Thursday, 31 January 2013

Noor. A child of ill kismet.

                                                                       Part 1

We all set out with a cry when we are birthed. Treated like fragile and delicate thing. Our parents treat neonates with affection and care.  Holding the index finger of our father we learn. We discover all the new things and our brain starts to relate them. We see sunlight and relate it to delight of playing in it. We hear chirping and cawing of birds and pertain it to be singing for love and joy. We play, we enjoy, we desire and we dream.   Lesser known to all the conceptions of this world, little cognizant about the kismet but very well aware of our destiny- ‘grave’.

 Possibility of all this to happen is only, if our fate is colorful.  Circumstances! What has that got to do with the child birth and childhood? Am I going nuts? Or am just writing to amaze people with the word selection? But, all I know and all that I have  seen, bears testimony to the fact that ‘circumstances’ and child birth are inter-related. After reading this piece of writing you will get the answer to your questions.

‘Noor’ was the fourth girl child of ‘Khuda Baksh’. Prior to her birth her father was very desirous of baby boy from his wife ‘Shereen’. He even had found a name for him as ‘Taimur’. He would reiterate this all day long to his wife and had got a cradle for him. That cradle  had some remarkable piece wood crafting done by Aslam khan- the nearby wood craftsman. All the people of the town would call him ‘Aslam Miyan’.   When Khuda Baksh heard of his wife’s pregnancy he ran towards the shop of Aslam Miyan and embraced him and raised him high above the ground with utmost joy and happiness.
‘Aslam Miyan! Shereen is expecting a baby and I’m sure that this time it would be a boy’
‘Bakhshe’ as Aslam Miyan would call him because of their close intimacy. They were, after-all, friends from the very juvenile beginning of the life.
‘Bakhshe’! May almighty bless you with a boy this time and we would have a feast then. And I know the reason for you coming here. Isn’t it you want a fine cradle for the new born?’
‘Aslam Miyan, you are right, you are right’. Khuda Baksh said in the most joyous tone and still in fits from the laughter.
‘Aslam Miyan, show me the true value of your craftsmanship this time round. Get a fine piece of cradle with unmatchable craftsmanship done in no time. I want it to be ready ASAP’.
Saying this and brimming with the joy his soul was in and his face crimson with the flush of enthusiasm he went to the nigh sweet  shop a got a few kilos of them for his kiths and kin’s.

Merrily he went home and distributed the confections to all.
‘Shereen, aren't we going to have a boy this time? If so, I will get you some beautiful Jhumkas and a necklace you will boast of’. He babbled with a slight grin on his face.

Shereen without any answer went on with her daily chores. She knew if something else happened, a girl stead of a boy!  Khuda Baksh, as usual would refuse to even offer adaan in its ears. Khuda Baksh was just like that and had developed strong aversion for a girl child after Shereen bore 3 of them. ‘Shehzad, Fatima and Rukhsan’ were fourteen, ten and 8 years old respectively. Shehzad being the eldest among the lot usually helped her mother in cooking and doing dishes. Their lives had been subjugated to humiliation and tantrums and curses from Khuda Baksh. He would use malicious language to call them and would never like to see them through affectionate eyes.

‘Manhoos’ was the usual word to describe Shehzad and she had now got used to it.
‘Manhoos, get lost! Didn't I tell you to never bring food to me all by yourself? ‘Splashing sound’.
Khuda Baksh slapped her so hard that tears involuntarily ran down her cheeks and she at once left the room and went to her mother. Sobbing and boohooing all the time and asking for the death from the almighty.  He didn't even spare the other two little creatures and would curse them all day long. He was such a stubborn brute who would never listen to anyone. Many enquired of him about his mistreatment towards his daughters and he would furiously turn towards his wife and tell her,
‘ Why and how he got to know about it? Who told him? And if you don’t tell him to get going, I have got other methods’. Maximum portion of his family and acquaintances had developed strong dislike for him and would secretly console Shereen and the three girls.
Time passed just like that. And Shereen was now closer to giving birth to new one again. She had prayed all the time to the almighty for a baby boy as that would mark an end to the brutalities of his husband. 
Few days before the normal date and Shereen was in labor pains and was admitted to the nearby hospital. She was weak and had to be operated upon. Doctors told Khuda Baksh to get the money and sign the papers. He did so. Shereen was operated upon. And there was a bad news for Shereen and for Khuda Baksh. A real bad news for the whole family, so bad in its magnitude that it would worsen all that was happening.  A beautiful little baby girl was born. And doctors said to Khuda Baksh that due to some internal bleeding and pregnancy related complications  ,Shereen would never become mother again. This news agitated Khuda Baksh and he without seeing his daughter left the hospital.
 Baby ‘Noor’ had come into the existence.
To be continued.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A Cup Of Love

‘What I was supposed to write, I extremely couldn't pen-lock that’.Maybe because of my intoxicated feelings soaked in the rain of love, refrain from doing so and my brain allowingly dysfunctional. One would always interpret this to be an extra personal  affair. Many would call it a split personality disorder. But, this is something surrealistic. I would always see and analyze things around me and end up with continuous staring followed by being pushed to a hallucinatory world of my own, where my imagination and notional affair sing and dance with the accompaniment of the songs of love. I assume my curtains to be the barriers between me and my lover and end up in removing them lest I forget about love. Ceiling above my head has its own tale to tell. I always establish myself among the various particles and sing those songs. Constant looking at my door really is an out the box fantasy. I would always open it and walk towards a glass of wine in the flower gardens of my phantasmagoric world. I would always see a bright cinnabars and vermilions swaying and casting aside my worries and sorrows. It’s the gusts of excitement that come from the beloved’s flower garden and set ablaze my feelings.

Love is a supernatural thing guided by our soul to illuminate our lives. We all see this happening around. I myself bear witness to this ethereal thing. Many a times I see my fellows losing them-self for the sake of love. Love has many forms and these forms are in the form of desires for certain things. Love for a strange soul stays at the top followed by others. Love for nature, love for profession, love for nation and love for peace and prosperity follow the first one. As I said love for a strange soul stands at the top because we all leave our own desires and passions just to see her smile. This is not an easy task. Enquire a true lover for heaven’s sake of what it takes to form a compound of true love, care and respect. I would say a lover always has to take a risk of riding a stallion of love with no visible destiny. A lover has his or her own identity and this luxury of having different identity is more than an anything else in this world. This is an identity earned by the tasks executed by heart. This is the only thing that we do from the soul. Lover’s souls are one, their fantasies are one and their dreams are one. Their dream in a dream is always about the union of their spirits. I again reiterate that a lover has to kneel before love and leave himself of himself. I’m here reminded of Che Guevara’s quote: - ‘Revolutionaries are guided by strong feelings of love’.

Known are the facts and known are realities about where a perfect and true love leads. I am not in a position to state about that. I only admire and respect all the genuine and honest lovers because they have something special added to their soul. A lover’s soul never sees a tree as a tree only. He envisages it to be a Allah’s form of love. A lover never ascertains a smile as a smile only. He ideates it to be light from an enlightened soul. He never perceives rain as a mere form of precipitation but as a song sung by heavens. He never comprehends a window as a simple conjoint of crafted wood but as a love of the lover-crafts man for his job. This is what I comprehend and gather by my meager experiences about love.Hope you all assume my flaws in this piece as unintentional as :-
‘I am neither a friend nor a companion
I am neither strong nor stubborn
I am neither known nor a commoner
I am a human-being with a beating heart
I am just intoxicated with the feelings of love’.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A Broken Heart and Million Setbacks.

Quite unfortunate! What? What I am talking about? Yes, he was quite a minacious as a person, as a friend and most importantly as a best friend.  He didn’t cognize what it really takes to be best friends with a girl.  It was quite so illogical of him that he always conjured a person next to him alike him. No sensitive, no tender, no spiritualist. He later found it that the very person he was talking to in helluva sentences was the reverse of what he had thought of.  He did many a foul ups. He did many blunders. He was juvenile by those feelings which were felt very closely by others and had no knowledge of what close intimacies were? He still ponders over what they are really like? Are they like sitting together and talk and develop certain kind of modus operandi? Are they like being forethoughtful about the person with whom you share your thinking and mentations?  With whom you share your persuasions and frenzied notions?  He still mulls over these things. He may not be a best friend, a good companion and a soul mate for he lacked those qualities and characters, lineaments and tones that a person ought to have.  This was the reason he lost someone very dear to him. This is a story about a person who lost his soul mate by dint of his priggishness.

‘Rehaan’ was the person who had never thought that his short tempered nature shall lead him to most clumsy predicament. He loved. He cared. He quarreled. He had always been a squabbler. There were times when he used to cry for his best friend and soul companion when they had had a tiff. ‘Ainain’ was rather a different as a person. She was patient and had a fragile heart. She was sober and possessed quite a sedate nature. Beautiful with bluish eyes and they were magnetic. Her slender arms and plait that adjoined the waist were her style mark.  Her laughter was like bright chrysanthemums swaying in bright sunlight. Her hands were svelte and white like newly fallen snow. She was very lovely indeed. Both of them were very expressive and used to share much of their daily happenings. A laughter would always be heard when they used to talk, on phone mostly. And whenever they would get a chance to meet, Ainain would die laughing when she would see Rehaan coming. Covering her mouth with svelte hands. They used to be in merry go round moods most often. Both loved each other, both cared for each other. Both used to call each other by names if one used to reply late to a message. They used to altercate and argufy very often and Ainain would tell Rehaan that he didn’t know the meaning friendship. Ainain used to sulk after their quarrels and Rehaan would quickly try to make up with her. In short they were best of the buddies and knew each other more than anyone.

 But, all changed, like seasons change on the divine order. Like trees shed their leaves after the summer bloom. Like the sunrise and the sunset. Like the night when enveloping twilight by the blanket and the dawn forcing the night to break down. Everything changes; everybody has his or her shortcomings. Rehaan’s shortcoming was his ill tempered nature. He did such a blunder and lost his priceless possession. He is remorseful of his act but nothing can be changed now. He regrets every second and every minute of his life. Ainain was no more there for him. What he had done was unpardonable, unacceptable and unjustified. His ill mannered nature had paid a huge price .All he did in a fraction of a second without knowing he was directing his illicit and malicious behavior to the person whom he loved the most in this world. Without her he was nothing. Rehaan’s rhetoric towards Ainain was totally unjust.  He couldn’t even survive for long without her. This all was put on a back burner and such an act happened out of nowhere from him and could drub any conscious soul.  Ainain had done nothing but a slight mistake just like her earlier ones. Rehaan’s untoward behavior broke her heart and rendered her soulless. Ainain still doesn’t know what happened to Rehaan that ominous day. Rehaan’s outrageous outrage and furiousness had many reasons.  Something had happened between his parents and he was all disturbed because of he had used harsh words for his father. It was the reason behind the uncanny that encircled a great companionship. Ainain lost the earth her beneath her feet when she heard those harsh and coarse words from the person she cared the most. She cried for the whole day and Rehaan after getting back to his sense was repenting. He also cried bitterly that day. But now the hands of the clock couldn’t be moved backwards. He, by his ill mannered, clodhopping and unsocial demeanor was left with hell. He cried for the divine, supernatural and supernal help, but all in vain.  His intimacy, because of a sacred bond between two souls had come to its conclusion.  He begged her, implored her not to go away, but Ainain was gone. She had gone so far that it was impossible to reach out for her. Due to the priggishness that had engulfed Rehaan and was unable to rid himself of it, met an incident that altered his life. Two souls had departed, two companions diverged and a spiritual relation broken.  Nothing in the whole world was able to save their consecrated companionship.

It’s all up to a person how he maneuvers himself out of quandary. He should have complete and absolute control on his senses and should be cognizant enough about the other person’s feelings. Everybody has a heart and everybody feels like the way you feel. ‘If you can’t respect and admire a girl then don’t even dare to hurt and insult her either. They are fragile and delicate and when they love you that means ‘only you’. Don’t let yourself hurt them. There are many a reasons how and why persons put themselves in jeopardy. It’s the human behavior first. If a person is a model of morals, ethics and etiquettes them it’s very easy for him to control himself in every downright dilemma. Rehaan loved Ainain and still does but what is that love for when you break somebody’s heart with your callous, indurate and inappropriate behavior.  Life without love is like a garden without blooms and blossoms. Everybody is in search of a soul mate with whom he/she can talk and share his/her sorrows and joys. And you are very fortunate if you find one who loves you so much and puts you as top priority. It’s unfortunate if you lose that person and reason is all you. A quote of Maulana Rumi says it all :-                                      
“An eye is meant to see things.The soul is here for its own joy.

A head has one use: For loving a true love.Feet: To chase after.

Love is for vanishing into the sky. The mind,for learning what men have done and tried to do.

Mysteries are not to be solved: The eye goes blindwhen it only wants to see why.

A lover is always accused of something.But when he finds his love, whatever was lostin the looking comes back completely changed.” 

Hope every Ainain returns to every Rehaan given the truth of the relations. Amen.

Characters used are highly fictitious. Any resemblance is regretted

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Guest Post The taste of loneliness  Jazib Aslam   He was not the person who he was supposed to be?  He had to become what was expected from him, he had to do what was believed of him. He had the valor and determination but he was deficient and devoid of the main necessity. He was devoid of peace, and satisfaction.

His countenance sparkled with smile, eyes shone most of the times, heart was light and kindheartedness was induced in him. His thoughts were, “we live not for a reason, but we give reason to live”. So this principle worked at times as well. Naughtiness if found was only in him, any act of such sort was the reason of him being involved.  . All with love called him, Aqiram, though actual name was the same as well but rest were not familiar with it, except family unit. Life was so simple and as it had to be in the beginning years of his birth. But that life didn’t last long. It had its end, the day his father had his start.
 His father who once was considered to be one of the best human beings in the town and who could make good earning out of his post to support his family was now indulged in spending his money in a ghastly manner. He spent his money in brothels and on courtesans and Alcohol. He had forgotten that he was there to support his only son and wife. But what would man do when his luck is in awful session. His faith had something else for him; people mend their lives while getting matured but he ruined after.
Aqiram was born three years after his parents got married. The beginning years of the marriage of his parents were very dull.  They didn’t live the way couple should live. Unsympathetic Indifferences of the father added to the darkness, which the son sensed. He felt at an early age the divergence between his parents, which somehow transformed his life. Watching parents indulged in frequent fights irrespective of the cause and reason was a cruelness done to an infant, even though there was a reason. Brawls of his parents staggered him the most and hence he lived in misery. He was a boy who mostly spent days and nights in loneliness; He didn’t not understand life nevertheless he lived his life, no matter how?
His mother was so beautiful, with pale blue eyes and auburn hair, she never ever believed in hatred, she only understood his feelings when he was thirsty and hungry, as their house would most often be without groceries and both had to sleep starving. But mother’s love and care was much more than food or clothing. She was the only soul in the world who bothered the most about him.  Since the inception of marriage his mother had not lived a happy life. She had borne everyday like a month.  Her desire was to turn her son, Aqiram in what she didn’t turn into. What she couldn’t do was her dream to see her son doing. Hope was very high for hopelessness is a sin, even though Aqiram was not worth of being anticipated for superior obsession.

Once when moon and stars scattered so much light, that one would be unsure to call it a night. His father M’eezam was in demand in the brothel. He and his mother were lingering in the corner of the room where luminosity was all natural, of moon and stars. Aqiram lay in the lap of his mother being caressed by his mother’s affectionate hands. Aqiram would never sleep until lullaby was sung. His mother who had no other alternative but to lament the doings of his husband was living in that phase of life where heartache was more in spite of joy. She was dying inside; her heart was heavy and had no trust on her husband. The main reason of her being so much depressed was that the nature had bestowed her with the son for whom she was concerned a lot. This intermingled wretchedness was so painful that tears trickled down the cheeks and Aqiram wiped them off carefully with spongy and little hands.  This compelled the loving mother to hold her child tightly to her bosom and provide him with the warmth of love and affection. That was the night when her mother breathed her last, while singing lullaby she failed to make her child sleep in spite she dropped asleep for ever and absconded the world which was meant for her for the specific time. She loved. She left. She died. She was the individual to whom all his hopes were related. She was someone who encouraged him throughout till her time of departure had an arrival. And this occurred to be one of the big blows to his life. Aqiram dwelled in the home where no one dwelled but his loneliness. His father would return in the late hours and had no worry of his son. He lived a life of his own, forgetting about him and his mother, who was her wife once.  
Aqiram who had learnt the means of living the life was in his teens bereft of mother’s love living in seclusion and his father decided to remarry with a woman who was divorced by a landlord and had one daughter of Aqiram's age. She by composure was huge but by age less than expected. She was 16 years old with blue eyes and copper hair. She was dependable and light-hearted but could be nagging and was scared of being let down. Her name was Annie, most often she was seen dolling herself up for any occasion where her mother would carry her.  Her mother was a replica of one of the teachers of Aqiram, and was as miserable as her.  Whenever she would find Aqiram alone, she would ill-treat him and she always described him a mere maladroit. It hurt his sentiments, but he didn’t speak a word as his mother had taught him to value elders. Such was the impact of guidance’s by his mother that he never behaved the way one should behave when treated unwell. His father didn’t take any notice of these things he was indulged in his indulgences.  Annie gradually grew closer to Aqiram, she in the beginning acted the same way as her mother but later her heart melted and she was so touched that once she asked Aqiram about his quietness. And Aqiram did what he should not have done, ignored her.
The day downheartedness began to be an adjunct to Aqiram, he had always sat in the darkness of darkness’s and loneliness of loneliness’s. He was overlooked by his father, his education suffered, he was found among the backbenchers mourning his life, mourning his mother. A boy who once was considered to be very mischievous lay on the benches silent. Everybody was familiar of his disenchantment, but no one would dare to pat his back, as he would not react the same way he did to Annie.

Annie tried to lessen the difference between herself and Aqiram but failed many a times. Aqiram also realized that there is no one who would take care of him but Annie. So one night after having meals Aqiram was having a stroll in the garden in the dimness Annie had a look of him from the windowpane , she quickly stepped down the stairs and joined her in the garden and asked the same question but this time Aqiram did opposite of what he did in the past, he answered him politely. Annie was startled to see him talking as she had not seen him speaking from the time she had been there, two months. Aqiram was bearing in mind that she might not reveal the tale to her mother and he told him about the hardships he had faced till there, He told him about the divergences between her parents, about his mother’s death who loved him the most in the world. Despite his family Aqirams father participated in brothel and opted Alcohol regardless. His mother’s death was due to his father’s gauche behavior towards her. These were the reasons of him being so much preoccupied by sadness. Hearing this, shocked Annie heaved a sigh of suffering and she was influenced by him. Annie held sway in the house; she made her mind up to talk to her mother, but Aqiram requested her not to disclose what he had told her in the fear that his father might kick him out from the house, for the reason that Aqiram had set him responsible for her mothers death. Annie promised but couldn’t keep her promise; she was so uncomfortable that she couldn’t stay quite and revealed unrevealed to her mother. Her mother cackled at her as she was already au fait with all this. Annie called it reprehensible of her mother; she had not anticipated her mother to be what she was. She got so angry, gnashed her teeth and left the room with sullen face. This revelation was the blunder of Annie although she did that with the intention of doing a favor to her new friend Aqiram. As the news rang the ears of his father, through a clever messenger, his father shouted in anger and called his son Aqiram and abused him. Aqiram bowed his head in disdain and didn’t utter a word. His father held his hand and kicked him on the back and yelled in anger, “Get the hell out of here”; I don’t want to see your face. Get lost! Aqiram tried to make a point but M’eezam didn’t brook any argument from him. As Aqiram turned around towards the door, Annie cried and cried “Aqiram, don’t go”, “don’t leave the house over something so trivial”, “Don’t desert your new friend”.  But this time Aqiram didn’t hear of anyone not even of the neighboring aunty who was once one of the best friends of her mother and a well-wisher. Annie’s relationship with Aqiram had grown enormous; she couldn’t bear his exit from the house, as she would consider herself responsible for his run off.

But she couldn’t do anything; she was jostled by her mother, slapped by her step father and locked indoors. In doing so M’eezam began to think about the wrong step he had taken. He never had any care for his son but it strained him immense after Aqiram left. But what could he do, the damage was already been done, he had done an offense of kicking his son out of the house in his insanity; he was completely drunk at that moment.
In the house, M’eezam was little upset; Annie was in despair and her mother a cruel lady was in high spirits. She had no concern with that poor boy Aqiram but was very kind and affectionate to her daughter Annie, who was very angry with her on account of doing injustice to Aqiram. Annie was cheerless, she wanted to see Aqiram, and she was dying for her not because she had fallen in love with him but she was sympathetic by nature. On the other hand, Aqiram who was searching for shelter wandered here and there in search of it but was unsuccessful and spent the whole night alone on the footpath. While trying hard to plunge a sound sleep, he thought about Annie who had revealed so much concern whilst his going away. He envisaged her gorgeous face, blue eyes and copper hair and felt about the dire consequences which may have prevailed in home after he left. He was in profound feelings about Annie who had supported her and was worried enough about the fact that Annie might be tolerating her mother’s bawls. 
Thus began the life of Aqiram on his own account, and he…
To be continued ..... The author can be mailed at

                                              War child
                                                                     Part 1
Unlike all the boys of his age he was best in all the arenas. Best in academics. Best in sports. He was named as ‘Jaguar paw’ for his speed and flush of enthusiasm & bloom of youth that he possessed. He ran in the football field like a Jaguar and people would be astounded at the sight of the living wonderment they were getting to see. His divine qualities would be ascertained in the academics as there would be no exam for him without being a topper of the class. Born to a middle class family, amidst roaring machine guns, encounters and torture killings. Ahsan was surely a ‘War child’. Born in most lamentable era of the vale. Fostered in the same era. Unforgettable to all, memories of which still haunt many. For the era was Kashmir 90’s.

Ahsan’s father Ahmad Gulfam, who worked as a Govt. Teacher was very much proud of his son. All the desires, wishes and wants of Ahsan were satisfied. He was Ahmad’s only son as he was followed by 3 daughters. Ahsan’s mother was a simple housewife, busy all the time in daily chores. Afshaana wanted her son to become an engineer as this was the only prestigious job she was acquainted with. Ahsan was only 4 when he went to school. The very school where his father taught. So the father-son duo went all along together. Ahsan didn’t even cry or sulked like the other children of his age when they were taken to said place. He went euphorically.  His father taught him mathematics and science. The addition of numbers, their subtraction and their division was all too easy for him. His father taught him every bit, every small thing from length of ‘1’ to the curves of other numbers.   Sports were in his blood and within years he was an amply developed sportsman.  Since the very beginning he showed signs of absolute intellectualism.  He would listen to what his father used to discuss with his acquaintances, keenly. Be them the topics like Struggle for freedom, Militancy, Military suppression, disappearances, custodial killings and day by day ‘Crackdowns’. He grew up listening to these gruesome acts by brutal forces. They only thought’s that would come to him was ‘How and why this is happening'. How and why this heaven was changed to hellhole on earth. The answers were clandestine enough for his tender age to have him in downright quandary.

Ahsan being Ahmad’s only son was brought up with utmost care and affection. He was treated like fragile doll and caressed like a baby all the while from infancy days to his mid teens. He had many friends but only two were best and very close to him. With them he shared every joy that came to him. Every grief he faced. Muhatib and Suhbaib were all in all his soul companions. They would play football in the meadow of evergreen Magam village. They would bath in a nigh river. Schooling was together. So were the tuitions. They would together take cattle for grazing and help each other in bathing them. They would fiddle with the tails of each other’s animals until the poor beasts would start sending their queries in the air in their respective sounds.  They would sun bathe by side of the river on the sparkling sand. On the way back they would pluck apples from their orchids and eat the leisurely thought-out the whole length of their path. Concisely they would be together though all hours of the day.

All seemed perfect but…...
To be continued.
By :- Rizwan Ashraf.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Guest post.                                                                
                                    Jamaat Dress Code
                                                                             Azeem M Shah
 "Do not wear skimpy clothes." -  This is with what
Jamat-e-Islami (a politico-religious organisation) has warned andthreatened tourists visiting the valley this summer and asked the Tourismdepartment to enforce it. The diktat came very recently and has evokedsharp criticism from all the quarters of society including thestake-holders of tourism industry of Kashmir, who do not want anydisturbance impacting their businesses and tourists inflow. The Jamatjustifies its stand by linking the types of clothes particularly worn byforeign tourists with Kashmir's 'ethos' and 'culture'  and fears that thelocals might get influenced by the western culture. This is how theorganisation is doing the business that does not belong to them at all.However, this year alone, the number of tourists visiting the valley hasbeen more than 400,000 so far (excluding Amarnath pilgrims).
               Oftenly we cry aloud and reason out with the 'Right ofChoice' / 'Right to wear' when Muslim women in selected european countriesare deprived of wearing 'Burqa' ; but why we crib when others' same rightis sapped in the name of religion, culture and modesty? And who will decidewhat is modest and acceptable at different places? Suely not anorgansiation working as a religious group and intimidating visitors withextreme consequences.  It is pertinent to mention here that the touristsacross the world  have been visiting Kashmir for a very long time and arenow conscious about their outfits in accordance with the places they visit.So, sermoning them to desist from wearing and wandering "indecently" isabsolutely needless.
                Moreover, it's worldly known that Kashmir's hospitalitymakes it fully a paradise and whatever has happened in the past has notchanged the basic behaviour and goodness of its people, thereby luring moreand more visitors to come and enjoy themselves. And more importantly,people who visit the valley from across the globe get to know about itshappenings threadbare; be it beautiful tourist resorts, culture, customs,people, governance or even the conflict, they have plenty of observationsand memories to carry them back along and that leads to a larger audienceoutside Kashmir. Now what the Jamat's diktat would do, is that it wouldremarkably affect the foreign tourist-count and fear among them as aresult, local businessmen would feel the impact as well.
Jamat-e-Islami being an organsiation of 'religious activism' and 'KashmirFreedom Movement' must respect and recognise the freedom of people of otherregions and religions also, and try to project themselves as a logicalIslamic front rather than mere 'fanatical' body.

The author can be mailed at

Sunday, 1 July 2012

                              Kashmir Tourism- The neglected spots.

Kashmir is world over infamous for its pristine beauty that lies in the form of lush green meadows, loftier than the loftiest mountains and above all tranquil waters. The blue skies, from which the virgin rays of sun enter the environs making the valley subsequently exquisite, that whilst bidding adieu tourists boast of this place. The reinvigorating climate is the sole reason that brings people from every nook and cranny of India here, to enjoy its serenity. There are places that viewed as the places of first visit. The placid Dal stands as top priority for the tourist’s world over to visit. Then the places adjoining like The Mughal Gardens, Harwan and Pari Mahal which was built by Dara Shukoah located on Zaberwan range is another attraction site for tourists. Pari Mahal is an arcuate bundle of terraces from which we can get the whole view of Srinagar city. The Gulmarg is another jewel in the crown of Kashmiri vacationist spot famous for its wintry delights in the form of skiing. One could never forget the name of Pahalgam when sharing his views on the hot spots of Kashmir. Pahalgam is a totality of heaven’s enclosed by forests and gushing waters (River Lidder) that flow through its heart. It really is a gem of the tourist spots that brings forth the beauty of Kashmir and entertains among us the stargazing of living in a part of Eden.

The above description stands true from all corners about the mesmerizing beauty of Kashmir. But these places do not mark the end of Kashmir’s ageless beauty and placidity. There are places which have been neglected from the tourist hot spot map of Kashmir. Be them the places like ‘Lolab valley’, ‘Bungus valley’ – both in Kupwara district of Kashmir. About ‘Bungus’ it is said and believed that this meadow is just the replica of Gulmarg. It is an interminable meadow with grasses soft like cotton and waters that could be greater retreat to sea of tranquility. The impenetrable forests add up to the beauty of this place. This place is all but a dying spot of beauty crying for its identity. One could see the forlorn gazes of its surroundings and gloominess in its gusts of air that welcome you when one set foot on its greenish grasses. In yesteryears there was some news stating that a separate development authority for Bungus was established to explore and develop this heavenly part. But nothing has been done so far in practicality and everything stands only in paper work. And if there is some work going on that is at snail’s pace and will take years to complete. This place is some 40 km’s from the main centerfield of Kupwara and some 25 km’s from the remote town of Handwara but that route is too dangerous, so one would prefer the former as it is somehow good to travel through. The place has other barricades too and that are in the form of security forces stationed there. They only allow people with special permissions and that too in the months of June and July. So for the rest of the year 'Bungus' remains alienated from the rest of the tourist hubs. This shows how alienated and blanked out the place is from the map of tourist spots.

Lolab is very beautiful place some 30 odd km's from Kupwara. One would surely get to know from the people as the very first talk of their mouth is "Sahabji Lolab ko 'Land of Love and beauty' bolte hain" and this is their welcome gesture. Lolab valley is a definite example of nature's undisturbed environs with utmost beauty in the form of small meadows alongside which, brimming brooks flow. The flowers en-route the meadows of Lolab bring about a new ambience in the surroundings tinged with an aroma of love. The hospitality or the cordial reception of people has no match. The land is on seventh heaven when visited during the spring season. But surely place is less trodden by the visitors as it has not been declared a full scale tourist hub by department of tourism. The place needs just a slight makeover. The roads should be maintained properly and some guest houses should be made there so as put this place on the map of tourist spots. Proper advertisements and promotions would surely give big financial boost to people and indirectly to tourism department.

Another place that is waiting for its approval to be able to serve the people is not just too far away from the said district (Kupwara). And that place stands by the name ‘Machil’. This place is about 50 km’s from Kupwara. Mostly in the news due to some horrific crimes like fake encounters. But this place has its own story to tell. The dense forests that fence in from all sides provide all together a new look to the land. The wildly down flow of its rivers shall leave every sleepy-headed hypnotized. But one song, in fact the same one, it also is singing of neglectfulness and disregard. After getting a glimpse of this place I’m reminded of some stanza’s from Lal Ded’s poem which state:-
‘You are the heaven and You are the earth,
You are the day and You are the night,
You are all pervading air,
You are the sacred offering of rice and flowers and of water;
You are Yourself all in all,
What can I offer You?’

Another place is ‘Drang’. Just 3.5 km’s from Tangmarg. It is a compounding of perfect beauty, crystal clear skies and burbling river. The place has meadows too that are immaculate enough to be referred to as part of heaven. The caves of Drang, the topography of Drang have concealed magnets of attraction that shall never allow a person to see it off when visited. One could easily stroll in its meadow full of undistinguishable flora and fauna. Trekking through its jungles is always an awe-inspiring go-through. But one thing that really pinches deep is that this place not being too far from Gulmarg is being ignored and neglected. Drang is, I would say; Best for trekking, best for botanical research with its human friendly terrain. It can also be helpful to some social scientists with its caves at their disposal. But it is really shocking, that there is not even a single modern guest house, just a few bettered huts that are good for nothing. The road is in shambles with no local transport facility. One has to either walk down up to there or has to pay local carriage from Tangmarg double the normal rate. If Bungus, Lolab and Machil are far off to able to look after, what about Drang? It in actuality troubles me immense that such scenic spots are thrown to dogs. The development of these places will be able to generate much revenue and can really help the people dwelling there. We know that we are living in a place where unemployed youth are more than employed one’s, so this is really the best way to generate their income. Huge percentage of our state budget comes from tourism department alone. And if these places are developed and put on the Kashmir tourism map then there will be a huge rise in our budget which in-turn means greater development of Kashmir. When there are new spots to explore and trod through, then there is a gradual increase in the number of tourists, which means better welfare of people and govt’. So we really need to do some work about putting these places on the map of Kashmir tourism. We should visit these places more often and promote them too which will successively help in adding to the luster of this multi faceted diamond (Kashmir) changing its hues with changing environs. We people of Kashmir should stand by our land in the matters like tourism. We all know that the major chunk of the budgets of all states comes from tourism. If Maharashtrian’s can do it, if Rajhastani’s can do it with just mere resources why can’t we? They will never compete with us if we develop our tourism sector that way. Department of tourism with the help of we people will have to develop these places and make this sentence live again ‘Kashmir is Asia’s Switzerland’.
 Published in Rising Kashmir :-