Monday, October 26, 2009


Kashmir history reveals visit of many important Christian missionaries or travelers .Some stayed for moths together and some made Kashmir as their permanent home. The missionaries opened schools and Hospitals and did excellent work amongst poor kashmiris.Who can deny the fact that these missionaries , assisted by Pandits brought modern Education to Kashmir ?. No kashmiri can ever forget the great work done by Tyandale Biscoe ( 1863-1949 ) for spread of Education in Kashmir . Presently Parvez Samuel Koul ( Principal Tyandle Biscoe school Srinagar ) is carrying forward this legacy . Similar good work is being done By Church for spread of quality education in Kashmir through Burn Hall school , Mallinson’s Girls School , Presentation Convent and St.. Joseph School Baramulla . Obviously these Christians built some of the beautiful Churches in Srinagar ( 3 )and Baramulla ( 1 ). St Luke Church in Dalgate ( Drogjan Locality presently closed and no Sunday Mass or Prayers are held ), All Saints Church Ram Munshi Bagh and Holy family catholic Church , Maulana Azad Road srinagar are three prominent churches of srinagar city .

Saint Luke’s Church lies in the South west slope of Shankara Charya hill near the Old TB Hospital . It was built in 1896AD under the supervision of two christians doctors Dr Earnest and Dr Arthur Nev . Both these doctors served poor and helpless kashmiris through their Hospital.One can approach it through the road either from Dalgate or from UNO office in Kashmir . The Church is mostly locked .
All saints church was also built in 1896 in Ram Munshi Bagh in the midst of majestic Chinars . Sizeable Christian population lived in this area in olden Days .This is a well maintained Church .The third Church known as Holy family Church is located in Maulana Azad Road just opposite Gee Enn Bakery House .This is also a well maintained Church of Kashmir . It is a pleasure to talk to Rev Chander Mani Khanna of All saints church .Pastor Leslie Richards is also known for his excellent social work In the valley especially amongst the poorest of the poor.Enjoy the views of these churches of srinagar city along with the poem SHAAM or EVENING of FAIZ translated ably by Agha Shahid Ali .

EveningThe trees are dark ruins of temples,
seeking excuses to tremble
since who knows when–their roofs are cracked,
their doors lost to ancient winds.
And the sky is a priest,
saffron marks on his forehead,
Ashes smeared on his body.
He sits by the temples,
worn to a shadow, not looking up.
Some terrible magician,
hidden behind curtains,
has hypnotized Time so this evening is a net
in which the twilight is caught.
Now darkness will never come–
and there will never be morning.
The sky waits for this spell to be broken,
for history to tear itself from this net,
for Silence to break its chains
so that a symphony of conch shells
may wake up to the statues
and a beautiful, dark goddess,
her anklets echoing, may unveil herself.
( Poem SHAAM translated by Agha shahid ali )

Friday, October 23, 2009


Zubair Rizvi ( Born 1935 at Amroha  ) is   finest amongst Modern Urdu Poets of the country. He served All India Radio for about  30 years . He also served at Radio Kashmir Srinagar for some years . He has also  served as secretary of Delhi Urdu Academy for about  two years.

Zubair Rizvi’s  prominent works include Lahar Lahar Nadiya Gahri (Collection of Poems), Hasht-e-Deewar, Musafat-e-shab, Purani Baat Hai, Dhoop Ka Saibaan, etc. He  also  edited the much-admired Urdu magazine, 'Zehn-e-Jadid'.He has tried his hand at all genres of urdu poetry. I quote a sample …

(Zindagi Tujh Se Mil kar zamaanaa huaa)

zindagi Tujh se mil kar zamaanaa huaa,
Aa tujhe Aaj ham maikade le chalein
Raat ke naam honthhon ke saagar likhein
Apani Aankhon me kuchh rat-jage le chalein
kyaa Haseen log hain
in kii Aaraa_ish-e-Khal-o-Khat ke liye
Apani ankhon ke ham Aaiine le chalein
Ajanabi chehare me dost banate nahin
rishte-Naaton kii chaandi barastii nahin
qurbatein sohabatein jin kii yaad Aayengi
Aise kuchh doston ke pate le chalein
Un kii Aankhon ne jalate sulagate hue
Manzaron ke sivaa kuchh bhi dekhaa nahin
phuul-o-Khushbu sabaa zam-zamein le chalein
zindagi Tujh se mil kar zamaanaa Huaa
(Zubair Rizvi)

life! An age passed by when we met last,
Come be my guest at the tavern tonight.
Let these lips celebrate the night with the goblet,
let our  eyes  carry  night’s awakening.
How beautiful  are the people  around ;
let us mirror affection through our eyes
And  see them comfortable .
Strangers do not make friends
Nor does the silvery bond of a relation take its birth.
Whose separation and company shall be remembered  ,
Let us carry addresses of  some such friends  .
Those eyes which saw nothing except
Blaze  and hell fires,
Let us carry  flowers , fragrance ,Morning breeze

and respite for them .

(Simple English rendering  by Autar  Mota )

Zubair Rizvi ( Born 1935 at Amroha  ) is   finest amongst Modern Urdu Poets of the country.He served All India Radio for more than 30 years . He also served at Radio Kashmir Srinagar for some years . He also served as secretary of Delhi Urdu Academy for about  two years. His noted works include Lahar Lahar Nadiya Gahri (Collection of Poems), Hasht-e-Deewar, Musafat-e-shab, Purani Baat Hai, Dhoop Ka Saibaan, etc. He  also  edited the much-admired Urdu magazine, 'Zehn-e-Jadid'.He has tried his hand at all genres of urdu poetry .
( Autar Mota ) 
CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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“I am here dear. How nice to see you people out so early from the bank today !  ”

His name was Sadiq Ali . He was from Hassanabad,  Rainawari. That day, we met him  at Raina’s News Agency near Polo View, Srinagar . Raina's News Agency was exactly near Mahhata’s photo shop .Many residents of Srinagar used to go to this shop to buy English newspapers . So did Sadiq Ali .He would subscribe to the  Times of India ( Bombay edition ) to read editorials of Giri Lal Jain and philosophical write-ups of Sham Lal. .Sadiq Ali always used a particular brand of imported perfume, which to our knowledge, no one used in the  Kashmir valley . That made us to smell his presence around. His  father ,  Jaffar Ali   was a renowned papier mache artist of Kashmir . Jaffar Ali was personally known to Mrs Gandhi. On two or three occasions ,Indira Ji had bought  papier mache items from Jaffar Ali.

Some of us in the bank got attracted to Sadiq Ali's  affable mannerism , literary temper and in depth study of history and events that shaped the destiny of the subcontinent and more precisely Kashmir .Sadiq Ali  loved music , dressed well and read lot of books , magazines and travelogues .A post graduate with diploma in foreign relations,  he was an ace photographer . He had liberal outlook  and was  married to  a girl from South Africa . He loved dogs .He wrote poetry .The notice board outside his government accommodation in Gandhi Nagar,  Jammu warned,
“ BEWARE OF DOGS ”. In Kashmir, Sadiq Ali's house was also subjected to firing and   grenade attacks  by  terrorists.

I never knew his politics or political arena but Sadiq Ali was always  free from malice , prejudice or bias. Post 1990, I met him at Jammu railway station. He was deeply hurt by what was happening in Kashmir. He sought welfare of many  of my colleagues  in the bank and told me this :-

" I am pained to see the plight of Kashmiri Pandits at this moment . I want to tell one thing to you people . Forget all at the moment . Just focus on the education of your children.It is the greatest tool with which people  re-establish themselves and stand up once more  . When you come back from Delhi,drop in at your convenience. I live in goverment accommodation  at Gandhi Nagar near the hospital?. " 

I am  privy to another facet of Sadiq Ali's personality .He literally fought to get a Kashmiri Pandit boy from Rainawari appointed as a clerk in Legislative Council . The boy had lost his mother to cancer. I also knew his younger brothers . Immediate younger one to Sadiq Ali ( I do not remember this name could be Ghulam Hassan  possibly  ) looked after the business and would come to the bank quite often.The youngest Manzoor was always jovial , affectionate and handsome . The family had a white horse . Manzoor spoke fluent English and enjoyed horse rides.
He remained  a member of  Telephone Advisory Board, Small Saving Advisory Board, North Railway Advisory  Board and member of the editorial board of Nawai-Subah newspaper. His son Tanvir Sadiq is also in active politics presently.

About Sadiq Ali, captain S K Tickoo remembers this :-

"He was a noble human being, who treated everyone with love, affection and dignity.
I've had couple of meetings with him, and the time spent thus , was quality time.
One of his very close relatives was an area manager of a pharmaceutical company, and we were the sole distributors. On every Nav Roz , he would bring deliciously cooked fish for our lunch.One Nav Roz was still some 2 weeks to come, Sadiq Ali, his relative and myself had a chance meeting at Subhana Tailors, and Sadiq Ali told his kin, 'this Nav Roz on me' , and almost sought my approval: 'It's ok, Captain' .I've the taste of the fish, still in my mouth.Sad, we lost him  too early !"

It is only through him  that I gained fairly
good knowledge of   papier mache art of the Kashmir Valley. His family  did  their papier mache business under the name and style of  Jaffar Ali Artist ,Hassanabad Rainawari .

Sadiq Ali breathed his last from a heart ailment in 2011.Peace be to his soul..                                

( L to R Mir Lasjan, GM Sadiq,Jaffar Ali Artist, Mrs Indira Gandhi and Sadiq Ali .Photo courtesy Manzoor Jaffar Ali ) 


Kashmir papier mache is a traditional craft among Shiite Muslims of the valley. It was possibly introduced in Kashmir by the  artisans from Central Asia ( Samarkand ) during the rule of Sultan Zain ul Abdin .From pulp to the finished product , it s a long journey . Pulp is made of paper soaked in water for about five weeks .This pulp is then made to dry in open sunshine . This dried paper is powdered and mixed with rice water so that it can easily coagulate . This mixture is then put in moulds .Papier mache objects are then released from these moulds once they get shaped ,and become dry.These objects are then given two rough coats of coloured paint . The objects are made smooth with pumice stones and again coated with glue and fine tissue paper .A fine razor blade is then used to remove the bumps on the surface .Now joins a team of very skilled artist for finishing the objects. They again give a base coat with paint and the master artist beautifully sketches details on each object with a soft hair brush. Another artist colours the sketches with poster paints . This is followed by drying prior to which two coats of varnish are also applied . Thereafter artists also add 22 carat gold or silver outlines to the sketches . The object is again given a coat of varnish to make it appear glossy. The inner surfaces are coated with black paint .The object is now ready with floral designs , birds ,maple leaves , animals ,almond eyed women , other motifs and Mughal period images .

.Objects made through this process represent beautiful talcum powder boxes , Jewellery boxes , bangles , table lamps , decoration material , flower vases . wall hangings , trays , photo frames ,bowls , cups , containers , coasters , letter holders and pen boxes .

Papier Mache of Kashmir  has good market in Europe , USA , Australia and some Asian countries . Lately the domestic market in India is also expanding . Tourist coming to Kashmir necessarily shop for talcum or jewellery boxes and bangles from papier mache shops .

( Avtar Mota)


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Enjoy 5 views of water chestnuts ( GHOUR ) being sold in kashmir . Kashmiris enjoy them a lot . I have written a good story on this product possibly in my post on Wular Lake .These water chestnuts are procured from Dal , Manasbal and wular lakes . Presently we have another variety of chestnuts( Punjabi Ghour ) grown on Trees . They are being liberally consumed these days . You find them on footpaths being roasted on Charcoal. Sold at Rs200/= per Kg, this Autumn variety of chestnuts is sweet to taste . one view of this Autumn Chestnut variety has also been uploaded .
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Taaliey Peuth Balai Ti Yim GindBaashai

Chirvinai Dhol Tai YirVinay Naav .

Achhi Vaaleyan Hai Asihai Gaashiy

“Telei Kyazih Raavihey Kahan Gaav.”

Chhaalun Gav Nund reshi Sundh Chhalun

Gaalun Paarud Chapun Naar

Nafasuk Muss Hostaa Mudh Vaalun

“Chhalun Chhuy Mandinein Gatkaar”

(Ghulam Nabi Khayal)

The Devil on thy head and this childish behaviour .

Disaster hails and hell opens its gates for thee O Ignorant !.

O God give vision to those whom thee giveth eyes!

Should it be so , Men would not drift apart !

Patience is another name of Nunda Reshi of Kashmir

Patience is like melting mercury and consuming Fire .

O Ignorant control Thy elephant like desires ,

Patience is like embracing darkness at Noon.

( Translation a k mota )

Gh Nabi Khayal is a journalist and leading Kashmiri poet . His Book Gaashir Munaar won him Sahitya Academy award.

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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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Thursday, October 22, 2009


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One of the greatest attractions in Kashmir continues to be the House Boat. Moored in front of the fashionable boulevard in Dal lake or near the Ashai Bagh bridge in Nagin lake, these floating houses still lure the tourists . With well decorated Drawing rooms , Dining rooms , Carpet floored passage , luxurious bed rooms ( with attached bathrooms ), balcony providing breathtaking view of the serene water below and absorbing silence all around , you feel to be living in a different world altogether should you chose to stay in these exquisite floating houses in Kashmir .The Tariffs range from Rs1500 to Rs4000 per night stay per room inclusive of everything . The tariff variations are on account of pure law of demand and supply and essentially market driven. You may even pay Rs1000 during the lean season .

It is interesting to note that these floating houses have been categorized depending upon the degree of facilities and luxuries available inside .The department of tourism classifies them as A , B , C and D ( basic minimum facilities ). If you look carefully to the rows of these houseboats from Boulevard , you find that each house boat has a name . This name is displayed prominently on the balcony or at a conspicuous location on front side . Kashmir ki Kali , Maharaja , Manhattan , Yuvraaj, Water lily , Spring Tulip , Dandoo Palace , Shangloo Palace , Tunda Palace and Pink Queen are some names in my long list.

Once inside , one is thrilled to find carved walnut wood furniture , beautifully embroidered rugs , tastefully decorated pantry, Expensive sofa sets in the drawing room and carpet concealed floors. Broadband Internet or WiFi facility is also available in some of these House Boats . Every house boat has a kitchen either in a adjoining Doonga ( big Boat with roof ) or In sheds created on adjoining Land .Round the clock attendant service is also available . Every house boat has an attached Shikara for ferrying the guests across the lake ..

It is worthwhile to mention that Pandit Narayan Bhan( Popularly known as NavNaran ) built the first house houseboat for the Europeans in Kashmir . Pandit ji happened to be the father Swami Lakshman jooo , highly revered Shaiva scholar of Kashmir .I also vividly know in which particular house boat owned by “Butt’s Clermount House Boats ”did Pandit Ravi Shanker or John Galbraith or Rockefeller or Yehudi Menuhin stay while holidaying in Kashmir . So long so much .Some lines from a poem of Firaq Gorakhpuri for this post.

Yeh Nikkhaton ke Narm ravi ,Ye hawa ye Raat .

Yaad Aa Rahein Hain Ishq, ke toote Taaluqaat.

Ek Umr kat gayee hai Tere Intezaar me.

Aisey Bhi hain ki kat na saki Jin se Ek Raat.

( Firaq gorakhpuri )

These perfumed flowers , this evening breeze and

this soft arrival of the night .

O heart! why do thee recall,

those unfulfilled promises of love this moment .

This life of mine ,spent in waiting for thee ,love!

Now Listen “Many folks could not withstand

even a night’s separation in love” .

( Translation by A k Mota from original in urdu . )

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009



   ' Singh Ji tussaan baayi ( 22)  number chaabi haisaan. Povey treath , gaddi khat khat karsaan . Mein kadseen zudd, ki   pataah kithhey   pareshaan karseen '  meaning  ' Sardar Ji, Do you have number  22  key?  The hell with this vehicle! It sounds of some trouble. I would have compromised with this trouble  but you don’t know where it shall put you to some serious breakdown .' ”

 This is what our J&K State Road Transport Corporation bus driver Kartar Singh said to a fellow truck driver who was also sipping tea in the dingy roadside hotel at Qazigund. Kartar Singh wanted to set right some mechanical trouble in the bus that was being driven by him without a proper toolbox.  Zudd is a typical Kashmiri word. Those who live by Zudd know its usage. It implies doing things in a casual way or attending to skeleton work only. It also, quite often, implies to live very ordinarily making no demands on anyone. One could also say that Zudd  means doing things without applying mind primarily to pass time .

Kartar Singh had brought Zudd to a level where it involved safety and security of the persons he was carrying to Jammu in his A class bus.

Once the bus had departed from Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar, Qazigund was the first halt. Inside the bus, one could see some passengers managing their full bladders by shifting postures on their seats. You could see ladies speaking to their husbands or close family members:

   How far is Qazigund now? My bladder is full. I am now unable to withhold it.”

Sometimes a Kashmiri Pandit women travelling on the bus would say to her husband:-

  Just talk to Sardar Ji. You want me to die like this. Can't you speak? I believe Sardar Ji will stop across Banihaal tunnel now. Get up. Sardar Ji understands. He is a family man .”

And the husband would get up from his seat and go near the driver. Finding him focused on his driving, he would come back and look in a different direction after sitting back on his seat. No communication with his wife even if she looked at him with anger for his failure on this front. The husband would simply mutter:-

“ Just a matter of five or ten minutes more  .”

Sometimes if the driver noticed a passenger getting up from his seat, he would cry:-

   Sit down. Sit down . We are about to reach Qazigund.”

And Urdu poet  Firaq Gorakhpuri also could not wait for more. He had also desired the end of miseries created by the second world war when he wrote:-

“ Sipaah e roos hai Berlin se aur kitni door?  or  How far is the Russian army from Berlin now?”

  A man turns impatient should he be made to carry trouble. He wants to unburden himself at the first available opportunity. So Qazigund was a place more connected with unburdening or release than consuming tea snacks or refreshing.

 This was Qazigund. Lined with rows of rickety and shabby looking shops some of which were also owned by Sikhs hailing from   Palapora, a village nearby.  Wearing  Pherans (  cloaks worn by Kashmiris ), they would come closer to the bus windows and cry:-

“ 'Andaa  ,Chai  , Paraatha ,  bathroom '  meaning ' Eggs , tea  , Paraatha   and urinals .' 

“ ' Bathroom, Bathroom, Valeev Mahraa,  Valaa Behen Ji, Valaa  Huz ‘ meaning   ‘ Urinals, Urinals,   Come, Pandit Ji, Come Sister, Come Khwaja Sahib .'  

“ ' Rajmaah, Chaawal,  Murga,  Bathroom'  meaning   ' Rajmaash, rice,  chicken and urinals .' 

 Some Muslim hotel owners also lined up closer to buses to market their toilets:-

 “ 'Valaa Sa,  Tamaek Jejeer, Maaz, Bataah, Thool , Chai Ta Bathroom '   meaning     ‘ Come, tobacco Hookah, mutton, rice, eggs, tea  and urinals .' ”

Buses would arrive around 10 a.m. at Qazigund during winters. Many Kashmiris would be seen going for the’ Maaz Bataah’ or  ‘Mutton rice’ lunch straight and then relishing a puff or two from the busy  Hookah or smoking cigarettes outside the hotel. They also kept pricking the gaps in their teeth with a  toothpick held in one hand.

“ 'Kyaa sa khyova bataah vaen    ? Ramban taam praaerzeih  ' meaning ' What you had your lunch so early? You could have waited up to Ramban.' ”

“ ' Kyaa pataa buthhi kitchh vuthh aasi ta kar vaatav'  meaning ' Who knows the condition of the road ahead and when shall we reach Ramban? ' ”

There was a Punjabi shop a little away from the main market. The owner had a water tank in the backyard. you could get Poorie, Channa, Pakoda at this shop. He would also send his boys near the buses parked in the main Qazigund bazaar. These boys kept crying:-

" ' Aao, Bathroom, Garam Chai, Poorie, Chhola,  Pakoda,  Rajmah, Chaawal, Paani Tanki, Haathh munh saaf karo, Bathroom ‘  meaning  ‘ Come!  Urinals, Hot tea, Poorie, Chhola, Pakoda, Rajmah, Rice, Water tank, Wash your face and hands, Urinals  .' ”

When some passenger would say:-

“ ' O yeh hotel door hai. Idhar se gaadi nikal jaayegi.'    meaning ‘ Your hotel is far off. The bus may leave dropping us here only.’ ”

The hotel boys would reply:-

  'Driver naal gal ho gayi.Aap ko udhar se hi uthaayega. Chalo Chalo do kadam hai .Khula Bathroom .'  meaning    ‘ It has already been fixed  up with the driver. He will pick you up from that shop. Come ! Come !   Just a few steps. Spacious  urinals.’ ”

The drivers of the buses carrying people to Jammu would be entertained free by hotel owners. They would generally stop near the hotels which offered them free breakfast. On this Jammu Srinagar highway,   annual ‘Darbar Move’ rush would continue till Schools in Kashmir valley closed for winter break. The buses of J&KSRTC held something like a monopoly on this highway. You had A and  B class buses that moved almost together and covered the hilly journey of about 300 km in 10-12 hours. No Tata Sumos, no video coaches and no taxis as these ply currently round the clock.

Urinals were known as bathrooms in Qazigund. This specific meaning was known to travellers and the hotel owners. And for any hotel at Qazigund, the bathroom was a USP. Every hotel or tea stall owner marketed them. Once inside these dark and dingy wayside hotels or tea stalls, you were led to open fields from the back door. The world outside was a bathroom. Kashmiri Pandits would straightaway go to a Sardar Ji's hotel.

“ 'Sardaar Ji, bathroom kidhar hai ?' meaning  Sardaar Ji, Where is the urinal? ' 

  ' Baahar sara bathroom hai. Yeh duniya bhi bathroom hi hai. Jahaan marzi hai baith jaao . peeth parto aur karo ‘  meaning    'Outside the shop, everything is a bathroom. Isn't this world also a urinal? Don’t look back.    Sit and unburden yourself .’ 

Neither humour nor satire was intended in the reply from the hotel owner. Fed up with recurring questions from passengers who desired to know where the bathroom was, the proprietor had no other argument to offer. That also put end to further questions.

Sometimes a Punjabi passenger would tell the hotel owner:-

" '  Sardaar Ji gussa kaade waaste kardhe ho? Koyee gal nahin. Oney te poochha si bathroom kithey hai , tussi peeche dus  dena si ta gal mukki .’  meaning ‘Sardaar Ji,  Why do you get angry? He  simply asked where is the urinal  and you should have told ‘ on the backside of the hotel ’ and it would have been all over.' ”

The hotel owner would promptly reply:-

“ 'Me jaanda inna noo. Aey Kashmiri pandat hegain. Chhada mootar karan vaasde Ithay aandhe hain. Aey te safar vich  apni roti naal laandhe hain.  Asaan ki khatnaa inaan kol. Haan kadhe koyee ekk adhaa andaa paraatha le leve to o vakhri gal hegi. ‘  meaning  ’ I know them. They are Pandits. They come to these shops only to urinate. They carry their home-cooked food in this journey. What have we to earn from them? Yes sometimes someone among them buys our egg  Paraatha . ' ”

Yes, except the hotel, the world outside was a bathroom. You had the fresh air, greenery and natural beauty around this huge bathroom. It was all up to you. You had to grab your share in it. Gender distinction was beyond the comprehension of these hotel owners. This applied to Muslim hotels as well.

Tea prepared with firewood, smoky in taste, served in shabby cups or poor quality glasses with Paraatha smelling of raw edible oil was what you could order for. No biscuits. No cookies. No butter toasts. Coffee was unknown to them. Hardly any shop sold cold drinks though Coca Cola   had arrived in India and at  Ramban  across the Banihaal  tunnel, you could get some local brands like Tanza, Fanta   and   Baanta Soda.

After getting free from the bathroom worry, some passengers would pull out Kangris held underneath their Pherans and make a request to the hotel owners for some charcoal to be put in their handheld braziers.  During the winter season,  many Kashmiri passengers carried Kangris to keep their bodies warm inside the bus. It was followed by the usual Gupshup or gossip and payment for something that was forced on you. Albert Camus had rightly felt :-

'Human beings suffer should they be denied freedom of Choice .’  And  Camus was proved right by the hotel owners of Qazigund.

Everything in Qazigund has changed now. You have so many shops selling dry fruits and handicrafts, cricket bats, saffron, Kangris and fruits. About 90 km from Srinagar city, It is a Tehsil head quarter now. The road has been widened. It has also been put on a railway link presently.  New shops with new owners demonstrate progress and affluence.  The new hotel owners continue to be obsessed with the bathroom which they keep marketing to the travellers.  A few residual old hotels owned by  Sikh community stand upgraded and present a new look. The new crockery and plates convey progress and prosperity.

Sikhs continue to live in the Kashmir valley. Most of them stayed back and lived through the dark days of armed insurgency even under very grave provocations like the Chithi Singh Pora killings. The community has moved to a better life with education and hard work. They have proved quite enterprising and now many families have built good houses in new colonies in Srinagar city. The community has also produced some good doctors, engineers, lawyers, bankers and businessmen. So many families own trucks and other commercial vehicles and some of them have become successful transporters. Young boys and girls from this community are as competitive as children from any other community. The younger generation is opting for better professional education and that has brought about a sea change in their lives. They readily move for employment to any corner of the country or overseas. This mobility is sure to pay them rich dividends.

Sikhs living in Kashmir speak fluent Kashmiri, Pahari, Punjabi  (spoken in Malwa and Doaba)   and typical Punjabi spoken in Multan and erstwhile frontier provinces of British India. Some trace their origin to Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army. Some are Kashmiri Pandit converts to the new faith. Some have come from Punjab. Some have come from  Muzaffarabad and other villages along the old Jhelum valley road and POK. They continue to hold an unshakable belief in the culture of service to humanity or traditions of their glorious  Gurus. This was demonstrated by them during the devastating floods of  September 2014 when every Gurudwara in Srinagar city was opened to accommodate flood victims irrespective of their caste or religion. Although they have adopted some of the Kashmiri traditions, they maintain a distinct identity.

Unfortunate victims of time and circumstances, some among them are still poor or dependent on their agricultural output only.   This group that lives mostly in villages, has also faced inattention and apathy from successive governments. I end this write up with two couplets of Mirza  Ghalib…

Aey partavey khurshid jahaan-taab  idhar bhi,
Saaye  ki tarah hum pe ajab waqt  padaa hai...
Begaanagi  e  khalq se bedil na ho "Ghalib",
Koyee  nahin  tera to meri jaan  khudaa hai.

( Avtar Mota )

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.Based on a work
at http:\\\.