Friday, May 30, 2014




Noted  kashmiri  poet , Translator,  Literary Critic  and Educationist  Prof Ghulam  Nabi Firaq ( Born 1922 ) is presently unwell . He has been my English Teacher in S P College srinagar . After retirement , Prof . Firaq  focused on his literary work and  also  co founded a  Premier Education institution known as   STANDARD  PUBLIC SCHOOL .  Presently He lives with his son  at  Naushera ( Soura ) in Srinagar city.

 Firaq sahib was born and brought up in Fatehkadal  locality of downtown srinagâr city. He joined as Librarian at S P Collge Srinagâr and later completed his post graduation in English .He was amongst the  pioneers of progressive movement in kashmiri poetry.

Prof. Firaq has authored  numerous books that include his poetic collections, Criticisms , Translations  and  essays . He writes in almost all forms that include blank verse, free verse, sonnets, quatrains, metric poems and lyrics. When we were in college ,  Almost every morning we would hear  ( from Radio Kashmir )  noted Kashmiri Artist  Padamshri Raj Begum sing his Gazal

“ Mokh Pron  Bar Tchaav Subahaaai Subahaai .
Oundh Pokh Mushkyaav Subahaai Subahaai

( That pretty face visited me early, too early in the morning ..
The ambiance  around  is  simply perfumed early , too early in the morning ).  


His poems have been sung by almost all prominent   singers  from Kashmir .

Firaq’s  Poetic  collection  “Sada Ta samander” won him the prestigious Sahitya Academy Award . His translations into kashmiri include Doctor Faustus by  Christopher Marlowe and  Many Bangla  Poems of Tagore .   I remember  , Sometime in 1996 , he recovered from a Cardiac problem with the help of a  permanent Pace maker.   In 2013, Despite of his failing health , he released  his three new books  Kher-ul-Bashar, Ravan Teol, Kashir-e-Watchnuk Safar.

I join my friends and his well wishers   in Kashmir  valley and in  the plains of the country to  wish him a speedy recovery and Good health. He is a shining star on the horizon of  kashmiri literature…

 I quote some lines from his latest / Fresh  poems ..

Yettie Chhaenaa Saayil Khaalie Neraan
Aaeish Pheiir Kenh Chhiyee Hargaa Lagaa-Naai
( Ghulam Nabi Firaq )

Petitioners do not leave this place empty handed ,
I do possess some tear drops ,
Take them should these be of any use to you..

Soruuyi Vonamuss ti Chhum Pheraan
Akh Kathh Aaessum Roozim Vananaai
( Gh Nabi Firaq )

( Every thing I conveyed to him,
 But Now I regret For  the only  issue
 that needed to be told but remains untold.)

 Makaanun Daarie Burr Diethh Aaiess
Su Kyaah Vannie  he Ba Kyaah Vana Ha
( Ghulam Nabi Firaq )

Every house had its doors and windows shut ,
What would he comment ? what could I convey ?

Na Na Nataa Petchii Bunnie Laggi Naaraah
Naarah Zorawaar …
Haawaus Haawus  Soora  Pheikhaa  Akh
Tattie Kyaah Saarukh Saar……..
( Ghulam Nabi Firaq )

No ! No ! Else the dry weed stock shall be on fire,
An All engulfing Blaze !
Every desire  is  a handful of  ash otherwise also ,  
What  Gist  can you draw  over here ?

Vanhaai ba dilluk Haal beparvaai Vanaai kyaa
Jazbaat haran lafz Gatchhun Zaai Vanaai Kyaa 

( Ghulam Nabi Firaq )

To You , O Carefree ,
What woes should i put across ?
These feelings  may fall to dust ,
Words may go waste ,
What should I put across.

( Autar Mota 30.05.2014 )

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Thursday, May 29, 2014


      (Moti  Lal Saqi ) 

( Above photo.. Verinaag garden of kashmir )
 Photo Autar Mota 


 ( Pine Forest and snowy peaks near Pahalghaam kashmir )
Photo Autar Mota 



Roappal Kohunn Kalas Taaj
Karaan Yaarie Panun Raaj
Raesseull *Vehakh Turun *Maagh
Natchaan Vigienni Gyavaan Raag
“ Panun Bagh Matchhueil Bagh
Hutyein Boneiyee Yeityein Naag
Panun Bagh Matchhueil Bagh”
( Moti Lal saqi )

Snow clad silvery peaks ,
Like crowns on Mountain heads .
And over these mountains ,
Pine trees holding their own Kingdom.
A pleasurable Vaisakha !
A Cold Maagha !
Fairies Dancing singing Raagas ,
That is my Garden , My love filled Garden .
Endowed with Chinars Trees and springs ,
That is my Garden , My love filled Garden .
*Vehakh is the month of Vaisakh.It is spring time or Bahaar in kashmir.Maagh is the winter month or Magha.It is cold and snow time in kashmir.
( Autar Mota 30.05.2014 )

Kashmir has six seasons, each of two months duration. . These can be summed up as

1. Spring - From March 15 to May 15. Soant
2. Summer - From May 15 to July 15. Greeshim
3. Rainy Season - From July 15 to Sept. 15. vaharaat
4. Autumn - From Sept. 15 to Nov. 15. Harud
5. Winter - From Nov. 15 to Jan 15. Vandha
6. Ice Cold - From Jan. 15 to March 15. Shishur

( B )The calendar followed by kashmiri pandits has following months

Chaitra, Vaisakh, Jyeshtha, Ashadh, Shravan, Bhadra, Ashwin, Kartik, Marg, Paush, Magh, Falgun . In kashmiri thesed months are known as …Tsitter, Vahek, Zeth, Haar, Shravun, Ba'drepeth, A'shid, Kartik, Monjhor, Poh, Maag, Fagun)

( Autar Mota 29.05.2014 )

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Monday, May 26, 2014



Photo Autar Mota





I Add Lines from Moti Lal Saqi's ’kashmiri   poem to this thought . The lines have been rendered to simple English by me ..…..

Koa't Gatchhukh subhayee Vaeni Naai Gaash Pholl,
Naaga Joyee Pyaath vothh na vaeni Sandhyaai Kaanh,
Masheidi Mehraabus andher Katiejun Neindhar,
Dhaan Dalas Munz Geill Chha Traavithh Zeeth lar,
Kulleiy Laenjunn sosaraai Cheinna vathharun Gatchhaan,
Koa't Gatchhukh ???????

"Where shall you go so early ? It is not day break as yet.
None has yet come to perform *Sandhya with Spring Water ,
Even the swallows are fast asleep inside the *Mehraab of the Mosque ,
In paddy fields , *little sparrows are still in deep slumber
Leaves of tree branches have not turned restless as yet
Where shall you Go ????" 

( Autar Mota )


*Geil ( kashmiri word not exactly a sparrow ) is a sparrow like small black bird seen in paddy fields . It lays its eggs and builds its nest in these fields only . After the Harvest ,this bird flies away.
*Sandhya is the daily religious ritual of Hindus performed at the time of two twilights or the opening and the closing of the day . It is generally performed on river Banks or Springs or any other source of fresh water or even inside their dwellings . Sandhya was a "Daily practice" with elderly kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir valley .
*Mehrab is the decorative groove in the wall of a mosque, which marks the direction of the Qiblah . The traditional Mehrab is a common element of Islamic mosque architecture throughout the world. During summer season , Swallows would make Nests inside Mosques, Temples and residential Houses in Kashmi
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Friday, May 23, 2014




“ Where there is form , there is emptiness  .And where there is emptiness , there is form  ”

So said the Kashmiri Buddhist scholar  Kumarjiva ( 334 -413 AD  )who  crossed over to  China to spread Buddhism .
 Spread of Knowledge , Logic and Philosophy has been the principal occupation of kashmiris during ancient and medieval periods  . When their  land  was won over by Buddhism, they dived deep into its philosophy and carried forward its message to far off lands undertaking arduous journey  that meant   crossing  lofty mountain passes . Once Shaivism arrived , these very people  carried its message in a philosophical form giving birth to a distinct  school  of thought that came to be  known as Kashmir Shaivism.

In fact  many present day Buddhist scholars  feel indebted to kashmiris scholars like VAIRCONA, BUDDHYASAS ,BUDDHAJIVA , GUNVARMAN ,  SHAKYA SHRIBADRA , RATNAVAJRA DHARMMITRA, TYAGHBADRA , and the Great  KUMARJIVA  for spreading Buddhism in Asia  .  KUMARJIVA  is responsible for revolutionizing the  Chinese Buddhist thought and shaping it in tune with Mahayana  Philosophy.  He was an erudite scholar who translated various Buddhist Texts into Chinese Language .KumarJiva  is responsible for the spread of Mahayana  Buddhism  not only in China but in Central Asia as well. History tells us that a large number of kashmiri Savants  crossed the PAMIRS  and moved   to Central Asia , china  and present day korea for spread of Buddhism . All of them are held in high esteem by present day Buddhist scholars world over. 

I vividly remember  His holiness Dalai Lama saying ( After he inaugurated the   photo exhibition on ancient Buddhist historical places at Kala Kendra , Jammu   in November 2011 )

“Kashmir held a significant place in Buddhism as the religion was spread in China and Korea by monks who used the ancient “Silk Route” passing through the region, to carry the Dharma to faraway places."

In  the first half of last centaury,  Pandit Shridhar Joo Koul  Dulloo  ( 1892-1967 ) also repeated what  some glorious persons from Kashmir had done to spread  Knowledge  and  light amongst ignorant and unaware  .When Maharaja Hari Singh took over the reigns of the state  , He focused on Education , more specifically  for women  ,as a high priority area. For this , he  appointed  a highly educated  English lady named  Miss E. Channer( Chaunner ) as  Incharge of women  Education in Kashmir  .  It was in 1927  that Miss Channer ( Chaunner )  agreed to the idea of  a kashmiri theosophist  namely Srikantha Toshkhani with regard to creation of a  Women’s Welfare Trust. Many more    theosophists  like   Miss Margaret E. Cousins,  Mrs. L.D. Van. Gheel  ,   Shridhar Joo Koul Dulloo and  Aftab Koul  Nizamat joined this Trust  as its members .  This group led by Srikantha Toshakhani  worked tirelessly for spread of Education amongst kashmiri women irrespective of caste or religion. Both Pandits and Muslims were reluctant to send girls  to schools initially . This group  started  with five primary  schools for girls  in Kashmir and    prevailed upon Miss Channer( Chaunner )  to start a separate school for Muslim Girls  from poor families who needed more time and attention on account of  their backwardness and total illiteracy back home  . The number of Exclusive  schools for Muslim girls rose to three in 1929. Molvis and Purohits were also brought inside  these schools to impart religious Education . As time passed , a large number of educated persons entered this arena and followed  the footsteps of this  dedicated  team .And by 1932 , there were about 70 exclusive Girls schools in Kashmir valley.
In every meeting held by WOMEN WELFARE TRUST    , Shridhar Joo Koul  Dulloo would always say that they had kept one area of the state in total darkness . By this area he meant Ladakh . Though many students would cross the Zojilla  Pass and visit his  Rainawari residence in summer season  for guidance  and studies ,he had a burning desire to move to ladakh and  do  what  his Team had done in Kashmir valley. A chance came his way  in 1939 when Maharaja transferred him to Ladakh   as Education officer  with clear directions to start   the basic education module over there and pull it out of the jungle of illiteracy. He did this job with utmost dedication and devotion till 1948. Infact he is responsible for sending the Ladakhis to schools  and bringing them out from the Morass of  Darkness .  For this ,Anybody who is somebody in Ladakh feels grateful  to Shridhar joo Dulloo .
During my visit to Leh in 2009, I found every senior Ladakhi grateful to him . President All Ladakh Gompa Association   informed me that ladakhis had  sent a memorandum to Bakshi Ghulam Mohd in 1953 to  appoint Dulloo ji   as  special Secretary Ladakh affairs when   Kushok Bakula was appointed as Deputy Minister of Ladakh affairs . In fact Kushok ji had personally intervened  for this but some influential  members within the   ruling party had opposed this move at that point of time.
( Shrdhar joo sitting on chair extreme left. DAV School Rainawari 1959 .Photo source   ..Kapil Kaul Artist)

The Owner of Lehling Book store  in Leh Bazar also informed me that Shridhar Joo Dulloo’s Book  on Ladakh remains much sought  after item by foreigners’ who  visit her shop.

Some elderly relatives of Shri C. Phunsog ( IAS ) ex chief Secretary J&K , whom I met in leh , also spoke very high about the  pioneering contribution of Shridhar Joo  Dulloo in spreading  Education amongst Ladakhis  .

This selfless service  in Ladakh brought him so  close to Buddhist culture and the  message of  Buddha  that he eventually became  a Buddhist  .He also gained enormous knowledge about the history and culture of ladakh  which is ably recorded in his Book  “LADAKH THROUGH  AGES “  .

 In an Article , Late Kushok Bakula  , a prominent leader from Ladakh and india’s ambassador to  MONGOLIA has written

“Generations of Ladakhis shall remain indebted to Pandit Shridhar Kaul Dullo for his remarkable contribution ,pioneering work and legendry services to this region . He crossed the Zojilla to spread light and dispel darkness , awakening Ladakhis from their deep slumber . My gratitude shall always remain  to this selfless  crusader  of Modern education .”

In Motiyar Rainawari ,  Shridhar joo Dullo’s house  was virtually a Ladakh Sarai . Groups of boys would  come  from Leh and stay with him  . He even adopted a Girl named DOLMA  as his daughter . Dolma was educated and finally  married by Shridhar joo .  Due to his Buddhist beliefs ,He named his two sons as Budhadev and Sidhartha . He had fairly good knowledge of  Bodhi language . Many close members of his family say that he would always be seen with a Book in his hand . Reading  and transferring knowledge  to a large number of his pupils .  And in 1967 ,Shridhar joo  Koul Dulloo left for his heavenly abode  in peace at his Motiyar  Rainawari residence   .

I conclude this post on Shrdhar Joo Dulloo With some lines of noted kashmiri poet  Moti Lal saqi

Samayukk Gardish  Pheirri  Na vaapus
Kunnii  Vizi  Hargaah  Pyosaai  Yaad
Zeivii  Paanaai  Akh  Aahee karrizeumm
Dhugg Andha Vandhaa Roozien shadaab…
( Moti lal saqi )

This TIME WHEEL  shall not move in reverse direction now  ,
But should you remember me per chance any day,
Just  one wish for my  well being  from your mouth ,
Let my  pain and suffering   stay all around   ..

( Autar Mota  23.05 .2014 )

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Thursday, May 22, 2014




(Photo Autar Mota Dec 2013)

I add lines from A Poem of noted kashmiri poet late Moti Lal saqi to this photo ..i have also rendered the lines to simple english for friends who do not understand kashmiri ...

Soora Phyaakh Sapadiethh ta Veithhii Munz Baavizeum
Be wattan Gatchhanuk Dinumm Yaaenii Taana Lookh.
Krooth raavun Tyol Ta yaadan hundh Alaav
Kyaa Phaban sekiliss Andher Mastaana lookh

( Moti Lal Saqi )

After I turn to a handful of Ash , consign me to River Vitasta ( Jhelum )
Lest people ridicule me as an exile from his motherland .
Bitter is their lament of loss and with this noise of memories around ,
Shall these carefree people survive in these lifeless deserts ?

( Autar Mota 21.05.2014)
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014



I am adding some lines of kashmiri Poet Master Zinda Kaul ( 1884-1965 ) to the above photo  ...I have rendered these lines to simple english for those friends who do not know kashmiri ...

Fizaa Traavithh Me Khaeniemiett Zeiuss
Zameenuss Tal Me Pooraein Chhiemm
Seithaa Deeewar Lorien Chhiemm
Tchei Rostuyee Kyaah Karaai Lo Lo
Ba Dooreir No Zaraai Lo Lo
Ba Tchaaney Aasaraai Lo Lo

( Master Zinda Kaul )

Away from the scenic ambience ,
Life has dug its depths of despair for me.
I need to fill these underground pits .
Many a walls I need to demolish;
How can I do it in your absence ?
My love I am undone ;
I can’t withstand this separation,
I hang around with your hope alone …………


I am adding some lines of kashmiri Poet Master Zinda Kaul ( 1884-1965 ) to the above photo  ...I have rendered these lines to simple english for those friends who do not know kashmiri ...


Paadh Hridayuss Pyaath Ratithh
Dokh Daaedh Zanameikk Bhavasayee
Kochhi Kyathh Ratchhun Lokachaarukui
Smrit Tcheituss Adhaa Paavasayee
Soaruyee Panun Pusharaavasayee
Sreh Maayi Hundh Vuzanavasayee
Kosam vatann Vothharaavasayee .
( Master Zinda Kaul )

Holding those feet upon my beating heart
I shall narrate all the pains and sufferings of my life.
Shall make him to remember the love filled lap
That used to hold the baby .
What I possess , I shall hand him over .
Love’s depth I shall awaken for him.
Flowers shall I lay in his path.

I hear , he is on a visit this way ………..

( Autar Mota 20.05.2014 )

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PANDIT GOPI NATH BHAT (1920-2001 ) ,


The youngsters do not know him. And the Number of elders who knew him and adored him passionately is diminishing day by day . He was a stalwart and a trend setter in an area that did not find favour in orthodox kashmiri Pandit Society as it existed prior to 1947 . Yes I mean singing and dancing which he started possibly when he was in his school .He was Pandit Gopi Nath Bhat ( 1920-2001 ) a resident of Achhabal Adda Ananatnag in Kashmir valley . A Folk singer ,a Dancer , a Composer and an adept instrumentalist who could play the Harmonium , Tumbaknaari , Rabaab , Tabla , Banjo , Noet ( Matka ) , Ghaagar , Chimtaa , Khasu and Thaali . He sang Leelas , Naats , Chhakri and sufiana kalaam . He also sang urdu Qawalis and Gazals in his own style .

Apart from singing and playing musical instruments , Gopi Nath ji was a Master in BACHA NAGMA dance form of kashmir valley . He had profound knowledge of HAFIZ NAGMA form as well. Quite often , he would himself Perform Bacha Nagma after wearing the traditional Jaama ( Dress for Dancing ) and enthrall any gathering with his superb dancing talent especially the footwork and facial gestures . Connoisseurs of his art still remember his “ Thaali ( Plate ) Spinning ” that he used to hold in one hand . Possibly the first Kashmiri Pandit who ventured in this field in an Orthodox Kashmiri Pandit society.

Gopi Nath Ji sang Ahad Zargar , Shams Faqir , Rasool Mir , Master Zinda kaul , Parmnand , Sochha Kraal , Assad Ullah Mir , Wahab Khaar and many more Sufi and Bhakti poets of Kashmir. It was amazing to see him singing all these poets from his own memory . He also sang Mehjoor, Azad and Naadim songs for select gatherings . His singing was restricted to Private gatherings, Marriage Parties, Janam Ashtami Celeberations ,IDD celebrations, Mal Maas Bhan Maas at Martand and Jyeshta Ashtami Mela at kheer Bhawani shrine Tulamula . He would also sing Naat and Munajaat during Urs Gatherings at various Dargaahs in Kashmir .

For his dancing talent , Pandit Gopi Nath Ji was known as Gupa Bacha in Kashmir . He has the distinction of singing before many saints and sages of Kashmir that included Swami Lakshman Joo, Nand Lal Mastana (Nand Mot ) Faqir Assad Ullah Sahib, Lassa Sahib , Salaam Sahib and Bhagwan Gopi Nath Ji.

Though he sang for Radio, TV , Song and Drama Division and Field Publicity Division , Gopi Nath ji had some aversion for singing at these centres and institutions. Late Mohan lal Aima brought him to Radio kashmir and Recorded three compositions But Gopi Nath ji did not show any inclination for Radio singing .

Another trait of his personality was contentment . Never did he seek any personal favour from Any person though he was well known to every one in Bureaucracy and Government . And not even from Bakshi Ghulam Mohd who himself was a lover of his singing style. He was also somewhat averse towards getting his singing recorded . .

His team included Prem Nath , Sudershan ji , Balji , Mohd Ismail Dar , Abdul Aziz , Ghulam Rasool , Muhammed Ramzan and Abdul samad ,

A Devout Hindu who believed in Sadhna and Bhakti , Pandit Gopi Nath Ji was also a follower of Dervish Rahim Sahib of Kashmir. He was known for singing Lal Vaakh and Shrukh of Nund Reshi in such a passionate style that turned eyes of most of the listeners moist.

After displacement from Kashmir valley ,this Great son of Kashmir died unknown and unsung in Nagrota jammu …..
I end this brief post with two lines of Noted Kashmiri Poet Ghulam Nabi Firaq .. The lines are Touching and painful.

Yettie Chhaenaa Saayil Khaalie Neraan
Aaeish Pheiir Kenh Chhiyee Hargaa Lagaa-Naai
( Ghulam Nabi Firaq )

Petitioners do not leave this place empty handed ,
I do possess some tear drops ,
Take them should they find any use with you?
( Autar Mota 19.05.2014 )

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Saturday, May 17, 2014



Tulip Garden of kashmir
Photo Autar Mota ..

I am adding some lines of Master Zinda Kaul ( 1884 -1965..Fondly known as Master Ji ) to this photo . Master ji's poetry reflects the deep influence of Lal Ded , Parmanand, Shamas Tabrez , Maulana Rumi , Surdas ,kabir and Vedanta upon his mind .

Master ji was  a mystic poet. He was also   respected as  a Spiritual Guru by   a large number  of his friends and admirers . He struggled all along his life with so many odds of existence . Master ji composed poems in kashmiri , Urdu , Persian and Hindi language.
Some say that his kashmiri poetic collection "Sumran " was born after the death of his young son. That book won him the prestigious  Sahitya Academy Award. What a punishment is it for a father to outlive his son ? Composed in 1944,the below mentioned  poetic  lines  are from his  collection " Sumran ". I have tried to render the lines to simple English....... .

Yuchh Puchh Ma Haar Byaakhaa Hyaathh Yooer Vaati kaanchhaa
Tuss Chhaa kammi Nishaanun Bhaer Bhaer Khazaan Vessiye
Dolaan Kohan vanan Munz Sholaan Chhi Gulshanan Munz
Zotaan Chhu Taarakun Munz kaaetyaah Nishaan Vessiye ..

Vaaleinj Munz thhavunn Gotchh haavunn Thhovum Athhuss Pyaaeth
Raah kas chhu kor me paanus nokhsaan paana vessiye,
Haavun chhu Raavaraavun Chaavukk samar chhu Khaaemi
Thhaavaan Chhi Chhaava Baapat Baanun Ti Thaana Vessiye

 ( Master Zinda Kaul )

Lose not your faith and Trust Friend ,
Someone may drop in with another token of love .
His tokens are abundant and
So are his treasures always full .
Unnoticed lie these tokens in hills and jungles .
In flower beds they bloom dazzlingly .
Among stars these tokens keep sparkling
And so many other signs stand for them .

Should have been Hidden inside the heart ;
But I Put him on display on my hands .
None to blame now , I put myself to this loss Friend .
To make a show of the fortune is to lose it,
And this Eagerness within to show off leads to imperfection only,
For this reason  Friend, 
While cooking ,
Food is brought to perfection

by putting a lid over the cooking pot............

   ( A sketch of Master Zinda kaul By Prabhakar Maachvey Photo Source .Prof Arvind Gigoo )                                                                    

                                                                 ( Master Zinda Kaul )


                                  (   Master Ji's wife Photo source .Prof. Arvind Gigoo )
        ( Master ji with his Grand Daughter outside his residence  Source .Prof. Arvind Gigoo)
                                ( Master Ji's handwriting ... Soruce Prof. Arvind Gigoo )
              ( Family Tree Of master Ji .. Balkrishen  Grandson  of Master ji was son of Janki Nath .. Photo source Prof. Arvind Gigoo )..

          ( Master ji's Handwriting in Kashmiri ..Source Prof. Arvind Gigoo ) 

 I add  some more lines of Master ji ..............

Kaansie Praraan Daari Pyaath Yuss
Vaansi  Haarey  Dhaari  oush
Aabshaaruk   Tuss   Hawas   Kyaah
Shalmaarus Kyaah  Karrey.
( Master Zinda Kaul )

He who has been waiting for some one at the window,
And waiting With Tears running down his eyes since an age , .
For what should he cultivate a  desire to see the beautiful  Waterfall !
What joy shall a visit to the Shalamar garden bring him ?

I have fond memories of master ji's poems and my  mother. She would keep singing some poems in kitchen while cooking food for us. I mean poems like:

Az vaaite boozum mol myon 
Kossam vatan vatha-raavaessiyi

( I heard,  He will arrive Today
My father, My teacher, My Guide, My Guru, 
Let me   cover his path with flowers..)
Sumran pannien Ditcheinum
Premuk nishaana vessiye

(Some memories he passed on to me,
Some symbols of his Love and affection..)
Tarvaen Tchhe karra Naav 
Kaanh massa taariv Apour
(The ferry is about to move,
Should any one like to move across the river?)

 These lines would move her to tears. She kept wiping them  with the border of  her saree. And helplessly, i watched her from a distance . 

Late Mohan Krishen Tikoo (Mohinder Nagar , Canal Road,  Jammu ) writes..

" In 1958, Nilla-Cram Cook, alongwith Prof PN Pushp and BP Sharma came to see this great soul of Kashmir. I too was in the room present at that time. Masterji ex­plained some of his poems.

Tears were in her eyes. Later she wrote a book. “The way of the Swan” Po­ems of Kashmir”. This work contains six poems of Masterji translated by her. Before taking leave, she enjoyed Kashmiri-tea with Kulcha."

In October 1915, when Gurudev Tagore visited Kashmir, Master ji had a close interaction with him. A poetic meet was held in the house of Pandit Anand koul and Gurudev appreciated master ji's poems . These poems were  translated into English and given to Gurudev in his house boat by Pandit Anand koul.

( Avtar Mota 17.05.2014 )

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Friday, May 16, 2014



 All Photographs clicked inside Dal Lake of Kashmir
 by.. Avtar Mota ( 2013 series ).

  In 1962, V S Naipaul stayed in Kashmir for about five months. He stayed at hotel Leeward ( Liward at that time ), Dal lake located behind Nehru Park. His popular book “ An Area of Darkness ” was written in this hotel. Half of the book covers his Kashmir stay. A  travelogue that is full of his keen observations. So many names find mention in this book. Ali Mohammad and Mr Mohammad Sidiq Butt were from this hotel only. Aziz the clever helper ( as he appears in the book), Ali Mohammad the person who brought guests from Tourists Reception Centre and Mr Butt the owner. Ali Mohammad and Mr Butt are no more. Aziz is alive and an old man who owns the hotel at the moment. He has diversified his business. Mr Aziz told me that he had preserved a letter, photographs and the handwritten comments of Naipaul in the hotel’s visitor register.

Naipaul also met Sri Kanth Kak ( IAS ). He met the proprietor of Hind Book Shop, Residency Road, a Sikh gentleman and had tea with him. In 1979, this gentleman told me :

" Yes, he came to this shop two or three times. I didn't know him. He had already written one or two books. He said he was writing a book. He sought some information and purchased a couple of books on Kashmir.  He looked unassuming but fluent in English. I never knew that one day I would be selling his books."
I also met Mr Soni the proprietor of Premier ( hotel cum bar since closed)  on the Bund in  Srinagar. I told him what Naipaul had written about his hotel in his book “ An Area of Darkness ”. He simply smiled.
Late Sri Kanth Kak ( IAS ) told me:

" I vividly remember him. He would come to speak for the owner of the hotel where he stayed. They needed some approval from the government. The proprietor would be always accompanying him. He spoke English with a British accent."
Naipaul visited Kashmir again in 1988. I quote from Naipaul’s Book "An Area of Darkness ". Naipaul was amused by  the  hotel’s board that  read as under :

(Prop: FLUSH SYSTEM    M .S. Butt)

And about   Mr M. S. Butt and Aziz, Naipaul writes :

 ( 1)
“I was asked by Mr Butt to write a petition to the Director Transport for more frequent bus services to the Dal Lake area. I drafted it and typed it. The electric bulb inside the room gave poor light. I
complained about the weakness of the electric bulbs and asked for one to be replaced. At this, Mr Butt said ‘ Two rupees! Three rupees !. You buy, I buy, what difference ?’ I did not feel I could object. I bought .”

“ Both Aziz and Mr Butt would ask me to speak to tourists who were brought from the Tourist Reception Centre to the hotel by Ali Mohammad. I was jealous. I wanted the hotel to myself. Aziz understood, and he was like a parent comforting a child. ‘ You will eat first. You will eat by yourself. We give you special. This is not Mr Butt hotel. This your hotel.’ Sometimes Aziz would raise one hand and say ‘ God ! send customer ’’

“With the summer season, flies too entered the hotel rooms. These settled on my hands even while I worked and for several mornings in succession, I was awakened before six by the buzzing of a single Flit surviving fly. To this Aziz promised mosquitoes. Mosquitoes would rout the flies. To him, a fly was an act of god. One afternoon I saw him happily asleep in the kitchen, his cap on his face, black with contended flies. I had asked for Flit but for Aziz, mosquitoes were the solution. Then one day I asked for ice. And Aziz said:
‘Anybody don’t like ice. Ice is heating.’ And this reply led to one of our silences .”

“One day Aziz brought a college student to the hotel and introduced him as Bashir. Bashir was nineteen. Bashir introduced himself ‘ I am best sportsperson. I am  best swimmer. I know all Chemistry and all Physics. I am inter-dined .’ Bashir brought another friend to the hotel who introduced himself as Kadir. Kadir had small eyes and a square gentle face. He was studying engineering and wanted to be a writer. Bashir added ‘ He is best Poet .’ The best poet’s shirt, open at the neck, was dirty. There was hole in the top of his pullover. Bashir added ‘ He is great drinker. Too much of whiskey.’ And this was a proof of his talent. In India poets and musicians are required to live the part. It is necessary to be sad and alcoholic. I said to Kadir ‘ Do you really drink ?’ ‘ Yes ’ he said. Bashir ordered him to recite his poem. Kadir said ‘ But he will not understand Urdu .’ Bashir said ‘ I translate ’. And Kadir recited. Bashir added ‘ He talk about poor boatman’s daughter in the poem. She give colour to the rose . You get it Mister. Another man would say that the rose gives her colour. He say she give colour to rose’ .  ‘That is beautiful ’ i said .The discussion switched over to Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Kadir said ‘ I will give you one example of the greatness of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. One year, you know, the crops failed and people were starving. They went to Sheikh Abdullah and said. ‘ Sheikh Abdullah, we have no rice. We are starving .Give us rice .’ To this, Sheikh Abdullah said ‘ eat potatoes’. Humour was not intended. The advice was sound .”

( 5 )
“ When I decided to go for Amarnath Yatra, Aziz said  ‘ You want a cook. You want a coolie. You want sweeper. You want seven pony.’ And each pony came with its owner. This would make fourteen of us altogether, not counting animals, with Aziz in charge. I began pruning ‘ No cook.’ Aziz said: ‘ He not only cook, sahib he guide’.  The cook was Aziz Protégé. The cook had revealed to me that he could not walk and he needed a pony. He had also sent a word from the kitchen through Aziz that he also needed a pair of new shoes for the journey. In the meantime, Mr Butt had summoned an English knowing scribe from the lake who had prepared a rough estimate for the Yatra. It was a remarkable document, an unfamiliar language and an unfamiliar script and most of its approximations understandable. Too understandable. I was being overcharged.

1 From Srinagar to Palguime boy Bus Rotine               Rs30=
2 Roding Poine Rotine                                                Rs150=
3 Pakige Ronie Rotine                                                Rs100=
4 Tente a kachen                                                         Rs25=
5 Tabel chare bed                                                        Rs15=
One Colie                                                                    Rs30=
6 Sweeper                                                                   Rs 20=
7 Extre Loding and Noey Lodin Colie                          Rs20=
8 from 11 august to 17 august 7 day
Conteri food                                                               Rs161=
If you are going Bus for Imri Nath then is last 100 Rs.......


“On my departure day, Mr Butt assembled the servants for the tipping ceremony. Ali Mohammad, Aziz, the gardener and the cook. ……….The Tonga roof sloped low. We had to lean forward to see the lake and the mountains. The town was awakening from minute to minute and the Tourist Reception Centre, when we got to it, was infernally alive. ‘ Three rupees ’ The Tongawalla said.
I paid two. The Tongawalla refused to touch the notes. I offered no more. He threatened me with his whip. I seized him by the throat. Aziz intervened  ‘He not  tourist .’  ‘ Oh, ’ said the Tongawalla. He dropped his whip and I released him. Our seats had now been secured and our bags placed below the tarpaulin on the roof of the bus. We shook hands with Aziz and Ali Mohammad and went inside.
‘ You do not worry about Tongawal, la sir. I settle . ’ said Aziz.
There were tears in his eyes. The engine started.
‘ You do not worry sahib. correct fare three rupees. I pay. ’ said Aziz.
The driver was blowing the horn.
‘ Correct fare. Morning fare sahib. Two rupees three rupees, what difference? Goodbye. Goodbye.’
I dug into my pockets.
‘ Don’t worry sahib. Goodbye. ’
Through the window, I pushed out some notes. He took them. Tears were running down his cheeks. Even at that moment, I could not be sure that he had ever been mine. ”

And Naipaul, with his sharp observations,  describes the life of lake dwellers ( Dal lake ) in such a manner as is easily identifiable for any person who has moved inside this lake. I quote :

(1 )
“ The hotel stood on one of the main boat lanes, the silent highways of the lake. In the morning the flotilla of grass laden boats passed, paddled by women sitting cross-legged at the stern, almost level with the water. ”

 “The clouds fell low over the mountains, sometimes in a level bank and sometimes shredding far into the valleys. The temple at the top of the Shankaracharya hill, one thousand feet above us, was hidden. We would think of the lonely Brahmin up there,  with his woollen cap and small charcoal brazier ( Kangri ) below his pinky brown blanket. ”

“ The lake was rich. It provided for all. It provided weeds and mud for the vegetable plots …………….. A boy twirled his bent pole in the water, lifted and he had a bundle of rich dripping weed. It provided fodder for animals. It provided reeds for thatching. It provided fish, so numerous in the clear water that these could be seen just below the steps of the busy Ghat……………….. On some days  the lake was dotted with fishermen who seemed to be walking on water: They stood erect and still on the edge of their barely moving boats, their tridents raised, their eyes as sharp as those of the kingfishers on the willows .”

In his Nobel Prize speech,  VS Naipaul defined his style as under. I quote him :

 "Both fiction and the travel-book form have given me my way of looking, and you will understand why for me all literary forms are equally valuable. It came to me, for instance, when I set out to write my third book about India – twenty-six years after the first – that what was most important about a travel book were the people the writer travelled among. The people had to define themselves. A simple enough idea, but it required a new kind of book; it called for a new way of travelling."

 And Naipaul remains a master of this craft that makes his characters speak for themselves. I am sure even his critics/detractors will continue to read his books.

( Avtar Mota )


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