Sunday, February 28, 2010




“Sheena Pyeto Pyeto , Maama Iytto Iytto ”

‘O Snow keep Falling and let my mother’s brother Visit us . ’

Mother’s brother is known as Mama  in this subcontinent  . Mama has a very important role in upbringing of the children of his sister . Not always does he financially support their upbringing but yes the emotional chord of the children with their Mama is so strong that sometimes it outflows and overlaps  the father’s role . This applies to kashmiris as well. You have a marriage , birth , happiness or any gloom in the family , Mama is there to stand and offer more than his share of support.

Crushed under the burden of poverty coupled with joint family system that existed in Kashmir , every women would send her children to her parental home  for a change . Quite often when the annual examinations were over , she had no time to attend to them for she was never free from the daily chores . At this time , a message went to Mama to come over and take the children to their Nani’s ( naternal grandmother’s )  house .

Mama was the person who was there to take care of children's fancies . He would bring new clothes , take them to the Bazaar and give them time and attention to cheer them up . I remember most of the children telling their mothers in olden days :

‘Maam kar Iyee . Me Chhu Matammal Gatchhun ’

‘When is Mama coming ? I have to go to his house .’

Mama’s mention lies in Kashmiri folk songs as well . The mother sings lullaby to the infant saying:

“Maam Laal Oyei Tai Diyiyo Dilaaas , Paartho Gilaas Kulinai Tal ”

‘Your Mama shall come and put courage in you my sibling. Let me dress you up under a cherry tree .’

When kashmiris quarrel they say :

‘Tse Kyaa Maam Chhukhaa ’
‘ Hey Shut up ! You are not my Mama ‘

I also heard many Punjabis saying:

‘Tu Ki Mama Lagdhaa hai ’

‘ Don't think yourself to be my Mama and take liberties ’

I quote a  popular lullaby in kashmiri Pandit household:

'Rama Ji Rama Ji
Nikas Laaesanum Mama ji
Rama Ji Rama Ji
Billus Laaesnum Mama ji'

( O Lord Rama! O Lord Rama!
Keep this baby's Mama /maternal uncle
Under your protective care.
O Lord Rama! O Lord Rama!
May this blue eyed baby's Mama/ maternal uncle
live long.)

Noted kashmiri poet Dina Nath Naadim wrote:

"Ghaam Peuth Yechkaaley Vothmut
Treil Heith Zun Maam Hue
Assi Wattan Ruut Ghaam Hue "

(As if Mama has come from the village after a long time ,
Bringing with him *Treil
This country of ours is like a beautiful village .)
In a kashmiri Pandit family, Mama had a crucial role during the marriage of his nephew or niece.It was   he who sat  by and held his niece during her marriage ceremony. It was again  he who received  the wife of his nephew from her parents home through a window. Along with his wife, he was also there for the sacred bath or ‘Kanya Shraan ’ of his nephews .

Whenever Mama would come , for the children it meant happiness and fun. If Mama had a bicycle , the nephews would steal a ride. A parting gift from Mama would also be a fifty Paisa or a rupee coin thrust in the pocket of the nephew or niece . A new shirt , a new shoe , fruits , biscuits and so many other gifts . Mama would also come to his sister’s house bringing with him a bag full of *dry vegetables and fish for the winter season.   The bag always had  fish ,  brinjals ,   tomatoes  , gourds , turnips, and many other  vegetables all sun dried  for consumption during winter season . That added to the respect and dignity of his sister in her in law’s house . A smiling sister would always come up to the door to see him off . It was a moment to hug him , Bless him and say :

‘ Guss Moojood Roz .Ivaan Assizeh. Mey Chhai Rozaan kal ’

‘Go , May you live long ! Keep Coming . I keep waiting for your Visits ’

Where have the Mamas and those children gone ?

 (Avtar Mota)

In Kashmir ,   Sun dried  vegetables  and fish  continue to be sold in plenty during winter season even when the fresh vegetable supply is received  almost daily from plains . Kashmiri Pandits have also not abandoned them . Many shops in Jammu and Delhi sell this stuff . I have seen even the younger generation enjoying the dry vegetables cooked in the family. The tradition has been beautifully carried down by our ladies

Treil is a  small sized apple and late autumn fruit of kashmir

Based on a work at http:\\\.

Saturday, February 20, 2010



                                  ( old photograph of waterways of Rainawari near Jogilanker Bridge  )

 ( old photograph of waterways of Rainawari 
near Jogilanker Bridge  )

                                ( old photograph of waterways of Rainawari near Naidyar Bridge  )
                        ( old photograph of waterways of Rainawari Near Naidyar Bridge  )
                                              ( old photograph of waterways of Rainawari )


“Have you seen Mughale Azam ? If only  you see the movie ,you shall come to know what Soshali  -Azm and seculari -Azm means .”

This is what Shadi Lal Koul told Rehman  Galdhaar ( Abdul Rehman  ). Abdul Rehman  was asking me the meaning of words socialism and secularism. He had joined National Conference party headed by Sheikh Mohd Abdullah and had heard his party leaders  speaking  these two words in most of the meetings . He had sought meaning of these words from many muslims and pandits but none could simplify these terms so as to bring them down to his level of understanding . I did it . He was happy .

 Shadi lal koul lived near Jogi Lanker bridge  . Quite often I found him sitting in Abdul Rehman's shop and  passing on skills of  TV and transistor circuit repairing  to him  . Shadi lal had also joined National Conference .They would also gossip while sipping tea with some new National Conference recruits .Prior to his transistor and TV repair shop, Abdul Rehman sold rice and pulses from a small shop below the Jogi Lanker mosque. Once he moved to a new shop ,  his old  shop was  occupied by a naughty and  mischievous person known as   Ali Mohd,   a tailor by profession who was  nicknamed  ‘National’.

Shadi Lal later worked as a freelance cameraman with  Srinagar Door_Darshan. His father was a police man who retired as ASI. We used to call him Shadi Police . Alas! This poor chap died in a tragic road accident at Jammu post 1990.

During my college days , I  noticed that Many shops in Srinagar actually opened for gossip only. We had our share of such shops in Rainawari. In jogilanker ,we had one Ram Joo Handoo who had a chemist’s shop . Come evening time , many pandits would enter the shop for pure gossip.They would occupy entire sitting space in the shop. At a certain point of time  , no customers entered the shop and the shelves ,which used to be  full with  bottles and tablets,  revealed dust and emptiness .
Another Gossip shop of Shamboo Nath kalpushu also met the same fate . Shamboo Nath kalpushu  had a flourishing chemist shop once.  Dr Khashu ,  a well known  allopathic Physician of srinagar  would  practice  from this shop .

Another chemist shop run by Chuni Lal Watloo in Jogilanker chowk fell victim to  this gossip virus and Chuni Lal finally became a broker cum  agent  for local police officials  . He would intervene in all police cases or disputes that were brought to police station Rainawari.
This virus of gossip also entered a  dry cleaner’s shop (Moon Light Dry Cleaners  proprietor  Abdul Rehman  ) in Jogilanker chowk. Abdul Rehman washed  his hands   off the  flourishing dry cleaning business .

A cloth merchant named Radhey Nath ’ Massarat ‘ also fell victim to this virus .Come evening time , we would see many educated  pandits and muslims from Rainawari unwinding their day’s exertion inside this cloth shop .Radhey Nath ‘Massarat’ is a well known  kashmiri poet.
Maheshawar Nath Zutshi popularly known as Mahe-kaak had a stationery cum cews paper selling shop in chowk Jogilanker . There was a small sitting space of about 3 feet by 2 feet in the front portion of his shop. Though Mahe-kaak was not a gossip monger nor did  he keep track of current affairs or news , some pandits  still sat on that  small space with ulterior motives . I have seen many people sitting by rotations on his shop and  discussing settlement of Mahe -Kaak 's  children  with him while reading  newspapers, magazines  and Illustrated weekly of India  free. Mahe-kaak had two or three sons . They were not educated enough  to compete for a government job. They would render help to their father in procuring newspapers from Lal Chowk or in  selling of kerosene  to public. Mehe- kaak had  permit for retail sale of  kerosene  .

 Nath ji , A kashmiri pandit from Machama family of Karapora khushki  had also  a shop in Jogilanker chowk near post office .It was a small triangular shop close to the house of Basker Nath Raina contractor . This man had retired from CID  police and gossip mongers started pouring in to his  cosmetic and maniyaari shop from day one. He   had enough to tell. Stories of  tough police officers like Gh Qadir Ganderbali . Stories about 1953 episode in kashmir  and stories about various visits of Pandit  Nehru to kashmir. This shop was destined  to close as the proprietor had brought the Gossip virus with him  from day one . Add to that,  as and when a female customer would visit the shop and ask for some facial cream or talcum powder or perfume  , the proprietor would say:

‘ Kyaa guv yimun saanienn koreyun. Tche chheyaa na saaf shakal . Zaroori chha falila ta cream laagun ‘.  or… ‘I do not know what has happened to our daughters  .Your face is clean and clear. Why should you go for all these creams, perfumes  and oils ?’

 The ever present gossip mongers sitting inside the shop would immediately  second the proprietor’ s message to the customer.

We had a saintly Baker named Nil Kanth Bhan in Jogi lanker . He was thoroughly professional . Beginning his day at 4 AM , he would be free by 1 PM . He would start with morning  Tsoet ( Kashmiri bread) upto 9 AM and then he would bake kulcha , telvoru and katalam etc. Before closing his shop, he would prepare his tea and call for  one Gh Mohd  inside his shop. They would have tea together with freshly baked kulcha. Gh Mohd had lost his mental equilibrium and one could call him insane .His family had abandoned him.  He would roam aimlessly on roads but his command  area  or area of movement was   from Jogilanker bridge to kralyar  chowk. While sipping tea there was no communication between Gh Mohd  and Neel kanth .Summer or winter , Gh Mohd never abandoned his  pheran and kangri.

And Hell broke for Gh Mohd one day. A muslim family known as Maliks  had a cloth  shop near  jogilanker  Bridge. A boy from this family saw Gh Mohd taking tea inside Nil kanth’s shop . He immediately told every boy in the street about this discovery . That day onwards ,  every boy in Rainawari would cry “ Batta Chai ” (meaning pandit tea ) when Gh Mohd would pass by. Neel Kanth found a solution to this problem . He would daily pass on a small tin  with milk ,  dry tea leaves and sugar water  to Gh . Mohd. He would  also put burning charcoal in Gh Mohd’s kangri . The Tin with ready made tea mixture was put on charcoal and Gh Mohd  would prepare his tea on sitting space near a closed shop just opposite Neel Kanth's  bakery shop. When some  boys saw this new arrangement , they started crying “ Dubba Chai  “ ( tea made in tin ).A butcher opposite  Neel Kanth’s shop whom we called Ismaal  Pujj  would also pass on  a piece of raw boney  meat to Gh Mohd for roasting it  in his kangri .Ismaal  Pujj  was nick named as Batta  Pujj (pandit  butcher ) by the shopkeepers because his customers were predominantly pandits . When the boys  saw Gh Mohd roasting the mutton piece in kangri ,  they  started calling him ‘Takka addij’ (  bone eater ) . This new name Takka addij  caught the  fancy of one and  all . Even the shopkeepers would then call him Takka  Addij. That made him aggressive and violent .He would  pick up   stones  in frustration and throw  on any person  who called him  Takka Addij.

Another man who had lost his mental equilibrium  would always be present in Jogilanker  market. He was known as Gaffara .Gaffara wore shabby clothes and remained aloof . He would sit and sleep on the pavement or some times on shops .  His family had also abandoned him.Some times some pandit lady from Braroo family living nearby would bring him food . Many pandits and muslims said that he was a silent darvesh. I do not remember the name of another hindu baker who would give  tea and kulcha to Gaffara . This baker was known as “Nikka Kandhur ” ( baby like baker  ) by people in Jogilanker  .Nikka kandhur  was a charas ( Cannabis ) addict. Some times   he would   pass on a  charas ( cannabis ) filled cigarette to Gaffara .
A kashmiri pandit known as Gopi Nath was the president of the shopkeepers association of jogilanker .Anytime i visited his shop, i found him writing  which made   his customers wait  even  for a match stick  box. Keen to know as to what actually was being written by him , I found  one day that for every item  he sold ,he would write the cost price , sale price and the resultant profit . This writing went to such  a proportion that he focused less on selling and more on writing and finally a group of gossip mongers brought  the virus of gossip to   his shop too  resulting in total dwindle of business.

There was a mischievous Tailor Ali Mohd by name. He had his shop below Jogi Lanker mosque .Many people told  many stories about him. He would sing while stitching clothes on his old Singer  sewing machine. Pandits  came to his shop for repair work while people living in Dal area or the haanjis ( boat people )  got  new clothes stitched from him. He was nicknamed  as National .  Word  ‘National ‘  had got attached to him as he was a  staunch National Conference sympathizer / activist . He would ensure that his shop was open at 9 AM . That had a purpose . The moment he saw some people leaving towards Jogilanker bridge for going to office , he would Cry:

‘ Aur chhu Traeta buzun . Tche boozuthh na . Kaeni Jung ha sa zabardast. Raathh chhu na sheikh sahbun taqreer kormut. Khaanyaar pyathha chhe saarisee military chhakkarithh. Vaen khassi jaloosa  . ’

‘ Situation has suddenly taken a very tense turn. Didn’t you hear that ? Crowds are throwing   stone missiles . Yesterday Sheikh sahib ( Sheikh Mohd Abdullah ) has spoken something in his address to people .You will see army in the entire city right from khanyaar .A violent procession is about to pass that way . ‘

Having spoken these words , he would suddenly go missing. Innocent pandit and  muslim ladies and some office going people would get  frightened. This rumour  would spread like a wild fire  to Jogilanker market. Many would decide about not going to office and staying in their homes. There was no immediate source to verify facts . Later in the day , people would realize that they had been  fooled  by ‘ National ‘.

  ( A scene at Govt Ration Store on river Bank in kashmir . Ration Ghaat ) 
There was a milk seller's shop in Ghat  Jogilanker chowk  near Vishwa Bharti college . This milk seller had a large family . one of the boys in the family was educated and we would call him Maam  Kol.He joined  Jammu And kashmir Bank. This milk seller also worked as head hamaal ( labour head ) in Food and Supplies  department’s ration  store   at Bagh Jogilanker .The rations especially rice , atta and sugar were stored  in big boats ( near Jogilanker bridge ) known as  bahuch . Each  government ration ghat had a ghat munshi ( Clerk )  , Kanda Coolie ( weighing man ) , head hamaal and labourer.

 Whenever any pandit would see the head hamaal in the market he would  ask  him :
‘ Kyaa saa ghattus trovukhah tomull   ?’  or ‘ Have the fresh rice supplies come ?’
The head hamaal's replies would be   different  to different persons  .  He would generally say :

‘ Thahar veini  kharizi na tomull  ‘. or… ‘Wait,  Do not go for the rice as yet .”’

‘Praar daah doh . Saaf tomull iyee  . ‘ or ‘Wait for ten days , fresh  rice stocks are awaited   .’

‘Thaav piece mey aithee . Baa khaarai paanai .’ or ‘ Keep the ration slip with me . I shall buy myself.’

.’First class tomull chhuyee . Khaar subahanuss .’  Or ‘We have good variety of rice . Buy it tomorrow.’

I never saw any muslim asking this question to the head hamaal.In fact they would go and buy straight what was available at the ration depot.

We had another shopkeeper doing brisk business in provisions  who was very popular with pandits and whom every person called  Naba Bakhor .  While he  enjoyed gossiping with other shopkeepers and customers , he  had kept no space for any body to sit inside his shop .Behind his back , pandits called him a Pakistani agent . Muslims owing allegiance to National Conference called him a mischief man from Jamaat ( Jamaat e Islami ). 

He  was all praise for Maharaja's rule .According to him , all ills in kashmiri society had come after the  awaami raj  ( public rule ). This was his indirect way of hitting at  the National Conference sympathizers apart from  appeasing his kashmiri pandit customers .You had to keep standing outside his shop for  gossiping . He would sit in the shop  during morning hours whereafter his sons would take over . They did not indulge in gossiping. I would often hear him say one line to close his argument :
‘Ye  chhe    markazitch   chaal  ‘.. or….’This is a trick played by central government .’
For him every disturbance or unpleasantness around was a ploy of central Government . He was intelligent , sharp and focused on his business.
in Our Mohalla , there lived an old kashmiri pandit lady Raetch Maal ( meaning good women ) by name .   During discussions with my mother , She would often comment satirically about  Gossip mongers of Rainawari , who according to her , wasted their time and energy .  She woukld say :

‘Talla neythhanon Pyathaa Phernaa zyooth
Akki peinjji  vothh taai beyii peinjji byooth.’

( Look! he is naked  within  But donning a  long pheran over his body ,
And there he gets up from one gossip shop and moves to another . )

( Avtar Mota )  

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No
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