Tuesday, April 30, 2013




(Children playing  Sazalong or Hopscotch in a village in Kashmir  .A photograph of 1911 AD.)

  To poor , Mother Earth appears  indifferent . Yet  this indifference is always benign. She comes forward with everything .The birds , dancing brooks, shady trees , green valleys and above all her own  surface . She appears to say :-

“ Come child! Draw your dreams on my  body and play your games. Here am I .  ”

This game was played the world over . In India, hopscotch is also  known as  Stapu, or Ekhat-Dukhat (meaning one two houses) and in Kashmir children  used to call it  SAZALONG  . The  game has a  similar basic  principle all over the world with a little variation .Each player tosses a small marker inside one of the squares on the hopscotch grid, then hops from square to square, hopping over the square with their rock in it. Each player's goal is to hop all the way down to the end and back without the other foot touching the ground.In a common variation, the marker must be kicked with the hopping foot from space to space.The marker can be anything from a stone to a coin.The game  encourages  agility, competitiveness among children  apart from making them physically fit .

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the etymology of hopscotch is a formation from the words “hop” and “scotch”, the latter in the sense of “an incised line or scratch”  .

Hopscotch game in India is known by many names. In regions where Hindi is the prominent language, the game goes by Kith-Kith, Stapu, and Langdi. In Bengal, it is known as Ekhaat Duhaat or Ekka Dukka. You can find kids in Maharashtra enjoying a game of Langdi Paani. The game is widely popular in South India and is known by the names Kunte Bille (Karnataka), Paandi (Tamil Nadu), Tokkudu Billa (Andra Pradesh and Telangana).Played mostly by girls in India , Sazalong was quite popular in  Kashmir . It was predominantly a street game in Kashmir.

It is widely believed that  ancient Romans started this game wherefrom it travelled  the world over.It is believed that the game was invented to train Roman soldiers and the courts spanned to over 100 feet. The Hopscotch court was used to help Roman foot soldiers to improve their footwork as they ran the course in full armour.The French version of Hopscotch is popularly known as Escargot meaning ‘snail’.
I conclude this mini write up with a quote of Ricky Shroder, the well-known  American actor and filmmaker :-

" I spent my whole childhood wishing I were older and now I'm spending my adulthood wishing I were younger."

( Avtar Mota )


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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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Monday, April 22, 2013





( Vaccination in Kashmir was started by Neve brothers )

                                ( The Hospital of Dr Neve at Drogjan Dalgate )

                       (Dr Arthur Neve with patients in some field  medical camp )
                                 ( 1912,, People waiting for Dr Earnest Neve  in kashmir )


       ( Dr Arthur Neve surrounded by patients at Mission Hospital , Kashmir )


“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”…..Maya Angelou



Though Dr Bernier ( 1625-1688 ), physician to Mughal King Aurangzeb had visited Kashmir, it was only Dr William Elmslie (1832-1872) who established the first allopathic dispensary in Kashmir. He was the first medical missionary in Kashmir. He was followed by two dedicated brothers; Dr Arthur Neve and Dr Earnest Neve, who stayed in Kashmir for about 3 decades during the latter half of the 19th century. These doctors and their allopathic medicines brought much-needed relief and happiness to the local population as a result of which the local Hakeems lost their brisk practice and earnings. A group of Hakeems went to the  Maharaja and impressed upon him the superiority of the ancient Unani system of medicines over what they called ‘Firangi Dawasaazi’. They asked the  Maharaja not to grant any favours to outsiders.The Maharaja gave them a patient hearing but encouraged the allopathic doctors to expand their practice.

In 1882, Dr Arthur Neve arrived in Kashmir and thereafter in 1886, he was joined by his brother Dr Earnest Neve. Their sister Miss Nora Neve also arrived in Kashmir and became Superintendent of Nurses at the Mission Hospital. In May 1888, Dr Butler reached Srinagar at Dr  Neve' s request to set up a dispensary in the city and named it the "Zenana Shifa Khana". At that time, the Neve brothers were fighting the terrible outbreak of Cholera epidemic in the Kashmir valley. These doctors travelled extensively across the length and breadth of the Kashmir valley and Ladakh. Besides writing several medical papers published in ‘The Lancet’, Dr Arthur Neve (1859-1919 ) authored the following books:-


1 "Kashmir Ladakh and Tibet" (1899),

2 "Picturesque Kashmir" (1900), 

3 "Thirty Years in Kashmir" (1913), 

4 "The Tourist's Guide to Kashmir, Ladakh, Skardo &c" (1923).


Dr Ernest Neve (1861-1946 )  wrote  below listed  books:-


1 "Beyond the Pir Panjal. Life Among the Mountains and Valleys of Kashmir" (1912) 

2 "A Crusader in Kashmir" (1928)This book covers the story of his brother's life and work.

3 "Things Seen in Kashmir" (1931).


  In 1888, the Neve brothers converted the allopathic dispensary at Drogjan ( just below Shankaracharya hill ) into a full-fledged hospital on modern lines. In 1893, it became a premier hospital with 135 beds. Dr Arthur Neve and Dr Earnest Neve would start their day at 8 am and work at the ‘Mission Hospital‘ till 10 pm attending to patients, performing surgeries and moving in wards. Never had Kashmiris seen such care, attention, compassion and dedication from their local Hakeems or Vaids. These doctors would also frequently visit Baramulla, Anantnag and other towns to see patients. Dr Earnest Neve spoke fluent Kashmiri and worked during the rule of Maharaja Partap Singh and Maharaja Hari Singh. To his patients, this god-sent doctor would say "zuv vandai...balai lagai ( My llfe for you. I can face death for you .) " . Most of the patients would come in small boats though some used to come on Tongas during those days.  He would operate free and carry sick patients from the Dal Lake Ghat to the hospital on his shoulders . Dr Arthur Neve and his brother performed 30000 surgeries in Kashmir which included 3651 eye operations,864 operations for tumours and 579 bone operations apart from treating patients of Kangri cancers, syphilis, leprosy and smallpox.  Their hospital at Dalgate Srinagar was later converted to Chest Diseases Hospital. In 1891,  Neve brothers  established the Kashmir State Leper Hospital which was dedicated to treating leprosy patients, and  Dr Ernest neve was the hospital's honorary superintendent for many years .About the 1885 earthquake in Kashmir, Dr Arthur Neve writes this in his book, Thirty Years in Kashmir':-


Post-1885 earthquake, as I moved through villages, the stench was awful and might be smelt half a mile away from the putrefying bodies of animals. I found men and women with dislocations and fractures unreduced and unset; the few survivors had been so stunned by the calamity that they thought little of minor injuries. People gave special offerings in shrines. For us, it was a time for deeds rather than for words, for sympathy than sermons. Even the boat that carried me, was converted into a hospital. There was no safe building in which to work, so we put up tents and hired some very large barges which were soon filled with cases. The wounds were suppurating horribly and in many cases, badly applied splints or over-tight bandages had caused mortification to set in. Tetanus also claimed its victims. Patients were brought on the shoulders of their friends or bed sheets walking 10 miles ……….. In the valley there were some notable fissures; one at Dubgam had at first given out steam and sulphurous fumes. Another very long near Pattan crossed the main road. .………About evening, a crowd of poor people came, and I gave away a lot of clothes to little naked children, who came paddling through slush and snow with lips blue and chattering with cold, and also gave a dole to eight or ten widows .’


 The Neve brothers fought many outbreaks of cholera and famine epidemics ( major being 1883, 1888,1892,1900,1907 and 1910 during their stay )  in the  Kashmir valley that killed thousands of persons . Dr Arthur Neve also fought the epidemic of plague in 1903 in the Kashmir valley. He brought the smallpox vaccine injection to Kashmir that came to be known as ‘Trombun’ in Kashmiri. At that time practically the whole population of Kashmir contracted smallpox in childhood. It was described by Dr. Neve as the most frequent cause of total incurable blindness. He wrote that from smalipox and other causes, fifty per cent of children in Kashmir were said to die in infancy. Walter Lawrence, who spent more than six years in the valley ( when Neve brothers were deeply entrenched in serving Kashmiris ) also makes a mention of their work in his book, ‘Valley of Kashmir’ published in 1895. He writes this:-


If I had the privilege of listening to Dr Neve before I attempted to write my poor chapter on physical history in the valley of Kashmir, I should have been able to write with much greater effect. From what I have seen myself, I can testify to the great accuracy of Dr Neve’s account. I think this is a good opportunity, before this great audience, for letting you know what work the ‘Medical Mission’ is doing in Kashmir. I lived for six years in that country and know the road from Kashmir to Gilgit and Ladakh. Wherever I went there was only one question. The people did not want to see me but they wanted to know when Neve Sahib was coming – Neve Sahib who brought comfort and healing wherever he went. Working with very little help, working in a very small way against every hindrance, against the   Brahman influence, the two Neves (Arthur and Ernest) have won everything for them and now they have a grand hospital in Srinagar and when the Neves are not going into the villages, the villagers are coming to the Neves.”


Prof Rais Akhtar, Emeritus Scientist and recipient of ‘Leverhulme Overseas and Henry Chapman Fellowships’ has also  documented the work done by the Neve brothers in Kashmir. This is what Prof Rais Akhtar writes:-


 “ In many countries, hospitals were established within colonial motives but in Kashmir first a dispensary and later a Mission Hospital was established by the Medical Missionary Society in order to provide modern medical care to the population without much disturbing the availability of the indigenous system of medicine. Despite the practice of the Unani system of medicine, allopathic medicine when first introduced into Kashmir became extremely popular among the people. The missionary doctors who worked in the dispensary and hospital, and particularly Arthur Neve, were committed to serving the population and were devoted researchers who published their results in internationally reputable journals – The Lancet, the British Medical Journal and the Indian Medical Gazette. Arthur Neve also wrote Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet (1899), Picturesque Kashmir (1900) and Thirty Years in Kashmir (1913). Arthur Neve died suddenly in Srinagar of fever on 5th September 1919. The Maharaja of Kashmir ordered a State Funeral. The mourners included people from all classes, races and religions who united to pay tribute to their well-beloved and trusted friend who had done so much for Kashmir and its people. The obituary in the Geographical Journal in 1919 noted: ‘he probably did more than anyone who ever lived towards the amelioration of suffering for various native races of that country among whom his reputation was extraordinary.”


Dr Arthur Neve also finds mention on page 24 in the Book,“ Trans-Himalaya: Discoveries and Adventures in Tibet ’ by Sven Hedin:-


 “ Dr Arthur Neve is one of the men I most admire. He has devoted his life to the Christian Mission in Kashmir and his hospital ..... There he works indefatigably day and night and his only reward is the satisfaction of relieving the suffering of others.  


 Again in chapter "Fire, Flood and Cholera "of the book ,‘Tyndale Biscoe Of Kashmir...An Autobiography’ we read this:- 


"In 1892, 500 to 700 persons died of cholera per day in the Kashmir valley. The Mullahs and the Brahmin priest won't allow people to take Western medicine. The Mullah and the Brahmin priest wrote Allah and Shiva on the local paper and asked people to swallow it with Jhelum water which was already full of cholera germs. Later people started visiting Mission Hospital and the lives of so many could be saved....... He ( a patient) was in the third stage of cholera. The only option was a blood transfusion. Dr Arthur Neve did it by opening a vein in his own arm and transferring  his blood with a rubber tube into the vein of the patient . Neve and I spent a night at the hospital and hoped for the best, but it was not to be."


 According to Walter Lawrence , the cholera epidemics  in the Kashmir valley would  always start  from Srinagar city .Walter Lawrence writes this :-

“ The houses were built irregularly and without any method, on narrow tortuous paths.Ventilation in the town is therefore very imperfect. Few houses have latrines,and small lanes and alleys are used as such….There is no drainage. Slush, filth and ordure are washed by storm water into the river and Nalla Mar which supply the city with drinking water. On account of absence of snow in winter and rains in spring, and river was dry and low and the bed of the Nalla Mar canal was converted into a string of cesspools. People were immersed in a polluted atmosphere caused by the products of putrefactive and fermentable water accumulated in houses and numerous narrow lanes, passes, nooks and crevices which intersect the town. This produced an epidemic constitution in the people fitted for the reception and fostering of cholera-germs.”

And Prof Rais Akhtar writes this :-

“After the 1892 cholera outbreak in Kashmir, efforts were made towards improvement in sanitary conditions. These have brought desired results. According to the Annual Administration Report of 1895-96, the sanitation conditions in the a city of Srinagar have improved considerably. “Roads and drains have been made, a supply of pure water has been started and conservancy is systematically and methodically done. Dr. A. Mitra who was also Administrator,Srinagar Municipality during the 1892 cholera outbreak, says, “These measures of public sanitation are having their influence on the habits of the people, and thus the cause of both public and private hygiene is improving with rapid strides.The opprobrium now resting on Srinagar, as a filthy city, and on its inhabitants, as a filthy people, will,I confidently hope, be a thing of the past at no distant date. Never, perhaps in the history of sanitation so quickly and so effectively have sanitary improvements been done as in Srinagar, in spite of financial and other local difficulties.”

 In his book , “Arthur Neve of Kashmir” , A P Shepherd writes this :-

“ Busy as he was he had many hobbies, of which one of the chief was sketching. Wherever he went his sketch book accompanied him, and every one of his journeys was recorded in colour. At every time and place he had tried to sketch, even when the paint froze as soon as it reached the paper. Sketching brought to him that relief that a pipe brings to many men. Often in his study he would have a sketch on an easel behind his chair, and would turn round to find relaxation from some deep reading in the pursuit of his hobby. Of music he was also passionately fond and, though he was too busy ever really to develop his abilities in that direction, he always played the organ in the station church and spent many spare minutes improvising on his own piano. He was besides a real student and lover of books. Often when the work of a hard day was over, he would sit up late poring over his medical books, that he might be abreast of the latest knowledge in his profession. He was himself supremely happy in his marriage. He and his wife had so much in common in ideals, aims, and work that their lives were closely knit together. Her work, however, lay especially in teaching, and here she was able to give the greatest help in the mission school and in one of its branch schools. She also accompanied her husband in his visit  to the leper asylum, and while he talked to the men, she would address the women. If he was trusted and admired by the Europeans, he was beloved and almost worshipped by the Kashmiris among whom he worked. The secret of their love 1or him was his love for them.”

The service rendered by  Dr Arthur Neve to ameliorate the pain and the suffering of the local population after the terrible earthquake of May 1885 has no parallel anywhere. Dr Arthur Neve died on 5th September 1919 in Kashmir after being suddenly struck down by fever. He lies buried in Sheikh Bagh cemetery in Srinagar. About his death, A P Shepherd writes this :-  

“There was a mela that day in Srinagar and the news spread rapidly. The whole city was plunged in grief. In the mosques the mullahs announced to the crowds what had happened. For a moment there was silence, then the silence was broken by the sobs of men. Immediately meetings were held both of Moslems and Hindus and arrangements were made to put up a memorial to the doctor they had loved so much. One of them was to be a consumption hospital on which it was known that Arthur Neve and his brother had set their hearts. The funeral took place the next day, and it was a sight no one in Srinagar would ever forget. It was a military funeral. First came the State band and troops sent by the Maharajah, together with the European Indian Defence Force Company. Then followed the coffin, covered with the Union Jack and a beautiful Kashmir shawl which the Maharajah had sent for the  purpose. The coffin was carried by European and Indian Christians together, and after the coffin came the crowds of mourners, twenty abreast. Neve was buried in the little English cemetery in which Colonel Condon's body had been laid a week before. For the whole mile and a half to the cemetery the roads were packed by a dense throng of people, quietly weeping for their beloved " Daktar Sahib, whom they would see no more among them. From all sides letters of sympathy poured in to Mrs  Neve, some from Europeans all over India, some even from distant parts of the world from those who had at one time profited by his gentle skill, some from men who had met him in the hospitals or battlefields of France. But most touching of all were the letters from the people of India to whom he had given his life and love and who had learned to love him in return. Very quaint sometimes their eastern expressions sounded in the stiff English of their letters, but they spoke of a depth of love of which the writers themselves had to a great extent been unconscious, till the object of their love was taken from them. One such letter came from a young Hindu doctor who had been one of the Indian officers Arthur Neve had treated at Brighton. " He was a benefactor for the poor," he wrote, "and those who were in suffering and distress. . . Oh! he was a living idol to worship! . Really, India has lost one of her most precious jewels." The Municipal Committee of Srinagar sent a long vote of sympathy. "He was truly a doer of golden deeds. . . . Our debt of gratitude to this noble departed soul is too deep to be ever repaid.”

And later Kashmiris forgot these noble souls altogether. No memorial and no hospital in their name. And for sure, nobody knows these names in Kashmir now.  About Kashmiris , Dr Arthur Neve has written this :-

" They have not the  picturesque qualities of the bold bandits of the Afghan frontier, they have not even a heroic past ; and yet I have a vision of a bright future, for there are many attractive qualities in the timid but versatile Kashmiris. . . . In addition to their alert intelligence, their quick wit and artistic qualities, many of them are not lacking in elements of heroism . There is indeed some good and brave material among this people. . . . If the Kashmiri could only be touched by the Heavenly Vision, what might not he become ! "


 ( Avtar Mota ) 



CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013






 Once  you leave Kokernaag ( District Anantnaag , Kashmir , J&K )and move towards the mountains   , you come to a place called VAILOO .  In case you take the right turn from Vailoo , you reach Ahlam  , the last habitation in this area. It is also known as Ahlam  Gadole .  Gadole is a main village near Ahlam.  Gadole has some kashmiri speaking population. Thereafter you confront    Gujjars and Bakerwals only . They may speak broken kashmiri but they are not kashmiris.  They were nomadic tribes  and  lately these groups have  constructed small houses in this area.  
                        ( A Thatched   Roof House In sagaam Near Kokkernaag )
Ahlam is now  a settlement of nomadic people just 6 kms away from Gadole. After Ahlam , the mountain  passes traversed on foot , lead you to Kishtwar district. We were informed that now a Tunnel is being dug Near Ahlam that shall keep all weather connectivity of Anantnaag town with Kishtwar .  So no more to use Simthen pass if the Tunnel comes up .Smithen  top   remains snow bound in extreme winters.


And if you take a left turn near Vailoo , you come to the NH1B leading  to Simthen Pass .
.I remember having come to this place with our college excursion in early seventies . Nothing has changed except  linking of this area throuh NH1B leading to Kishtwar. Daksum lies on this NH1B.

DAKSUM ( Altitude 2438 Metres )  is a scenic spot located in the dense forests. This scenic spot falls on the Anantnag-Sinthan-Kishtwar road. A gushing stream flows through Daksum which is rich in trout fish. It is a forest retreat girdled by mountains.  If you Travel on NH1B that connects Anantnaag Town of Kashmir with Kishtwar Via Simthen Top ( Altitude 3748 Metres) ,  You pass through Daksum ( just 36 Kms away from Anantnaag ). One can call it  a sleepy forest  resort with some houses and a Government Rest House . The rest house is not properly maintained at the moment . When we visited the area on  9th April 2013 , there was no caretaker  . The  path and the steps leading to the rest House from main road was broken and the Garden around it was not maintained at all. Some villagers had put clothes for drying on the rest house fencing. Narcissus or yemberzal had grown unattended in the garden.
We went  close to  Simthen Top which is 31 kms from Daksum. It was spring time . Snow had not vanished from the mountains . A lady at Daksum had  suggested us to proceed . She added that regular bus service shall  also be started shortly to kishtwar as the snow at Smithen Top was being cleared.
 The road from Kokernnag to Simthen  is blacktopped and in good shape . Gushing water stream   , Majestic pine trees , silence with occasional chirping of  some birds on  pine tree tops makes you feel in the lap of mother nature .

It was cold in April . We needed woolens. We kept the car windows open to let fresh cold air enter in . Where is the pollution ? Where is the sweltering heat of the plains ? Where is the noise of the city roads ?Life had dropped all its demands of existence  that it usually  makes in cities and towns .

I end this post with  lines from a Gazal of renowned urdu poet  Firaq Gorakhpuri

Jee mein Aataa Hai Tujh Ko Pukaraa karuun
Rehguzar Rehguzar Aastaan Aastaan..
Boo Zameen se Mujhe Aa Rahi hai teri
Tujh Ko kyon Doondiye Aasmaan Aasmaan
( Firaq)

( I feel like calling you and you alone
At Every path and inside  every shrine .
 I smell your fragrance from the land underneath  ,
Then why search  you in the sky above )

( Autar Mota  5 PM.. 14.04.2013 ... Sunday... Good Evening ..)

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