Thursday, December 29, 2022


Know whom to listen to. Know whom to consult for what. 

For example, to remove a brain  tumour go to the brain surgeon, by all means. If you get injured in an accident, head for the nearest hospital. 

But for advice on how to maintain and enhance your overall health, don't listen to doctors and scientists, and  don't listen to so called nutritionists. 

The question naturally arises, whom should you listen to? Unfortunately, you have to make that choice, based on your own independent judgement.

Because anyone can mislead you. 

Listen to everyone. But use your common sense.

Decide what is important to you, and what your priorities are, because your priorities and first principles will determine how you weigh the evidence, and which path you choose to take. 

Reject what is untrue, even if it comes from so called experts.

To decide what is true and untrue, it helps to go back to first principles. It helps to go back to the universal laws which cannot be broken. It helps to go back to ancient wisdom which has been formulated based on millennia of human experience.

It only helps, for to convert that to a practical template for living, you have to interpret it in today's context, and implement it  in a way that  fits your own unique individual requirements. 

It  helps to think for yourself. 

What you cannot do, at any cost, is to keep aside your questioning mind, and accept something at face value just because an "authority" says so.

You cannot outsource your thinking, in short.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022


Distributing Shareholder Wealth

Infy has announced a share buyback. If I hold Infy shares, should I take it?

It actually makes no difference to the individual shareholder like you and me, whether we take up the offer or not..

Very very theoretically, if I knew what Infy was worth, exactly, I should tender my offer for the buyback if the offer price is more than that intrinsic value and if I am sure the  market price is not going to reach there for some time.

Considering that it is impossible to know the intrinsic value of a share exactly and the fact that the share price fluctuates wildly anyway, that's not an easy call.

Then why does the Company announce a buyback?

It's a tax efficient way of distributing dividend, for the HNI shareholders of the company.

How is that the case?

Going back to the broad principles of dividend distribution, the company can distribute its surplus cash as dividends, or retain the earnings. If the company keeps on throwing up cash, like any software company does, and has no capital expenditure needs, then it cannot make use of the money internally. 

Acquisitions, or inorganic growth , is an option. But in many cases  that creates more problems than it solves. Acquiring for the sake of acquiring is not something the conservative Infy founders are likely to do.

Or , you need to be Reliance or Amazon. If it was an Ambani or a Bezos, they would invest that money in laying fibre optic cables across the country, or setting up data centres high up in the clouds. There is no end to the amount of cash that an Ambani can use for investing in infrastructure. Infy founders are not like that,  and in any case, if I were a shareholder of Infy, I would rather that they gave me my money, so that I can decide to invest it with a Bezos or an Ambani, or just use it to go on a holiday.

Great. The company thus decides to distribute the money. But this can become highly tax inefficient for the HNI shareholders. 

HNI's as a rule don't like "income" , they would prefer to earn all their money in the form of capital gains. 

Earning income is for idiots like us, the mango people, who keep slaving their butts off in order to pay the government. The rich always prefer capital gains.

World over, capital gains taxes are structured to be far far lower than income taxes. Capital gains taxes arise from holding assets. And who holds assets? The rich, of course. 

But how is this connected to dividend vs share buyback, you may ask. 

Well, when the company does a share buyback, it is using up its surplus money to buy its own shares and extinguish them. Assuming that the price for the buyback is fixed fairly, the pre buyback and post buyback value of the remaining  shares will be the same.

However, any future profits will have lesser claimants, since the shareholder base post buyback is lower. And that will increase the share value at a faster pace going forward.

So, if I hold Infy shares, should I offer them to the company for buyback?

It makes no difference, really.

Thursday, December 1, 2022


Wanted to buy rose syrup from the shop, but none was available. All the rose syrups available are full of synthetic ingredients. It is even doubtful whether they contain Rose at all.

Rose is very cooling for the body, and is a very good antidote for the typical lifestyles of today.

The benefits: 

Improving Digestion

Rose petals have been used for centuries as a digestive aid in the Middle East, and have been shown to help improve digestion and soothe pesky stomach troubles. When consumed as a tea, rose petals have a mild laxative effect that can help everything go smoothly when it comes to digestion

High in Antioxidants

Rose petals are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to ward off harmful free radicals and promote cellular health within the body. They can also help to prevent degenerative diseases like cancer. If you're looking to up your antioxidant intake, you can't go wrong.

Rose petals contain antimicrobial properties that can help to protect you against harmful bacteria. This means that a cup of rose petals can help to boost your overall health and wellness and ward off harmful microorganisms before you get sick.

Reducing Inflammation

Rose flower extract has also been shown to help reduce inflammation. Whether you're suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis or just need help soothing temporary pain, rose tea can help to lessen the symptoms of inflammation.

That, I copied from a website , and it was talking about Rose Herbal Tea.

Tea didn't sound great for Rose, so I set out to make my own Rose Syrup.

A little bit of search led me to "Paneer Roja" or "Scent Roja", available with the local flower vendors in Bangalore. This is not the usual rose you get along with your mixed flowers. You have to specifically ask for Paneer Roja. Smell it and you will know why.

Have been using it for the last few months, and it is amazing. The right drink for the afternoons / evenings when you feel like having something sweet and cool. With the added benefit that it is a natural ayurvedic Home remedy with all round health benefits.


Half kg panneer Roja ( costs 100 rupees, it is about 100 roses).

Pluck the petals out and keep aside. 

1.6 litres water

800 gm sugar

Bring the water to a boil.
Soak the roses  in the just boiled water, and leave it to soak overnight.

Strain the water to get rose water. 

Boil the rose water   and mix the sugar with the rose water. 

You will get a Ruby Red / Rose Pink syrup, ready for use. 

Keep it outside to cool  for about four days. Then, bottle, and refrigerate.

It will last for about two to three weeks in the fridge after which it starts fermenting.

To have: Mix one part syrup with five parts water for a refreshing cooling drink.

So, throw out that bottle of Rooh Afza and try making this at home.

Monday, November 21, 2022

How to live a fulfilling life

Some random thoughts

Man was designed to work , as in really productively work , not more than four hours a day.

Work only four hours a day. But make those four hours count. Make it intense.

Not working is not an option. Till your dying day.

Be present. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Present means having the body, mind, soul and all the senses in attendance.

Life is a big cosmic joke. Don't take it too seriously.

Don't take yourself too seriously. Pompousness, and a sense of self importance, automatically comes with age. You have to guard against it.

Every day, learn something new.

Spend time in the presence of children. They have a lot to teach you.

Chase your dreams. To do that, you have to have a dream in the first place.

Follow your "swadharma", what you are uniquely positioned to do. To know what it is, you have to listen. To listen, you first need to empty yourself.

The world is constantly trying to fill you up. You need to keep purging often. Empty your stomach, fast. Empty your thoughts, meditate. Go for an annual pachakarma retreat.

Seek space. Even in the middle of a crowded, noisy environment, seek space.

Be of service to someone, somewhere, for something.

Do not get stuck within the confines of labels that you have created for yourself.

Go with the flow. Create in a state of flow. Live in a state of flow. For doing that, you have to suspend thinking. 

Your most productive times, and the most happiest, are the times when the thinking mind is out of the way.

Society's norms tie you down. Feel free to ignore them. 

Focus on your breath. Through the day. If you can, to the extent you can. Your breath is the only thing that remains with you till the end.

Listen to people. Seek advice. But follow your own heart.

Sunday, November 6, 2022


It was reported by a panicked resident that a tiger was spotted roaming outside the walls of Palms Residency Layout, Bangalore. 


This obviously created panic in the community. There was hue and cry, and the Layout's\ social media group went berserk.


What are we doing to stop the tiger?, said one resident.


My dogs are very sensitive, they are at risk of dying when they hear the tiger's roars, said another. Why don't you buy earmuffs for your dogs, said another, very helpfully. This infuriated the dog owner and a fight ensued. 


An environmentally conscious resident said that tigers are protected under  Indian law, and she would call in the SETDA ( Society for Ethical Treatment of Dangerous Animals) if anyone said anything which hurt Tiger Rights. A huge discussion ensued on tiger rights and privileges.


Over the course of the few days when these discussions took place, the tiger was not seen again. Meanwhile, the dog owners had picked up a fight with the SETDA activists over the issue whether dogs could be considered as dangerous animals, and there was another discussion, not yet concluded, on which brand of earmuffs are suitable for dogs. Meanwhile, one resident pointed out that "dogs are dangerous animals!", at least the way she viewed it. This resulted in a huge backlash – realising that she might be ostracised if she continued voicing such view, that resident shut up.


The tiger roared again. This time, three residents were positive they had heard it.


"It came from near the Railway Tracks", said one.


"No no, what you heard was the sound of a train", said another.


"What do you mean, do you think I am deaf?", said the former and a fight ensued. 


A lot of allegations of deafness, blindness, and dumbness were exchanged in an increasingly acrimonious  debate - all this on WhatsApp of course. The SRL activists - Society for Respectful Language - kept repeatedly intervening to say that deaf was a disrespectful term, the residents should learn to say "hearing challenged", and rather than "blind", "visually challenged" was more appropriate. 


"What has this got to do with Tigers" mumbled the Oldest  Resident,  but kept his thoughts to himself. The Oldest Resident, being wise, had long passed the age where he wanted others to hear his views; he preferred watching the people around and reading the WhatsApp posts – these afforded him enough amusement and a number of stories to swap with his friends when they met for the weekly Friday evening drinks sessions at the Clubhouse.



Since a few days had passed since hearing the roar, the issue took a backseat.


Meanwhile, there was report of a tiger sighting in Delhi. This was in a colony on the outskirts, near Chattarpur. The residents of Chattarpur, it is rumoured, hired a tiger hunter, and the tiger was spotted and killed in a day. Since this is of course illegal, no one in Chattarpur was willing to go on record or say anything. However, since that day, no tigers have been spotted near Chattarpur.


Meanwhile, in Palms Residency, one resident had started to keep raw meat every night outside the Layout's walls. He claimed it was for the stray dogs, but some people suspected that he was a closet tiger lover and the food was meant for the tiger. 


"You are encouraging stray dogs", said one dog lover, "and they bring in germs which are harmful to our dogs".


What about the germs that your dogs carry, to which some of us humans are allergic, thought the oldest resident, but did not voice it out aloud. One of the reasons he had succeeded in living to a ripe old age was by avoiding situations in which he could get lynched. 


 A big fight ensued over the right to feed stray dogs. The stray dog ( or tiger, no one knows) lover sent a legal notice to the Association warning them , quoting sections and subsections of the law, that anyone harming stray dogs physically or verbally, or preventing someone from feeding stray dogs, could be jailed for six months. 


The tiger roared again.


This time ten people thought they had heard it.


Let us have an urgent meeting to discuss this, suggested one panicked resident.


No, we should have an Extraordinary General Meeting, EGM, said another, very procedurally conscious resident. 


But that needs 21 days' notice!, pointed out another, and this is an urgent matter! 


The debate on whether an EGM was needed or not to discuss the tiger issue raged for a few days. 


Meanwhile, the Layout Poet, a retired corporate executive with lot of time on his hands penned a poem.



Tyger Tyger, roaring  loud, 

Quite close, outside the layout,

What mortal mind or eye, 

Would not turn panicky? 


Not distant, but near the tracks,

Where art thou, where is thy lair?

The residents are all astir,

Discussing on WhatsApp!



William Blake will be turning in his grave, commented the Oldest Resident, wryly , wincing while reading the poem. I don't know which is worse, the dog lovers or the poet! But he didn't say it in anyone's hearing.



Several years back, we had a tiger sighting, and the Committee had been tasked with solving the problem. But the Committee did nothing. The Committee never does anything. Said one disgruntled old resident.


What do you mean, the Committee does nothing, said another old resident, who had served on several past committees. He went on to list ten good things the committee had done in the last ten years. This resulted in an all out WhatsApp war. For each of things he listed, there were views on whether it could be considered a good thing or a bad thing, about how he was wrong, about how his memory was playing tricks on him, and about the time his dog had bitten the neighbour's kid. This time, the committee members, the ex-committee members ,the dog lovers, the language activists – everyone got into the debate. The poet got the opportunity to write ten poems, none of which anyone read, but everyone got up all heated and ruffled under the collar.



A few months  passed since the first roar was heard, and people forgot about the incident.


And then it happened again. Five residents having a drink together late at night swore they had seen a shadow flit by that looked like a tiger.


Do not harm the tiger, warned the SETDA activist.


Let's call an EGM, said the procedurally conscious member.


Ah, let me write a poem, said the poet.


I hope we are meeting this Friday for our regular drinks session, asked the Friday drinkers of one another, no tiger is going to stop us right?


And life goes on… sighed the Oldest Member, with a sense of Déjà vu.



Saturday, October 22, 2022

Religion vs Spirituality

Saturday morning musings

My take on Religion vs Spirituality 

The goal is the same. Realization of inner potential.

The prescriptions are known and similar across cultures, the sages had it figured out.

But it calls for individual understanding and effort. A combination of bhakti, karma, jnana and Raja yoga, as per individual personalities.

The general masses are, as we all know, quite dumb. They can't do all that on their own.

So religion comes in, with a set of codified rules. Suitable for the masses, but not suitable for the discerning. And then you have priests to "guide" the public. Again, necessary for the masses, but restrictive for the discerning. 

This watering down and dumbing down is the essence of religion. It is basically spirituality for idiots.

The discerning seekers would be of course put off by organised religion, and they , on their own, go back to the essence of religion, which is spirituality.

Meanwhile, organised religion meanders on, in the form of a stultified grotesque parody of itself; a necessary parody though, for the masses need their opiates, and the rulers, something to control the masses with.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Looking back on the "pandemic" - Part 1


Points to ponder: 

"Gain of function" research did happen , and it is happening all over the world. Gain of function is euphemism for biological warfare.

US funds bio warfare labs, several hundreds of them, around the world. It has to be in places where they can exercise control with pliable regimes,   and it has to have  plausible deniability. Ukraine had several such labs.

Bill Gates bought into vaccine manufacturers and spoke of "being prepared" for a "pandemic" years back.

SARS / Avian Flu , a small version of what happened now, happened decades back.

Fauci has survived six presidents. He has close links with the Pharma lobby.

WHO is clueless about  medicine, and about science.

Breathing is one of the fundamental processes of living. Any obstruction to free breathing will cause long term health damage, both physiological and psychological. No one talks about that.

Masks impede breathing.

The virus was supposed to be surface borne, and people were told not to touch any "surfaces" . Then people were told it is airborne. All kinds of measures were proposed which are ineffective.

When the virus is smaller than most air particles, by definition, if you can avoid it, you are actually not breathing. By definition, you are dead. 

Equating day to day living with conditions in an operating theatre , for proposing measures like sanitiser and masking, is highly stupid logic, for various reasons. 

The stories keep changing, the narrative keeps morphing. But what is constant is that people are told to wear masks , be distanced. The only result is that it creates a  long term sustained state of panic.

A long term sustained state of panic is good for keeping the population enslaved, and for controlling their minds.

There is no evidence that masks are effective. But everyone has been forced to accept it, and repeat it as a mantra.

Vaccines are full of toxic ingredients, each one of which is a heavy poison in its own right. No one talks about that 

Everytime you take a vaccine , you cause some long term damage to your body. 

The body has evolved defence mechanisms to fight "germs" as part of its evolution.

Any solution like a vaccine, will not address the problem holistically, like the body's immune system does. 

Any vaccine is for a specific variant of a specific virus. There are trillions of viruses out there and they keep mutating all the time. 

No one wants to acknowledge all that.

Equating every flu virus with small pox and polio is highly stupid logic, for many different reasons. 

Lockdowns have not been effective. They never will be. But the powers that be want to impose lockdowns. 

Data on covid deaths have been inflated in various different ways. 

Data on deaths due to adverse events of vaccination have been suppressed in various different ways. 

There are many adverse events of the covid vaccine.  They include sudden  cardiac seizure, hair fall, hearing loss, and a host of other things. No one reports that or talks about that. 

Companies like Pfizer indulge in outright fraud, suppress data and information, seed false propaganda, and are focused only on profit.

We believe companies like Pfizer. Or we believe organisations, like WHO and medical lobbies, who are controlled by companies like Pfizer.

A lot of prescriptions to "fight" the pandemic go against  natural laws. If we go against natural laws, we will always pay the  price. 

A lot of what passes for scientific research in medicine are outright lies.

A lot of what passes for medicine is an outright lie.  


Monday, May 2, 2022



( link to Part 1: )


In many ways Kashmir is still in the middle ages. Ninety-nine percent of the population being Muslim, all business establishments are run by men, and  any work outside the house is done only by men. Women can be seen outside and move around freely, but you will not see any woman without a scarf covering her head. The full Burqa is rare but you can see one in ten women wearing it.  When it comes to dress, it is not just the women of course. In line with what Islam prescribes, men – even little boys – are always covered fully, with only the palms and soles of the feet exposed. Apparently, the people themselves wish to be conservative in their dressing habits.


There are no theatres in the whole of Kashmir. Except for the tourists, and those who accompany them, you are unlikely to find too many people outside after 7 pm. Apparently, the people do not like night life of any kind.


There is only one liquor shop in the whole of Kashmir, somewhere in Srinagar. When we were there, it was Ramzan time, so the shop was obviously closed for the entire month. Apparently, the people being very pious, do not ever wish to drink.


There is no public transport worth the name. We hardly saw any buses except in a couple of places. Inter-city travel seems to be a rarity. Apparently, the people are so happy being where they are that they do not want to go anywhere.


There is hardly any industry, which of course may be a good thing in Paradise, but it means that there are no employment opportunities, except in tourism.


Now, for the flip side. Education is given huge priority, and schools are well organised. There actually seems to be some education going on in the government schools even in far-flung areas, which is a situation quite different from most other places in the country. Almost everyone we met, including villagers who it is apparent have not stepped out much, spoke passable English.


It is considered desirable for girls to go to school and many parents would send their children, including girls, for higher studies if they could. At the home stay where we were staying in Aru, the daughter who is eighteen has aspirations of getting into the civil service. And her mother was beaming encouragement at her. The people are very proud that one of the Rafale pilots is a Kashmiri girl.


The road system is not very well developed in terms of connectivity. It almost seems like all roads lead to Shrinagar, and even to go the next district, you need to go via Shrinagar. A lot of it has to do with the terrain of course. Railway has not yet reached Kashmir; it is currently snaking its way up from Jammu at a much-delayed pace.


Tourists are coming in in droves, possibly due to a unique combination of reasons. The post-covid revenge travel boom, the reluctance to travel internationally yet, and the effect of the movie Kashmir Files which has brought the state into the limelight. We heard Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali at several places, and they do not come singly, they come in busloads.


The economy is heavily dependent on tourism. The locals are invariably very well-behaved with the tourists, and why not, no one will want to kill the goose which gives the golden eggs.


So much has been said about the scenic beauty of Kashmir that it does not bear repetition.


What we have here is an idyllic paradise stuck in the last century, with a population steeped in a sense of their own virtue, living in a cocoon which has to burst. And burst it will. Such an influx of tourists from all over India will expose them more than they would like to outside influences. And such an emphasis on educating their girls, while at the same time keeping them confined in various ways, will soon result in contradictions that they will find difficult to handle.


The men are going to be busy attending to the tourists, for which education is not important. At least, not the conventional kind of education. The women are going to hit the books with a vengeance since they are allowed to do nothing else, and all of them will be harbouring dreams of escaping the prison that is their home. To us, it may be an idyllic paradise, but I can imagine seeds of rebellion brewing in me if I am confined to a cage in any version of paradise.


Within a couple of decades from now, the women would have outstripped the men, and many would have flown the coop. They will take up white-collar jobs in other states and leave. The whole population, which already has DTH TV beamed into their homes, is going to become restive. The tourists who are being encouraged into every street, and into every home in the name of home-stay will bring in great disruptive influences.


The Chinese concept of Yin and Yang has a very interesting template for this phenomenon. Everything always swings between the extremes, and at any point in time there is more Yin or more Yang, there is never a perfect balance. But, when things go too far in one direction, the seed of its opposite, which lies dormant within itself, starts growing and things start swinging in the other direction.


The very conservatism, of which the Kashmiris are so proud, will breed the seeds of liberalism, and they will see the destruction of a lot of what they have held on to, within the next two generations or so.


Whether that is a good thing, or a bad thing, is debatable. But it is inevitable. It will be interesting to watch it unfold. 


A ten-day holiday in Kashmir at the fag end of spring before the onset of the peak summer season – wife and I visited Kashmir for the first time, from 20th to 30th April.  A few notes based on what we experienced first-hand…


The first thing that strikes you when you are travelling from the airport to Srinagar is the number of armed military / paramilitary personnel along the road. Every 50 metres there is a person with an AK-47, standing guard over the civilian population going about their business. CRPF/BSF/ Army are everywhere; they move around in convoys under heavy protection, even routine movement of personnel is in fully armoured vehicles. About one in fifteen people resident in Kashmir now is a military overseer.


Shrinagar is like any other city, with its share of hustlers, touts, and tourist-traps. It is however, much more understated, orderly and clean than other Indian cities – it reminds you of a European city.  It has the Dal Lake, several beautiful gardens, and it has a bustling old city where we enjoyed walking around.


The cab from the airport to the city costs 1000 rupees for a distance of 16 km. If that sounds high, it is, and it is also in line with general cab rates in Kashmir. Except in the busy parts of Shrinagar city where there are some autos, Kashmir as a whole does not have hail-down cabs, Ubers, Olas, public buses or any other form of transport except private-hire yellow-board cars. We always believe in hiring an Innova for the entire length of any trip, and in any case here you don't have any other choice. However, compared to Uttaranchal, Ladakh and West Bengal, where we have toured in the mountains, there are some differences here. First, the cabs are much more expensive. Second, it is not possible to use your cab to tour any of the "spots" in and around any town that you stop in – you have to hire a local cab for that, again at exorbitant rates. For a ten-day trip in Uttaranchal we would probably pay 45,000 to keep an Innova with driver with us at all times, at our beck and call. In Kashmir, expect to pay 60,000 or so, and spend another 25000 or 30000 on cabs to tour within each town that you visit.


The hotels are not great for the price – value for money is something that you should not be worried about if you are visiting here. For a hotel with the same facilities as you get in any other Himalayan destination, expect to pay roughly double.


It is not even full-season yet, and tourists have descended in droves. There is no accommodation available and hotel rates are being pumped up further. Come May, it will be worse. And even worse, the Amarnath Yatra starts a month from now, which will add thousands more to the number of tourists.


We landed at Shrinagar, and headed out the next day to Aru Valley, 16 km from Pahalgam. We were quite happy to give Pahalgam a miss – a beautiful place quite overrun with tourists. If you are staying at Pahalgam be prepared to pay premium prices to go to places where hundreds of others are jostling with you for a look at the scenery. Aru, where we were, is out of the way and much better in that respect. We were at a quaint small home-stay called Rohella Guest House. We went to Simthan Top, about a hundred kilometres from there, a day trip. It is a must-do trip, about the same distance even if done from Shrinagar. Wonderful views on the way, and when we reached the top, it was actually snowing. As it usually happens in India, right on top of the pass, there was a tent with a chaiwallah serving chai and Maggi. I don't touch the stuff, but Maggi is inescapable wherever you go.


From Aru, we landed at Sonamarg where we had one full day. Seeing the crowd, we wanted to escape; Sonamarg is incredibly kitschy in its touristiness. We didn't want to sign up for the obligatory pony ride to take the obligatory sled on the local glacier. So, on our driver's suggestion, we headed out to Naranag. That was the best decision of the entire trip. Naranag is the starting point for the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, and we did trek to a place called Dumail, a confluence of two rivers ('do' + 'milan' = dumail), a distance of about 5 km. The trek is worth doing, the entire route is like it is out of a picture-book, with a river running throughout by your side, and pine-covered mountains and snow-capped peaks in sight. In fact, the entire Kashmir Great Lakes trek is a must-do, from whatever I hear – it is six days of similar terrain in which you trek.



From Sonamarg, we headed to Gurez Valley, a remote back-of-the-beyond destination, on the LOC with Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. Again, a wonderful journey, and a great place to stay, though only for a day. Beyond a day, there is nothing to do there.


From there to Shrinagar, where we spent some time exploring the old city around Jama Masjid; checked the prices for a Shikara ride on Dal lake and decided that the experience was not worth it; and visited one of the gardens for which Shrinagar is justly famous. We never bothered to include Gulmarg on our itinerary and are glad we didn't, since other travellers reported experiences like standing in the queue for two hours just to take the obligatory Gondola ride!


The people of Kashmir are wonderful, warm, and genuinely hospitable. One question I get asked frequently from my friends and acquaintances is whether Kashmir is safe. Kashmir is not just safe, it is ultra-safe, even for solo women travellers, and always was, even during the height of the terrorist problem. At no place do you get any feeling of discomfort, and you can be assured of help from the locals wherever you go.


The scenic beauty of Kashmir is undeniable. The beauty here is very different from, say, a Himachal, or an Uttarakhand.  However, you are in a kind of a peculiar situation here. The places with facilities where you won't feel bored, are too touristy, and the places which are out of the way lack the facilities which most tourists are accustomed to. And the prices, both of hotels, and of transport, are definitely not what one can term as value for money.


The trip to Shrinagar Airport to take the flight out was a memorably bad experience. The security measures, coupled with lack of basic things like trolleys, make it quite a nasty experience for passengers.


We have been to several Himalayan destinations so far including Ladakh, Sikkim, Uttaranchal and West Bengal. Kashmir is no doubt very scenic and beautiful, but every one of these other places is equally beautiful. And they have much more to see and do, are much bigger in size and scope, and are more friendly on the pocket too. Except if you are coming here to do a trek – I intend to come back to do the Kashmir Great Lakes trek – it is an overhyped destination.  Many and varied are the places you can visit, even if you consider only the Himalayas; and many of those places are worth considering over Kashmir.