In the comfort of his living room, 65-year-old Borivli resident Purshottam Agrawal’s situation is a far cry from what was less than 48 hours ago, when he, his family members, and 14 other tourists were stuck in a hotel in Kashmir, with little food, no contact with the outside world, and no end in sight to their ordeal.
Purshottam landed in Srinagar on September 4, with his wife, Kumkum, 58, grandchildren, older brother Ramratan, 72, and sister-in-law Kailash, 65. Little did he know that in two days, they would be caught in the state’s worst floods in decades, which have claimed around 250 lives so far.
“Most of the hotel’s kitchen supplies were washed away in the floods. There was no electricity and just enough water to use the toilet. We couldn’t bathe for five days and survived only on snacks,” Purshottam told HT on Friday, the morning after his return to the city.
Purshottam is indebted to a Kashmiri tour guide Mohammed Yaseen, who, he says, took them out of the hotel and helped them reach the airport.
For 13-year-old Eashaan and his 20-year-old sister Khushbu, their first trip to Jammu and Kashmir turned out to be a little too eventful. Once news of the floods broke out, their mother, Seema Agarwal, was doubly worried because Eashaan is hydrophobic and has asthma.
Kukum recalls that by Wednesday, their anxiety had peaked and hope had grown dim, when Yaseen came to their aid.
“We had lost hope and saw little chance of survival. Yaseen, who’s house had been submerged in the water, dropped his wife, children and mother at a shrine and came to help us. He vowed to get us out,” she said.
That day, Yaseen drove them around to find network coverage. Finally, they walked up to a hillock and finally managed to get in touch with their son, who is in Mumbai, confirming their safety.
Around 8am on Thursday, the Agrawals got into an Innova and asked other tourists to accompany them in a bus, which was driven by Yaseen’s colleague Ashraf. “Yaseen uncle drove continuously for more than five hours, through villages. He didn’t stop until we reached the airport,” he said.
Finally, around 3pm on Thursday, they boarded the flight to Delhi and reunited with their family in Mumbai post-midnight.
Agrawal, who had planned a trip to Ayodhya later this month, cancelled his bookings. “We have travelled enough” he said.