Monday, May 25, 2009

Srinagar and the Reckoning Day

The server brews a pot of steaming coffee and places it on the wooden table by the overstuffed chairs around. Two other waiters pile plates and talk loudly in Kashmiri at the Graduate Tea shop. ‘Graduate’ because a science graduate runs it after failing to secure a decent job.

It is located in a shopping complex tucked near a pleasant fringe of river Jhelum that cuts across the Srinagar City.

It is almost 2:00 in the afternoon when I enter the shop. Back and forth, over the tables and on the faces of devoted visitors, heavy beam of glaring light of Television make patterns. The empty coffee boxes decorated on the shelves start shaking after someone ask a waiter, “Zore Thaw TV Thoda (Increase its volume a wee bit), making it certain that the news about parliamentary poll results is audible to all information hounds, who have gathered in the teeming tea stall.

“Who is winning in North Kashmir?” a young man sitting in one of the corner tries to inquire from his friends. “Sajad Lone has lost and it’s UPA that seems to form the government at Delhi,” he gets the answer from his friend sitting opposite to him. The news anchor establishes it right away.

The young man is round. His eyes bright, big, but wet. The color of his little beard real. His body lingers just around the last edge of his youth. He seems almost 18.

I feel the young man sensing a hint of scandal or potential misfortune for Lone.

He feels embarrassed. He appears depressing after the news. The only thing that I feel he will like to do is sledgehammer the TV set or upside down the tables. A look at his face reveals anger, so much, that he may wish to either pull his hair or at least try to scream. I can make that he must have been sure of Lone’s win. He can't, however, seem to have imagined the apparent. It is hurtful. And he is upset.

While I watch the small screen flashing fresh results repeatedly, SMSs begin to pass. Again, Mr Sajad Lone the subject matter. The content mostly sarcastic. Largely meant for those who had wished luck to separatist leader, Mr Lone. The SMS displays a sort of ‘obituary’ for the first separatist leader who broke the election boycott call to stand as a contender.

It reads:

Marci 4r Sajad—Election Ladeth Konu Moudokh, Hindustans Saeth Ruzeth Kith Roodukh, Te Harith Zinde Keth Roudukh.


· Why didn’t you die after contesting elections?

· How come you exist while siding with Hindustan (India?)

· How are you alive after losing elections?

I read the SMS, save it and keep the phone in my pocket before having a final look at the youngman.

Before this place, I toured many parts of the city. Everywhere people hooked on instant announcements, sequestering themselves before TV sets and radios that reflected larger mood prompted by the parliamentary poll results and greatly by the Lone’s decision to vie.

In a corner of a dimly lit hall, at my college where I had just gone to get a certificate, and check the mood as well, I saw Mr Sheikh—a senior clerk literally hugged to a small black Kochibo radio.

Across the day, I was told by the staff around that Mr Sheikh was snooping to know who had won. He had had more than a dozen cups of tea besides three packets of cigarette.

Mr Sheikh is thin and lean with typical sharp features. Dark face, laced with patchy skin. His best possession right now. Radio.

He has been listening to radio for a day and a half. A more than five hours of news without any work didn’t lead to any withdrawal symptom.

At another tea joint I visited, just before 4:00 pm, someone scorned Varun Ghandi’s win at Philibit saying that he made his victory sure by indulging in anti-Muslim tirade, but at the cost of BJP’s stature.

Others but well-informed enthusiasts deliberated on the wisdom of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram.

“The economists have ultimately prevailed. It is another six-year government,” a youngster said.

In Kashmir’s markets, across the day the usual crowd was there, but those who turned up were more fascinated in poll gossip, instead of hedging over prices.

At bus stands, in grocery shops, colleges canteens, offices everywhere I went people were snooping over what the final results would mean to Kashmir.

“PDP has lost in South,” Bilal, a student told me in a rough voice, before boarding a Sumo vehicle for Pulwama. He did not vote when South Kashmir went for ballot, however, he wanted PDP to prevail.

Quite usual in South Kashmir.

In the evening I was at Kashmir’s one of the angriest spot, Batamaloo where irritation against troops– together with frequent traffic jams, run deep. Here too people visiting shops and saloons had vigorous debate on the results. With mostly Mr Lone dominating the topic everywhere.

Perched on a shelf in a saloon, youngsters waiting to get shaved or get their hair done, were glued with the TV screen amid conversations.
“Again Congress,” Rafiq who is known to me sighed. “But how will it matter to us,” he told me when I began to leave.

Rafiq didn’t want Mr Lone to win either. Reasons, he said, were known to everyone.

He liked to say; however, that it was a sign of Mr Lone’s immaturity and that he was quite opposed to, what he believed was like an ‘incredible stage-managed polls where Mr Lone was bound to be among the losers’.

Rafiq was convinced that everything went according to the script.

“And that's progress…..” he laughed.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kashmir Elections Run Smoothly But Separatists Look to Obama

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fruit traders stop Bollywood movie shoot

They were portraying Kashmiris as terrorists: Fruit traders
We’re making a love story: Dolakia

Famous Bollywood director Rahul Dolakia and his crew while shooting a sequence of an upcoming movie 'Lamha’ at Parimpora Fruit Mandi Thursday were heckled away by fruit dealers fearing the scenes might harm the recently started cross-LoC trade and image of Kashmiris.

According to eyewitnesses, the crew of GS Entertainment Private Limited producing the film' Lamha' led by its director Dholakia and producer Lucky Sharma appeared at Fruit Mandi Parmipora at around 7 am to shoot a sequence of a film based on the ongoing Kashmir conflict.
The film has Sanjay Dutt, Bipasha Basu, Anupam Kher and Kunal Kapoor in lead role.

President Parimpora Fruit Mandi Bashir Ahmad Bashir told Rising Kashmir that he received information that a film crew was shooting some controversial shots in the Mandi.

He said that the film director had not informed local police nor taken permission from the authorities before shooting in the Fruit Mandi premises.

"The shot was of a pheran clad gun wielding youth taking out arms and ammunition from a vehicle with other boxes full of grenades and ammunition," Bashir said.

"The shots seemingly were controversial and could have misrepresented the people of Kashmir. It seems like an act to disrupt the cross-LoC trade," he added.

“Apparently they were making a sequence showing that guns and other ammunition are being infiltrated into Kashmir in trucks through-LoC," Bashir said

"I met the director and asked for the permission of shooting at the Mandi premises but he failed to produce it. Then we asked him to wind up the shoot and leave the place," said Bashir.

Kashmiri Fruits are exported to different Indian states from Parimpora Fruit Mandi and fruit dealers fear that a negative scene in the film could send wrong signals to the local and international market.

“We have informed all fruit mandis across the Valley not to allow film crew to shoot scenes which can be harmful for the Valley traders," Bashir added.

According to the dealers the director of the film apologized to the association members.

“Otherwise we would have filed an FIR against the director for shooting in Fruit Mandi without proper permission,” he said.

Director Rahul Dolakia and producer Lucky Sharma said that they were making a love story.

"We shot the film without seeking permission from the authorities. We tried to be sensitive toward the local sentiment but people felt that we were portraying a bad image about Kashmir, "Dolakia told media persons.

Dholakia told journalists at the spot that before planning to shoot in the Valley he had met the Chairmen of the parallel factions of the Hurriyat and apprised them about the story.

"I met Geelani and Mirwaiz and told them that my film will portray the actual situation in Kashmir. I started work on the film after their consent," Dholakia said.

This is for the first time that film makers had to bear embarrassment during shoot in the Valley.
Over the years, the big film houses have only projected Kashmir as “terrorist infested state” and in most films the average Kashmiri is portrayed in a negative role. However, Amir Khan starrer Fana was an exception.

Rahul Dholakia came into limelight after he directed a hit Parzania regarding the Gujarat riots that was acclaimed internationally.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Children’s Games Reflect the Violence in Kashmir

In Kashmir, Separatists Buoyed by Caucasian Breakaways