Tuesday, May 26, 2015



A Shepherd with his livestock near Ganderbal , kashmir 
( Photo Autar Mota )



 .  (Kulcha being baked in Tandoor)
                              ( The Cake)

I am talking of a period that could be before 1947 when life had its limited demands in Kashmir.

‘ Kam khyon gum na hyon ’
 ( Eat less why worry unnecessarily)
 ‘ Yemiss na garie maelli taemiss kyaa maelli parie’
 (He who can not get it in his hometown, what shall he get in faraway places? )
 These phrases were coined by Kashmiris to justify their complacency,  immobility, refusal to accept change and the strange sense of self-satisfaction that prevailed in the valley. Apart from the section of the people engaged in ordinary trade or petty jobs, all activities of the remaining locals revolved around Shaali (rice ), Kangri, Haak vegetable and of course religion.
 A Kashmiri was always indifferent to mobility and as such suffered. He moved only when driven to the wall or when all other options closed for him. Isn’t it a fact that those who moved out during devastating floods, famines, cholera epidemics or suppression, moved to a better life ultimately?
Unbelievable but true, a Kashmiri possesses enormous survival instinct that remains unseen in his native land. In his native land, he remains a victim of a clogged thought process that he may be forced to acquire.
 If we look at the Muslims who moved to Amritsar, Ludhiana, Lahore and other cities for various reasons in the 19th century and thereafter, we find that these groups gradually moved to a better life. From this group, Dr Iqbal, Sadat Hassan Manto, Nawaz Sharif, Saif ud din Kitchloo, Actor Nawab Kashmiri, Playwright Agha Hashr Kashmiri, Poet Lyricist Sufi Tabassum, wrestler Rustam e Hind Ghulam Mohammad Gama Pehlwan, Urdu Poet Meeraji ( Mohammed Sanaullah Dar) and many more names instantly come to my mind.

And If we look at the Pandits who moved to the plains of the country and settled at  Allahabad, Lucknow, Delhi and other cities, we find them moving to prosperity and better life gradually. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Kailas Nath Katju, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, P N Haksar, Pandit Brij Narain Chakbast, actor Jeevan, actor Sapru and so many names come to my mind immediately.
This prosperity was possible due to better avenues of modern education, access to the avenues  of employment , proximity to means of production and distribution coupled with resilience and a great survival instinct.

Due to lesser interaction with the outside world at large, we Kashmiris probably lived in our own world and developed some traits that were area-specific and environment-specific. We were a gentle and simple lot. Despite our strong religious beliefs, there was something that a Kashmiri lacked. Many Europeans who came closer to Kashmiris have observed and commented that when the action was desired of him, a Kashmiri would shy away ( ‘ Thhaav third or mey thhovuss treathh meaning’ ‘ Runaway or I sneaked out ) to such an extent that inaction, unresponsiveness and casualness became a trait of his character. ‘Vasvaas’ and "Hai hey" was our typical trait. In no language, the world over you find an exact equivalent to word Vasvaas ( originally derived from Urdu word Vasvsaasa) as it means in Kashmiri. Maybe at the back of our mind, insecurity always loomed its large shadows. There is a historical background to this settled and now DNA ingrained insecurity in us. We believe in ‘Khabar chhaa’ meaning  ‘who knows what is going to happen?’ That makes us buy in kilograms what others buy in grams. I have seen, in my own family and also in the families of some close relations,  an irresistible habit of stocking and storing rice, edible oil. spices and other provisions. They continue to do so even in plains of the country. No one will agree to a change from this ‘Khabar chhaa ’mindset.

My Australian friend, who stayed in Kashmir for some months and picked up another interesting trait of our character. I quote him :

‘ You can never expect a clear ‘No’ from a Kashmiri for something that he can not do. His okay is always casual and never means a committed ‘Yes’  .For some job that is apparently full of issues and problems, he would give a stock reply ‘ No problem sir. Why do you worry? ‘ Sometimes he would say, ‘  No worry Sir. I am still alive.’ I wish he stood by these commitments that he made to all and sundry.’

This observation was largely true. We tend to respond this way only. This could also be due to a sincere desire to help others without understanding our capacity,  limitations and freedom. I can't say much.

'Hataa ma kur vaen zyaada, votta a voth -- Pushraav khodaayuss ’ meaning ‘ Now don’t make more efforts. Pass it on to Almighty ‘ and ‘ Talaa beh chhopp karithh – vaen guvv sorooi Bagvaanus hawaala karun ’  meaning ‘ Now you sit without efforts. Entrust it to almighty God '. These phrases were a part of our day to day life in Kashmir. To analyze them carefully, we need to break each phrase into two parts. One being ‘Pushraav khodaayuss ’ and ‘Vaen Guvv sorooi Bagvanus hawaala ‘  No issue with this part. This is quite natural and acceptable . I have my issues with the other parts ‘ Hataa ma kur vaen Zyaada vottt a voth ’and ‘Talaa beh chhopp karithh.’ Were not these statements anti initiative meant to stop a person from making some efforts himself? A hint towards complacency and avoidance of initiative and effort.

We had another serious problem and complex as city dwellers. When it came to Gaamuk or a villager's issue, a city Pandit and Muslim from the city would join together to make fun of a poor villager. ‘Kolla gaameikkya’ or ‘Gaama Groos ’ was a taunt that the villager had to face should there be any argument with a city dweller. Kashmiris ( Pandits in specific ) would hesitate in marrying their daughters to a villager even if he may have been well settled or better employed. ‘ Kyaa sa kashiri gayaa kaah garaa ta khaanmaej ditchvun gaam kun’ meaning ‘What happened? Are there only eleven households in the city that you have married this darling daughter to a villager .’

We were the best gossip mongers and derived pleasure by mocking simpletons and at times even insane persons which in local parlance was known as Garmaavun. Garmaavun meant to tease or mock or laugh at a person till he breaks down. Those who lived in Rainawari shall stand by me when I say how people dealt with a poor and insane Ghulam  Mohammad. As he moved through Bazars and lanes, people would cry “Takka Addij’  or ‘Takka the bone’, a nickname given to him. The poor fellow would turn violent, pick up a stone and shower nastiest abuses. A crowd of onlookers would collect to watch all this. They would giggle, smile and entertain themselves.
 We were also masters in inventing nicknames and experts in lampooning people. As a group, we could be fine onlookers to any misfortune or tragedy should it visit others. I have personally seen many Pandits and Muslims hanging around a bridge enjoying, provoking and witnessing poor Haanjis ( boat people ) engaged in a typical verbal dual or fight. Crowds would rush to enjoy what they called 'Haanz -Ladaai 'or ‘fight of boat people ’. Together they would giggle, smile and enjoy as a group over the bridge while the poor Haanjis fought for hours below.

And This ‘Tamaashbeen ’ trait was also demonstrated during frequent fires that erupted in Kashmir in the last quarter of the 19th century or the first quarter of the 20th century. Crowds would come to a house on fire and take comfortable seats away from the heat and smoke. They were excited and would go to witness these fires as if they were going to a cinema hall for a movie. They would look to what was happening around with cries and thrill.
 I quote Tyndale Biscoe from the book ‘ Tyndale Biscoe In Kashmir - An Autobiography ’:-

‘ I was teaching in my class in the top room overhanging the river when I heard a bugle call. Looking up, I saw a figure on the roof of a house some half-mile away. I asked my boys what it meant and they replied that the policeman was warning everyone that a house was on fire. The boys not being interested went on with their writing. Within minutes I saw now flames and smoke rising from the same house. I ordered the Boys to stop writing and come with me to help at the fire, But they said that they had nothing to do with it and they wished to continue with their lessons. I then took action and drove them out of the classrooms into the street. When we arrived there, we found that scores of citizens had already taken seats at every available place to enjoy themselves at an entertainment for which they would have nothing to pay. As flames spread from one house to another, they seemed highly delighted shouting ‘ Hurrah! ’
 Thank god, Everything has changed now. This has been possible with the spread of education and revolution brought by Information Technology. The Kashmiri character has also undergone a metamorphosis towards development.
 Young Kashmiris hailing from Pandit and Muslim families are now venturing out for better education and employment. I find them going up and up the ladder in all fields. They are focused, honest and sincere and accordingly much needed by the employers globally. They are visible in the sunrise IT sector, medicine, media, cinema, sports, administration and the new business enterprises.
 A Kashmiri is an acknowledged competitor now, a fierce one in any arena across the globe.

(Avtar Mota )

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Sunday, May 24, 2015


 Aharbal water fall Kashmir 

( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame …...
Maine dekhaa hai
“Maine dekhaa hai ki Gaatay huvay Jharnon ke qareeb
Apni Betaabiye jazbaat Kahi hai tum ne ..
Kaanptay Honthon se Ruuktii Huyii Awaaz ke Saathh
Jo meray dil mein thhi vo Baat kahi Hai tum ne..”
Maine Dekhaa hai …..
( Autar Mota

 The Warmth of snow in Pari Mahal Kashmir 

( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame ..
Maine Dekhaa hai ..
“Aanch denay lagaa qadmon ke talay barf ka farsh
Aaj jaana ki mohabbat mein hai garmi Kitanii
Sange-marmar ki tarah sakht badan mein teray
Aa gayii hai meray chhu lenay se narmi kitanii”
Maine Dekhaa hai
( Autar Mota )

 A foggy Morning scene near Jhelum river , Kashmir 

( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame ..
Maine Dekhaa hai ..
" Maine Dekhaa Hai Ki Kohre se Bhari Vaadi mein
Me yeh Kehtaa huun Chalo Aaj kahin Kho Jaayein
Tum Yeh Kehtii Ho Ki Khonay ki Zaroorat Kyaa Hai
Oud kar Dhuundh ki chaadar ko Yahin So Jaayein “
Maine Dekhaa hai
( Autar Mota )

 Badaam Vaari garden Kashmir 

( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame ..
Maine Dekhaa hai ..
“ Maine dekha hai ki Phoolon se laddi shaakhon mein
Tum Lachaktii huyii yuun meray qareeb aayi ho..
Jaise muddat se yuun hi sathh rahaa ho apna
Jaise ab ki nahin sadiyon ki shanasaayi ho..”
Maine Dekha hai
( Autar Mota )

Falling Leaves .. Autumn in Kashmir
( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame ....
Maine Dekhaa Hai

“Hum chale jaate hain aur door talak koyii Nahin
Sirf Paton se Chatakhney ki sadaa Aati hai
Dil Mein kuchh aissay khayaalaat ne karwat li hai
Mujh ko tum se Nahin apnay se Hayaa aati hai “
Maine Dekhaa hai
( Autar Mota )
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Shalimaar Garden kashmir 
( Photo Autar Mota )

I am adding a mini poem “Jis tarah Koyee kahay “ By Ahmed faraaz to this photo 

Aur tere shahar se jab rakht e safar Baandh liyaa 
Dar o deewar pe Hasrat ki nazar Kyaa kartay
Chaand kajlaayi huyii sham ki dehleez pe thhaa
Uss gadi bhi teray majboor safar kyaa kartay
Dil Thehar jaanay ko kehtaa thaa magar kyaa kartay

“ Hum ne jab vaadiye Gurbat mein qadam Rakhaa thhaa “
Jis tarah yaad e wattan aayi thhi samjhaane ko
Kuchh usssi tarah ki kaifiyat e jaan aaj bhi hai
Jis tarah Koyee qayaamat ho Guzar jaane ko
Jis tarah koyee kahay phir se palat aanay ko

( Autar Mota )

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Thursday, May 21, 2015



( For this photograph my special thanks to Photo Journalist  Nissar Ahmed Photo   who clicked it for "The  HINDU "  Newspaper )


History tells informs us that around 1817 , Germans built the first Archetype of the bicycle that they named draisine. The German Draisine had three and four wheels as well . 
In 1860, Draisine was subjected to some major technical improvisations by the French who named the New two wheeler as Bicycle . It had cranks and a pedal and a popular commercially successful design.
( An advertisement for marketing of old Hercules Bicycle that was imported from UK )


Some time around 1890, Tyndale Biscoe brought the first Bicycle to Kashmir. He would use it as his local conveyance . As and when , Tyndale Biscoe would move to down town Fateh kadal on his Bicycle , Pandits and Muslims would line up on road to see what the metallic animal Tyandle Biscoe was riding . It was named as “Biscoe sahib ka Djjin “.So a Bicycle was a Djjin for kashmiris initially. They also named it as Zal Gurr later .

There is a popular story in Kashmir that once a kashmiri lady came with some animal feed and put it in front of Tyandale Biscoe’s bicycle . She presumed it to be some unknown beast of burden .
I add relevant excerpts from the book TYNDALE BISCOE OF KASHMIR…
“we usually went to school by boat until I brought the first Bicycle to Kashmir, which caused even more astonishment than did the first motor car many years later.My first bicycle ride was at night .As I passed a coolie carrying a load , I heard a shriek and on looking back , I saw the coolie shouting in terror ,
“ Mooduss Ha ! Mooduss Ha ! or I am dead ! I am dead !”
Poor fellow, he had heard much of the Djjins and had at last seen one with his own eyes .What a grand tale he must have had to tell when he reached his home !”
From the diary of Tyndale Biscoe..
( Autar Mota )


After the second world war , cycles stated coming to Kashmir in large numbers . It was considered as  mode of conveyance of the elite . College professors , magistrates, advocates , Europeans stationed in valley were the new users . later , it became an essential item of Dowry given to girls at the time of marriage  in well off families . The brands that came to Kashmir included Hercules , Humber , Raleigh and Robinhood .All these Bicycles were manufactured in England .

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015



TRILOK DASS (1931-2000)
( Photographs  source...  Theatre Artist  Sh. Shakeel Rehman With due thanks. Stills from Tele film Habba khatoon )

TRILOK  DASS ( 1931-2000 )

I had seen him performing at Tagore hall Srinagar. He also came to our bank once to meet my colleague and close friend Raj Kumar Sharma . Raj was a close friend of his son who is an engineer and currently lives in Delhi. And then one day I met him in a Restaurant and listened to him for more than two hours . That day , he was lively , entertaining , in a good mood and accompanied by his friend and writer Prof. Sattar Ahmed Shahid . As many guest in the restaurant pulled chairs close to him, He kept singing Ghalib’s Popular Gazal

I saw him performing many times . He was a remarkable stage actor who carried a cinematic style in dialogue delivery and body movements. Tall, well built , and well dressed , you could not ignore his presence on stage or otherwise . And beneath that robust frame , lay a simple and affectionate man, always ready to help others . Quite often at his own time and cost. He was Trilok Dass , the forgotten stage actor of Kashmir.

Credit goes to his father Shri Madhav Dass for developing young Trilok’s interest in fine Arts . I am informed that Pandit Madhav Dass was also a poet and connoisseur of fine Arts, literature and a Drama artist . My maternal Grandfather ‘s family ( Pt. Gopi Nath Tikko of Zaina kadal Gaada Kochaa )and this Dass family were neighbours in Jammu sometime close to 1947 .I can not recall the year but my mother would often make mention of Shri Madhav Dass as an energetic man who knew so many things like cooking dishes , washing and ironing clothes , and even hair cutting apart from writing kashmiri poetry especially Leelas . Lines from a Shiv leela composed by late Madhav Dass were often recited by her.

At the age of 18, young Trilok went to Calcutta to get some training in Theatre and cinema acting . 
From Calcutta he moved to Chennai and joined Gemini Studios and acted in some films produced by this production company . His role in Mr Sampat ,a film produced by Gemini Productions, Chennai was noticed and appreciated  . Family compulsions and an emotional letter from his father brought him back to Kashmir and he took up a regular government Job in J&K Government .He retired as Assistant Director Statistics J&K Government .

Veteran Theatre personality Shri Makhan Lal saraf recently informed me  as under ,

“ Trilok Dass  was the most talented Artist who remained under exposed in Kashmir. He was most suitable for cinema , a bigger medium .He was a great friend and for friendship , time was not constraint with him. Never in hurry , he dealt with time in a very casual manner. Sometimes I tended to believe that he probably had won over time. But that could never be so. We acted together and were close to each other . He worked in his own style , dressed well and was too affectionate a man . I still remember his stylish and most impressive role in “ DADA ”, a play on beggars staged at Tagore Hall Srinagar. He also did superb acting in “ MANGOO “,a play done for Field Publicity Division. ZEB was another play that he did wherein Sh Bal Krishen Qasba did a lady’s role.

I would often see him with his close friend , Mr Shogu , a Muslim from his locality /Mohalla ( Zaindaar Mohalla Srinagar) .He was much above caste creed and religious divide . Avtar Ji , At this time , my mind is flooded with memories of old theatre comrades and stalwarts who were dedicated people and pioneers or trend setters . How many should I name and how many can you record ? So many names most of whom have left for their heavenly abodes . Peace be to their souls . We even had master Zinda kaul ji’s ( Kashmiri Poet ) son who would come to act during a time when theatre actors were treated shabbily by the society and nicknamed as Raas-kath . They never thought about anything in return from Theatre . Triloke also set up a Theatre group in Jammu much before 1990 that came to be known as Peoples Theatre Jammu .”

After his return from Chennai , Theatre continued to remain a high priority for him and along with Chaman lal Chrungoo, Suraj Narain Tiku, O N Khazanchi , M L Saraf and some other Artists , he founded his own theatre that came to be known as KALA KENDRA . For the first time in the history of theatre in Kashmir , Prithvi Raj Kapoor came all the way from Mumbai to inaugurate a professional Drama group at Shivala In Srinagar city .

KALA KENDRA was set up inside Shivala Mandir Near Chotta Bazaar / Neelam Cinema in Srinagar city. It was from this Shivala premises only that first professional Drama club known as SUDHAAR SAMITI NATAK VIBHAAG was set up in 1952 .Prior to that there existed IPTA theatre group in Kashmir that worked under the banner of Quomi Cultural front .

Though unwell at that point of time , Trilok Dass also acted in Bashir Budgami’s award winning Tele film “ Habba Khatoon”. He had already done a theatre version of a play on life and works of Habba Khatoon that was written by Dina Nath Madhreir ( Sugar ) .He did remarkable roles in some other plays like Mangoo, Paagal Graduate , Aaraam Haraam Hai and Baadshaah .

Theatre personality Shakeel Rehman informs me ,

" He was a great actor . A friend ,philosopher and a guide. I worked with him in Bashir Budgami's Film Habba Khatoon. We were together when we formed Casual Artists association for Radio and TV of which Sudhama Ji koul was president and Trilok Ji was vice president .He was brave , outspoken and a real Human being "

 Sh Bansi Raina adds,

“Kala Kendra had a talented and wonderful team.Trilok Dass...Suraj Narayan Tikoo....Chaman Lal Charangu...Ibne Adam....Omkar Khazanchi....LAxmi RAFNarayan Koul ....Kishen Langu....Hirday Nath Gurtu....Som Nath Sumbli....ML SaRAF(initially) ...Piyare Lal Razdan.....MK Raina....Bansi Koul and others.Papa Trilok Dass was the director.He was a very talented actor / director .Even though he carried a big moustache and had ROBDAAR personality , he was a gentle and a very decent human being.I was inspired by him. Though he came to Radio plays much later ,yet his presence on TV and Stage dwarfed every one. A great human being, a great actor who should have been on the forefront of any theatre history of the state. Biggest tragedy of theatre in the state has been that real people and contributors have been sidelined in theatre history compilations.”

Adds Farooq Nazki,

“ Papa or Trilok Dass was the most dignified , soft spoken, talented  and affectionate Artist .He had his own style .He had a rich voice that came very close to the legendry Prithivi Raj Kapoor . “

Adds Bashir Budgami ,

“Dass sahib, besides being an excellent actor was kind hearted, loving and affectionate. I have many memories of him and i would write in detail about him someday.”
          ( Trilok Dass in Habba Khatoon Photo Source Sh Bashir Ahmed Budgami )

some years back when I met Playwright Sajood Sailani , he also made specific mention about acting talent of Triloke Dass. Triloke ji had acted in  play TAAENT KORR written by Sajood Sailani that was staged by KALA KENDRA . The play had a theme based on national integration and was successfully staged in Tagore hall in Kashmir.

I believe anything written on him shall be incomplete unless one makes some mention of his helping attitude and teacher cum trainer like qualities. These qualities and attitude made him to provide a platform and some initial training to M K Raina ( well Known theatre personality of the country who later graduated from NSD ), Bansi Koul and Upinder Khashoo . Even Musician Kishan Ji Langoo also remained associated with KALA KENDRA . Well known theatre artists namely Laxmi Narayan Kaul and Som Nath Sumbly were also associated with KALA KENDRA .

Adds well known theatre actor Shadi Lal Kaul,

“ Trilok Dass shall always remain on the high pedestal of theatre in Kashmir. Any body writing on history of Theatre movement in Kashmir cannot ignore him. What a great actor he was ? I did a play “ WAQTUKK- CHAKKRA ” with him for Door Darshan . He was a very senior artist and out of affection and regard , we would call him Paa’pa or Paapa ji . “

Another couplet of Ghalib that he recited one day in a marriage gathering (where i was also present) , probably meant a humble self estimation in his unique style .....i quote

Hum kahaan ke daana thhay  Kis hunar mein yakta thhay,
Be-sabab huvaa Ghalib  Dushman aasmaan apnaa..

( Avtar Mota )
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Sunday, May 10, 2015



( PHOTO Autar Mota )


The Karewas ( plateaus ) of Kashmir, also known as WUDUR , provide fertile soil for any profitable agricultural activity. The karewas of Pampore produce the best quality Saffron in the world. So would the Karewas near present Airport in Srinagar,also known as DAMODAR WUDUR, grow the best quality Almonds in the country.I have also seen quality almonds crops on Parihasspora and Martand Karewas.

Close to independence period (1947) , these Karewas also grew almost 40% of the cotton produced in kashmir valley.

These Karewas or plateaus also produce quality fruits, and walnuts .

In our recent past,these Karewas also supplied Black Cumin seeds (Kaala Zeera ), Mushiq Budij or a fragrant variety Rice and high quality Cucumber seeds (l Kheera Seeds ) to Srinagar city.
While lower plains in Kashmir provide us Gurti (clay), Bahil (Loam), Sekil (Sandy), Nambal (Peats), Surzamin and Lemb soils, Karewas in particular are the richest source of Most fertile alluvial soil in Kashmir .

Irrigated by Martand canal , the oldest canal in Kashmir (It takes its water from the river Liddar at Ganeshpora and travels about 50 kms ), the Martand Karewa in south Kashmir produces Paddy , fruits , Almonds and Walnuts .

The Martand canal moves through Village Aishmuqam , salia and Seer and goes up the adjoining hills to irrigate the entire Khoveripora and Dachinpora area around Mattan or MARTAND. In a way entire Martand plateau is irrigated by this canal only.

The canal is reported to have been built during the rule of King Lalitaditya of Kashmir .

Trusting the irrigation potential of the canal,fertile soil and the open sunshine of the karewa ,sultan Zain Ul Abdin or King Budshah, encouraged people to raise sugarcane crops on this plateau, something unheard in Kashmir .

As per Historians , the wise king made the first daring and serious attempt to grow sugarcane commercially in Kashmir .

And Jonaraja ends his Rajatarangini as under..

" A collection of wonderful things was made in the kingdom during the reign of this king(Zain Ul Abdin), otherwise how could he be the incarnation of Narayana? He planted the country round Marttanda with sugarcane, compared to which ,the nectar that flows from the moon is as poor as Beggar"

( Page 97 Kings of Kashmir's 2nd series "The Rajatarangini of Jonaraja " translated from original Sanskrit by Jogesh Chander Dutt Published by Gyan Publishing House,5 Ansari Road ,Daryaganj New Delhi)


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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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