Monday, January 15, 2018

TOBACCO AND KASHMIRIS


                                                                     

                                                                             

TOBACCO AND KASHMIR 


Presently , Tobacco Smoking remains  the most widespread addictive habit with human beings. In spite of aggressive publicity about fatal Health risks of smoking , At the moment , we have about 2 billion people as smokers world over . During my recent visit to USA , I found smokers in every segment of American Society . You can see Men and Women standing close to shops on pedestrian paths inhaling the harmful smoke in spite so many notices displayed to the contrary . I found them smoking near Notices that read :

“ NO SMOKING UP TO 20 FEET FROM THE WALL ” 

In India , Portuguese introduced Tobacco during late sixteenth / early seventeenth century . Some historians say that Tobacco in India was introduced by Portuguese during the reign of Akbar. In Kashmir it was occasionally brought by traders from India . But During Afghan rule , the consumption of Snuff and Tobacco became widespread in kashmir valley . While Afghan governors were busy in collecting revenue by all cruel means , Traders from Kabul brought Snuff and Tobacco to kashmir and carried horse loads of Pattoo Cloth , Shawls ,and Tosha . An entry in the diary of *John Nicholson dated 19th November 1847 reads as under:

“ Had some conversation with a group of Afghan merchants from Kabul who were carrying Snuff and Tobacco to Kashmir wherefrom they would bring Tosh( Shahtoosh ) and Pattoo ( Woolen cloth ) which fetches very high price in Kabul. ”

Once Hukka or Hubble Bubble entered Kashmiri household, Men and women got addicted to it . The Elite class and the common men from valley were captivated by the gurgling sound and the smoky puffs of Hukka . Kashmiris became great smokers . First hukka and later cigarettes became common attraction in Kashmir .We had and continue to have so many shops selling Tobacco and Molasses (Raab) . 

Quite often kashmiri Hukka addicts shared Hukka in shops , Get-togethers and Marriages . some addicts smoked alone. Hukka smokers ( Men and women ) in Kashmir would inhale good amount of **Nicotine and accordingly they had strong urges ( Tyath in kashmiri ) to smoke . They also experienced usual withdrawal symptoms after not smoking for some time.

It is well known fact that Maharaja Partap Singh spent about Two to Three hours per day puffing his Hukka . 


For some time kashmiri farmers also cultivated Tobbaco crop sowing the seed in April and harvesting it in August .Kashmiri farmers cultivated two varieties of tobacco called Chilasi and Brewari . 


A kangri ,a Hukka , Tobacco box and also a pot for spitting is what every Hukka smoking elder used to keep close by. In a Kashmiri Pandit family, A Hukka was the first thing that was kept ready in the morning by the Daughter in law generally for her father in law. Sometimes the son would perform this duty . It had to be cleaned and a kangri had to be kept ready with burning charcoal .The tobacco box had to be kept full for the tobacco session of the elder in the family. A measured quantity of water had to be put inside the Hukka water tank so as to produce proper gurgling sound . Excess water would neither produce the Gurgling sound but would invariably enter the mouth on puffing.
Once The eldest family member had his puffs , he would keep the Hukka aside and leave for his daily work . Young boys would also take a puff secretly . It was followed by Puffs by the womenfolk in the afternoon .Elderly Women also maintained Nicotine levels by using Hukka or Hubble Bubble or Jejeer . Women who could not find Jejeer, smoked cigarettes secretly in presence of children or other ladies. 

Quite often we (young boys )were sent to buy Tobacco from shops and the shop keeper would invariably ask:
“ Kyooth Gatchhi ? Lo’at ya Gobb or What type you need ? Heavy or light ”

A common communication among friends began as under :

“ Chaav Cigarette”
“ Give me a Cigarette to smoke ”

A common demand from clerical / sub staff in offices (for getting things done ) would begin as under:

“ Traav kenh Tresha Tamoukaa ”

“ Give something to drink and something to smoke”



Through Films,  Cigarette smoking  became a fashion  .During youth , we tried to copy smoking style of  many film stars . Many youngsters tried to copy the style of throwing up smoke rings  by many actors as the exhaled the smoke . Equally attractive were the styles of lighting a cigarette with a lighter  of matchstick.
 

The younger generation is surprised when I tell them that cigarettes were served to guests in a marriage . I have personally offered a cigarette to Kashmiri Poet late Shri Dina Nath Naadim in a marriage . Naadim sahib had come to that marriage for reception of the Baraat . Before anything was served , cigarettes kept tastefully in a plate, were taken to guests .


Cigarettes were served to men coming for condolence . Cigarettes were sold inside cinema halls . From cinema Halls you often returned with headache due to widespread smoking . This applied specifically to Shiraz, Naaz , Firdous, Neelam and Khayyam cinema Halls. Third shows or the late night show in Palladium cinema lal Chowk was worst . Entire hall used to be full of smoke . .Some people in the lower stalls threw burning cigarette bits towards the screen .Smoking in buses , Smoking in Parks and smoking in hospitals .  And during winters , when Bus doors were closed , the smoke inside the bus gave Headache to every passenger. The drivers generally smoked while driving . A busy  Barber passed on Hukka to his  waiting customers and in between he  would join to have his puffs. Smoking in colleges . Smoking inside Tagore hall by men who were witnessing a Play or Musical item. None could escape the smoke Every one had to inhale the smoke directly or indirectly. 
 Gold Flake , Panama ,Charminar, Cavenders , Passing Show , Red Lamp, Scissors , Four  Square , Charms and Wills Navy Cut were Popular brands of common man . The elite smoked India Kings. The migratory labour from plains brought Bidi (A Bidi is a flavored cigarette made by rolling tobacco in a dried leaf from the tendu tree ) to kashmir valley. Many kashmiris got hooked to cheap Bidis ."  Ganesh 501"  was the most popular brand of Beedis that were sold in kashmir.

                                                             





                                     


                                                                            

                                     



My friend Adarsh Azad Arora ( Son of Well known Urdu Poet Jagan Nath Azad) informs me as under :


“I may narrate an incident which father once  told me. He was travelling by car with Hafeez Jalandhari in Pakistan on a visit connected with  a mushaira when the  elder Hafeez sahib felt like having a cigarette. He needed to borrow one from younger Azad sahib ( Jagan Nath Azad).  So ,  Hafeez Sahib  said in  Chaste Punjabi  "Leya mundeya, tainu ik cigarette pi dayiye or  Bring one Boy , Let me smoke a Cigarette for you ". On his visit to Delhi, father said the same line when he wanted to take a cigarette from me. I loved the sentence so much that I used it in office. People did not know the literary depth of the creation which had Hafeez Jalandhari as its source.”



Have we forgotten the Kakear or Kakouris ? Sometimes only Dua salaam , Sometimes a handful of rice and Sometimes a coin . That is what a Kakear ( Roadside mobile Hukka owner ) got who offered people Hukka puffs in the Bazaar. Kakear was a part of the kashmiri society . He carried a bag across his shoulder in which he would keep three or four tongs , a pouch of fresh Tobacco and some charcoal in a Kangri nearby. A Kakear would also be seen in Fairs and gatherings outside shrines. He would cater to poor and the working class who could not carry the Hukka along with them .With the arrival of Cheap cigarettes and overall development and progress in many spheres ,Kakears or kakouris (as some people called them ) suddenly became non existent from kashmiri society sometime around 70s of last century ( around 1970 ).

And Thanks to aggressive negative publicity in India ,the great Humanity that smoked endlessly has changed for better now . Smoking in Buses , Offices, Cinema Halls and other Public places has come to halt.


( Autar Mota )

PS

* John Nicholson( 1822- 1857 ) was a very Senior Political official in British India who rose to the post of a Brigadier General. He was instrumental in the settlement of the North-West Frontier .He was stationed at Peshawar , Moradabad , Benaras , Ferozepur and Delhi. He died suddenly at a very young age and played a major role in the Mutiny of 1857. He was buried in a Cemetery in kashmiri Gate Delhi and his tombstone reads as under:

“Gifted in mind and body, he was as Brilliant in Government as in arms. The snows of Ghazni attest his youthful fortitude; the songs of the Punjab his manly deeds; the peace of this frontier his strong rule. The enemies of his country know how terrible he was in battle, and we his friends have to recall how gentle, generous, and true he was.”


**Frenchman Jean Nicot (from whose name the word nicotine is derived) introduced tobacco to France in 1560, and tobacco then spread to England.



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