India I know and love. I reached out to several people on social media who I thought might be able to explain why the Kashmiris are the way they are. It’s not rocket science to realise why the majority of people dislike them. I have seen that with my own eyes.
Don’t shoot the messenger. I am merely reporting my personal experience in Srinagar. If it had been an enjoyable visit, I would have reported exactly that. But, it wasn't and I’ll report my findings, as I have with Delhi and Leh, and will continue to do as I travel across India.
I understand there are political aspects to consider but, please bear in mind I’m clearly not Indian. I am a tourist who was intending to integrate and spend money in the local community. It was clear, I wasn't wanted in Srinagar.
I would be really keen to hear about your experience with the people of Kashmir and more so, why you think they are like they are?
Peace, love and respect to everyone reading this post (even the people of Kashmir)