Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Thank God for Little Pleasures - V

"Take Suhur (Sehri) as there is a blessing in it." - Hadees Nabawi (quoted in Sahih Bukhari)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Way it Shouldn't be Done

Since its Ramazan and we are expected to remain peaceful and quiet, I will not say much and let these pictures speak for themselves. This is in Dalgate. And that is the new bridge over the Dal Lake. The bridge is still under construction, and the Dal below it under destruction. So we will have to wait till both are completed.

Scientists call it eutrophication. Its a fancy word for vanishing lakes, and eroding heritages. It encompasses years of callousness, and lack of attention. Corruption and illiteracy. But literally it only means increase in weeds/algae due to increase of nitrates and phosphates (increased nutrients).

The gate in the Lake was supposed to check the flow of water, as it connected to the city's inner water ways. But now the gate has effectively divided the Dal into two parts. The touristy and the non-touristy. the touristy Dal is the larger part where the water is visible in front of the long row of houseboats. Behind them, of course, there is no water. Its all green, algaed and eutrophied. Petrified, if you may. The touristy Dal also has the floating gardens, and the Char Chinari. And the Nehru Park, with its increasing periphery.

The non-touristy Dal has been left to die with the city plan under which more bridges are supposed to come up. The one in the pictures above is being extended, and there is another one coming up near the Moulana Azad Bridge. The non-touristy Dal also has  houseboats, many of them dilapidated and non-posh kinds. It serves as a dumping ground for local waste, a public urinal and worse.

The Dal is ticking away. And we are waiting.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Ramazan Mubarak!

To fast or not to fast - that was the question? Finally Pakistan decided that enough people had seen the moon. So they called it an evening, and declared Ramadan. We in Kashmir followed suit. Ramzaan arrived as a news flash from Dawn news, later cross checked with Geo News.

The mosques had by then already finished the Isha prayers. But soon Taraweeh went under way. There were differences though. Some accused of following Saudi Arabia - moon sighted one day after Saudi Arab. Someone claimed that it was a political decision taken by Pakistan against India, as India had earlier declared that no moon had been sighted. Of course there was the old debate raked up in online forums whether to call in Ramadaan (which is traditional Arabic pronunciation) or Ramazan (which is the way Urdu readers would read it). 

The calendars and timings are brought out. Sehri a few minutes late. Iftaar a few minutes earlier. The roadside eateries are either closed or veiled. They open in full bloom after Iftaar when people finally come out to smoke in the open and chat. And eat, of course.

Ramadan is just such a blessing. It is just one month of the year when things start following into place. Part of the reason for this may be that the most important teaching of Ramazan is Sabr (patience). Part of it may be that this month is full heavenly grace.

May this Ramazan usher in for us a period of prosperity, faithfulness and happiness. Ramazan Mubarak, readers!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Echoes from the Near Past

There is a slight uneasiness in watching movies on contemporary Kashmir. (I am not speaking of the Bollywood type where a well built Punjabi dude can shout whole of Pakistan into submission.) I felt it when I watched Ashwin Kumar's "Insha Allah : Kashmir". I felt it again when I watched the much hyped Channel 4 documentary on Kashmir, "Kashmir's Torture Trail".

The stories narrated in both the documentaries are essentially Kashmiri. And as Kashmiris who lived in such times, we should have known them. But we don't. It takes an outsider to come and tell us. And then we agree even more.

These are troubling tales of conflicted times. Narratives from people who, for long, have made it a routine to go about tragedies as being a part of their lives. It takes courage to tell them. Some courage to listen to them. And a lot of courage to work for them. That is perhaps what human rights lawyer, Parvez Imroz, wants the parents of Wamiq (who was killed in 2010, aged 12)  to understand when he tells them that they must see their case through, and not give up hope. Every little movement in any one case serves as a symbol of hope to others fighting against the institutions in similar cases. Many cases do not reach any end. Many are not even started. 

These are events so many in number that its impossible to pick one as a typical case. And then, so much has happened since then that its become convenient to blame the whole turn of events for every wrong. Like Qalandar Kataana, in the documentary. His fingers were broken by the beatings he received at the hands of Indian Army-men and both his feet were cut with a knife. He was made to eat his own flesh. Obviously, he never moved on.

An Indian journalist once remarked that. "Trauma in Kashmir is like a heritage building—the elite fight to preserve it. ‘Don’t forget,’ is their predominant message, ‘Don’t forget to be traumatised.’ They want the wound of Kashmir to endure because the wound is what indicts India for the many atrocities of its military."  Try explaining this to Qalandar Kataana. He is definitely not among the elite (even though I am not sure who this preserving elite are), nor is he trying to give out any message. And it is pointless to talk to him of indictment when his case has been in the court for 20 years.

So it goes for the rest of Kashmir. People who know all that happened prefer not to talk about it. Sometimes its just too painful, and they are thankful that its all over. Other times its just not safe. Like the little family of Parvez Imroz feels and says in the video. And then, of course, there are people who have no clue of the events of the of Valley's last two decades. And it is here where documentaries like these become important. They are like history lessons from your present, not past. A little glimpse of what shouldn't be forgotten. 

It's time for some lessons in modern history of Kashmir.

PS: Related article from The Guardian. The Mass Graves of Kashmir.