Friday, 30 November 2012

Thank God For Little pleasures - IX

"I say, are we to talk now?"
"No, we are just to have tea."
"Tea?"
"Yes."



“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” 

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Saturday, 24 November 2012

One Full Year

On 25th November last year, I began writing on this space. Clueless of what to write about. Happily, I still am. Hence the blog is eclectic and full of random things, events and ideas. Hopefully, it will remain so.

Kashmir is as beautiful, except that they have opened the new bridge on Dal Lake, which by its effects, appears to be extremely carelessly made and drawn. Now there is a threat to the bund with the 'tedha bridge'. Well, well!

Autumn is still a song, much like last year. The weather's been punctual and lets say Amen for that. Autumn is just as beautiful. And people are still complaining about it. People always complain about the wrong things. You can't help it. You have to sift through the complaints. And I have realized that Autumn is not one thing to complain about.

A big shout out to all the readers who made blogging exciting and took the time (and courage) to read the posts here. I have been quite passionate about blogging this year, and hence I'll call it the "year of the blog".

Thank you, dear reader. Let's see how it goes from here on.


PS: Excuse the cheesiness. "I don't believe in low-fat cooking." 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Colours, Absent

17 November, 2012. Srinagar, Kashmir.

The sun was absent in the morning. It was behind somewhere a very dense grey sky. But it's hard to say where it actually was. In the east, lets say. But experience, and some uncertainty, tells me that it will get denser in the days to come. Its Kashmir, and we are approaching winter.

I think people come unhinged in autumns. In winters, its very hard to tell why. Grey isn't a very happy colour  Now that the poplars stand leafless alongside the chinars, one can see through their branches. And gaze into the endless grey space of the tallest skies. The baked bricks of the houses in the neighborhood behind the steel gates don't add any colour either. When the sun sets the sky will be red. Not the usual contours of blue and orange, but grey and red. And the sun will be a opaque sphere of glowing platinum. Still invisible.

I have always (and the blog be my witness) been in love with the turn of seasons in Kashmir. And rightly too!

***

There is a clamour of sad news coming in from Palestine. Israel is at it, again. Murdering innocents by the dozen. You dont have to be an expert on Middle East affairs to condemn this mindless violence.

There is also a clamour of news coming in from Kashmir. But its the start of Muharram, the Islamic new year. Every year these days we remind ourselves of the sacrifice of the grandson of Prophet Muhammad SallallahuAlaihiWaSalam and hence begin the year solemnly, on a somber note.

Guess the families in Palestine will have a lot to remember in the Muharrams to come. My heart reaches out to them. May Allah give them strength!

***

Its three in the afternoon. And, finally, sunshine.

In Palestine, too. Soon. InshaAllah.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Ghaer!

In Kashmir, in autumn, chestnuts, are a delicacy. Their season is short lived, not lasting more than a few weeks each year. 



Ghaer seller Residency Road, Srinagar.
For some reason they are also called Punjaeb-ghaer. But there are other names as well, Haaput-phal (literally bear fruit), wann-gaer (jungle chestnuts) - perhaps,owing to the fact that they are generally found in jungles growing wild and are rarely 'cultivated' in Kashmir.

Every autumn towards the ending of October, these chestnuts make a small appearance. For a week or two then they are sold from hand carts in one or two places in the busy bazaars of the city. By the mid of November they are rare, and after that they are gone. They are heated on a small stove in a metal container until the outer brown covering has charred, after which it is peeled and the inner white core is eaten.

To buy them, still if you are lucky, head straight to Lal Chowk where you will find vendors on the Residency Road. Outside the Abi Guzar lane or near the Sheikhbagh gate of Tyndale Biscoe School. I haven't seen them being sold at many places, if you have please comment in the 'comment box' below. 

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Postcard from Srinagar


The weather in Srinagar is always something one can talk about. And while, you are at it, admire it. In Kashmir, the four seasons are distinct - something, which takes a while to understand when you experience the weather in other places.

Outside, the wind is rustling the leaves. The leaves are present everywhere in Srinagar. In Autumn, you cannot escape them. They have basked in the heat of summer and have now turned a golden yellow. Some of them, a lot of them actually, are pale and lifeless. Many are blighted and grey. Some catch the wind easily and float wherever it takes them. Some scatter about. Others remain tangled in the thickets. Some wander away, and will be back in spring. Some will bring in new life, others will never be seen again.

In the long line of trees, Chinars all of them, on the Residency Road the leaves have paved the paths golden. A sweeper sweeps them everyday. The leaves are then burned. Turned into coal and ash. In a distant ground, the woman who is making coals from leaves holds a large broom, a small poker and a harrow. She turns the leaves she's found to char them equally. Then pours water so that they don't turn to ash.  The leaves lie midway, not unburnt but not fully ash. Then she takes a poker and collects a small amount of burning coals for her own kangri. She tucks the kangri under her pheran, adjusts her head scarf and smiles coyly at no one in particular. She calls out to a little girl, her daughter perhaps, and hands the kangri to her, while she goes about preparing coals.

In the floating sunshine of the afternoon the sunlight dances a little among the clouds. The warmth spreading like the fiery glow on the coals in the woman's kangri. By dusk, the sun would have gone far away. The leaves would whirlwind and settle down. A few street vendors would unpack their wares and display them on the roads outside hotels. The knotted traffic would ease, slowly, as the roads become empty.

A few tourists are out for a stroll. A rag-picker roams about. The stray dogs. Army-men.

An old man, wearing a pheran and a woollen cap cycles across the road. His eyes are watery, and blinking in the cold. He is thinking of the kangri at home and the tea. Especially the tea.

A cup of tea would be wonderful.


(Photo Credit: dawardedmari)

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Fourth Bridge

"Srinagar : The Fourth Bridge, Hari Parbat, and in the distance Kotwal and Harmuk."

Zaina Kadal, The fourth (of seven) bridges of Srinagar.


Photo from, A Woman's Life for Kashmir - Irene Petrie (1903)

Zaina Kadal was (in)famous for rumours. The Kashmiri saying "Zaen Kadalich khabar", (literally, the news of Zaina Kadal) means 'a rumour'.

"

The Zaina-kadal, or fourth bridge of the city, used to be the place where false rumours were hatched, but now the news makers have moved to the first bridge, the Amiran-kadal. Though the wise knew that Khabar-i-Zaina-kadal  was false, the majority are not wise, and much misery is caused to the villagers by the reports which emanate from the city.
"
Walter E. Lawrence - The Valley of Kashmir (1895)