Thursday, July 31, 2014





This Painting shows a Kakear ( One who used to serve Hookah to customers)

Sometimes only Dua salaam , sometimes a handful of rice and sometimes a coin . That is what the Kakear ( Roadside mobile HOOKAH shop ) got who offered people Hookah puffs in the BAZAAR. Kakear was a part of the kashmiri society . He carried a bag across his shoulder in which he would keep three or four tongs , a pouch of fresh Tobacco and some charcoal in a Kangri nearby. This was a mobile Hooka shop that existed in a BAZAAR . They would also be seen in Fairs and gatherings outside shrines.Pay something and have a puff. Not in cash . Pay in kind as well. He would cater to poor and the working class who could not carry the Hooka along .

Kashmiri Pandits were also addicted to HOOKAH. A HOOKAH was the first thing that was kept ready in the morning by the Daughter in law generally for her father in law. Sometimes the son would perform this duty . It had to be cleaned , a kangri had to be kept ready with burning charcoal , the tobacco box had to be kept full and a measured quantity of water had to be put inside the HOOKAH water tank so as to produce proper gurgling sound . Excess water would neither produce the Gurgling sound but would invariably enter the mouth on puffing . 
Once The eldest family member had his puffs , he would keep the HOOKAH aside and leave for his daily work . Young boys would also take a puff secretly . It was followed by Puffs from womenfolk in the afternoon .

Kashmiris were addicted to Tobacco through this HOOKAH or JEJEER.

With the arrival of Cheap cigarettes and overall development and progress in many spheres ,Kakears or kakouris (as some people called them ) suddenly became non existent from kashmiri society sometime around 1975 or 1976.

( Autar Mota 31.07.2014 )

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014





(Photo 1911...A Kashmiri Pandit tailoring shop at Batyaar, Alikadal in Srinagar The tailor master is at work with his Singer foot pedal sewing machine while a group of Pandits are seated on the shop front and busy in gossiping )

According to Walter Lawrence ( From “Valley of Kashmir “ published in 1895 ),

‘The vast majority of the Pandits belong to the Karkun class and have usually made their livelihood in the employment of the state. But as state employment became harder to obtain and the numbers of the Pandits increased, the Brahmans of Kashmir sought other occupations. Briefly, it may be said that a Pandit may follow any trade or occupation except those of the cobbler, potter, corn-friar, porter, boatman, carpenter, mason, or fruit-seller, etc.

 The Pandits have been known to adopt the profession of acting and music, and a Pandit now in my employment was once a cavalry soldier in the army of His Highness the Maharaja of Oodeypore ( Udaipur ). As time goes on, these intelligent and quick-witted people will no doubt take to new occupations. But the present Karkun Pandit regards the pen as his natural destiny, and though many have taken to agriculture and many more are looking to land as a means of employment and subsistence, they would infinitely prefer to spend their lives as clerks in some office. The Pandits of the villages consider it no degradation to follow the plough and to carry manure, but the city Pandit, who has not severed himself from the literary atmosphere of the capital is inclined to look down upon the Brahman agriculturist, and though he will take a wife from the villages he will not, if a man of any position, permit his daughter to marry into a village family.
 The future of the city Pandits is a matter of some anxiety. They have not the keen trading instinct of the natives of Punjab and may neglect the chances of commerce which easier communications with India should now offer. ’

From the above statement of Walter Lawrence, it appears that Kashmiri Pandits had no hesitation towards taking up tailoring as a a profession in the 19th century.

 I have also read that cinema actor A K Hangal ( 1914-2012 ), born in a Kashmiri Pandit family of Peshawar, started his early life as a tailor. This Kashmiri Pandit family had migrated out from Kashmir valley long back and as such was far away from the mainstream and core Kashmiri Pandit society.

For sure, Kashmiri Pandits had some aversion towards joining any business activity. A job that required a pen in hand or meant writing work was generally sought after by them. That is why no Kashmiri Pandit was an artisan. By artisan I mean carpenter, tailor, mason, blacksmith, papier mache artist, shawl embroider, carpet weaver, plumber, etc. During my childhood, I could see just one mason, one carpenter and one shawl embroider from the Kashmiri Pandit community.   

Although many Pandits had bakery ( Kaandhar Vaan ) shops or worked as professional cooks but for marriage within the core Kashmiri Pandit society, these men could not get a match. Accordingly, most of them had to get married to girls from nearby hilly areas of Kishtawar, Bhaderwah and Ramban. 

You can see from the above photograph clicked in 1911 that there were Kashmiri Pandit tailoring shops in Srinagar city. I am informed by elders that there was a problem for boys engaged in this business when they had to look for a match to get married. Kashmiri Pandit society considered this business as something inferior and later shunned this occupation altogether.

But then again, Sometime around 1940, Lamboodhar Nath Tikoo, an educated and enterprising Kashmiri Pandit, belonging to an affluent and influential family, surprised his community members when he opened a tailoring shop under the name and style of ‘ Navyug Tailors‘ at Habba Kadal Srinagar. Pandit Kashyap Bandhu, a reformist leader amongst Kashmiri Pandits during those days, personally attended the opening ceremony of this shop at Habba Kadal. To attract VIP and European customers, the business location was immediately shifted to posh Amira Kadal in Srinagar city. 

Son of an engineer who had built the Banihal Cart Road during Maharaja's rule, Lamboodhar Nath went to Bombay to study engineering but returned to the valley after learning professional tailoring. He would cater to VIP customers and was much in demand for stitching stylish three-piece suits, coats and fashionable shirts. Very soon, Navyug Tailors opened another branch at Residency Road in Srinagar city. Pandit Triloki Nath Tikoo, a young Kashmiri Pandit with a modern outlook, joined his brother Lamboodhar Nath Tikoo in this venture from day one. For Tikoo brothers, it was also a step towards reforming the community and motivating youth for starting such like business ventures that were traditionally shunned. Tikoo family was from Reshi Peer Mohalla in downtown Srinagar.

Pandit Laxman Joo Tikoo ( father of Lamboodhar Nath and Triloki Nath ), felt sad and disillusioned at the venture of his sons. Lamboodhar Nath had to start an Urdu Newspaper ‘ Navyug ‘ simultaneously to protect his father from recurring satires from relations and friends for this tailoring venture that was looked down upon by orthodox Kashmiri Pandit society during those days. Young Nand Lal Wattal ( who later joined as editor of Urdu newspaper Khidmat ) from Rainawari was brought in as editor of this newspaper. Tailoring business of Tikoo brothers was directly hit by the second world war as most of their European clients had to move out of Kashmir. The tribal raid of 1947 dried up almost all the residual clientele of Navyug Tailors. The The newspaper had to be closed down for various reasons. ‘ Navyug Tailors’ also pulled down its shutters permanently after some time.

 Some Muslim boys, who worked as apprentices at these shops became excellent tailor masters and opened independent tailoring shops in Srinagar city.

The noted scholar, Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani informed me as under:-

“ Pandits have been throughout taunted and stereotyped as people who despise all manual work or business and prefer only to wield the pen, their objection to other jobs being that they are ‘derogatory to their Brahmin identity.’ This, however, is highly exaggerated. While Pandits living in rural areas would cultivate their fields, tend their cows and attend to other farming jobs, many among those living in urban areas had long discarded their objection to occupations other than white-collar jobs. Though belonging to an ‘intellectual class’, there were many who would even go for work in the factories like the silk-weaving factory of Srinagar, for instance, or take up jobs like that of a plumber, electrician, mechanic, driver, etc. besides work as shopkeepers or small traders. Of course, being Brahmins they may still not "engage in polluting activities such as barbering, removing and skinning dead animals, making shoes, winnowing pans and drums, slaughtering goats and sheep as eminent sociologist Prof. T. N. Madan has pointed out in his study of the Pandits of Uttarsu-Umanagri. I knew a Kashmiri Brahmin who worked as a barber and had his shop at Fateh Kadal, Srinagar. He sported a rather large Tilak on his forehead, perhaps to attract Kashmiri Pandit clients. I have had several haircuts done at his shop when I was in my teens. ”

 Up to 1975, there was a tailoring shop at Kraal Khod, Habba Kadal run by one Shamboo Nath Ji under the name and style of Lakshmi Tailors. Pandit Shamboo Nath Ji was himself an expert tailor master who could stitch fashionable three-piece suits.

( Avtar Mota )

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William Carpenter ( 1818-1899 ) was a Visual artist from England who travelled extensively in India . He also visited Kashmir possibly three times during summers of 1853 , 1854 and 1855 AD . He stayed in India for about 7 years and kept himself busy in travel and paining .

WILLIAM CARPENTER was a master in drawing Water colour Landscapes . His water colours show life in Amritsar city , Devotees inside Golden Temple , Bazaars of Delhi , Benares Ghats ,Mosques , Forts , Rural life of India , Sadhus , Meditating men, Jain Temples , Forts of Rajasthaan ,Havelis , Jama Masjid of Delhi , Portraits of Indian rulers ,Jharokhas and so many other scenes and structures that relate to India . The Victoria and Albert Museum bought over 280 of his paintings. His water colours are being exhibited in various galleries world over .

In 1853 ,he made a Doonga trip to Kheer Bhawani shrine via Nalla Maar and drew some fantastic landscapes .  He also visted various shrines  of Kashmir including Makhdoom  Sahib’s  Ziyarat at hari Parbat  and painted its  inside view .  I add his water colours ( two  ) showing morning scene at Kheer Bhawani shrine Tulamula with kashmiri Pandits taking a bath( before entering the Sanctum sanctorum ) and therafter sitting inside the shrine under Chinar Trees  .The paintings have beeen done in 1853.
And now his water colour ( done in 1855 ) showing inside view of  Ziyarat of Makhdoom Sahib in srinagar city.
       And below lies his water colour ( done in 1854 ) of Shah e Hamdaan Mosque in Downtown Sringar city ..
And a water colour of Beautiful Nigeen Lake of Kashmir done by the Artist in 1855

 Below Uploaded painting done by William Carpenter  is titled "MOTHER AND CHILD JHELUM RIVER, CASHMERE 1854" .

Looking at this picture I observe  that the artist has painted Mother and child belonging to the hardworking Haanji ( Boatmen ) community of Kashmir. The Hairstyle and Kasaba ( Headscarf ) worn by the woman is typical and belongs to this community . The child is in tatters but carefree and innocent . The mother and the child are holding Oars and the mother is possibly teaching the child to paddle the boat at NUMM position . Kalhana calls this hardworking community of kashmir as NISHADAS . Both mother and the child are Pensive. God alone knows what the future has stored for them . I would name the painting as INNOCENCE OF POVERTY .

Then there is another painting  done again in 1855 that shows the Market of Zaina kadal in Down town srinagar .

I have seen many old photographs of this market . It was exacatly like this. Pulses especially MOONG grown in north kashmir ( Baramulla Belt ) were largely sold by kashmiri traders . The structures on the river bank were made of wood . Fresh vegetables ( Bulk ) ,Rice (mushkabudej, Zag etc. ), and pickle was also sold by local traders in this market . Fresh Fish , dried Fish ( Hoggaad ) and smoked Fish ( Furrie ) was sold at nearby Gaankhan in a lane that came to be known as Gaadda Kocha Zaina kadal . This was the biggest market for local produce . You can see Pickle kept in earthen pitchers on roof tops of these rickety shops . A voguvv ( Dry weed mat ) has been used as a sunshade by a shopkeeper .

The painting uploaded below shows   Second Bridge of srinagar or what is presently known as Habba Kadal.

The water colour depicts a busy market on the bridge . A market of Rickety wooden structures that sold vegetables , fish , rice , and of course Pickle . Pickle has been kept in earthen pitchers over the rooftops of these shops . This was a retail market and not like the Zaina Kadal Wholesale market . Shah Hamdaan shrine is also visible from below the bridge . The poverty of  the shirtless Boatman is starkly visible.

Another water colour uploaded below  depicts inside view of Shah e Hamdaan Shrine near fateh Kadal srinagar .

This water colour has been done in 1855 by William Carpenter . It depicts inside view of Shah e Hamdaan shrine In srinagar .You can see the kashmiri dress ; A Pheran , Dastaar and Kheish ( Chadder ) of the devotees who are engaged in Duroodkhwaani . The elegant Velvet and silken cloth sheets cover the Ceilings and walls inside the shrine. Locally produced ( Handlooms ) Velvet and silk cloth was extensively used by Kashmiris to decorate their shrines within. Even Kashmiri Merchants introduced Velvet to Baghdad during the rule of Harun al-Rashid .

William carpenter has also painted Mughal Gardens . His water colour  depicting Nishat Garden  is a visual  treat ..

Besides general views of Kashmir valley and its lakes, William carpenter  painted Shah Hamadan’s shrine , Kheer Bhawani shrine , Makhdoom sahib ‘s shrine , old-fashioned wooden houses , streets of Srinagar, Bridges across the Jhelum River , Scenes around Mar canal, Kashmiri women and Nautch girls. He also visited and painted Lalitaditya’s Sun Temple at Martand in south Kashmir . He met Shaikh Imam-ud Din ,the Sikh Governor of Kashmir, who had been dethroned by Maharaja Ghulab singh. He painted beautiful Portraits of The Maharaja and Sheikh Imam Ud Din. 


(  Portrait of  Maharaja   Ghulab singh painted by  William Carpenter )


                                     ( Kashmiri Nautch Girls painted by William Carpenter  )

In 1881 he held his solo exhibtion in England , displaying about 280 Water colours done in India . After this Exhibition all his paintings were purchased by Victoria Allbert Museum England where they are on display presently .

William Carpenter was a bachelor .His mother Mrs Margret carpenter was also a Portrait Artist .
Water colour tradition is not New  ; It had a glorious past with some Grand Masters creating wonders ...

Rekhtay ke tum hi ustaad nahin ho "Ghalib "
Kehtay hain aglay zamaane mein koyee Mir bhi thhaa.....

( AUTAR    MOTA   30.07.2014 )

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Friday, July 25, 2014


  Dadar , Mumbai                                                                 

Mumbai is simply rains these days .Nonstop downpour since 15.07.2014 .9AM .

Dadar west is a mix of rain washed old buildings , high rise apartments , crowded middle class Bazars , spacious shopping stores and some shopping Malls. Crowded roads , speeding buses and everytime available Taxis painted in black and yellow ; Pay roughly 19 rupees per km for your taxi ride. So cheap by any standard when compare with what we  we pay for hiring an  Auto Richshaw in Jammu or Srinagar  cities . Paid Rs180 from Jahangir Art Gallery Fort to Dadar  via Marine Drive , Haji Ali and Praba Devi route .No auto Rickshaw is allowed within the core city.

Life moves as usual in Rains. Every person carries an umbrella with him but almost every person has wet clothes .The executives who come down from their offices to get inside their cars , students pouring out from school buses, ladies shopping in Markets , People moving on roads , Vada Paav and Sandwich sellers , Flower sellers ,Banana sellers, Coconut sellers, commuters pulling themselves out from local trains and Traders on footpaths are drenched but unmindful. Possibly getting wet is not a serious issue for a Mumbaikar.

The high tide (15 feet) near Marine drive that originated from the angry monsoon sea, swept away two persons yesterday.Some buildings collapsed .Flooded Juhu Airport turns into a Lake. The six lakes (That supply water to the city ) namely Modak sagar,Tansa, Vihar,Tulsi, Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa are getting filled by the downpour. Water water everywhere and so much water to drink . i am informed that the water supplied by Municipality is safe and fit for drinking . our neighbour in Dadar has been drinking it for many years now. He believes that it is better than the so called packaged drinking water sold in the market.


My son Stays in an apartment that is close to Dadar Railway Junction ,Kabutar khaana ,Shivaji Park, Old Jain Temple ,Portugeese Church, Peer Bagdadi Mosque ,sidhi Vinayak Temple ,Fresh Flower Market and sabzi Mandi. Could not find Nadru , Haak or Monji (Kadam ) .Yes too much of something like kashmiri Wosta Haak and Torraai or kashmiri Torrail.



Bhure lal ,the man who irons clothes using a 2 feet by 5 feet wooden plank on foot path , sleeps below the plank at night.Badar ud Din , the denter in a Car workshop sleeps over the plank .If the rains disturb them,they sleep on the steps leading to'Banglore Ayyangar's Bakery' shop .Badru and Bhure are from Eastern UP. Bhure gets 4000 rupees per month and he has to iron around 250 clothes per day. We paid @ 5 rupees per cloth given for ironing.Ram Dhan ,The owner of the wooden plank and the so called Ironing shop is also from eastern UP .He brings clothes from nearby apartments on his bicycle .He also delivers back ironed clothes using his bicycle. He has to pay rent for using footpath space apart from paying electricity bills .RamDhan speaks fluent Marathi.
Acting as night watchman, Ram Dhan sleeps inside the shop of Joseph kabaadi. Joseph kabaadi has a shop nearby in the lane. Joseph has a toilet as well inside the shop that looks like an old shabby living room full of old newspapers , books and broken plastic pieces. Stuffy and filthy. Ram Dhan ,Bhure and Badru pay ( Rs200 each per month ) to Joseph kabaadi for allowing them one time ,that too early morning , use of toilet . Joseph comes to his shop at 10.30 AM and locks the toilet . And the life moves on.......
This is Mumbai..         

( Autar Mota 16.07.2014 )

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