When Jawaharlal Nehru visits the U.S. next week he will doubtless get the welcome appropriate to a national liberator and the Premier of the world's second most populous country. Yet no matter how the motorcycles' sirens scream or the ticker tape flutters, his U.S. reception will not be a patch on the welcome he got two weeks ago in his ancestral home, Srinagar.
The Jhelum River is the main thoroughfare of Srinagar, beautiful capital of Kashmir. For 2½ hours Nehru rode triumphantly on its muddy stream. The city's carpenters had fashioned for him a 50-ft. barge caparisoned with gold brocade and Persian carpets, and propelled by oarsmen in white uniforms and crimson turbans. Nehru sat on a thronelike platform. At his feet played his two small grandsons, wearing Gandhi caps just like grandpa. Beside him sat quiet Karan Singh, Kashmir's powerless yuveraja (prince), and tall Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah, Kashmir's Prime Minister, real boss and Nehru's agent in the struggle with Pakistan over possession of Kashmir.
Petals & Kisses. As the barge plied upriver, hundreds of shikaras (gondolas) milled around; their jampacked passengers wanted a good look, and they pelted Nehru with flower petals. Police in speedboats dashed back & forth, keeping shikaras at safe distance.
On the Jhelum's steep banks thousands of Srinagar citizens watched the procession, occasionally set off firecrackers. Carefully coached schoolchildren shouted "Jawaharlal Nehru Zindabad!" (Long live Jawaharlal Nehru) and "Sher-i-Kashmirl" (Long live the Lion of KashmirSheikh Abdullah). Merchants took advantage of a good opportunity, strung their rugs from house windows for all to see and buy; some erected huge banners across the river, with slogans like "Welcome from Ali Mohamedbest Persian and Kashmiri carpets."
At procession's end, Nehru stepped from his barge to an automobile and sped off to a guest house. Along the way he was serenaded by a volunteer band which seemed to know only one tuneMarching Through Georgia.
Tents & Portents. Underway in Srinagar was a convention of Sheikh Abdullah's Kashmir National Conference Political Movement, which has been running the Indian-occupied part of Kashmir ever since New Delhi sent troops into the region two years ago this month. As 650 national conference delegates tented on the maharaja's once inviolable polo field, a five-man U.N. commission quietly pulled out of the maharaja's riverside guesthouse and left town. It was bound for Geneva to prepare a report on its failure to win an agreement between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.