Tuesday, May 26, 2015



A Shepherd with his livestock near Ganderbal , kashmir 
( Photo Autar Mota )



 .  (Kulcha being baked in Tandoor)
                              ( The Cake)

I am talking of a period that could be prior to 1947 when Life had its limited demands in kashmir . “ Kam Khyon Gum Na Hyon “ or “ Eat less why worry unnecessarily and “ Yemiss Na Gaerrie Maelli Taemiss Kyaa Maelli Paerrie“ or ” He who can not get it in his hometown , what shall he get in far away places “ These phrases were coined by kashmiris to justify their complacency , refusal to accept change and the strange sense of self-satisfaction that prevailed in valley.
Apart from the section of people that was engaged in ordinary trade or petty jobs, all activities of the remaining locals revolved around Shaali (Rice ) , kangri , Haak vegetable and of course religion .

A kashmiri was always indifferent to mobility and as such suffered on this score.. He moved only when driven to wall or when all other options closed for him. Isn’t it a fact that those who moved out during devastating Floods , Famines , Cholera epidemics or suppression , moved to a better life ultimately ?
Unbelievable But true , a kashmiri possesses enormous survival instinct that remains unseen in his native land . In his native land , he remains a victim of a clogged thought process that he may be forced to acquire .

If we look at the Muslims who moved to Amritsar , Ludhiana , Lahore and other cities for various reasons in 19th century , we find that these groups gradually moved to a better life .From this group ,Allama Iqbal , Sadat Hassan Manto , Nawaz Sharif , Saif Ud Din Kitchloo, Actor Nawab kashmiri , Playwright Agha Hashr Kashmiri , Poet Lyricist Sufi Tabassum,  Wrestler Rustam e Hind Gh Mohd Gama Pehlwan, Urdu Poet Meeraji (Born Mohammed Sanaullah Dar) and many more names instantly come to my mind .
And If we look at the Pandits who moved to Plains of the country and settled in Allahabad , Lucknow , Delhi and other cities , we find them moving to prosperity and better life gradually .Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru , Kailas Nath Katju ,Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, PN Haksar , Pandit Brij Narain Chakbast , Actor Jeevan  and so many names come to my mind immediately . This prosperity was possible due to better avenues of modern education , access to sources of employment , proximity to Means of Production and distribution coupled with resilience and a great survival instinct of people who ventured to move out.

Due to lesser interaction with outside world at large , we kashmiris  ,probably lived in our own world, developed some traits that were area specific and environment specific.We were gentle and simple lot and Inspite of our strong religious beliefs, there was something that a kashmiri lacked. Many Europeans who came closer to kashmiris have observed and commented that When action was desired of him , he would shy away ( Thhaav Third or mey Thhovuss Treathh meaning Run away and I sneaked out ) to such an extent that inaction , unresponsiveness and casualness became a trait of kashmiri Character . "Vasvaas" and "Hai Hey" was our typical trait . In no language world over you find an exact equivalent to word VASVAAS ( originally derived from Urdu word Vasvsaasa) as it means in kashmiri.May be at the back of our mind , insecurity always loomed its large shadows.There is a historical background to this settled and now DNA ingrained insecurity in our mind. We believe in 'Khabar chhaa" Or "who knows what is going to happen". That makes us buy in killograms what others buy in grams. I have seen , in my  own family and also in the  families of some  close relations,  an irresistible habit  of stocking and storing rice , Edible oil. spices and other stuff . They continue to do so even in plains of the country . No one will agree to a change from this "Khabar chhaa ' mindset.

My  Australian friend , who  stayed in Kashmir for some months and picked up another interesting trait of our character .I quote him…......

“ You can never expect a clear NO from a kashmiri for some thing that he can not do. .His Okay is always casual and never means a committed YES .For some job that is apparently full of issues and problems , he would give a stock reply “ NO PROBLEM SIR . WHY YOU WORRY? Or “ No worry Sir . I am still alive”. I wish he stood by these commitments that he made to all and sundry.”

That observation  was largely  true  .  we mostly responded  this way only . This could also be due to a sincere desire to help others without understanding own capacity,  limitations and freedom. I can't say much.

“Hataa Ma Kurr Vaenn Zyaada Vottt a Voth -- Pushraav khodaayuss “ meaning “ Now don’t make more efforts . Pass it on to Almighty ” and “Talaa Beh Chhopp Karithh – Vaen Guvv soruyii Bhagvaanuss Hawaala ”Meaning “ Now you sit without efforts ..Entrust it to almighty god ”. These phrases were a part of our day to day life in kashmir. To analyze them carefully ,I need to break each phrase into two parts . One being “Pushraav Khodaayuss “ and “Vaen Guvv soruyii Bhagwanuss hawalla “ . No issue with this part. This is quite natural and acceptable . I have my issues with the other parts “ Hataa Ma kurr vaen Zyaada Vottt a Voth “and “Talaa beh Chhopp Karithh” .Were not these statements anti initiative meant to stop a person from making efforts himself? A hint towards complacency and avoidance of initiative and effort.

We had another serious problem and complex  as city dwellers .When it came to Gaamuk or a villager's  issue , A city pandit and Muslim would join together to make fun of a poor villager. "Kolla Gaameikkya" or "Gaama Groos " was a taunt that the villager had to face should there be any argument with a city dweller . kashmiris ( Pandits in specific ) would hesitate in marrying their daughters to a villager even if he may have been well settled or better employed . " Kyaa sa kashiri Gayaa Kaah garaa ta Khaanmaaej ditchvun gaam kunn" meaning  “What happened ? Are there only eleven households in city that you have married this darling daughter to a villager ."

We were the best gossip mongers and  derived pleasure by mocking simpletons and at time even insane persons which in local parlance was known as “ GARMAAVUN “. GARMAAVUN meant to tease or mock or laugh at a person till he breaks down . Those who lived in Rainawari shall stand by me when I say how people dealt with a poor and insane Gh Mohd . As he moved through Bazaars and lanes , People Would cry “TAKKA ADDIJJ “ or TAKKA THE BONE , a nick name given to him. The poor fellow would turn violent , pick up a stone and shower nastiest abuses . A crowd of onlookers would collect to watch all this . They would giggle , smile and get entertained .

We were also masters in inventing nicknames and experts in lampooning people . As a group , we could be fine onlookers to any misfortune or tragedy should it visit others . I have personally seen many Pandits and Muslims hanging around a bridge enjoying , provoking and witnessing poor Haanjis ( Boat People ) engaged in a typical verbal dual or fight . Crowds wood rush to enjoy what they called HAAENZ -LADAAI or fight of Hannjis . Together they would giggle , smile and enjoy as a group over the bridge while the poor Haanjis fought for hours below .

And This “Tamaashbeen “ trait was also demonstrated during frequent Fires that erupted in Kashmir in the last quarter of 19th century or the first quarter of 20th century. Crowds ( comprising of Pandits and Muslims ) would come to a house on fire and take comfortable seats away from the heat and smoke . They were excited and would go to witness these fires as if they were going to a cinema hall for a movie. They would look to what was happening around with cries and thrill .
I quote Tyndale Biscoe from the book “ TYNDALE BISCOE OF KASHMIR – AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY .
“ I was teaching in my class in the top room overhanging the river , when I heard a bugle call. Looking up , I saw a figure on the roof of a house some half mile away . I asked my boys what it meant and they replied that the police man was warning everyone that a house was on fire .The boys not being interested , went on with their writing . Within minutes I saw now flames and smoke rising from the same house . I ordered the Boys to stop writing and come with me to help at the fire , But they said that they had nothing to do with it and they wished to continue with their lessons . I then took action and drove them out of the class rooms into the street. When we arrived there , we found that scores of citizens had already taken seats at every available place in order to enjoy themselves at an entertainment for which they would have nothing to pay. As flames spread from one house to another , they seemed highly delighted shouting “ Hurrah ! “.

Thank god, Everything has changed now. This has been possible with the spread of Education and IT Revolution. The kashmiri character has also undergone a metamorphosis towards development.  
Young kashmiris  hailing  from Pandit and Muslim families are now venturing out for better education and employment . I find them going up and up the ladder in all fields . They  are focused , honest and sincere and accordingly much  needed by the employers globally.They are visible in the  sunrise IT Sector , Medicine , Media , Cinema , Sports , Administration and  the New Business Enterprise .

A kashmiri is an acknowledged competitor now , a fierce one in any arena across the globe.

(Autar Mota )

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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