A Bus Stop in Kashmir

A Bus Stop in Kashmir

a little after noon on a cool day in December and I’m at
the Parimpora bus station in Srinagar, Kashmir. The gates opened
three hours before, but the flow of passengers is just as steady as
when the ignition first started. From Kupwara in the north to
Anatnag in the south, buses traverse the entirety of Kashmir; for
many, this is the only source of transportation for both local and
long-distance travel.

The station is an organised maze of travellers, food vendors and
clothing sellers. On an average day, close to 10,000 use this
terminal. Commuters rush to work, people visit family in rural
areas and others arrive in the city for goods or medical care. Men
carrying baskets of fruit, nuts and fried potatoes trace the steps
of hungry travellers. Ticket attendants, like conductors in an
orchestra, stand on top of the buses, waving and shouting out
destinations to the crowd. Men and women, quickly shuffling their
way across the dirt and gravel, wear traditional pherans –
ankle-length woollen garmets – that provide warmth in the harsh
Himalayan winters.

Passengers and drivers continually pour in and out of decorated
buses that sing a trumpet tune as a warning call to others. The
movement never stops. The sights, sounds, tastes and impressions of
Kashmir unfold second by second at the station, providing a glimpse
into the lives and cultures of the many who pass through.

@laurenalliestewart | www.laurenalliestewart.com

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