Journey called life

Sundays in Kashmir valley

I believe in power of titles.

Your first impression about a book is the cover page designed by a computer geek and pithy title. Half the battle of perception is won or lost by an eye-catching title. I do not mean to say that content of a book is irrelevant to eventual readership but the fact is that  significant role of a great title in popularity of book can not be denied.

So, when I mention Sunday and Kashmir in same title, it must have sparked a small fire of curiosity in your subtle mind. Normally, for a youth below 40, Sundays are a time to  celebrate and eat/drink plentiful amount of delicious food and choicest beverages of all kind in good company of friends(girls/boys/men,women included). You add a visit to nearby multiplex /discotheques etc……… But, these things matter only for a young people in rest of India….not in Kashmir.   

Here , we are different. All movie theaters have been burnt down in Kashmir during turbulent 1990s. Only 02 wine shops are operational in Kashmir valley i.e. in Srinagar only. Rest 09 districts of Kashmir do not sell evil drinks to humans. So, imagine the situation that 02 authorized wine shops serve more than 07 millions people of Kashmir. I am sure those 02 wine shop vendors must have become millionaire  by now. It is not that youth in valley hate to have good jolly time with spirits but social climate has turned vicious for expressing exuberance of youth.

Same with movie theaters, people have learnt to live without watching  movies on big screen.They adore Salman Khan and mobbed him during shooting of Bajarangi Bhaijan in Kashmir valley. But they do not have the luxury to see Bhai in action on 70 mm.

The image of  Kashmir was further dented by the fact that snow-peaked mountains and fields where lovely Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapur indulge in friendly stamina-sapping race belonged to scenic Gulmarg but in the movie it was shown as Manali ? While watching “Ye Jawani Hai Diwani(2013)”, I recognised this fact  but it defied logic that why will Imtitaz Ali, the thinking director, should misrepresent facts. If some college going youths of NCR wish to visit a hill station then it could be Gulmarg ? Why  Manali ?

Answer lies in the question itself ?

Because for a mainstream Indian director it seems illogical that any young men/women will go to Kashmir for having fun. Though, it seems cliche but it is a fact that people feel scared in visiting Kashmir.

Who is willing to sacrifice good times in Kashmir ?

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But, satellite dishes are ubiquitous even in hinterland and far-flung mountain areas. Watching movie on idiot box is a favourite pass time during vagaries of nature i.e. during snowfall and shenanigans of deranged and at the same time highly motivated youths i.e mujahids.

Though, street food culture can be found in downtown Srinagar or may be somewhat less in Anantnag and Baramulla but people are scared to venture out to have good time. It seems young boys/girls have forgotten the art of having unadulterated fun. May be a quiet corner on promenade of Dal lake turns into noisy food corner in the evening but the credit for this goes to Bengali tourists who frequent house boats during summer and winter months. Same goes for boat-laden street food in Dal lake.

I must emphasize one fact that this lack of cosmopolitan party culture is a major hurdle in attracting more tourists in valley. If you go to Shimla or Kullu-Manali, you must have encountered boisterous group of local college -going youths having fun on scenic spots. Here in Srinagar, this local gang of boys/girls are missing. If Srinagar is beautiful for a tourist coming from Bengal, is it less beautiful for local school/college going youths ?

May be my timing is not right. Today is the 121st day of some sort of continuous shutdown in Kashmir valley. I do not wish to stray from my topic about Sundays but it is a fact that last 18 Sundays have been wasted by us in Kashmir valley. If this turmoil has to end , our youth need to live life to the hilt.

Politics is a dirty word but the solution has be an out-of-the-box thinking by inspired youths only.

Nearly 70 years have passed since that fateful day in October, 1947 , when destiny of a young Indian nation and Kashmiriyat were merged by divine ordain as well as lethal mix of politics and circumstances. If our past generations have suffered in Kashmir imbroglio and we know it has then an honest effort shall be made by today’s youth so that tomorrow’s children are not burdened by this so-called impossible quagmire called Kashmir.

Sunday can play a bigger role in it. Watching sun sliding down a mountain peak is an awesome sight. Watching sun go beyond Zabarwan mountain ranges is sheer bliss if you are eating spicy hot noodles in a Shikara.  We need to relax and let this November chill of open sky overwhelm us. If you can not solve a puzzle yourselves, let others do it.

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I sincerely wish that next Sunday shall bring a ray of fresh hope and we will have fun.

This is it for today.

First blog of the year always feels special. Next will be out soon. But, I need Sundays badly. Imagine if there were no Sundays…you jump to Monday straight away fro Saturday.

Scary ?

See you. Bye for now

 

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Living in Kashmir

Dear readers,

I am feeling nervous. May be  goosebumps have decorated my frontal visage. Actually , I do not remember when I wrote a blog last time. Archives on this website tells me that it was way back on 24th May 2014. So, writing after nearly 11 months is a herculean task.

The reason is that my  bread & butter is not sponsored by this activity. May be, I need to change the direction of my life and follow the CB example. CB, the writer, philosopher , movie-maker and a banker who resigned from banking and now lectures people/politicians to behave properly. English fiction/non-fiction writing is a hot profession these days. But, in CB’s case, low-priced books by publisher was a master-stroke. Purchasing books at Rs. 70 is a nice experience. Otherwise older writers used to sell books at a premium price of not below Rs. 500. So, very few copies were sold and concept of blockbuster was alien for Indian book industry. CB regularly sells few million copies. Though, quality of writing is pretty bad  but emotions remain pretty strong in his stories somewhat similar to early 90s movies of Mithun da and Govinda.

I  feel that Ved Prakash Sharma was far better writer.Young men/boys who have grown up in Government Hindi Medium schools in Bihar/UP/Delhi/Haryana must have heard his name   But, he wrote in Hindi and his books were printed on cheap paper. That’s why we call them “Lugdi Sahitya”. CB is master story-teller who packaged  “Lugdi Sahitya” in designer cover and has become a ne0-millionaire.

But, my reason of writing now is a little bit different. I am sitting idly in front of my 08-year old laptop and has no work to do. So, why not write some musings for future generations. I believe in  wise words of Benjamin Franklin ” If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” So, here I believe in my potential and writing something for a benign reader.

You must be thinking that if title talks about Kashmir then where is it till now ?

Since, last few months I am living in Kashmir. In bygone era, Kashmir was basically a huge  lake – an island sea DSC07085 called Kashyap Sar surrounded by lofty mountain peaks. Now Kas means channels and Mir denotes mountains. So, we get plenty of water in Kashmir. I drink fresh spring water.

Above-mentioned paragraph is incomplete. I am just testing the waters again to verify the fact that my readers have not forgotten me. They still believe in my writing acumen. So, this was just a glimpse of my  musings on Kashmir. My bird like story is yet to grow its wings. But, I promise to write about Kashmir. This region is virtual minefield of untold stories. I will pick one gem and show it to you.

Till the time is appropriate. Bye for now.

My tryst with King Cobra …..

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Snakes have always fascinated me since my childhood days in mid-90s……they are a fascinating creature whose slithering movement sends a chill down the spine of most brave-heart man or woman.Even while watching snakes on Discovery Channel can be quite a daunting task for some people.Imagine watching snakes on TV and realizing that one of their brethren is slithering in your bedroom can be a horrifying experience.

So, Yesterday a naughty Common Cobra visited my home ….It was planning to have a dinner time chat with me in my kitchen garden. But, actually a desi dog played spoilsport.It discovered it slithering near some trees on water-soaked soil in my backyard. Kalu is  a one year old pet dog guarding my home within a defined boundary wall during my absence round-the-clock. He hasn’t asked for any benefits or salary from me till date…….he gets his yearly dose of injections  and lives happily with me …eating my leftover food and barks on my command.

DSC00635I live in a leafy neighbourhood  called Simhadri and summer seasons bring various species of  snakes/frogs/insects near my home. Till date, Kalu has killed 03-04 frogs and now all species of frogs are terrified by him and gone to other houses leaving the fertile soil of my kitchen garden.

But, before talking about this Cobra, it is my duty to enhance your knowledge about Indian snakes in general as there are various superstitions floating around in our society.

There are more than 270 species of snakes found in India and only a few of them are venomous enough to cause harm to Indians. We can classify the snakes as venomous (can cause probable death to a human being if bitten) mildly venomous (their venom is potent only to kill small prey animals) and non – venomous (they don’t have any venom or even venom glands).The Common Rat snake or Dhaman is most abundant snake found in India which is non-venomous.

There are four common venomous snakes found in India. They are Common Cobra, Common Krait,Russel’s Viper and Saw scaled Viper. If bitten by these snakes, immediate medical help and doses of anti-venoms is required or else your soul is supposed to leave this planet within minutes. These are collectively called Big Four and they are spread all around the country from Bhuj  to Kanyakumari.

But the problem is correctly identifying this slithering demon as they don’t carry name tags with them. So, whenever I see a snake, 02 F’s come to my mind , Fear and Flight….3rd F i.e. Fight is out of the question.

So, coming back to incident.

Around 1830 hrs. yesterday, Kalu started barking on a walking rope which turned out to be King Cobra.

Cobra means snake with hood. It is a Portuguese word.When disturbed, most of these snakes rear up and spread their necks (or hoods) in a characteristic threat display, making them a favorite of  Naagin movies in Indian Cinema because of the dramatic effect.

We realized this fact when Mr. Cobra felt threatened by unnecessary barking of a small dog and decided to teach him a lesson by hissing and showing his long  tongue to Kalu. But kalu knew his own limitations as well as that of Mr. Cobra.He kept  barking continuously and drummed the earth with his 02 front legs.He cornered Mr. Cobra near the wall and didn’t allowed to move from that stretched hooded position for  nearly 45 minutes.Fortunately, this particular snake didn’t knew the technique of spitting venom long distances otherwise  my beloved Kalu would have certainly received some poison from this angry snake. As, I realized from the facial expression of Mr. Cobra that he was pissed off on Kalu.

This dog is certainly braver than me as I was way behind my dog. But, both of them realized that there is no benefit in hand-to-hand fight  and so remained grounded to their position.Mr. Cobra was more pissed off because Kalu was much junior to him in age just a small dog basically a 01-year old puppy, whereas Mr. Cobra must be living in Andhra Pradesh since last 5-10 years. I say so because normally Cobras live up to 20 years and his length was around 6 ft. So, may be he was in middle age or mid-40s when compared to humans as normally  length of cobras go up to 8-10 ft.

May be this was the primary reason for the anger and fury of Mr. Cobra. This was terrifying to me as watching the act of hissing live Cobra is far more dangerous than watching it on idiot box.

Then, some of my friends brought a  Carbon-dioxide filled fire extinguisher along with large sticks to kill Mr. Cobra.

I was happy to see some well-wishers as watching hissing Cobra for 45 minutes without advertisement break had sapped my morale.It was also torturing for  Kalu as he looked to me for helping defuse the tense situation.He was also thinking on lines of junior/senior concept in animal kingdom.

But, I realized the futility of killing this beautiful and magnificent creature.It had not entered my drawing-room.It was may be just passing through bushes/leaves in my kitchen garden still thinking that this jungle area was his home. May be, he was right, Simhadri was a jungle when this bungalow was constructed on this land. This land was the ancestral property  of Mr. Cobra since generations,whereas this home was built just 10-15 years back. I have no idea about evolution of snakes or humans but guess that snakes must have evolved before the birth of Adam & Eve as snakes were roaming in their garden.

So, why kill it ? Why not let it slither away to nearby jungle.Fortunately there were no children/ladies in my house as I am living the life of a forced bachelor nowadays.So, even if he comes to my drawing room in future, me & Kalu can deal with it.Kalu nodded his head and gave his barking assent to my decent proposal.

So, ignoring the plea of neighbours ,I decided to give him a free passage. I controlled Kalu which was the only option as being my pet he was indebted to me which Mr. Cobra was not. My friends made the noise and Mr. Cobra went out slithering carefully and a dignified manner  through a hole in my boundary wall.

But, he entered into a drain in front of my Gate and decided to take rest after exhausting his energy in stretching  such a wide hood for 45 minutes.

This was dangerous as it can pose a threat to passersby and neighbours. I telephoned a world-record holder snake catcher Mr. Kiran from Gajuwaka, Visakhapatnam. Gentleman arrived on the scene in 30-minutes and started probing the drain using bamboo stick but failed to get a response from Mr. Cobra.

We tried to smoke him out but no response. We used phenyl-mixed water to drain him out but failed.We used streams of Carbon-dioxide fire extinguisher but no response. Mr. Cobra seemed to enjoy our collective anxiety and may be was smiling with his open mouth.

This continued for nearly 02 hours as Mr. Cobra must be sleeping in a hole inside drain.Now, I was thinking  that may be Mr. Cobra made fool of us and slithered away to a safe location. But, one of my neighbours suggested  that water must be pumped in drain so that Mr. Cobra get a bath as well as comes out.

A water tanker was summoned and sharp jets of water were pumped in the drain.

Mr. Kiran waited on other side and bingo here comes the slightly grey/black beauty simmering brightly in torch-light,swimming in streams of white water.Watching a snake swimming in clear water is an ethereal experience.They just glide in it..no butterfly or breast-stroke required.

DSC00632Mr. Kiran captured him by tail first and gave few strokes of massage on Mr. Cobra’s head by using a stick.He rotated it quickly in a clockwise manner using his hand.Now, the brain of Mr. Cobra was feeling like he was on a roller-coaster ride and his resistance was gone.Mr. Kiran pressed his mouth/head and gave us opportunity to touch his soft skin and a lengthy photo-session followed.We took this opportunity to irritate Mr. Cobra as we knew that his powers were in control mode  and so  took the risk of messing with a King Cobra.But, Kalu was still apprehensive.

Mr. Cobra was safely stored in a cloth bag and taken to his resting place in Vizag Zoo.DSC00638

Kalu started barking happily.He sniffed out the whole surroundings and made sure that no other reptiles were roaming in his territory. He was celebrating  the combined success of dogs and humans.In fact, his level of happiness was more than mine. I realized that even dogs are happier than we humans.

That’s it for today

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