Sunday, September 30, 2012



Foreshore Road . Dal lake Srinagar .
Photo Autar Mota


“ Assi Chhu special Naadur Baqaar ”

“ We need special Nadru bundle ”

“ sardar Ji tuul ye Gatschi ”

“ sardar Ji Pick up what you want ”

“ Me Gatschi special Naadier Geuud ”

“ I say I need as special nadru Bundle ”

“ Ye Kuss ”

“ Who is he ? ”

“ Afsurr ”

“ officer ”

“Kaashur Chhu Basaan .Pandit Maa Chhu ”

“ Looks like a kashmiri . Is he a pandit ? ’’

“Avaa . pandit Chhu ”

“ Yes . He is a pandit .”

“ Teli Thahar .”

“ Then wait  for a moment."

The women went to the bank of the lake ,pushed the boat aside and to my surprise brought out a bundle of Lotus stems or Nadru kept underneath . Fresh . Rusty white and a mere look convinced me about the quality .

“ Ruth saa sardar Ji . Diess . ”

“ Take it Sardar ji .Give this bundle to him . ”
 At this point, i join the communication :

“Kaetiss Chha ”

“How much for this ? ’’

“ Ye Chha Daai Huthh . Magar tsche ye khosh karie Di Mahraa. Assi Chhu Khaar Tuhundh. Baa mashraava naa. Meyon Khaandaar Chhu Logmutt Aeikk pandit jiyunn Nokri . Baa Rataiy Sirf Huthh Ropaiyee .Tuss Wanaa poshker nath . Khabar Katie Chhu . Khjodaa Saahib Thhavinuss salaamat Shurien Baatchun Saan . . Ye Guvv special Haak . Ye chhuyee Myaani tarafaa Bhaabi Baaput . Ye Chhu Gyevv . Athh Ratiey naa Baa Paansa . Gustch Che Jaanuss Khaar . Kuli jahaanuss Khaar . ”

“ This I sell for Rs250/=. But you pay what you desire sir . We are grateful to Pandits .I shall not forget. A kashmiri Pandit helped my husband in his employment. We would call him Poshkar Nath . . I do not know his present whereabouts . Wherever he may be , our wish is that he and his family be happy . I shall only take Rs100/= for this bundle of lotus stems .Take this special Haak. Take it for my Bhabi . It shall be quite tasty after cooking. I shall accept no money for it. May god keep you healthy . May god bless all”

I turn sentimental and start feeling for Kashmir . Urdu Poet Ahmed Faraaz comes to my mind

Humne Jis Jis Ko Bhi Chaaha Tere Hijraan Mein Woh Log,
Aatay Jaatay Huye Mausam Thaay Zamaana Tu Thhaa.

( Autar Mota )
Sunday September 30 , 2012 Time 11.05 PM Good Night                                                          

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                                                ( Harish Bahri with a ball in his hand )
                                                    ( Dr Farooq Mirza  in Centre )

                                     ( Abdul Qayoom and Abdul Rauf )

                                                   ( CRICKET  AND  KASHMIR )

 " You need not worry. This type of growth is curative. Even if the biopsy report shows it as Edeno Carcinoma, she can happily live for many many years to come. She has no secondary growth anywhere as far as we know. We checked her liver in particular. It had no evidence of Metastasis. Keep her under the observation of Dr B.K.Jalali. I have not seen any attendant so faithful and concerned for his patient as all of you are. That way she is lucky. I wish her fast recovery. Keep meeting ". 

 That is what Dr Farooq Mirza told me when I went to see him in his room in the SMHS hospital, Srinagar on the day of discharge of my mother. He was in Dr Jalali's team that had operated upon my mother in the SMHS Hospital, Srinagar in 1983 for a malignant growth in the sigmoid colon. She lived trouble-free life till 1996 after that perfect surgery done by Dr B. K. Jalali. What a competent surgeon Dr Jalali had been at that point of time in Kashmir .?What a great and efficient support Dr Farooq Mirza had been providing to all the patients in Dr Jalali's ward at that point of time? I have not forgotten these two great men. I was also impressed by the mannerism and the  efficiency of young doctor Mirza who was a fantastic cricket player as well. 

Dr Farooq Mirza represented J&K state in the Ranji Trophy matches. I also need to mention the grand partnership of 80 runs that Abdul Rauf had with young Farooq Mirza in the Ranji Trophy match against the Punjab team played at Patiala in 1975. Dr Farooq Mirza scored 123 runs in that match. He was the first cricketer from our State to score a century in a Ranji Trophy match. Who does not remember his lovely catch to dismiss Kim Hughes in the match Australia v/s North Zone in 1978? His style and dash could convince any person that he was a true sportsman. So was Mushtaq Mirza from this family. Mushtaq was a leg spinner with a style resembling Chandrashekhar. The eldest amongst Mirza brothers namely Mr Mohi ud Din Mirza ( carpet exporter ) was also a great cricket player who represented J&K State in the Ranji Trophy. He was a gifted all-rounder.

Dr Farooq Mirza informs:-

 " The words of Rauf Sahab on 11 November 1975 at Baradari stadium in Patiala still echo with me sometimes. He advised me not to miss the opportunity to complete my century because three of us namely himself, Brijinder and M D Mirza failed to reach the triple-figure. He advised me to stay calm and focused until I complete the century. I often used to polish the cricketing shoes of my brother M D Mirza as well as Rauf Sahab before each match. That was a very satisfying duty to do for the two legends of our time."

 Cricket ran through the blood of Mirza brothers. They were cool, friendly and always full of warmth. Wherever they are, happiness and good luck are bound to be on their side 

Like Mirza brothers, Kashmir produced many outstanding players of the game. We had Abdul Rauf fondly known as Ruffi to his friends and fellow players. The tall Punjabi speaking player from Srinagar was a medium-fast bowler in addition to being an outstanding opening batsman. He was tall, Stylish and aggressive player. Once he scored 95 runs against Delhi team in a Ranji Trophy match played in Srinagar, hitting Bishen Singh Bedi several times across the boundary. That time spinner Bishen Singh Bedi played for Delhi team.

It was a real treat to watch dashing Rauf in a white dress and a cap on his head open batting for the J&K. His official record available with JKCA informs us that he played about 57 matches and with the highest score of 95 during his career spanning over 20 years. I believe Rauf played 63 Matches. .Rauf is reported to have played cricket on his marriage day and also on the day when a son was born to him.

Rauf belonged to a business family. He spoke fluent Punjabi. The family had a crockery store near Budshah Chowk just below the Taj hotel. His younger brother Talat was also a dashing cricketer.

I am told that post-retirement from the game, Rauf associated with JKCA as a senior selector and later its treasurer. He has been instrumental in arranging top coaches like Bishen Singh Bedi for JKCA. He tried to bring Mohinder Amarnath as well.

 We also had a fast bowler in the J&K team known as Abdul Qayoom ( nickname Qayoom Channa ). He was a terrific fast bowler. He broke the middle wicket of Akash Lal, the well-known batsman with his superb bowling. I do not know where Raza brothers are at present. We had Assad Raza and the handsome Ali Raza plying for the J&K team..We also had a player known as Khursheed Drabu. He was the fastest runner between the wickets. He was always smiling and quick. I came to know from a friend that Drabu Sahib had migrated to the UK where he rose to become senior immigration Judge .we would love to see the stylish Jammu batsman Brijender Singh or Mehboob Iqbal or the handsome Pervaiz Qureshi playing for the state in Ranji Trophy. team, We also had Girdhari Tiku and Sant Singh playing for the state team in several Ranji Trophy matches.

 I would like to make mention of one Jawahir Lal ( nickname Jawa Billoo )who too played in many Ranji Trophy matches. He would come down to the centre of the pitch to hit the ball. He would be pestered by crowds who would cry " Jaw Lal Four Traav "meaning Jawhir hit a four. And lo! Jawahir would listen and get out.

 Cricketer Harish Bahri of J&K, who played many Ranji Trophy matches inform me as under:-

 " Mirza brothers were very talented cricketers and contributed a lot in the game in our state. They fully enjoyed respect and love from all of us and their entire family always would come to watch their all matches without fail as a morale booster. I played many matches with Mohi Ud Din Mirza who was a class off-spinner and a great bat as well. Ruffi’s batting was always a treat to watch. Bishen Bedi can’t forget him in his entire life for the hammering he received from him in the Ranji Trophy match played at Amar Singh Club, Srinagar " 

Vidya Bhaskar, Shahid Parvez, Sanjay Sharma Mehboob Iqbal, Nirmal Singh, Sanjeev Chaudhary, Vijay Sharma, Surendra Singh, Ravikant Gupta, Akthar Ajaz, Ashwinder Koul, Parvez Qureshi, Parvez Kaiser, Narender Sharma, Vinod Sharma, Ravinder Pandit and Zahoor Bhat all from our state played Ranji Trophy cricket. 

I have mentioned some names which I recollect. There were many more who contributed to the development of cricket in Kashmir. Most of them had learnt the game in the lanes and bylanes of the city. Some would come to Iddgah or polo ground or Zind Shah Masjid ground, Rainawari on Sundays to learn the game. Some would go to S.P. college or Amar Singh College to play Mohalla matches. Some would make it on the road with a cheap bat and wooden ball known locally as Beera. The hand protection gloves, leg guards or head helmets were nowhere to be seen in those days. Only some boys from well to do families played with leather balls. Beera was heavy and hard but cheap and Popular. It could injure your body. It gave a lot of pain to fingers during fielding. I saw one or two accidents taking place with Beera hits in polo ground each Sunday where Mohalla teams from Amira Kadal, Badyar, Habba Kadal, Zaindar Mohalla or Sathu Bar Bar Shah would go to play cricket. Thus Poverty gave its pain in cricket as well.

 This cricket fever continues in Kashmir. The facilities, training and interest in the game have undergone a radical change. Now we have many cricket academies in the state where professional coaches train players. JKCA is also playing its role by engaging former test players of the national team as trainers. Irfan Pathan is the recent trainer engaged by JKCA. Bishen Singh Bedi had also been engaged by JKCA as a trainer. Young boys dressed in white cricket dress now go to Polo ground or Ram Munshi Bagh ground or Iddgah on Sundays to play cricket. Yes, the Beera is nowhere to be seen. They carry the leg guards, hand gloves, wooden wickets and sunshade caps. These playgrounds are full on Sundays. The Ram Munshi Bagh ground near Amar Singh club that saw the West Indies team playing a test match against India in 1983 is almost fully occupied by cricket players during Sundays. Many clubs, well-developed bat industry and a good number of sports goods selling shops make you believe that cricket is the game of choice for Kashmiris.

I need to make mention of the 1983 test match played at JKCA's Amar Singh Cricket Stadium, Srinagar. Surprisingly and unfortunately Clive Lloyd’s West Indies team got unusual crowd support while every Indian batsman’s wicket was cheered with delight. It appeared as if the hooliganism was a planned affair. A spectator carrying a poster of Imran Khan taunted Sunil Gavaskar who has recorded this unfortunate incident in his book  ‘Runs ‘n’ Ruins’  as under:- 

 ‘Being hooted at after a defeat is understandable, but this was incredible. Moreover, there were many in the crowd shouting pro-Pakistan slogans which confounded us, because we were playing the West Indies and not Pakistan.’

With so many Ranji players around, cricket will always be a great attraction in our state. We have so many young and talented players like Parvez Rasool, Abid Nabi, Arshad Bhatt, Sameer Ali, Vimarsh kaw, Pranav Gupta, Paras Sharma, Shubham Khajuria, Ian Dev Singh, Manzoor Dar, Mithun Manhas, Waseem Raza, Umar Nazir, Bandeep Singh, Samiullah Beigh and many more joining this long list for the Ranji squad at one point or the other. It is heartening to see some players from Kashmir or Jammu getting selected in National team or playing IPL cricket.

Maharaja Partap Singh was a great promoter and admirer of cricket. Jammu and Kashmir had its first international test cricket team in 1922 while the Indian cricket team was granted test status in 1932.

 Looking at many promising youngsters in the game today, many senior Ranji Trophy players from J&K must be thinking something like this:-

 ‘Qaafile aatay jaatay rehtay hain
 Kaar e duniya kabhi huva na tamaam..
 Kal jahaan me thhaa aaj tum ho vahaan
 Aey nai nasl tujh ko mera salaam’

 ( Avtar Mota ) 

Based on a work at http:\\\.

Saturday, September 29, 2012



PHOTO Autar Mota ( 2012…)


In Kashmir , Every butcher keeps specially cut log of wood as a working tool in his shop . This working tool is placed ideally just below the hanging Flesh and close to  the sitting place of the butcher . Once the butcher chops some flesh for his buyer, he places it on this log for cutting the same to small pieces . The average size of the piece depends on the type of dish to be prepared from it . If it is Roganjosh , the pieces are bigger , fleshy with Bones . If it is Yakhani  , the pieces are medium sized preferably from ribs with fatty  content . For keema or minced meat balls , the boneless pieces are beaten fine on this log with a heavy knife called “ Shraakh” in kashmiri .

I never knew where from these logs came . Sometimes the butchers would get them from timber sellers on order . Sometimes the Butchers would arrange these logs themselves .Now due to increase in the consumption of mutton , people have started purchasing these “ Takhta Mondhurs ” from market to be used in their homes . I saw this stuff on sale in Sunday market of Kashmir in May 2012.

“Le Leitaa Jenaab . Koyee Parvaai nahin . Hum Concession Karegaa . Iss par Maaz Dhaggo. Iss par Kokurr Piece piece karo. Ghar Mein Kaam Aayegaa. Uthaa... lo koyee paisa Nahin Dena . Yeh Kashmir Ka Tohfaa . Kashmiri Pandit Bhi Letaa . Mutchh Iss Par Behtareen Bantaa . Poochho apne aziz dost Se . Hum Such Boltaa hai. Yeh Chinar peid ka hotaa hai .Yeh Tcheir peid bhi Hotaa hai. . Iss ko Boltaa hai Takhtaa Mondhur . Yeh Ganai Isstemaal kartaa . Hum Ko Yaad karegaa. Uthaao ”

said the Foot Path Trader to Sukhdev Chib my friend.
“ Why Not buy it sir ? Don’t worry . I shall do concession in rate .Use it for mincing mutton . You can even cut a chicken to pieces over it . Shall Prove quite useful in your home .Keep it as a gift from Kashmir . Don’t pay . .Kashmiri Pandits too buy it . Ask your friend . I am telling the truth . Use it for making Mutton Keema.( Mutchh ). This is from a chinar Tree . It also comes from an Apricot Tree. In Kashmir we call it Takhtaa Mondhur . Butchers use it. You shall remember me . Pick it up ”

(Autar Mota )

Saturday 29th september , 2012  Time 11.50 PM .. Good Night
Based on a work at http:\\\.


Photographs by Autar Mota  

Today I shall say something about the poplars ( FREST ) of kashmir ........With the widening of srinagar Baramulla road in progress , a large number of these majestic trees have been cut down. They are growing wildly on Srinagar Anantnag Road . The Poplars on Anantnag road present many green tunnels to the joy of a driver on this route. Regular plantation is also being done .Poplars on the Boulevard also look majestic. The poplars in Partap Park Amira Kadal add grace to the garden and the surrounding area.. During spring time , these poplars keep shedding lot of cotton like material all over . It is in your clothes , in your room , in your nostrils and in the air that on breathes. We used to call it FREST PHUMB in our childhood. I always got fever and bad cold with these flying cotton . I would be advised to put a hanker chief on my mouth and Nose .
In our school Pandit Dina Nath Handoo our Head master would beat us with a fresh stick cut from a poplar in the school . POPLARS demand lot of water as such they grow easily near river or canal banks or near what we call DEMB . Poplar wood is not used for Building construction activity but has a commercial use in making Fruit Boxes and Ply Board .

Many old movies would have shots of Tonga rides by the actors on Baramulla srinagar road lined with Poplars on both sides. Tongas are no where to be seen now in srinagar . Yes some tongas still ply in Baramulla Town area. In Pampore we have a locality dedicated to Poplars called FRESTBAL. Yes Padampore or pampore of Lalla Ded. So long so much for the poplars of Kashmir. I end this write up with a poem POPLAR written by noted Kurdish poet Sherko Bekas .

( Poplar )

A poplar asked:
Why has this weeping willow immersed its head in the lap
of this lake
and no longer raises it?
The wave replied:
It always stood upright.
A lark used to come
and settle down on it
and whisper to it
what was happening
on the other side of the lake.
One evening the lark
had joyful news:
but while alighting
an eagle swooped and attacked it.
it tumbled down into the water,
and the weeping willow stooped
to save it.
But its hand could not reach far below
and the lark drowned.
Ever since, the tree's crown
has been King in the lap of the lake,
searching for the bird.
( Sherko Bekas )

Autar Mota
Saturday , September 29 … Time 11.30 PM Good Night

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Friday, September 28, 2012




" Over the Vitasta , this king had the great bridge constructed and only since that time ----------------"

(Taranga III verse  354 .)

This is how Kalhana refers to the first Boat Bridge in 6th century AD built by King Pravarsena II of Gonanda dynasty at some distance from Maksikaswamin ( Present day Maisuma ) .

 I have uploaded views some bridges over river Jhelum in srinagar city .Once you enter srinagar city the first bridge across Jhelun is the Zero bridge . Presently It is closed for the vehicular traffic . The wooden structure and base is still intact. Near by another bridge has come up to go to Rajbagh and other adjoining localities. This bridge has its landing near TRC chowk or Radio Kashmir building . The bridge is known as Abdullah bridge .

Thereafter a new walkway has come up to cross  river jhelum near Sheikh Bagh Amira kadal  for going  to lal Mandi area . Previously ,We had to use  a shikara to cross river  jhelum over here . After this the old Amirakadal bridge has since been dismantled . We have a new RCC bridge over river Jhelum  to go  to Hari Singh high street from Lal Chowk. Next to it the old Budshah bridge has also been dismantled and a new RCC  Bridge is since operational to reach Secretariat and Batmaloo area . Thereafter the Old Habba kadal bridge is still functional but a new RCC bridge has also come up near by and it joins Tankipora and Kral Khudd localities .

         ( Old habba kadal bridge )

Down below a new RCC bridge has come up at Fateh Kadal and the same is since functional. Therafter another new RCC bridge has come up at Zaina Kadal . The old Zainakadal bridge is also functional. Then down below a new RCC bridge has come up at Ali kadal . The old Ali kadal has since been dismantled as it was burnt in  militancy related violence .Thereafter lies the new RCC bridge known as Nawa kadal . Old Nawa kadal bridge was again burnt in a  militancy related violence .Then Down below lies Safa Kadal and Chatta kadal . I have not uploaded views of Safa kadal , Nawa kadal and Chatta kadal .All other bridges have been uploaded in Seriatim   from top to bottom.

Insofar old bridges are concerned , I may add that Ali Kadal was built by Sultan Ali Shah in 1415 AD. Zaina kadal was built by Sultan Zain ul Abdin in 1427 AD .Fateh Kadal was built by sultan Fateh Shah in 1500AD. Other four bridges namely Habba kadal , Nawa kadal , Safa kadal and Amira kadal were built by Sultan Habib Shah , Noor ud din Khan Bamzei , Saif ud din Khan and Amir Ud din Khan Jawan Sher in 1573 AD, 1666AD , 1671AD and 1774 AD respectively .In past , Srinagar used to be called as a city of seven bridges . 

 I end this post with a mini poem  of noted kurdish poet sherko Bekas    ....

(Your love)

Your love is like the wind-
When I want to burn,
It comes and extinguishes me.

Your love is like the wind-
when I am aglow,
it comes and kindles me
( Sherko Bekas  )

(Autar Mota)

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Monday, September 24, 2012





                                                               ( Late Ali Mohd Lone )
                                         ( At Leningrad Russia with A delegation of writers from India )
                              ( With M F Hussain outside India Coffee House Srinagar )

Ali Mohd lone was a skilled craftsman of Radio plays . Very impressive dramas with emotions , romance and idealism . Some of his plays that i remember are ; Agar Gaash Soaree ( If lights go out ) Aadam Havaa Taa Iblees ( Adam , Hawa and Iblees ), Kaaend Sehraav Taa vajood ( Thorns , Desert and existence ), Viz Chhaa Saaen ( This moment Is ours ) , Taqdeer saaz ( Maker of our fate ) Myaani Jigreikk  daadei Voathh ( Arise o the pain Of my heart ) and Suyya . etc etc . Out of all these plays and many other Plays that Ali Mohd lone wrote , Suyya alone can put the playwright in a category of master playwright . Inspite of many handicaps like lack of working knowledge of Sanskrit language ( that opens doors of the Old and classical literature of the country) , the playwright has really laboured hard to create this master piece . For this drama , the playwright has mainly relied on Stein’s English Translation of Kalhana’s Rajtarangini . Some characters have been mentioned by Kalhana while others have been created by the playwright to fill up various loose ends in creating the Impressive character of SUYYA. He wrote the play in 1964. Characters created by Ali Mohd lone for this play are as under

1 Suyya

2 King Awantivarman

3 Chandaal

4 Chandaalini

5 Chanderkaanta

6 Pandit

5 Minister

6 Jaideva

These Characters are supported by some women, Brahmins , Labourers ,girls , boys , Drum beater and some courtiers of King Awantivarman. KALHANA informs us that Suyya is born in the family of Chandaals . He is not believed when he says that he shall stop the havoc of floods in Vitasta river .Finally King Awantivarman takes a chance and Suyya does the impossible.

Awantipora was once capital of King Awantivarman (855-883 A D) who laid foundation of this city during his reign. A town still exists in the name of Awantivarman as Awantipora. The town has two important monuments In the shape of Ruins of Two Majestic Temple complexes built by AWANTIVARMAN which at present stand as an attraction for the visitors/tourists . Though not equal in size to Lalitadittya 's structures especially the SUN TEMPLE OF MARTAND PLATEAU , yet they rank among the most imposing monuments of ancient Kashmir architecture.The reign of this king is considered as the peaceful period in the history of kashmir.With the help of Suyya a celebrated Engineer in his Kingdom , Awantivarman removed the recurrent havoc in kashmir caused due to Floods in Jhelum by building Bunds and an extensive Drainage system changing the very course of River near Baramulla Town . He also built Flood Channels in Srinagar City. As per Kalhana ( Taranga V 125 ) he died at the mountain of Tripuresvara ( Modern Triphar ) . He did not indulge much in territorial conquests but laid the foundation of a very good adminstration and governance .

“ On the Bank of Vitasta where she emerges from the waters of the MahaPadma , he Founded a town comparable to the Paradise to bear his own name.”

(Fifth Taranga verse  118 Rajtaringini of Kalhana )

This is how Kalhana describes the birth of Sopore, the town founded by Suyya on the banks of vitasta where it emerges out from Wular ( MahaPadma ) Lake . This lake finds mention repeatedly in Taranga Fifth of Rajtaringini. Approximately 1100 years ago Suyya ensured that the bed of the river is lower than the bed of wular lake at the place where it emerges out from this lake .That made the water to rush out else the lake would have engulfed entire area upto Manasbal and the havoc of floods in Vitasta would have made life miserable for the entire population of valley.

Suyyapore or present day Sopore was founded (in later part of 9th centuary ) by SUYYA the engineer in the court of king Avantivarman (855-883 AD) after he dredged VITASTA near Baramulla to save Kashmir from the fury of reccurring floods.
As per Asian Agri. History Vol.13 , Sindh stream used to meet Vitasta atTrigam but it was SUYYA who shifted the confluence point of Vtasta and Sindh stream to present day Shadipora ( Prayaag ) and also regulated the flow of Vitasta to wular lake . Suyya had thus many villages reclaimed near Trigam area which would otherwise always remain inundated due to floods . Paddy cultivation was extensively undertaken in these large tracts of reclaimed land . Due to Suyya 's extensive irrigation system , one kharwar of rice came down from 200 dinnars to 36 dinnars in the reign of Avantivarman.

  ( Ariel view of Baramulla Town by  Sculptor Shabir Mirza )

There is an interesting story narrated by kalhana in Rajtaringini as to how SUYYA dredged the river at many points.He took pots full of gold coins in boats and threw them into Vitasta waters at Present day Khannabal , Shadipora , Baramullah and at all places where its choked currents overflowed its banks . People jumped into the river at all places and dug its bed for months to find the coins . Many boulders and heaps of silt were thrown on the banks of the river . Through this process he ensured the dredging of the river.
( Autar Mota )
september 24 , 2012... Time 11.25 PM . Good Night
  CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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Sunday, September 23, 2012


                                               ( vegetable shop on Kashmir )
                                                       ( Baand Theatre of Kashmir )

This is “tchend validhi taas”  or you can say “ tseot validhi lawaas ” . You can also say “beanz  validhi  maas ” said  my friend Manzoor .

“He is a funny man dear  Outtar ( Avtar ) . What does he say in Kashmiri ?   said John Clark , Manzoor’s friend and guest.

“ Nothing special. He is defining this old Amira Kadal bridge in relation to the newly constructed bridge. ‘tseot’ means the bread sold by Kashmiri bakers. ‘ lawaas’ is a bigger sized bread which is thinner.’tchend’ is a mild slap while ‘taas’  means a forceful punch. ‘beanz’  and ‘maas’ mean mother and daughter . The word ‘validhi’ means  son of or defines parentage . I believe you get what he says.”  That is how I  clarified to the guest of my friend Manzoor. John Clark  was a carpet buyer from the US .

“Mister I make simple for you. In English what Farangi  understand is ‘fail validhi pass’ . This go very simple.” said Manzoor to John Clark. John and Manzoor were standing on the old Amirakadal bridge and looking towards  the new bridge. Manzoor was a Kashmir handicrafts trader and owner of a houseboat. Kashmiris connected with the tourist industry would easily impress Americans or Europeans with their crisp humour.

John Clark would come to the bank to encash Thomas Cook traveller cheques and one day Manzoor requested me to accompany them to the  Sri Partap Museum,  Lal Mandi. Since John wanted to go on foot and move through the market, we took a longer route. Right from Lal Chowk, Manzoor started gossiping and telling funny stories to John who would simply keep smiling and nodding.  All along the journey ,  Manzoor kept impressing us with his humour and pranks .

I vividly remember when the new Amirakadal bridge was thrown open for traffic, the old bridge nearby was not demolished. The old bridge continued to exit for many years close to the new bridge. A footpath market had come upon the old abandoned bridge. This market had left little space for pedestrian traffic. One  had to push his  way through the  crowd of ramshackle shops and onlooking buyers. The bridge was full with traders selling everything from garment buttons to cheap plastic wares. You could buy dry fruits, shoes, cheap crockery, ready-made garments and old clothes ( called Bangladesh in local parlance ). So clever were the sellers that they made people try these old and new ready-made garments on the bridge  to the curious gaze of the  crowds. You could buy cheap transistor sets, tape recorders ( called ‘Type Record’ in local parlance ). The market used to be the busiest centre for the purchase of a cheap and duplicate variety of goods. You could buy a BOLA shoe with word BOLA made to look like BATA. One could also enjoy a street magician show. The Saande Ka Tel ( lizard oil ) seller made tall claims about his product. The Pathan selling Josh e Mardaana (  tonic for male fertility ) made you taste the tonic prepared in your presence from crushed dry fruits fried in clarified butter. The loud music at the cheap cassettes shop or the parrot seller with his caged birds tempted you for a look. The cheap perfume seller, the footpath Jyotishi ( fortune teller ) holding the hand of an ignorant villager or an army soldier and telling him what future lay in store for him could also attract your attention. The shabby-looking Sardar Ji or the footpath dentist grabbing the jaw of a poor villager with dirty forceps could be offending at times. The knife sharpener with his bicycle producing sparks.With ‘ Kailash Cafeteria’ nearby where Kashmiri Pandits would be relishing Kebabs and Kapoor Vaishno Bhojnalaya across  the  Jhelum river  or Prem Ji street nearby where fresh and delicious bread was sold, the old bridge had its special presence in the area. The lane near the old bridge led you to the Lal Ded hospital. Passing through this area we went to the  S.P. Museum, Lal Mandi.

Names of some shops in Srinagar also depicted inherent Kashmiri humour. We had many shops with funny and catchy names. A shop in the Dal lake area had following board  hung at its entrance.

“ Manna,  The Lovely Art of Lovely Land ”

A  prominent shop dealing in Kashmiri handicrafts  was run under the name and style  “ Subhana The Worst  ”. This business house had a competing shop run under the name and style  “ Subhana The Best  ” . There was another shop  dealing in  Kashmiri handicrafts  run under the name and style “ Same Same But Different ”.

 At times, these names made you laugh. But then this was also a marketing technique which certainly paid its dividends. Some business houses had serious names like  “Suffering Moses ”.

 Canadian author Thomas Chandler Haliburton writes :-
 Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive.
And the nicknaming hobby with  the Kashmiris is centuries old. Even most of the surnames in Kashmir are based on nicknames only. Teasing to the point of making a person go wild with rage is known as ‘Garmaavun’  in Kashmiri. Garmaavun used to be a favourite entertainment with  the Kashmiris. I remember children in Rainawari walking behind a Kashmiri Pandit , Jia Lal by name and crying:-

“ Jia lal marnas chhuyi kamiy kaal”

( Jia Lal, you are to die very  shortly. )

Girls or women were also not spared. A simple girl in Rainawari was named ‘Ganda Tsoor’( onion thief ). Another woman from Rainawari   named Rupaawati  would be called “ Rupawati , taam roz aeti ” or “Rupawati,  stay put  at that place only” .

I have heard many ladies ( Pandits and Muslims in our locality  ) saying :-

“ Kyaa saa ye chhaa treya tsoor vaanuss pyaath beehith . Me ouss stove sherun .”

( Has this Treyaa ( Triloki Nath Pandit ) , the thief opened his shop? I needed to visit him to set my kerosene stove in order  .)

Another Kashmiri Pandit in Rainawari was nicknamed ‘dhe nazar’  or ‘just have a look’. Whenever he was seen in the market  , children would cry ‘dhe nazar’ forcing him to look around so that everyone would just giggle and enjoy. A Halwai shop in Rainawari had a Kashmiri Pandit helper who was nicknamed ‘Alla Yakhani’  meaning  a dish that had gourd cooked in curd .  This man would go berserk with rage when any person would cry ‘Alla Yakhni’ behind his back. He would pass on abuses to one and all in a very loud tone and run after boys to thrash anyone whom he could catch. Shopkeepers in Jogilanker first provoked  the boys to tease this helper and later enjoyed this drama from a safe distance . In Rainawari, we had persons with nicknames like Bekal Batta( foolish Pandit ), Paachi Russ ( soup from leg portion of a sheep ), Gandaa Oluv ( onions and potatoes ), Amma Babur, Fashionee Fotedar, Maama Koll, Naatha Ditt, Tiklee, Kokker Tsoor , Yaavv Kuth , Ramzaan Londe , Tuwaan Bachaa ,Tsatta Russ , Tikka Waavij , Curfew Bachaa and Miskeen Budd . In  the college, I remember some very respectable and senior professors being nicknamed as Nissar Gotta, Machhi Khan, Indira Gandhi, Theek Ayaa Ji and Lung Taas. Quite often I felt ashamed at these nicknames for our teachers.

There used to be a drillmaster in Hari Singh High School, Rainawari Mohd Siddiq by name. Everybody called him Sidd Poraath( Sidda Parantha ). Another bandmaster was called Nera Band( Niranjan Nath ) by boys in the DAV School, Rainawari. In the  Hindu High School, Sheetal Nath, the drillmaster Janki Nath was nicknamed as "Jana Military". Shri Mohammad Yusuf who joined as principal at the S.P. College, Srinagar  (a couple of years after we left) was nicknamed ‘Yusuf Jandhagor’( Yusuf the rag seller ). Shri Mohammad Yusuf was a well-read teacher and the  author of some books.  The Kashmiris did not spare their popular leaders. I remember a Ladishah ( a satirical composition ) sung by  the Kashmiris nicknaming Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and Mirza Afzal Beigh.The Ladishah possibly composed around 1953,  unfolded some events in a satirical manner . I quote:-

‘Thadiss nai  aqal  aess tundus kyah  guv
Vaarini  haendh  netchive duniya  khyav’

(If the tall man (Sheikh Mohd Abdullah ) acted unwisely, what happened to physically handicapped( Mirza Afzal Beigh ). Now, look, how a midwife's son (Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad) grabbed the opportunity and sat on the throne .)

Sh. Shamas ud din who became  the prime minister  after Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was removed under Kamraj Plan was nicknamed as Shamma Kath ( Shamma the sheep ) by the Kashmiris. Late D. P. Dhar was called D. P. Whiskey. I have heard many Kashmiris calling Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as Oluv Bub ( potato father ). A slogan was created by Kashmiris to suit popular sentiment during peak popularity of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The slogan had inherent satire and humour . I quote :-

‘ Alla karegaa  vaangan  karega , bub karega  bub karega ’

( Whatever father like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah does for Kashmir ,  let him do . Even if he makes it a  brinjal or gourd  let him make it .)

In the early seventies of the last century I heard some people raising a satirical and humour packed slogan. I quote :-

“Ye  muluk nakhas tulukh
Ponduss  hyotukh dabaluss  kunukh”

( This country has been carried on shoulders,
Bought for a pound, It has been sold for a penny. )

Kashmiris greet each other with this popular line:-

‘Vaaraai chukh sa’

( Are you fine dear ?)

Through a song they even made fun of this popular sentiment : I quote :-

“Bhabi pather beh
Garam garam batah khey
Ba nai pataah laarai
Ahaan bhi Vvaaraai
Vaaraai  chakha  bhi  vaaraai ”

( Bhabi sit down,
have hot rice,
I shall not follow you?
Are you fine?
Yes I am fine )

Shri Ghulam Mohammad Shah or Gul Shah as he was known when he became chief minister of J&K was nicknamed “Gul -Curfew ”in Kashmir for the repeated imposition of undeclared curfews.

I would often hear the cries of the Channa  ( roasted chickpeas ) seller on the footpath outside our bank. He would cry this :-

“Channa hey channa hey
Paanaai  iwaan  khyena  hei
Bell bottom channa hey”

( Buy channa  buy channa .
It goes down the gullet without effort.
Buy this bell-bottomed channa)

We would generally walk to our college from Rainawari. Quite often,  near Sathu Bar Bar Shah, my friend Kuldeep Machama would start his trick. He would make a poor face and request every man riding a bicycle and rushing towards Lal chowk to pick him up. He would say this:-

“ Ba chhuss bemaar
me tulakh na college taam
khoda saeb sozi hajuss ”

( I am sick. Can you pick me up to my college?
Surely with God's grace, you shall perform Hajj. )

Quite often the drama brought results in the shape of a free ride up to the  S. P. College. Whenever he failed to impress, he would cry at the back of the speeding cyclist:-

‘Bemaarus footruthh dil
Tse sozun khoda saeb judguss’

( You have broken the heart of a sick man,
let God put  you before a Judge )

In  the D.A. V. School, Rainawari, I had a mischievous class fellow named Tej Krishen Kaul Kataal. This Kataal family lived at Karapora,  Rainawari near Mian Shah Sahib shrine. There was hardly any  Pandit or Muslim in his locality who was not conferred a nickname by Tej Krishen. Many boys tried to befriend him to avoid being nicknamed, but this was never so as he gave a nickname to his closest friends and relatives. Sri Krishen, his close friend used to sing ‘dum dum digaa digaa’ when both of them smoked charas ( cannabis ) filled  cigarettes inside the Karpora Temple along with the south Indian  caretaker Sadhu .And then Sri Krishen was aghast to notice some Mohalla boys crying loudly ‘Sri Dum Dum’ the moment he walked on the road. Nicknames devised by Tej Kirishen Kaul  had something to do with the personality of his victims. For example, he devised the nickname “ Ingli Guitar ” for his friend Kuldeep  Koul when he saw a new Guitar brand watercolour box in his school bag. Kuldeep Kumar’s father served in the army and accordingly, the boy would converse in Hindi with some English words.   Surprisingly, this irritated Tej Krishen Kaul and  he devised a nickname .


                                              ( A Kashmiri shopkeeper 1950 )

                       ( New Amirakadal bridge )

For our elderly  school drawing teacher who always put on colourful Dastaar ( headgear ),  Tej Krishen Kaul created ‘Rang –Dastaar’ as his nickname. This nickname gained enormous popularity not only in the school but also in entire Rainawari.  The  Schoolboys and  the shopkeepers  in Rainawari cried ‘Rang Dastaar’ as and when they saw this elderly drawing teacher. I vividly remember what hell was created for this simple drawing master by the boys in the school when nickname " Rang-Dastaar'  changed to  shortcut ‘Ranga’ .

One day, at the baker’s shop, Tej Krishen Kaul  heard an elderly Kashmiri  Pandit saying this :-

“ Raatus ouss zabardast tufaan daarien guv tarakh dhi bizin.”

 ( Tonight we had stormy winds. The windows rattled creating a sound like  ‘tarakh dhi  bizin’. )

The moment Tej Krishen heard ‘tarakh dhi bizin’, he forgot he had to buy bread and in a fit of excitement, he ran away from the shop crying “tarakh dhi bizin,  tarakh dhi bizin, shukriya, shukriya, wah wah , wah wah ”. And from  next day, the elderly Pandit came to be  known as  ‘tarakh dhi bizin’ .

The enormous popularity of some Kashmiri  plays  like  ‘Hero Machama’ ,  ‘Shabrang’ and  ‘Hazaar Dastaan’ on radio or television substantiates my argument that Kashmiris and humour are inseparable. And quite often, this humour exceeded its limits and turned to sheer lampooning. But then humour does not necessarily imply that the person is happy within. Urdu poet Bashir Badr comes to my rescue for this argument.

'Yeh  hansee  bhi  koyi  naqaab hai
Jahaan  chaahe  hum  ne giraa  diyaa
Kabhi uss ka dard  chhuppa  gaye
Kabhi  apna  dard  chhuppa  liya .'

( These smiles on my face act like a mask
Whenever I desire,  I use it.
Sometimes I use it to hide the  pain of others
and sometimes I use t to hide my own pain )
( Avtar Mota )


Based on a work at http:\\\.