Srinagar, Kashmir

Sunday, June 9, 1929

Oh what a day had Sally—oh what a day had she (me). The morning was spent packing and sewing up a box to ship home. Shortly before lunch a man came to the boat with some woodcarvings. Immediately recognized him as the servant of the dishonest box man and he had, among other things, the very box Mort refused the day before. This devil, of course, denied all knowledge and feigned ignorance. Guess he didn’t have to try very hard to accomplish this latter. The bird only wanted ten rupees for the box. The master is a clever scoundrel in a way, but must think we are a dumb as we look. Probably the servant had the shikara parked down the canal a way.

After lunch another man came by whom I knew to be more or less straight. He had boxes like Frank paid Rs 20 for, in his shop for Rs 15, cheaper because he is not a seller but a maker. I went with him to his place and picked out a beautiful box for Dad. He took me to a couple of workshops and a large square building called the Yarkand. Here, in the large open quadrangle, men and traders from Yarkand and Ladakh come each year to sell and buy. Small rooms are rented out at two rupees per month. The place had but a few traders there for the passes are not long opened. In two weeks the place will be crowded.

I visited one of the rooms. All sorts of horse blankets and rugs; old pieces of china and chips of jade; a couple of Chinese kimonos; some beautiful Ladakhi blankets richly colored and of similar patterns to our own Indian blankets. A large one costs $4.40. A wolf skin coat on the wall that would have wrapped around me three times and dragged on the ground. The price of this was Rs. 12, $4.50.

Rather than return home in a shikara, I walked—through bazaars teeming with motley crowds; ladies garbed in a great variety of colors, the men in white, their shirt-tails hanging down below the coat—if they were wearing one; a sacred cow here and there; scores of more or less naked kids played about the streets. These latter were to be found in great numbers bathing in the river and canals. I believe this is another Mohammedan holiday. They have only had two others in the last week or ten days. Their new year commences sometime about now.

Wage scales in Kashmir are rather interesting, rather pitiful. The hawkers rent a shikara paddled by two men for 46¢ a day, and the two men work pretty hard all day long. Trackers poling and towing houseboats, 36¢ a day, and sometimes tea, for real work; boys working in woodcarving shops get 9¢ to 18¢ per day, and men 37¢ to 51¢. Frank’s boy friend claims he can get a good guide for Ladakh at $7.40 a month with food and probably shoes and a coat. I doubt if the Dands have made over $35 profit on us this month we have been living in their boat. Motor lorry drivers get 74¢ a trip, 1½ days. —then a shikara or tonga driver tries to charge a tourist a dollar for a fifteen-minute trip. There ain’t no justice.

This evening my box man came around with the box with a Beta crest inside the lid. Wonder of wonders, he came at ten as he promised, and did a good job on the crest. Then the job of paying up on the houseboat and the terrible baksheesh. Such a day financially!! And tomorrow with a bus ride of 200 miles and a big box to ship home.

Hate to leave this place. The third of June, while it was 95° here, it was 110° in Delhi, and 112°, shade, in Agra! Will have to move along at a good pace from now on.

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