Finally then, an extension of 90 days to my India visa, which is less that 3 months so I need to change my onward air ticket if I’m to avoid severe penalties for overstaying my welcome.
I never got to see the Superintendent of Police; his lunch break seemed to stretch over several days so my waiting time was spent with his secretary, Zahoor Ahmed, a Muslim. He’s a young man from Lal Chowk, Srinagar, on a two year placement in Leh, lonely and looking forward to a transfer out. His horizons are stretched wider than the state of Kashmir.
Where I pretended humble at first, I lead him through wider experiences.
What religion am I?
Humanist, as I have faith in the power of humanity to live together democratically.
Pakistan is a democracy, even though Islamic law punishes thieves by cutting off their hands.
Corruption too is alien to Muslims. At least that did mean that no baksheesh was involved in my visa transaction, though I had my doubts as time passed.
With the Deputy Superintendent’s signature in place, we were free to discourse in Zahoor’s 100 rupee a month bare cell over a plate of hand eaten onion and egg flavoured rice on marriage and divorce, standards of living – and costs, travelling – and costs.
View from Zahoor’s room – Polo Ground, Leh
Zahoor’s brother has a café near Nehru Park in Srinagar, selling carpets and papier-mâchê
Shame I won’t have time to be seduced!