Introduction to 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.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Childhood Games - A Trip Back in Time

Manzoor recalls a time long gone when Gulli Danda was the King of Sports in a Kashmiri backyard

(Mr. Manzoor Akash, 25, was born in Rafiabad, Baramulla district. He completed his schooling locally, and earned degrees in B. Litt (comparative Literature) and M.A. in English from Barkatullah Vishwavidhyalaya, Bhopal. A very articulate writer, he has published numerous articles in various journals. He is also a budding poet, having published his first book of poems, "Verses of Heart," in 2006. Some of his poems have been reviewed by prominent literary critics in India. He has taught English at high school level, and hopes to teach in a university some day.)

Lathekej Luth

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

- William Henry Davies

What a lovely childhood I have had! I had joy, I had fun, I had almost all that would give a carefree child, complete happiness and excitement. Cheerily speaking, my childhood was full of merriment and splendor what though it lasted for only a short time. However spectacular progress mankind may make, however fast life may go; I’ll always pause to count my blessings, cherish my memories, close my eyes and live my childhood again. I can not stand as a mute spectator to my childhood games.

Nevertheless, they were numerous, and I, except Gullidanda, could not juggle all of them. Gullidanda (Lathekej Luth) was one of my favorite pastimes that would keep me busy till it goes dimmer and dimmer. Really speaking, I feel elated as I see children playing the game in the fields.

Flashes of joy seem to sparkle my mind, now and again, when this game is seen played, because I love it too much. This game makes me realize that childhood is not ever remaining. I tell you, I was so particular about this game that I’d play it with all furor and enthusiasm at my command. It was a game that would keep us together for hours.infact,I feel sorry on flying away of time , surprisingly. Time, when this game was joyfully played, escaped stealthily and O, I didn’t realize, how? I am left with nothing but the series of sighs that I heave too often as I see children playing this game in the fields. The indelible imprints that this game has laid on my grey matter will simply sustain me in the rest of my days.

Gulli danda (tipcat), a game that would start just after the corn harvested fields were kept open for grazing animals, was such a beautiful game that I was fond of playing it, most of the time. Whichever field I could happen to loiter, with children, I was often seen carrying gullidanda in my hands. I imagine, my gullidanda, by and large, would keep scores of children busy until day broke for them.

This game is still the same, no matter we have grown up. We still desire to join children to play this game but we are afraid lest it should look odd. We are no longer children now. We had our time, whether we enjoyed or not. The glory we used to find, when we were children, has gone. Except recollecting the delight days we just can’t do anything else.

Mostly in villages, in the days of late autumn, one often happiness to spot children playing this game in the fields. It prompts a person to wait a while and to observe children playing this game which keeps number of onlookers busy to watch. No sooner the sun goes down the silent mountains, in the west to twilight than the village – children start scooping a hole in the soil, linearly, to play this tempting game. However, the smoke streaks billowing out of the villages towards open fields; the flocking together of crows that soar the heights and soon sank out of sight; looking after of cattle and what not- all would add charm to this game. How deeply we were loved by our parents them! Unlike children of today we were kept free. Our childhood was, indeed, something special and magnificent.

This game is now passively played because parents today put on costly dresses to their children and don’t like them to mix freely with other children. They fear that they may grow worse by playing this game. Poor children enjoy this game still. Unlike children, born of goldsmiths, they are not confined and kept away from the healthful dust of this game. This game deserves paramount importance what then life has gone digital.

Life is short and we must therefore be cheerful, and enjoy all the pleasure of childhood that this game provides. It is an amusing game, and I believe a great difference between the games played on the machine screens and the games that are played in close proximity of nature. It’d soothe me for a while if I could play this game once again!

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