After having traveled scores of countries across the globe, Debra Tillery, Canadian filmmaker and writer says that there is no place on earth safer than Kashmir for tourists, it is much safer than European countries.
What makes Kashmir safer, she promptly replies â€˜its peopleâ€™. It is loving, caring nature of the people in Kashmir which makes even female solo travellers like me feel at ease. In my two week journey, never ever I felt there is any threat.â
Debra who was in Kashmir for shooting travel video showcasing the other side of the valley i.e. its art and craft was amazed to see intrinsic craft and art in this place. Her half hour documentary which she shot during her stay focuses on artisans belonging to various sectors of art and craft in Kashmir.
She says she wants to showcase treasure of art and craftsmanship of Kashmir before the whole world so that people across continents will be able to see Kashmir's real beauty which media doesn't showcase. When asked when she made up her mind to make her first documentary on Kashmir, Debra replies, Till few months back, I had never heard about Kashmir.
During a party somebody mentioned the word Kashmir. It just stuck into my mind. I researched about it and found it to be place in India which is trouble torn, she said while sipping a coffee in the centrally located Hotel Central Point Regenta in Rajbagh. After research, finally I zeroed in and decided to shot my documentary celebrating Kashmirs craft and culture.
Then I went to a travel company Explore India in Canada who provided me information and later facilitated my visit, Debra said and adds the decision to come here is one of my cherished decisions in life. I fell in love with the people and place. When I landed at Srinagar Airport, I was bit nervous seeing huge number of armed forces outside, we see such huge number of forces personnel in war zones, and we are not used to it. Being a solo woman traveler I got bit jittery. But once I started my journey in the city and even in interior parts of the old city of Srinagar I was mesmerized with both people and craft, she said. Debra, besides making films, is also a published writer and blogger. According to her, she has till now visited 35 countries across globe and continues to visit new places.
When asked what made her choose Kashmiri art and craft as central theme of her travel video, she says that when she searched on internet about Kashmir, there was only information pinpointing the troubled state of affairs here. But when I further did my research I was astonished to find out that at international level there is very less information available about Kashmir craft which is otherwise both breathtaking and amazing craftsmanship,Debra said, adding that she visited paper mache workplace, where an artisan was painting some amazing combinations which looks unreal. Not only paper mache, I visited and shot at wood carving workplace, the way artisans were designing intricate designs out of wood is just amazing.
It is out of this world,she said adding that despite having a huge talent, all the artisans I meet were down to earth. Debra further said they visited carpet making workplace, houseboats and beautiful locales such as Naranag, Shalimar and other places.Kashmir has got a beautiful landscape, it can beat any place on merits of its beauty. I also took shoots of these places, which I feel would help in promoting the place across the globe through my documentary. Most of her journey was focused on exploring the Kashmir indigenous craft and highlight the plight of artisans. She is going to showcase the documentary at international platforms and film festivals in Canada.
Before signing off, Debra has a message for her fellow countrymen and people living in European countries. There is no place like Kashmir. I can vouch for it. Humility of people, Kashmiri food is just amazing. Besides, women are very safe, as a solo woman traveler I have travelled around 35 countries, but never ever have I felt so comfortable. My suggestion would be to all the foreigners to visit Kashmir once in lifetime.She also had a word of thanks to owners of centre tour and travel who facilitated her stay and shoot in Kashmir. â€œBashir and RafiqKarnai were good professionals who ensured to provide every facility for my shoot. I am overwhelmed by their goodwill. Besides, Director Tourism helped a lot. I thank all my Kashmiri friends.