April 29th 1940 – Srinagar

I arrange to come up on 10 days leave with Dudley Withers to Kashmir, and so write to Marjorie to fix us up with a boat, and here we are in Srinagar. After the final exam we depart the 25th for Lahore, where his squadron was (now Peshawar) and where his car is. I send Attam Khan (JDW: his bearer) on leave and we go to Faletti’s for a night. We go to the RAF Mess, purchase a few things in town and go to the cinema. We leave Lahore 28th at 7.30am and arrive here 12 hours later having done 320 miles – at least Dudley did – climbing turns from Jammu to Banni Hal then gliding turns all the way down. Beautiful scenery all the way and at about 8700′ we had to help clear away a landslide. A few snowdrifts remaining on the Banni Hal pass. Country very reminiscent of Scotland and, in parts, of the Razmak area.

We go straight to Nedou’s for a beer and a clean up, and then take a shikhara to the Buller’s houseboat on Dal Lake. I receive a surprisingly warm welcome from the hen and cock Buller, and they have arranged for us to have a boat next door at 5/8 a day each. They give us dinner the first night, and Marjorie has baked us a cake. All very nice and very kind of them. We had asked Marjorie to tea to eat her new cake and she said she would be along. Then at 16.23 comes a chit from Henry Buller saying “Thanks very much for inviting M. to tea but you will remember that in Madras she was never allowed into a chummery and I cannot relax that rule here.” Our houseboats are not touching but about three feet apart. Slightly staggered!

This morning I wake up feeling grand, and we go and look at Srinagar and the “Bund”, which reminds me of the “seaside” at home, with touts everywhere. We then go and look at Nagin Bag, which is where we wanted our boat originally. There is the Club annexe, swimming, and not a dirty backwater like our mooring here. Dudley meets some friends there and everything looks rosy, if only we can get away from here without giving offence to the Bullers. I use my catapult on the peddlers and hawkers. Ma sent me out two pipes and a cigarette case, silver with my crest on. Her great scheme of defeating the customs (marking them as repairs) failed, and I have to pay 11/- on the parcel. It was damn hot in Lahore. Our houseboat is called ‘Lighthouse’.


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