Monday, August 29, 2016

THE FEARLESS ZUTSHI SISTERS OF LAHORE .....SHYAMA , MANMOHINI AND JANAK


                                                                                



ZUTSHI SISTERS OF LAHORE .... FROM FASHION TO FREEDOM STRUGGLE.... . ( Man-Mohini , Shyama , Janak and their mother Lado Rani )


They were four sisters Man-Mohini , Shyama , Janak kumari  and Chandra kumari . Chandra Kumari ( Born 1903) was a little shy girl and was married in Handoo family at a young age. She came to be known as Chandra Kumari Handoo.  This Zutshi Family of Lahore was closely related to Pandit Nehru .Hailing from Affluent Kashmiri Pandit family of Lahore , Zutshi sisters were Modern , Educated and enterprising . Ladli Prasad Zutshi(1875-1954) , their Father was a reputed Barrister of lahore . He was a nephew of Moti Lal Nehru.Initially Ladli  Prasad practiced at Allahabad but later sometime around 1917, he along with his family moved to Lahore and earned name and fame as a successful Barrister.
                                                                         

         ( Photo Ladli Prasad Zutshi )

Shyama did her BA and joined Hindi Cinema . She was the first Kashmiri Pandit Girl to join films . She finally left the cinema and plunged herself into the freedom struggle of the country .And Manmohini ( Born 1909 ) is reported to be the most Rebellious child in the Zutshi family.She was born In Anand Bhawan Alahabad. She happened to be a favourite niece of Moti Lal Nehru . She was married in a Punjabi family and later came to be known as Manmohini Zutshi Sahgal..

Shyama was  married in a  affluent Chopra family from Punjab and came to be known as Shyama Chopra .

                                                                                 

                ( Photo ..Lado Rani Zutshi   daughter of Jeevan lal Tikku  ..  1882-1968  )
                    
                                                                ( Photo Manmohini Zutshi )
                                                                         
                                                       ( Photo Janak Kumari Zutshi )
                                                                             


                            ( Photo Chandra Kumari   with her husband Sri krishna Handoo )

Manmohini, Shyama and Janak Kumari  usually visited posh Mall Road ( Lahore ) for shopping along with their Mother Lado Rani .There used to be a Hotel known as “ ARAB HOTEL “ in Lahore before 1947 . It was just Opposite Islamia College .This Hotel was Frequented by elite of the city including prominent Artists,writers, poets and intellectuals. Zutshi sisters would be seen in this Hotel along with their Mother .

Janak Zutshi was a Post Graduate in English and taught at Govt college for women Lahore ( Joined in 1930 and later resigned ) .  Janak Kumari fell in love with Dr Jalil  Asghar and married him some months before the partition of the country though she never converted to Islam  . She was later known as Janak Kumari Asghar .The couple had no child .Dr jalil Asghar moved to Pakistan  in 1952 and janak died at  Lahore in 1997.

These sisters knew Horse Riding , dancing , Bicycling and also took lesson in Music .Manmohini was a post Graduate in History . 

Although  Zutshi sisters were always inspired by Nationalism of their parents yet one day everything changed suddenly for them. A lecture By Mahatma Gandhi in Lahore ( that these sisters heard with their mother ) changed their Life . The girls were suddenly fired by a deep patriotism and Nationalism. They decided to join their parents who were already in the freedom struggle.

Influenced by Moti Lal Nehru's family and  their own parents , Shyama and Manmohini were already participating in Anti Brtish agitations even during their college days . Shyama finally decided to quit  films .

Following Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930, Manmohini organized protests, demonstrated, courted arrest, and was sentenced to prison on three separate occasions. 

Lado Rani had joined Congress party in 1919 (Martial Law days ) and had plunged herself in Freedom struggle of the country. Her close associates were Parvati ,Atma Devi , Lakshmi Trikha and Kartar kour all  leading freedom fighters from Punjab. Parvati was the Daughter of Lala Lajpat Rai. Infact these women led by Lado Rani became eyesore of British Administration.These volunteers picketed foreign cloth shops ,Law courts and quarters of members of Legislative Assembly in Punjab.
Lado Rani led so many Prabhat Pheris in Lahore in defiance to section 144 imposed by British Administration.

On 15th December 1929, A Grand Flag Hoisting function was organised at Lahore by Freedom fighters .  Well known freedom Fighter Sardar Mangal singh Took about 2000 congress volunteers under his command and joined this event that was attended by almost all stalwarts of Freedom Movement that included Maulana Azad , M A Ansari , saif Ud din Kitchloo ,sarojini Naidu , Moti Lal Nehru , Jawahar lal Nehru ,Madan Mohan Malviya ,Jamna lal Bajaj , Srinivasa Iyengar , Vallabh Bhai Patel and many more .
                                                               


Sardar Mangal Singh had carved out a Women Brigade from among his volunteers . This brigade had many women including all the three Zutshi sisters and their mother Lado Rani.

I quote Sardar Mangal singh GOC congress Volunteers Lahore session :

“ I had two main Lady volunteers as commanders . Lajyawati and lado Rani Zutshi. Lado Rani had brought her three daring daughters also. They were educated and fashionable . The call of Mahatma made the family to forget all comforts . A session was held on the Banks of Ravi till 12 o’clock. It was a grand success . Pandit Nehru Unfurled the National Flag.  Dr N S Hardikar was there . Pandit ji Danced in happiness with the Volunteers of Freedom struggle. I remember the Pathan dance that was performed by the volunteers ”

I quote From Bharti Thakur's Book " Women In Gandhi's Mass Movement " ( Refer page 93 )..

" On July 9, 1930 , Shyama Zutshi and Manmohini along with 25 other volunteers from Ambala and Shimla Picketed the Central the assembly in Shimla along with other volunteers of congress committee . They went in groups of two or three with black Flags hidden under the folds of their sarees and stood outside the gates of the Assembly Hall. As soon as Viceroy Lord Irwin came out , they took out their Black Flags and shouted " IRWIN GO BACK ". Forthwith they formed a small procession and marched to the Mall singing National songs .Back In Lahore , Manmohini , who was also the president of the students union Called for a complete Hartaal On 8 October 1930 as a protest against death sentences imposed on Bhagat Singh ,Sukhdev and Rajjguru and decided to picket Govt college for men , Forman Christian college and law College .Soon Shyama also joined and these sisters along with other women volunteers who stood at the gates of these colleges challenging the students to enter . Soon Police arrived and arrested them. When Janak Kumari heard all this , she resigned from the post of English lecturer Govt College for women Lahore and offered herself to court arrest. "


( Autar Mota )


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POLSON BUTTER IN KASHMIR


                                                                   
                                            
In kashmir, we knew this butter only. Amul gained popularity in early sixties of last century . And then sometime in 1970 or 1971, Polson vanished from Kashmir..
I Remember the word " Polson" vividly.

" Kyaa sa laagaan chhivuss" POLSON"

"Are you busy in flattering him ?"


It was common to use the word ‘POLSONING ’ instead of flattering.

When POLSON Butter vanished, usage of the word " POLSON " also vanished from kashmiri language.

Many elders have confirmed that one Mr.Wattal from Gund Ahalmar (near Nai sarak in Srinagâr city ) was the oldest stockist of POLSON butter in Kashmir.Post 1947, it was sold by many traders in kashmir.This butter would come in small tin Boxes.It was yellow and salty.It tasted like home made Curd. Unusually Delicious. 

 it was also available in Military Canteens . Accordingly  Many kashmiris,  who were employees of MES  ( posted at  Badami Bagh Cantt Srinagar   )   would buy this Butter At cheaper rates  from CSD Canteens.

Polson was started by Pestonji Edulji ,a Parsi from Mumbai sometime in 1915 or 1916. In North India, o Lahore city happened to be major distribution Centre  of POLSON.

Mr wattal who traded under the name and style of "Kashmir Butter co" , imported POLSON butter from Lahore and supplied it to Some European families, Hotels including Nedou's Hotel and Maharaja's Palace .He had his shop at Pahalgham and srinagâr city around 1940.
Kashmiris in general did not consume Butter till early fifties of last century. But once they started applying butter to local bakery items like Tsoett, kulcha, Telvoru, Lavasa and Girdha,they never abandoned it. Butter is a household item in every Kashmiri family now.

In restaurants of kashmir , Butter Toast remains a much sought after item with a cup of Tea .A cup of tea is incomplete if not accompanied by hot and crispy Butter Toast.

And from my personal experience of living in Punjab, I can say with confidence that Punjabis are leaders in Butter consumption.They consume it with Chicken, Chapatis, Parantha, Lassi, Fish, Daal, vegetables, kulcha and so many other food items.

Once a Unani Hakim from Rainawari told me that during exigencies, he would buy Polson Butter for preparing medicine for his patients suffering from Hemorrhoids/ piles.This Hakim would say:
" Local butter is cool in Taaseer ( Effect ) .Tin butter is hot in Taaseer. It has salt also. But I don't get local butter often from market. See I can't go to shopian to buy those white Butter Balls every time. So I am constrained to buy this Polson Tin Butter for preparing my medicine during exigencies."

(Aûtar Mota)
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

THEY SAY HE IS PROF. ARVIND GIGOO OR SADAT HASSAN MANTO WRITING IN ENGLISH


                                                                
                                                                               
                                                                                 


THEY SAY HE IS PROF. ARVIND GIGOO ( Born 1945 )..

My friendship with him is barely one year old. Prior to that , I had never seen him either at Jammu or in Kashmir valley .I knew him well through his write ups , Books , Poems and superb Translations. He taught English at various colleges in kashmir. Many friends told me “Beware ! He is terrible with his Pen” . Those who knew him would often say that he was friendly , Leisurely and above all helpful to Young and Promising writers . Some people tried to introduce him as writer SIDDHARTHA GIGOO’s father . In any case both happen to be brilliant writers . 

                                                                               
In the very first meeting that I had with him, he turned out to be a Jovial, Candid and Helpful person. And then a very well read and well informed writer who dislikes people with double speak.

“ I detest Double Talkers “

The last trait also makes him profoundly different from others , affable and respected .


I kept meeting him thereafter Mostly at his residence and quite often in the company of Ramesh Hangloo  of Radio Sharda . He usually talked about his Books , Translations , Future proposals and so many things from the world of Literature and fine Arts.

                                                                       
                              (  Arvind  Gigoo And   Poet Farooq Nazki    .. Photo Autar Mota  )

As writer, Arvind Gigoo has a unique style and flavor that akeeps you engrossed . He is a wonderful Narrator of events . His narrations are laced with a unique perspective . Sometimes one feels as if Sadat Hassan Manto is reborn and writing in English .

As poet ,he comes up with his own style and content .Philosophical yet simple . Apparent Humour but a subterranean and profound criticism of life .


" I AM DOING NOTHING " is a Poem by Arvind Gigoo that I need to present to substantiate what I have said about his poetic Talent ..

" I AM DOING NOTHING "
I dialed the number ,
“ Hello !“
It was my four year old grand daughter .
“ Hello Amia , What Are You doing ?”
“ Dadu , I am doing Nothing .”
Doing Nothing is the acme of wisdom.
Silence prevailed upon the words.
I kept the phone.
People do because doing means living .
They are dynamic and hardworking ,
And are busy in doing for their families , 
the society and the world.
“ I am not greedy or ambitious .
But people whom I know and don’t know 
Have sped ahead of me .
I do not want to sit behind .
I crave for recognition and superior position “
“ Do You watch the full moon
and the stars and the clouds and the sunset?”
“ The skyscraper blocks the view .
Have you seen the drawing room of Malhotras ?
They have two more flats . 
And their new Car !
It is very expensive .”
Dear Reader , I will disagree .
Eating is a ridiculous activity .
The unmistakable rapport and the perfect 
Friendship of the hand and the mouth keep us alive 
And are the basis of life .
And we do for remaining alive .
We race against others 
And climb ladders to accumulate wealth.
We doom ourselves into doing , Into exhibitionism,
Into show .We speed for we are in haste .
“ Damn others , I want my Buck . 
I will do for twenty years and then live “
“ So You will live in twenty years ! ?”
( Amia had said : I am doing nothing .)
Sitting still is doing nothing or doing nothing 
Is the cessation of all actions –Of the speed and the climb.
Doing is evil , curse , trouble , unhappiness .
It is un-living or not living .
He said :” Perform duty without thinking of the fruit .”
Performing duty is attending to the ordinary 
and the commonplace.
Doing breeds endless desires .
“ Why shouldn’t I desire the fruit of my doing ? I want to prove myself .”
Doing is “ Enjoying .“
When doing is in the process of doing ,souls and being get defiled .
Doers stop doing .
As for me while doing 
I don’t – know- what I talked much and spoke nothing .
Do nothing and talk nothing .
Not doing and silence are inaction –I mean in – action.
What man needs is nothing.
No- Thing .
Evil will disappear .
The inside will flower .
Your mind is a curse .
If you say ‘NO” to whatever “IS”
You will stop doing and start living .
It takes a flash to stop doing .
Doing is undoing the you in you.
Do And suffer .
Don’t do and live.
When I stopped writing , the telephone bell rang.
“Hello !”
It was my sixty year old friend.
“ What are You doing ?’
“ I am doing nothing .”
“ You fool , stop this nonsense . Dress up, Come out and live. “
I am the contradiction.
I am the clever Rascal .
I am the evil doer .
I dangle between not doing and doing.
I live in silence and speech..
( Arvind Gigoo.. Source ..SHEERAZA ( English segment ) Published by J&K Academy of Art Culture And languages ..April- June 2009 issue )


In his Books and essays written in English , Arvind Gigoo uses small sentences with simple English words. Understood easily and effortlessly , this style creates a vast readership apart from making an everlasting impression on the mind of the reader . In this style ,he comes closer to Sadat Hassan Manto. Like Manto , he spares none while dealing with men and issues in his Books .No prejudices and no Biases . He remains confined to Objectivity . With this approach , Some people may get hit and some may get positively revealed , he bothers not. His conviction remains “ Na Kaahoo se dosti Naa Kaahoo Se Beir “.
                                                                               
Read him to know that he is a master in conveying the apparent and the veiled. I quote some anecdotes written by him as they appear in the Book “ A LONG DEREAM FOR A HOME “ Chapter “ Days of Parting “.


(a) “Shaha , the old Muslim woman in our neighborhood , tells me on the road “ What nonsense is this ! we are fed up .” A Muslim gentleman joins us . Shaha now shouts ‘ We are prepared to die one by one for Independence .”’ Searches and searches. Deaths. Killings . It is horrible . A Muslim neighbour tells me in confidence “ I am afraid of my own son. Strangers are his friends .I have never seen them “

(b )We pack our things . Father is weeping . I ask Hafiz to arrange a truck for us . He says :’ Go home . A mini Bus will come to you in twenty minutes but don’t talk to me on the road henceforth “. We put other things In the Minibus very quickly. One Almirah full of old books belonging to my Grandfather remains untouched .I will come some day and carry them. These are rare books which my Grandfather had bought in Italy , Turkey and other countries . Through the window the daughter in law of Mohi Ud din tells me :’ Forgive us . Go wherever you want to go . May god protect you.’ She is weeping .”

His description about life in downtown Srinagar goes as under :

“The street urchins pelt stones on the houses of Pandits when a cricket match is played between India and Pakistan. Nobody takes such things seriously. Educated and illiterate persons rub shoulders. All steal electricity . Pandits celebrate marriages in the houses of those Muslims who have big houses .Carpets and Furnishings are lent to Pandits for use all the day. Shias Sunnis and Pandits live in harmony. Many Muslim families have leanings towards Pakistan.On Two Eids , Most of the Pandits go to Eidgaah . My Muslim friends come to me on Shivratri days and have lunch with me. Pandits and muslims play cricket in Eid Gaah. Others fly kites over there . In the evenings , some Pandits smoke charas in the Janam Bhumi Temple or in the compound of Ram Mandir. A handful of Pandits gamble in Ram Mandir. A few Pandits and Muslims drink in stealth. The quarrel of boat women lasts for days together . For onlookers , it is an entertainment of the highest type .Some young Pandits and Muslims steal hens and cocks belonging to few Muslim families , kill them , cook them and eat them. The owners of the hens shout curses on “ Cock Thieves “ . The lanes , Kochas and roads in our locality are filthy and covered with garbage .. Jagan Nath Saqi , the well known Radio Artist sits in the shop of Shamboo Nath ( Shomb Kak ) and talks about his past. Pandits who now live in New Colonies wonder how we Pandits live in the down town”

                                                                               



His Translator’s note to the Book " Light And Shade" Poems by sunita Raina Pandit is inimitable and matchless . This book contains kashmiri poems translated to English By Arvind Gigoo. I quote the text of this Note:

" While translating the kashmiri lyrics of Sunita Raina Pandit into English, I resorted to compression, reconstruction and re-composition . I allowed the architecture and linguistic nuances of the original to suffer. I subverted without worrying about exactness, Fidelity and accuracy of equivalence .I ruined the syntax, metre and richness the original kashmiri .The lackluster voice is an artificial exercise in which the ineffable impact of the Ghazals is lost but their soul swings and rings. This translation does not communicate the music, Rhythm ,Passion and transparent grace of the original.."
( Arvind Gigoo...... Translator..)


A sample of his English Translations are as under:

(1)
(Portrait of a Child)

A portrait hung 
on 
the wall. 
The chubby child 
smiled 
and opened his Cupid mouth. 
I said "Are you my virgin past?"

The rainbow smile vanished, 
and the thoughtful child said: 
"Are you my defiled future?"

The answer reached me.
Grown-ups don't remember purity 
and 
children don’t know defilement.
( This is a poem by Noted kashmiri Poet Arjan Dev Majboor Translated to English by Prof. Arvind Gigoo and Published in his Book WAVES )
(2)
(Spring-wind passed by our door)

Spring-wind passed by our door
and
with restive fingers
beat its breast.
I asked a flower, “What happened?”
In a corner
it puckered its lips.
Soon a dry petal appeared
and
the spring bushes
beat their breasts.
( From “ Anecdotes “ Mini Poems of Poet Dina Nath Naadim translated to English by Prof. Arvind Gigoo )
(3)
(The oil in the lamp dwindled)

The oil in the lamp dwindled;
the wick was a flicker
and
the light too dwindled.
A moth danced into the dying flame;
the half-burnt hope
fell into a niche.
When the flame died
darkness gave a hysterical laugh.
Why trust laughter!
Weeping knows no end.
Who lost
and
who won?
( From “ Anecdotes “ Mini Poems of Poet Dina Nath Naadim translated to English by Prof. Arvind Gigoo )


He has also done beautiful English translation of Hindi Poems written by Maharaj Krishen Santoshi , Agnishekhar and Kshema kaul apart from Kashmiri Poems of Bimla Raina . .
                                                                             
If you need to read some serious humour and Cameos then read his Book” The Ugly Kashmiri (Cameos in exile)”. Here he spares none in his crisp , brief and Poignant cameos ( 180 in totality ) .He touches the very edifice of Social life in kashmir where he lived . He provokes you to think “ Was that life based on Hypocrisy and falsehood ? “

  In this book , he Talks about Pandits , Muslims , Militants, Killers , Plunderers , Intellectuals , Leaders , Language and customs . The reader is perplexed with his incisive and scissor like style that rips open every thing for display. It takes some time to understand and comprehend what he actually intends to convey.

I quote some cameos :


(1)
ROOTLESS

"I am where I am not,
Therefore, I am not where I am"
(2) 
RENAISSANCE 
"We must preserve our culture."
"How?"
"By reviving dead rituals."
(3)
THE KILL 
“We salute this man for he is a martyr,
We kill this man for he is a traitor,
We nail this man for he is an informer.”
(4)
CHAMELEON
“ From Pakistan to plebiscite to India to Pakistan to independence to anything and anywhere in one breath.”
(5)
EMANCIPATION 
"Listen! How can I talk about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits? I am a secularist."

(6)


IN TERROR
"Mohd. Yaseen , Take this money that I owe you.I am leaving this place tomorrow"
"You nasty Pandit, you betrayed our cause.But accept this one thousand rupees from me for you will need them in wilderness."
(7)
THE RESOLVE

" We resolve to preserve the kashmiri language wihout reading it, without writing it and without speaking it"
" The motion is carried"
                                                                                 
( From left to Right Dr Ayaz Rasool Nazki  former Direcotor ICCR Kashmir ,  Well Known Kashmiri Actor Shadi lal Koul, Autar Mota and Prof Arvind Gigoo at "THE  DIALOGUE " Venue in 2016 )

He is a kashmiri at heart and a Pandit as well. Liberal ,forgiving and Patient . No Never an Agnostic or an Atheist as was conveyed to me by some friends .I could infer that he does not believe much in ritualistic and dogmatic religious activity. Can’t say beyond that .

As and when I meet him , some specific Couplets of Majaz Lakhnavi come to my mind . I quote them ..

" Dair o Kaaba Ka me nahin Kaayal
Dair o Kaaba ko Aastaan na Banaa.. 
Mujh Mein Tu Rooh e Sarmadi mat Phoonk
Raunaq e Bazm e Arifaan na Banaa 
Iss Zameen Ko Zameen Rehnay Dhe
Iss zameen ko Tu Aasmaan na Banaa"


Next time more . So long so much on Arvind Gigoo ..


( Autar Mota )


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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

THIS BRAVE SIACHIN HERO IS FROM OUR STATE


                                                                             

                     

Honorary Capt.Bana Singh  ( Born  1949 )Param Veer Chakra Awardee ( 8 JAKLI and 1987 Siachin Hero) is a native of R S Pura Jammu(J&K).  As  Naib Subedar Major  from  8 JAKLI , He led the team that captured Highest Peak in Siachin Glacier that is now named as Bana Post .

As DCO/Chief Manager Marketing of my Bank, I have personally organised three functions that were presided over by him .




He once told me,

" At Siachin , so intense is the effect of the climate that you forget everything; Friends , family, relatives, your native village and all connected memories. You only remember your duty and keep fighting a terrible climate . Unbelievably Terrible. The outside world is totally closed.Snow is your Friend,Companion,Enemy and Killer . 


White is the only colour that confronts you everywhere and at every moment. As and when a letter is brought by a helicopter from the base camp, you are reminded that you also belong to the world below the glacier."


(Autar Mota)
                                                               
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BICYCLE AND KASHMIR


                                                                              




BICYCLE AND KASHMIR
Some time around 1890, Tyndale Biscoe brought the first Bicycle to Kashmir. He would use it as his local conveyance . As and when , Tyndale Biscoe would move to down town Fateh kadal on his Bicycle , Pandits and Muslims would line up on road to see what the metallic animal Tyandle Biscoe was riding . It was named as “Biscoe sahib ka Djjin “.So a Bicycle was a Djjin for kashmiris initially. They also named it as Zal Gurr later .

Then I am informed about one AFSAR KHAN who is reported to have come to Kashmir during Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed ‘s rule. . AFSAR KHAN was an ace Cyclist who demonstrated his skill at Rainawari ( Zindshah Mosque Ground ) Eid Gaah Grounds ( Downtown ) , Hazuri Bagh Ground and Polo ground ( Near Residency Road ) Cycling Non stop for 7 days . He also held his shows at many other places in Kashmir valley.My father told me that he would eat his food and even shave his beard while paddling his Bicycle. Although I have not seen any show of AFSAR KHAN , yet so many stories about his Cycling talent have been conveyed to me by so many elders .

And then at a point of time, films also promoted a Bicycle.So many films had song sequences with Lead pair on Bicycles. I vividly remember Nazaraana a film wherein Raj kapoor and Vaijayanthimala sang the complete song " Meray peechhe ek deewana Ek Albela mastaana koyee dekho re mujh ko Sataaye re" riding Bicycles .O P Nayyar’s Composition “ Pukaarataa Chalaa Huun Mein “ for Meray Sanam was again filmed on Asha Parekh and her friends riding Bicycles . The song shooting took place on Srinagar Baramulla Road with Shammi Kapoor driving a jeep .Other Bicycle songs that come to my mind at the moment are " Maana Janaab ne pukaara Nahin ( Devanand and Nutan in paying Guest ) " and " Mein Chali Mein Chali ( Saira Bano in Padosan ). "
Noted writer Bhisham Sahni ( Brother of Actor Balraj Sahni) in his Memoirs 'Today's Pasts ' writes about his experience of Cycling in Kashmir.I quote:

“ In summers , we used to go to Srinagar . Kashmir was created for sightseeing , after all.What destination was better for celeberating Honeymoon than kashmir ?One morning , I got two bicycles . One of them was mine and the other was a Girl’s bicycle that I borrowed from a neighbour. Sheela and I set of . We went to Dal Lake . We could have parked our bicycles on the shore , enjoyed the lake on a houseboat and stopped at Ahdoo’s Restaurant on way back for our Lunch . But I changed my mind. Why not go to Ganderbal.Sheela was really happy . Her hair was gently blowing in the breeze and there was a smile on her lips . But the roads were bumpy and the heat was intense. Sheela was finding it difficult to continue her cycling. Her face had turned red and she felt exhausted . She had just taken her Exams a few days ago and then she was exhausted from the wedding . She was sweating and tired.
Ganderbal is one of kashmir’s oldest places . Kheer Bhawani is next right to it. Lake Manasbal is not that far. You will like it . Just a little more “ I said to her . She kept cycling though she was extremely tired . soon She began to cry . We were outside the Temple and I got her something to eat.We relaxed under a tree but Sheela did not say a word.She just kept shaking her head.My heart stopped. It was afternoon when a bus arrived for srinagar . I put the bicycles on the roof of the bus bought tickets and got into the bus .Sheela looked at me and smiled for the first time.And when the Bus started , she put her head on my shoulders and soon fell asleep.”

I vividly remember having seen Prof. B K Bhan ( Chemistry ) of Amar Singh College Srinagar using a Bicycle to go to his college from his Jawahir Nagar Residence . He was generally seen in a two piece suit with a tie paddling his bicycle and also chewing a Paan . A metallic clip was always attached to his Trouser Bottom to protect it from Bicycle chain. His bicycle had a Bell , Chain cover and a Torch operated by a Dynamo .
In My school , Sri Krishen Seeru ( a popular Teacher ) would always paddle all the way from Habba kadal to DAV school Rainawari on his well maintained bicycle.

For a 10 or 12 year old boy like me, learning Bicycle meant moving through various stages of learning known as Zangataar ( Putting your feet on both the paddles without sitting on the Bicycle seat ) , Half paddle and Full paddle .And then finally one day i sat on the seat and effortlessly brought the bicycle down the slope of Jogilanker Bridge in Rainawari.

It was a source of freedom for So many Teachers , so many Government employees and so many students . leave at your own time , Move at your own speed and then spend nothing as transport charges . It needs no fuel, no documents and very little maintenance. Most importantly the rider remained connected with his surroundings while paddling along the Paths.Doctors , Advocates, College Professors and Businessmen used Bicycle as a mode of conveyance.
Many families in Kashmir owned some popular imported Brands of Bicycles like Raleigh , Robinhood , Phillips and Humber These brands were imported by some Bicycle Traders from Srinagar city.
In early seventies of the last century , Popularity of this cheap and useful conveyance suffered a set back after the arrival of Lambretta and Vespa Scooters in Kashmir valley . These were followed by yet another popular Brand of Motorbicycle known as YEZDI. Surely , from Bicycles , the younger generation moved to these Two wheelers .

But then these Petrol driven Two wheelers were expensive and a select section of the population only opted for them. As Population kept increasing , Bicycles also found an ever increasing New Market and Indian Brands like ATLAS, HERO , AVON and HERCULES started becoming popular in Kashmir .


The Municipality also started registering Bicycle owners and collecting annual Token Fee /Tax on Possession of a Bicycle . This fee was later withdrawn.

                                                                       
                                 ( Bicycle tax receipt of Municipality )
                             ( Bicycle Token issued by Municipality in srinagar )
These Bicycles were kept tidy by elderly users with Dynamo Batteries ,   Chain Covers , Bells and carriers on backside . Some users also carried a bucket in the front of their Bicycles . Lady Bicycles were also available and used by many college going girls and teachers in Kashmir.

During summers , you would come across so many Tourists from Europe and USA riding bicycles and moving in group of three or four towards Ganderbal, Mughal Gardens, Down Town interiors and other areas in Srinagâr city's suburbs. These bicycles were rented out by many Bicycle Dealers 
.
In Srinagar city , We had so many Bicycle shops , so many shops dealing in spare parts and engaged in Repairs and closing Punctures in Bicycle tubes . I vividly remember Durrani Cycles Exchange Road Srinagâr or Mir Cycles Nawapora near Khayyam cinema.And then we had some Bicycle Traders who had their Business locations at Hari Singh High Street, Regal Chowk, Lal Chowk, Karan Nagar and so many other places in Srinagâr city.

My friend Dalip Langoo informs me that  Pandit  Tikka Lal ( a kashmiri Pandit)  had established many Bicycle shops in Srinagar city sometime around 1918AD.He had a flourishing Bicycle Business at Gagribal near Dal Lake run under the name and style of Ganesh Cycle Works.

And Bicycle never lost its popularity and utility in Kashmir.


( Autar Mota )