Passage to Kashmir

We start our sixteen-hour journey to Kashmir. The guide book tells us that “travellers not dissuaded by the ever present threat of violence or official warnings to stay away can expect to encounter extremes of beauty and friendliness and hard salesmanship in an economy which has been starved of tourist income for over twenty years.” But our daughters are there so we are going.

Travelling can be a stressful business at the best of times and today I worry about whether we’ll be on time for the plane and will we make our connection between airports in Delhi? When travelling my wife likes to take too much whereas I tend to take the minimum; all that is needed is enough clean clothes, a credit card and a passport.

I have this week been reading Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. There have been so many poor film adaptations of the book that one forgets its fresh and brisk easy reading style. For a traveller, Phileas Fogg is a great role model. He is completely imperturbable despite all the disasters on his journey which threaten to cost him his enormous bet. This laissez faire attitude is often an essential prerequisite for a traveller and in a wider context is also necessary to achieve happiness in one’s life.

Before we leave for Kashmir I go to Mass and think of today’s reading. “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went by himself into the hills to pray” Matthew 14

I prefer this part of the passage to the more familiar later part of the chapter where Jesus walks on water. It is significant that he goes somewhere high-up and isolated to pray. It is easy to pray in the wilderness and significantly easier than when on board an aeroplane, when prayer’s calming influence is necessary, particularly with sixteen hours of travel to come. Mercifully, at least planes are free of mobile phones.