Introduction to KashmirForum.org Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.
www.kashmirforum.org

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Harmony Between Nature and Mind

Shaykh is proof that Kashmir's unique ethos came about by living in its pristine environment. So his observations about crumbling state of the environment need to be assessed in light of the spiritual and political decay all around

(Mr. Shaykh Mukhtar, 28, was born in Srinagar. He went to the SSI Mission School, and later to the Islamia Colloege of Science & Commerce, Srinagar. He completed his Masters degree in Mass Communication & Journalism from the University of Kashmir. He has also received a Diploma in Film making from the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and a Diploma in Acting & Dance from the Anupam Kher Acting Institute. Mr. Mukhtar also has an advanced diploma in computer aided management studies. He is currently a film-maker and Managing Director of Usha Lexus, Kashmir, with more than 30 films to his credit. He is also a columnist writing for valley's leading newspapers.)

Sheena Peto Peto ("Let it snow, let it snow")

Love is a word that has a strong relation with so many happenings around. The seasons are a powerful force in our lives. They affect the activities we do, the foods we crave, and the clothes we wear— and quite often, the moods we are in. One of the most worrying consequences of climate change is the decreasing amounts of snow. At the end of winters, snow melts and thus brings water to billions people during the drier seasons. Especially the snow of the Himalayas brings water to nearly 1.5 billion people, a quarter of Mankind. As climate change increases dramatically, there is less and less snow, and thus water.

Winter is the most beautiful happening that I love and want to continue be in affair with. If someone asks me why I love winter, I would probably tell him or her, what so many others have spoken of. But my reasons may be a bit different, because I was born in winter, I couldn’t enjoy my birthday without seeing a blanket of snow on my favorite Zarbarwan hills. This side of valley had memorable moments for me, which I deliberately did not want to erase. Every sun rise from the Zabarawan peaks has direct influence on my room’s windows. I keep watching the scenario through my room often. Sometimes when I didn’t satisfy with the overlooking I often rush my wagon to reach the laps of Zabarwan. I used to park my wagon near Harwan garden, and then keep walking to reach the upper areas of the Dachigam. I have great memories of this location. I have spent lot of lovely time here. This side of Srinagar has a lot to deliver in shape of nature. But when recently after a hectic international business tour I came back home, and I decided to go for a recci mission to locate the locales and observe the light measures for the filming of my forthcoming film.

I went to interiors of the Zabarwan, I started travelling from Chesmashahi till last town of Harwan called Dara. It was altogether a strange experience for me, not because I was new to the place, but man’s interference with the nature was the reason. Huge construction is at its peak in this area, despite the beliefs of government’s action against encroachments. Once there was a time when I used to walk along the water channel of Zabarwan hills, it were used to filled with mineral water so pure and refreshing that any can guarantee it’s purity in one look. But today it was dry and filled with plastic bottles, dead animals and other human waste. I asked an employee of water treatment plant situated at Nishat what is the source of water you are treating here. I got shocked when he told me that they are lifting the water from much polluted Dal and same is being supplied for the drinking water to the entire city.

I remember the spring around this bowl; it was used to be a heaven. Greenery everywhere, scenes filled with fragrance of flowers. But during winter it was really a majestic experience altogether. The mighty peaks of the Zabarawan hills used to be glittering with snow. Winter in this region was really a blossom the life lives in Zabarwan. But today situation is quite far from every corner. I couldn’t saw a single sight of snow anywhere, I remember how much happy I used to get when I reach in these interiors. Even today I remember waking up early to snow falling, and the ground cover with a mantle of glistening white blanket. The trees ablaze like diamonds, and the scarlet cardinals, like rubies among the branches of our gardens Cyprus trees now grown older. I couldn't wait to get up and have a hot breakfast of Zaffrani Herisa, and a big Nun Chai. My mother would have our clothes ready, for school, and we always dressed in lawyers, to keep out the cold. Dazzling sunshine on the freshly packed snow would almost get us blind. It usually began around thanksgiving, and continues till maybe March. We waited for the weather to tell us that school would be canceled, because, of the latest amount of snowfall. Yes we loved it! As the month of November rolled around we would begin making holiday plans. The family would start by, making a list for the gifts we would buy, and pray we could not get snowed in, but we loved it. Everyone was excited, and the neighbors would often show up to shovel driveways. The world took on a peaceful quality, and everything was covered in a glorious layer of purity. The gardens would rest, and the summer birds will retreat to a warmer climate. We had so many lovely winter birds that it did not matter. The sparrows would play, and the cats and dogs would play hide and seek.

When school was over for the holidays we would toboggan, ski, or snow shoe. I couldn't wait to go zipping around the fields and the back roads. Sometimes we even dared the frozen lake. I learned to figure skate, and was usually out every day. I practiced on the Dal which is near to my house, and was truly happy, gliding over the frozen water, like a bird. I felt free, and never wanted it to end.

When December came around I was truly the happiest, and still love it today. Winter held some of my happiest memories. We had school plays, parties and were free to enjoy, making snowmen, decorating for the holiday and drinking hot Kehwa, or hot chocolate drink. Many times I used to go to my uncle’s home who is at famous place Pampore which is popularly known for the Saffron cultivation, who would sometimes make a fire outside and we could skate, and sing carols till very late. But today when I look behind I didn’t find those marks of snow anywhere, perhaps that time is gone under the sun.

Tonight, I walked barefoot through our backyard door to my neighbor's house to chat with him a bit. He laughed at my bare feet. It is bone cold winter after all. He wanted to know why I was barefoot. I lied. Made up a story. I didn't tell him that I wanted to feel something. “Sheen peto peto”, not telling what he might have thought. I do that sometimes. Walk barefoot in the snow to feel something. The agony of the extreme, reminds me of the beauty of warmth. Now that my toes are warm, I'm glad. But I know, that if I ever had to haul real fast...barefoot...through snow, I could do it. Probably faster and better than with shoes on.

I would like to write about my love for winter. It is true, that love, in its true form, will heal all wounds and create an idyllic life. But how many of us love winter I don’t know the answer. And how many lovely memories we have to sacrifice to give the life to much-hyped thing: “THE URBANIZATION”.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Memories of childhood cherish after reading this article, i would like to thank you kashmir forum