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Kashmir 50 years ago :: 1 :: Diwali at Prang
2018.11.18 19:20:33

Diwali was celebrated the other day with lavish purchases but muted celebratory fireworks. The subdued celebrations were due to the terrible atmospheric pollution that prevails in Delhi. The air there has become virtually un-breathable, visibility reduced to a few hundred metres with the sun making a disappearing act.

My mind, more agile than my body, swiftly travelled down the broad memory lane, latching on promptly to this thread of Diwali and traversed half a century to 1968 when I was posted in Srinagar. It was a pleasant Diwali morning and surprisingly very cold. It was I think 20th October but it was very cold rather prematurely. It was a holiday and I had no worries of dressing formally for office. It was going to be my first winter in Kashmir anyway. Like a good child I donned my woollen socks and a woollen pullover and, after breakfast, went straight under the quilts. The glazed windows of my bed room on two sides were tightly shut yet the cold breeze seemed to penetrate them without any let or hindrance. Lying on the bed I could see the canopies of the trees in the yard swaying in a rather strong breeze. I was looking out at them through the glazed windows as random thoughts flitted through my mind.

I was lost in my thoughts so completely that sounds of steps on the wooden staircase outside the tightly shut door shook me and out of my reverie. The door opened and in walked Hindal Tyyabji (IAS 1965), a very good friend who was with the J&K Government. He was four batches junior to me. He wanted me to get up and get dressed as he wanted to picnic with some of our common friends at Prang a few miles away. I pleaded with him that it was too cold and, besides I was short of cash. He would have none of it and said whatever cash I had could be used for buying gas for my vehicle - a 1962 Standard Herald. Knowing that he had legged it all the way from his house in Jawahar Nagar about 3 or 4 miles away I didn’t have the heart to say a stern “no” to him.

Hindal used to be a great organizer. He had everything mapped up in his mind and shot off to buy provisions. In those days Srinagar was different and far more tolerant than it is today. Everything used to be available then without any reservation – from pork sausages to other non-vegetarian tinned stuff and liquor. Hindal went and bought a handful of things and by the time he came back two other friends, Udipto Ghosh, again of the J&K Government, an IAS probationer (now unfortunately no more) and Jyoti Mathur, Dy. Accountant General with the Accountant General of J&K, had also turned up. Apparently it was a well conceived plan and Hindal seemed to have planned the entire outing in his mind and had informed them before he came to me.

I suppose, by !! AM we were on our way to Prang which was around 30 Kms. away in the district of Ganderbal. Being a holiday, there was not much of traffic. We made it well under an hour. Hindal had already decided on the place where we would halt by the side of the River Sindh. We stopped next to a grassy plot and Hindal quickly moved towards the boot, took the beer bottles out and went across the road to the river bank to submerge them in the deliciously cold water taking care that they did not literally go down the river with its flow. Others got busy in making arrangements for all of us to relax.

Fifty years ago Kashmir used to be virtually a paradise and the landscape, whichever direction one happened to look, used to be captivating. Population was low and vehicular traffic used to be scarce, more so, on the highways. A stray omnibus or two, seemingly losing their way, would occasionally appear on the scene messing up the view. Every turn on the road would offer a new vista, more beautiful than the one that just went by. Greenery and, flowing streams by the sides of the roads shrouded under the canopy of weeping willows took the breath away.

I remember when once I was going to Anantnag I came across, after Pampore, an astonishing scene. The fields were yellow with the mustard crop, above them were the green trees at an elevation and still further up were the blue hills capped by the snow-clad white mountains. That was not all; all these were stacked up one over the other as if arranged mindfully, as if knowing that the firmament above was azure blue. It was such a dramatic and amazing sight that I stopped my vehicle and parked it on the roadside to take in the incredible view. I think I remember the scene so well even after half a century because I stopped and took it all in to carry it with me for the years that have gone by and perhaps I will carry it during the years that are yet to come.

Kashmir was different then on another count. There was no militancy although 1968 was only three years after the 1965 Pakistan choreographed war. There were, however, some elements who were against the presence of Indians and the Indian Army. Their opposition was mostly manifested by writings on the walls. There was no violence. I recall having once walked back past a winter midnight from Mathur’s house in Jawahar Nagar without any mishap. Only some stray dogs kept barking at me.

Prang was supposed to be a remarkably beautiful place on the way to Sonmarg. It was said that it was a nature-lovers’ delight. I have always held that hills with water bodies, together, make nature exceedingly beautiful. Only we, humans, should know how to maintain them in their pristine state. The place Hindal had chosen offered a delightful view of the river and the fields beyond with the mountains seemingly brooding over them. One couldn’t really take one’s eyes off the sight as it was so enchanting and fascinating. In those unmatched surroundings we gossiped, snacked on what Hindal had bought over bottles of ice-cold beer, thanks to the River Sindh,

After lounging around for a few hours we made our way back to Srinagar. It was a day well spent, out in the lap of nature at a place where nature could be ravishingly beautiful. Thanks to Hindal, it was a terrific Diwali – and that too in Kashmir.


Tags: kashmir50 | diwali

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Trending : Defiance of Apex Court verdicts
2018.11.03 16:07:26

What is currently being witnessed is total defiance of the decisions/orders given by the Supreme Court. While the Apex Court takes its own time to examine a matter threadbare to arrive at the bottom of the problem to look for a solution and then gives its well considered decision it is the political class that tries its best to nullify it. They do not try to do so by taking the legal route available to them.

Tags: court | apex | defying

Hits: 176 |

Trees are not dispensable
2018.07.25 13:28:02

When things reach an edge Delhi’s civil society comes together to rally and protest for public causes. In 2011 the rampant corruption in the Manmohan Singh government threw up a Gandhian Anna Hazare who was agitating in Maharashtra for years against local corruption and then came to Delhi with support of various civil society leaders.

Tags: trees | felling

Hits: 1124 |

Need to abandon Hate
2018.04.26 16:00:32

The ongoing debate that is raging basically on the progressive extinction of the, “Idea of India” in the Indian Express’s the “Ideas Page” is fascinating. The debate in the newspaper was provoked by Harsh Mander to which a rather aggressive response came from Ram Chandra Guha, the noted historian and columnist. The field then somehow widened up and numerous, according to Guha’s count around 14, independent thinkers ventilated their own thoughts.

Tags: harmony | needs | society | indian

Hits: 2581 |

Parliamentary Disrptions - Time for Hammer to Fall
2018.04.02 15:41:05

The serial disruption of the Indian Parliament has caused anger and anguish all over. While some people have been condemning the Congress for its thoughtless blocking of all business in the Upper House others have been blaming even the BJP – the ruling combine- of doing the same when the UPA was at the helm. If one comes to think of it, the politicians of all shades are the same. They only have craving for power and, if they cannot corner it, they would not allow those in power to govern. BJP, quite seemingly, is getting paid back in its own coin.

Tags: disruption | parliamentary | indian

Hits: 2639 |

Denim catches India's fancy
2018.01.20 18:33:30

Denims today have become items of universal wear in India. These seem to have become favourites of every one – whether a billionaire or a lowly workman, urban socialite or a rustic plebian. The differences, if any, will be only in the quality of the cloth or its design and stitching - the basic material however remaining the same, the fabric.

Tags: denim | india

Hits: 3760 |

India's scourge -malnutrition
2018.01.20 18:26:21

“Save The Children”, an NGO is seeking donations for helping out the mal-nourished children in India. By ‘malnourished” it obviously means severely under-nourished children. It claims it has been saving children’s lives since 2008 and that last year it provided medical care and nutritional support to 1.46 lakh children.

Tags: malnutrition | india

Hits: 3745 |

The neighbourhood bully
2017.08.28 19:14:45

How naïve Nehru was! Soon after independence he asserted India needn’t have an army. He proclaimed there was no use for an army in India as the country had no enemies. This he stated even as the state and non-state actors from across the newly drawn borders were attacking in the North in strength to grab Kashmir.

Tags: face-off | doklam

Hits: 5292 |

Never knew tiger was so valuable
2017.07.30 15:41:14

People like us who are uninitiated and unversed in matters relating eco-system services rendered by tiger reserves could not have imagined that a detailed study as conducted by an Indo-Australian team would throw up such astounding results in regard to the benefits that accrue by saving tigers in their natural habitat. The Indo-Australian study team was headed by the distinguished professor Dr. Madhu Verma who is in the faculty of the renowned Indian Institute of Forest Management located in Bhopal. Perhaps the babus who work the environment or wildlife wings of various governments too would have been unaware of the facts that have come to light now as a result of the study.

Tags: value | tiger

Hits: 5410 |

Zionism: timeline
2017.07.10 08:33:49

The Six-Point Star: A timeline of the creation, relationship, and co-dependency between the state of Israel and the movement of Zionism.



Hits: 8223 |

Of Indian cars and their market
2017.07.07 19:19:25

For some time I had been thinking of changing my vehicle which I had had for more than seven years.  It was an Estillo from the Maruti Suzuki stable and had rendered me decent service. We do not dare to travel out of Bhopal on account of the reported road conditions. It, therefore, ran all through within the confines of the city. It was good and economical but was small – only of 3 cylinders and was of under 1000 cc. We wanted a slightly bigger vehicle wherein we could sit with greater comfort on the rear seats, now that both of us seldom drive.

Tags: cars | indian

Hits: 6056 |

Of Indian cars and their market
2017.07.07 19:19:23

For some time I had been thinking of changing my vehicle which I had had for more than seven years.  It was an Estillo from the Maruti Suzuki stable and had rendered me decent service. We do not dare to travel out of Bhopal on account of the reported road conditions. It, therefore, ran all through within the confines of the city. It was good and economical but was small – only of 3 cylinders and was of under 1000 cc. We wanted a slightly bigger vehicle wherein we could sit with greater comfort on the rear seats, now that both of us seldom drive.

Tags: cars | indian

Hits: 5612 |

India decides to privatise Air India
2017.07.01 14:41:29

Happy tidings have arrived from Delhi indicating the decision of the Central Cabinet to privatise Air India. A very bold decision for a vital economic reform that, perhaps, only this government could take blocking the drain that it had become on government finances.

Tags: privatisation | india | air

Hits: 6559 |

Of transgender and their plight
2017.05.10 18:48:51

One has to give it to the local mayor for taking a very courageous step. He announced recently that he had decided to use the services of the transgender community for recovery of property tax from defaulters. For want of any more details, it is hoped the Mayor of Bhopal has seriously thought about the matter and bring about a change in the lives of the transgender community and people’s perception about them.

Tags: plight | transgender

Hits: 7078 |

Height and size of national flag has no cor-relation with patriotism
2017.03.17 18:44:48

India seems to be in the midst of a competition to hoist the biggest and the tallest national flag. As they say, some people wear their heart on their sleeves; we seem to be showing off our patriotism on our flags. The taller and the bigger it is the better it would seem to be.

Tags: size | height | flags | national | patritism

Hits: 7716 |

Indomitable spirit of Afghan women
2017.01.29 18:25:36

A recent report on the first Afghan women’s orchestra taking Davos (Switzerland) by storm stirred some memories. Lately, it was unthinkable that music would be something which would be allowed in Afghanistan, more so, for women to indulge in it. The reasons are not far to seek. Music is reckoned as un-Islamic by the rigorous practitioners of Islam. Under the Taliban’s ultra-Islamic rule, leave alone women, it was taboo for even men.

Tags: orchestra | women;s | afghan

Hits: 8080 |

Environmental take-aways from demonetisation
2017.01.26 17:24:36

Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization has been roundly criticized on various counts by politicians, economists, social organizations and general public. The abrupt ban on the two high value currency denominations of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 caught the people by surprise and many of those who had stashed away sizable hoards of them were naturally the first to raise an outcry in opposition.

Tags: environmenr | demonetisation

Hits: 8195 |

Transgender people KPK Pakistan
2017.01.05 16:57:42

Transgender people are people who have a gender identity, or gender expression, that differs from their assigned sex. The term transsexual was introduced to English in 1949 by David Oliver Cauldwell, and popularized by Harry Benjamin in 1966, around the same time transgender was coined and began to be popularized. Since the 1990s, transsexual has generally been used to describe the subset of transgender people.


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Indian demonetisation: Pakistan's sinister designs forced Modi's hands
2016.12.16 18:59:44

The e-mails had been going round and round for sometime carrying the supposed facts regarding the reasons for the sudden demonetisation but one couldn’t really believe all that was conveyed in them. True, Modi had in his election campaign assured that he would fight the menace of black money and bring back all that was stashed away in banks abroad. But, two and a half years had gone by and yet nothing was seemingly moving on that front. He was, therefore, being baited and mocked at by the Opposition inside and outside the Parliament for his extravagant unfulfilled promises.

Tags: demonetisation | indian

Hits: 8982 |

Our life our times :: 4 :: Air purifiers
2016.11.19 18:27:13

The national capital of India, Delhi, has been choking ever since the Diwali fireworks fouled up the air. That looked like a trigger, which in fact it was not, for the continuing spell of intense air pollution. With a blanket of smog settling down over Delhi schools have been shut, construction and demolition works have been banned, polluting power plants like the one at Badarpur have been closed for ten days.

Tags: purifiers | pollution | air

Hits: 14370 |

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