After a few nights in Amritsar, the Mecca for adherents to the Sikh faith, and one in Jammu, I arrived in Srinagar, Kashmir. It was a pretty magical spot even in the dead of winter. The following day I hopped a series of buses and jeeps to arrive in Gulmarg ski village. I checked into a budget guesthouse and set off to find gear rental. I was lead to a shop with decent looking powder ski equipment. The owner advised me to return at the end of the day to avoid half-day charges. Instead of protest, I obliged.
I walked the icy mountain road dodging groups of skinny Kashmiri men pulling fat Indian suburbanites on primitive wooden sleds. With an overtly judgemental smile I declined a ride at frequent intervals. During the winter season the mountain meadow cum golf course assumes a third incarnation. A small hump serves as a bunny hill for groups of elated domestic tourists turning their tips downhill for their virgin ride. Most would collapse to one side before gaining anything that resembled momentum. Their smiles, at even the smallest hint of success, were fantastic.
Adjacent to the slope was government-run gear rental shop. I checked it out. In the back, behind no fewer than three separately locked doors, their premium equipment collected dust. I inspected the two rows of aged boots and a small rack of skis in need of a good wax job. I figured they would do the trick. I got totally outfitted (including a ski jacket embroidered with the Whistler Ski & Snowboard School crest) for 700 INR - $14 USD. I was pleased.