Dec 7, 2011

Train to Metro

It was presenting the scenario of some old black and white Hindi movie being played on my train window as the screen.

…Abdul Wajid Parray

“Hurray!! The college is off for a week again… another strike!!!” shouted one of my peers in a fever pitched voice. “Ho! No wonder”, I answered naively. Following this an idea of captivating the break to visit a friend in Delhi poured into my head. So I rolled up my sleeves, packed my backpack and planned to leave in the wee hours the next morning by a passenger train.

The short night span passed and I got up at 4’o’clock in the morning, earlier than the rooster`s call announcing the crack of the day. Ho! I regret it was the murder of a darling dream. Nevertheless I dressed up and headed to the railway station.

In the twilight I could squinty see the train standing firm on the platform as if waiting desperately for my arrival. As I boarded the train, it started moving with its whistle blowing hard as if saying good-bye to the few people standing by and wakening up the sadhu babas and beggars sleeping on the platform.
The train was almost unoccupied but soon people started getting in and multiplying at each of the enumerable stations between Kurukshetra and Delhi thus filling the train to its fullest.
In order to kill the time I tried to doze for a while. To facilitate a good slumber in presence of strange annoying sounds of chuckling, mumbling, muttering, backbiting, gabbing and fighting, I inserted the ear-phones into my ears and played on some lulling tracks.

Two hours passed as such and as I sighted outside the window I found the glorious sun was rising from its slumber, cracking the day with its incredible light multiplying all around thus killing the darkness. A giant striking outline of the Sun in the east was giving the gloomy cane fields a solid color complexion.

Next I thanked God for I had successfully passed half of my journey time comfortably via my slumber. But as I opened my sleepy eyes, to my surprise I found myself in a jam-packed atmosphere with only space less enough to move my head either right or left; pathetic!! To add my amazement further I found some guys, despite of the coach being dangerously over-loaded, playing cards with fun. I wonder if it was their daily routine... Ho!
For a change I looked through the window to rejoice some scenery outside alas! It was nothing but a filthy fouling crap or people looking for a space to excrete their waste away. Zounds! What a terrible smell. It smelled worse than the worst thing I had ever smelled. Even more disgusting part was the scene presented by the graffiti on the walls outside and the hoardings advertising the “aphrodisiac curatives” with weird names like Dr.Bengali, Japani Teel... Yuk!!  

Despite of this ugly part, my train experience had some pretty nostalgic elements as well. Enchanting and highly enthralling villages outside with young lads playing hide and seek behind the outsized heap of pasturage was presenting the scenario of some old black and white Hindi movie being played on my train window as the screen. Ha-ha it was really entertaining.

On the whole it was a journey full of drama, excitement, action, comedy and yes of course the pain. De-boarding the passenger train and simultaneously boarding a metro was the thing that underlined the whole story as something that’s out of ordinary. It was like transcending all of a sudden from some iron age into the modern hi-fi era...BANG!! Both the environments were totally opposite; the passengers, their opinions, their dressings and their behavior, it was all poles apart. 
On one side the crowd in the passenger train I travelled by consisted mainly the riffraff Haryanvi faces; potbellied uncle-jees, Sari wore women veiled in purdah and young village teenyboppers imitating their favorite Bollywood icons with their spiky hair flooded in hair-gel…Ha-ha. On the other hand  the Metro crowd was more like some “sophisticated” elites; the ladies who lunch, dudes carrying hi-fi gadgets and young lads reading the newbie love novels, the “Chetan Bhagat stuff”  catching my eye…Ha-ha-haa. While on train, my ears were puffed with pure Haryanvi jargon that I could hardly understand whereas the metro was airing sounds of people trying to anglicize their English speaking accent to sound more pompously gobbledygook...Huh! I felt uneasy; both the times.

Soon after my eventful journey I reached my friend’s place and rested myself well on bed, looking amazed and recollecting things in order to find answers to my bewilderments that are still puzzled!!

Author: Abdul Wajid Parray.
Engineering student at Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra Haryana.
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Nov 15, 2011

The Fateful Bullets....

They are nameless and know no caste but fate writes Abdul Wajid Parray.

It was the heyday of Eid and I got the opportunity to visit my aunt, Khalaji, whom I am very fond for her maestro in cooking and poetic Kashmiri credos full of wisdom. Enjoying the mouth-watering food was pleasantly going fine alas an awful conversation changed the atmosphere at once. I don’t know exactly what ignited the discussion that turned my aunt Nostalgic who revealed a dreadful story that sent shivers down my spine.
It was the bloody year 1985, the time when tribulations in Kashmir at the hands of Indian forces were at peak. Massacres, rapes and Human right violations followed by freedom slogans, processions and rallies; these were the only buzzwords. On one fateful day my aunt, Khalaji, visited her sister-in-law, Baji, living in the most notorious area of Srinagar, Maisuma. At the same time, 20 years old Dilshada, who was on a visit to her aunt in the neighborhood of Baji, also arrived at Baji’s house to gab with Baji’s daughter who happened to be a good friend of her. As Khalaji entered the house, she found a delighted atmosphere therein with all the women busy in their untimely chit-chats. The arrival of Khalaji added a tang of delight to the squad since everyone was fond of her jolly nature. Sounds of chuckling by the young lads, shouting of kids from the street plus the chirping of birds; this entire filled the atmosphere with a feel of a lovely family full of drama, hospitality, arguments et al. But then all of a sudden BANG!!! An earth shacking gunshot thunder stuck them all. Some CRPF men outside were fuming over some issue turning the delightful air repulsive and dreadful as if strangulating all the souls there.

Khalaji was terrorized and a trembling shock jolted her down. The horrific span made her to scramble away and yelling “Mei hai aayi gooel” (I am shot). The yowling dumbfounded everyone and they started chasing her as she kept running away in fear. Period!! Everything halted in a short as if someone had strangulated the time clock to keep mum. Blood started spattering all over the room like a hasty splash of a rainstorm. Gaped at the horrifying moment, everyone with their mouth wide open in shock looked into one another’s face so as to find answers to their bewilderments.

Scene changed yet again. Now no one was looking for Khalaji as she was still breathing but stuck at something more horrible. The irony was that someone else was lying on the floor in a pool of blood with her blond hair spattered all around wetted in red. Truth was that it was not Khalaji who was shot but the bullet had someone else’s name written on it. It was the ill-fated damsel, Dilshada, whose guilt was nothing but to cheer with her neighbors. The same lad who only a few moments ago was jesting and kicking like a doll was now lying on the floor; cold blooded.

Everyone with their heavy hearts and wet eyes was dazzled at the moment failing to understand anything. After a long pause the whole doomed story got revealed. It was a 303 shot by CRPF and there was no chance to escape death. The bullet had passed Khalaji’s face by some infinitesimal distance scratching her neck badly and pierced her earring only thus giving her a close shave and sparing her life. But the hapless Dilshada was not that fortunate. She could not evade her doom as the bullet pierced into her skull and blood started boozing out like a bloody fountain with her brain scattered all around the petite room.

With all that being reckoned, Khalaji broke down and thus the flash back ended. Following this I felt uneasy and couldn’t swallow a bit of food anymore.  To end-up my frustration I winded-up this article to give words to the dead damsel who once existed like us. No doubt my writing for her is worth nothing but what she taught me is striking; the fate. The upshot is that bullets don’t have a tag to usher them along the correct track. They are nameless and know no caste but fate. And it was the fate of Khalaji that she survived else there would have been no one to narrate us this fretful piece. That’s fate!!

Author:Abdul Wajid Parray

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Oct 26, 2011

...and I kept circulating myself on the dining table as if I was some cookery item who had to please everyone.
~Abdul Wajid Parray.

I wonder if there is any word for “the worst day in life” as there is one for the most memorable day, the red-letter-day. But I consider October 16 as my saddest day; so I call it my “black-letter-day.”
14:30 hours October 16-2011 was the time that was supposed to be a memorable day as I was going to give a treat to my college peers. It was actually a combo treat that my friends were waiting desperately for over last three years that I had spent with them during my study course in Kurukshetra. I had been evading their demands from the time I stepped in Kurukshetra but this time they had a solid reason, in fact a written one and I had none to use as an excuse. Reason was that I had cracked the placement exam of an InfoTech company (LnT) in my very first attempt. So on receiving the written acknowledgement from the company I decided to cheer my comrades with a party.
It was not an organized program rather off the cuff; so some slip-ups were expected but not like the ones that really happened thereby marking the whole event as my bad. It was Sunday and I rested myself well to pen-down the names of the expected guests. I started with a few names but the list went on and on but somehow I shortlisted some 28 names and acquainted them all. Time went on so did my fervour. Finally I dressed up like a gentleman in my newly bought formal trousers and my same old black shirt that had earlier won me colossal compliments...Ha-ha.
Before leaving I was ill-informed by some of my long-headed peers that the expenditure of the feast will be not more than 2K bucks. But to be on the safer side I carried 3K and that too heavy heartedly, Frankly speaking. With that I left my place and reached the venue around 2:30pm. Three of my junior mates were already there to receive me with their curiously held sights and smiles. Following this, some expected friends unexpectedly refused to come presenting their well cooked excuses while others kept coming in turns one after the other and finally a frantic squad of around 24 people joined the feast.

All was going well except one thing; the event was ill-prepared. I had invited two different friend circles to a common platform - one squad of a few notorious boys and other one of some upright ladies. The worst part was that they knew not each other so well that they could enjoy the time together. They had different policies, different manners, and different personalities and hence a LOC demarked the two groups and their opinions as well. Dangling between the two was an ill-fated being and that was me. In order to blend with the big crowd I kept circulating  myself on the dining table as if I was some cookery item who had to please everyone.
Everything was still working fine and up to the extent of my levels of digesting people’s conduct. But the event soon turned dim and my level of interest as low as null. Now I played my last card in order to bring some life to the lifeless inert party by entertaining my peers singing songs in my not so impressive vocals but the atmosphere turned no bright. Losing all my hopes I called off the party and all the partakers started moving out-some eagerly and others with a heavy heart filled up to the grim with loads of disappointment. Needless to mention I joined the latter squad.
As this entire was not enough, the last ugly blow was yet to come. And this time it was the bill- a total of all the expenditures I spent in buying foodstuff and the foolishness of some freaks. The earthshaking bill shivered me like anything. It was 4100 INR; double than what my expectations had planned and I wailed “Na Khaya...Na Piya...Aur glass toda bara anaa.” Toting up the loose contents of my wallet and borrowing the rest from one of my good friend I somehow managed to add up the requisite amount. My heavy eyes could hardly see my daring bucks passing before me lavishly and so I left the place and moved out to see my friends off, thanking them for flavouring the party both with glee and gloom.      
Heading up to my nestling place-my room, I wondered how lavishly I spent my fortune just to pleas my mates least knowing that I was only casting pearls before the swine; of course with some good exceptions. But now on I have no regrets. No complains!! For the reason that in the end I learnt a good lesson: “Unlike poles do not attract all the time; there are some well-defined exceptions.”
And yes before I finish my heart-rending write-up please make a good note of what follows now on. The other imperative thing that I learnt and that needs a mention here is that whenever you decide to present a treat to your friends, make sure you do it as a whip round along with your other rejoice-sharing peers, otherwise learn to live on the borrowed time and money.
That’s the upshot.

Author: - Abdul Wajid Parray.

Oct 6, 2011

The Lost delight of living...

Living: Delight of a Mohalla or plight of a colony
Srinagar a city with an indelible historical identity has turned topsy-turvy and transformed into all in all anew community. Highly enthralling Mohallas which once were the life line of Srinagar city have rehabilitated into new posh but outlandish colonies. People are moving from their ancestral homes to newly constructed colonies that seem like non-natural homes in some dummy world thus alienating from the familiar world of Kashmiriyat.

No doubt, living in a colony is a plus in itself but if we ponder over our nostalgic merits of being a denizen of a Mohalla, we get astoundingly replied as where we do stand at present. Ask an elder, a Mohalla was the best place to reside with people caring for their comrades as if they were a part of the same family. Even different communes used to live happily together under the same roof called Mohalla. But as someone has rightly said Times changes and so do we. Today the saga has changed on the whole. Now people are leaving their companions and are moving into a new episode where everyone is a stranger.

Well all that being said I can reckon many reasons for this indifference. Unlike a Mohalla, colonies restrict our social life merely to our homes. In a colony, one doesn’t even bother to answer your wish or greet a hello!! Big brick walls demarcate the people and their opinions as well.

If we talk about the celebrations, it was always a fever pitched moment for the whole Mohalla. Interestingly some anonymous friend of the cousin of someone else getting married was so desperate to attend the ceremony as if he himself was getting into the nuptial knot. And when we attend the like ceremony in a colony today, we hardly find any neighbor in the visiting list, of course, with handful exceptions.

The main thing that distinguishes the living conditions in the two states is undoubtedly the helping nature of the people in a Mohalla, the aid they provided to others and the pains they used to take in doing the daily chores for others. Today in this new world of settlement called Colony, terms like humility, brotherhood and aide are getting extinct so much so as if they never existed. People may buy myriad excuses for considering living in a colony as the best thing like privacy from others, more systemized living system and the like. But the seed of differences sowed by the same turns all its plus points otherwise.

 The same brothers who once used to share everything except their underwear cannot even think of exchanging a thing now except arguments.

Gone are the times when one could borrow almost every daily food-stuff like a chunk of sugar, milk, et al from a neighbor. Today in a colony one cannot even think of such a bungling, as they consider it. I wonder if the joy of gabbing among the home maker women while washing the dishes or clothes can bell our ears ever again. Today the colony women are more inclined to the daily sops and to the ladies who lunch. They are dangerously dress conscious and far more conscious to scrutinize the dress of the other women. The amusement of discussing politics, cricket and other less important issues around the shop corners by the young and the olds cannot be seen again. Now we don’t even find a single shop in a residential colony where talking of long trivial but amusing bragging is a far cry. Children used to wander around the whole Mohalla all the time chatting, laughing, howling and playing with their darling cronies. Now children are confined to their homes only; shackled in a virtual world of video games and social networks on the small world of internet. The chirping of mynas and pigeons living under the roof tops cannot be heard again I am sorry.

Period! Houses used to be big and so did the families. There was no concept of a nuclear family. A common kitchen used to feed all. But now we have even falsified the saying that the blood is thicker than water. The same brothers who once used to share everything except their underwear seem like strangers now. They cannot even think of exchanging a thing except arguments.

This issue of indifference in the living in a Mohalla or a Colony would take a thousand pages to discuss but to windup this piece within the prescribed words limit by the editor, I present my opinion here as the parting shot.  No doubt Innovation and development has always been a part of human behavior. Certainly we are dynamic and we always need a change. Living in a colony as I also mentioned above may have its own pros but the million dollar question is that where are we actually heading to? Are we losing our nostalgic past which was full of joy, affection and fun? Are we losing our brotherhood? Are we losing the delight of living in a Mohalla? And last but definitely not the least are we losing our Kashmiriyat?

Sep 4, 2011

The saintly night.

Al-Qadr, the holiest of the holy nights was at its peak bloom with Allah Almighty promisingly showering His endless blessings to His Ummah and Angels waiting desperately to deliver Allah`s splendid tidings to the God-fearing people.

Alhamdulillah!! The blessed night this time culminated all in peace unlike last year which sends chill down my spine when recollected. I still remember it was the same feverish night previous year when people were all preparing to keep themselves awoke for the whole night in the remembrance of their lord. I too joined the fervor and reaped the opportunity to grab the benediction of Allah and moved to a famous local Mosque. The Masjid was presenting its best grandeur, fully bulged with an Armstrong number of Muslim brethren. Fortunately I also got myself seated somewhere on the second floor. Soon after I rested myself in the mosque, the ‘Taraweeh Nimaz’ commenced and lasted calmly for about two hours and with that it was 1`o`clock in the midnight. After that we had a relaxation for having some refreshment outside. As soon as we stepped out of the Masjid we heard half a dozen rounds of gun shots from a nearby area following which a hullabaloo engulfed us all. Despite this, the event couldn’t halt the holy night probably because of the extreme spirit shown by the crowd.

Photograph by: Faisal Khan

After the break, Imam Sahib started the relic sermon quoting Qur`anic verses and Sahih hadith. As I arrived back in the mosque I found myself in a weepy environment with everyone shedding tears in pursuit of Allah`s mercy. This turned me too to holler over my sins and I realized I was so weak-kneed before my Mighty lord. Every single Nimazi was weeping blood from his eyes and the reasons were many. On one hand people were striving for chiseling away their sinful past and on the other hand the tribulations in Kashmir forced them to do so.

I could clearly feel the broken hearts and the disturbed souls around my presence. Anyone could easily read the contents of their disturbed minds and wounded hearts. It was all about Kashmir, which was bleeding for more than two months now.

Following this mawkish situation, Imam started supplicating some Duas. Now it was around 3am and everyone was feeling tired and heavy-eyed and as such I like most of my peers were just iterating “Aameen” in a parrot fashion in response to each Dua. Period!!! Once Molvi sahib uttered idioms like “Bharatas shikas” and “Aazaadi”, the entire Masjid reverberated with a loud “Aameen” as if everyone had got rejuvenated by some supernatural energy.

Now all of us arose for the ‘witr’ prayer and the bewail atmosphere engulfed us again. As we stated the ‘Dua’ in the last ‘raka`t’, no one could hold his tears. ‘Iman sahib’ recited the ‘Dua’ in Arabic and likewise all the followers iterated “Aameen” in response. I too kept repeating “Aameen” like a yes-man without understanding its meaning. But all what I comprehend from the ‘DUA’ was a phrase that I was well aware of; “Kashmir.” I recognized that the ‘Imam Sahib’ might have included some special ‘duas’ for Kashmir. I failed to understand anything beyond the term “Kashmir” but that was far enough for me and others like me to cry with pain. The ‘Dua’ lasted for about 20 min and during that time I was lost in some nostalgia of my bleeding Kashmir as if someone has roll backed the time. During the trance, I recollected every single innocent victim of the atrocities. I felt the pain of ‘Tufail Mattoo’ and the other tots like him who tasted the unpleasant brutal death. I also saw Asiya and Neelofar crying for justice yet I hadn’t ever seen them in my reality. Further I heard the yelling sounds of Sameer Rah who was crushed under jackboots.

In the meantime I forgot seeking forgiveness for myself but the only thing that kept circulating my head was the rueful story of Kashmiris. Everyone like me mourned the trauma, yowling loudly to allay their sorrows.

The situation soon turned into a mourning site as we prostrated for the last ‘Sajda’ which lasted for about 20 minutes. Yes I repeat 20 minutes. And this was the incident that marked the magnitude of the whole night. Everyone despite of the age and the level of god consciousness was equally crying out. At one time I thought why ‘Imam sahib’ is not responding from the prostration as if he might have turned unconscious. But very soon my opinion was turned wrong when the microphone started catching the howling sounds from the Imam and other nearby wailing men. All this turned the event into a sorrowful occasion as if everyone was mourning for someone`s death (God forbid).

Finally the ‘Nimaz’ finished with peace and everyone got relieved to some extent from the heartaches and despair. Very soon as people were moving out for their residences, a curfew announcement was made and soon people fastened to their homes.

Author: Abdul Wajid Parray

Photograph by: Faisal Khan

Jul 20, 2011

Alleviate it or it will alleviate you; writes Abdul Wajid Parray.

There was a time when speaking of alcohol in valley of Kashmir was considered as a bad as an abuse. The concept of Wine shops and Bars was as scarce as hen’s teeth in a valley that is the mother of enumerate saints and sacred figures. But as someone has rightly said: “time changes and we with time”, today the saga has changed altogether. The cult of alcoholism that was hardly visible in the valley, a decade ago, has now skyrocketed like anything and has turned more into an irreparable social-immorality. Gone are the times when getting alcohol in Kashmir was more like some herculean task. Now it’s everywhere; its tentacles have spread so much so that it has badly engulfed the entire valley, unfortunately.

This sorrowfully heartrending matter makes me to share a similar sadistic issue of grave concern that has plagued many parts of our valley and that need a speedy action to pacify. Only a couple of days ago, I visited one of my mates, Danish, at his residence in Indranagar Area of Srinagar Kashmir. It was the evening time with the sun about to sign-off its duty of enlightening the city thus making the birds and the people moving back to their respective nestlings. The atmosphere was very appealing and we decided to go for a stroll along the Broadway-Road, just a few meters away from his residence. Walking through the Broadway highway, I was of the opinion that it would be a charming walk on foot but very soon I found myself wrong. Both of us astonishingly noticed a strikingly long queue of people desperately waiting en masse for some green signal. At one time we thought it would be a throng of the students of the nearby Central University that might be waiting to get their exam-forms or something. But once we approached close to the crowd, both of us were thunderstruck on seeing the voraciously fervent drunkards waiting for their turn to get their quota of some booze from a wine shop which ironically is close at hand to the Central University. Ho! What a terrible scene it was, I wonder. Both of us looked into one another’s face in shock; completely stun with our mouth wide open. After this ghastly experience my friend, who belongs to the same area explained me the whole gloomy parable of wine shop and a nearby BAR which is dragging all the area through the dirt. At the end of our conversation, my friend insisted me to write upon the issue since it had turned more into a menace for the locals living by.

I realized the depth of trouble; so I decided to wind up in writing regarding the same that could, at least, arouse the people around. So here I go: Well the wine shop which remains in strength all the time has become more like a Pandora’s Box for the area with the local residents totally upset for its establishment. Be it the crack of dawn or the late dark, the shop remains jam packed constantly by the boozy vagabonds; As such giving hard time for the locals, mainly the school-going kids and the female folk to walk through the busy road. At times there is an ugly traffic jam around the area just because of the fact that the patron customers of the wine shop, mainly our bellowed Indian tourists, the local teenyboppers and other spoiled brats, keep parking their vehicles on the road thus creating inconvenience for the people travelling by.

The fishy part of this unfortunate story is that how can such an evil establishment operate so lively in an area that is surrounded by more than four schools and a transit campus for Central University? If one scrutinizes the vicinity of the wine shop(plus a nearby BAR), it will be vividly clear that within just one Km radius of the shop, there are almost five schools running in the area plus a Central University which as I mentioned above is a next-door neighbor of the wine shop. Now the question to be put forth is that how was the said shop permitted to sell out the alcohol as such without considering the aspirations of the common people, mainly the Muslim localites? Moreover a BAR running the same devious business is also in action only a few walks away from the Central University at the Broadway Crossing.

More astonishingly, despite of the objections and complaints from the locals against the working of the wine shop and the BAR from time to time, the shop remains all alive and kicking, feeding its beloved consumers with the sweet poison. The dilly dally action of the government has not presenting any firm upshot and this clearly points to the failure of its governance and brings forth the fact that the matter is being brushed under the carpet of some bigwigs. A witch hunt was expected as a part of the police action but instead they can be found catching Z’s in their rest rooms else tailgating after the white ambassador cars of their big Daddies. 

Period! Now isn’t it worth questionable that a bus stop has been established just adjacent to the wine shop; I reason to allow its consumers to reach to the shop and get their stuff at ease.

More surprisingly or I must say more hilariously, the government has provided the said shop with some security guards to prevent any inconvenience for its darling customers. All this is making people smell a rat in the matter and everyone is of the opinion that there must be some big cheese backing the establishment of the wine shop.

The crux of the matter is that there is a dire need to wake up the concerned authorities from their deep slumber and root out the evil of alcoholism from our society because it’s the Alcoholism that is the mother of all evils and the root cause of all the snag and crime in a society. It affects the latter both economically and morally thus plaguing it with an evil bug. If no action is taken promptly in this regard then the time is not so far when this pestilence will eat up our buds and then our society. Now the ball is our court and it’s only us who will decide either to alleviate this evil or make it alleviate us thereby making our brethren drink the three outs; drink until one is out of wit, out of money, and out of alcohol.

As a part of this pathetic story, a more ironical thing is that the government has regulated the shop keepers working around the 1Km radius of all the schools running in the valley to shun the sale of cigarettes. Well a very commendable act indeed, I must say. Now here goes the scolding question: Is Cigarette smoking more injurious and troublesome than drinking alcohol? And is the sale of both the things the same? Of course the answer is a big NO; in fact not at all. Now please give me one reason for which the said wine shop was allowed to make sale of its contents so overtly when it is surrounded by so many educational institutions. The said wine shop is making its profit to its fullest without any obstruction, thus ruining the area of Indranagar in particular and our society in general.
Despite of knowing this entire, why a silence is there over the issue, I ask?

Until this question is not answered, I’ll keep being puzzled. Will you?

Author: Abdul Wajid Parray.
Engineering Student Kurukshetra University Haryana.

News Source: Danish Ahmed Qadri; BBA, IUST.

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May 28, 2011

A tribute to the Indian Railways
                                        ...Abdul Wajid Parray

It was summer time and I was happy as a clam. Well my joy was obvious; I was going back my home, Kashmir, my paradise. I was happy because I was returning to my heaven after very long plus I had tolerated enough of the scorching heat staying outside Kashmir and it was now the time for me to rejuvenate my lost ATPs.

Feeling so joyful, I full-heartedly send off an "adieu" to my college mates and to the sizzling-hot Kurukshetra, the place where I study my academics.

With each passing second, my excitement kept aggrandizing endlessly alas my delight didn’t last long. I had no idea that my enthusiasm will die up very soon following some discontented events that I experienced during the course of my trip.

The reason for my anxiety was that I had no plan to go home so early so I had made no reservation for my travel. At first I was of the opinion to go by air but I needed some deep pockets for that...Ha-ha. My second option was by bus but I hardly ever opt for that since I am not comfortable with the boneshaker machine. I usually prefer to travel by train because it is the best option you can have following airline and most of the times it comes in handy when your fortune is penniless. But this all works only if you have a legitimate pass because if you travel without a pass and don’t know the arithmetic of dodging the Ticket-Collector then it is for sure that you will be deeply in hot waters, I must say. In worst case you may end-up in a jail also. Having the sense of all these facts I left no stone unturned to get a ticket for myself but everything that I tried seemed a failure. Even the Tatkal (emergency reservations) proved helpless. Despite of all such odds I overlooked the downsides and decided to go home anyway, by hook or crook. I made the decision without much intuition probably because my extreme fervour for going back to home had sealed all my thinking gateways. I failed to see anything except my home and the only thing that kept circulating my head was home, home and again home.

May 17, 2011

Sweety! you are not alone...
 “Akeli sweety ki baat nahi..
   Ladki ki koi zaat nahi ”

It was more than a month now since I had penned my last article. My head was getting jammed plus my pen completely dehydrated. Nothing was working at all and this turned me completely ill at ease. Since I live by my pen and as such I could not move-on and it seemed like my soul had been detached from my body.

Curse my destiny or more amply my jinx; very soon after this disturbed period I came to hear about the sadistic news of a rape-n-murder of a 16 year old girl, Sweety in Kurukshetra, the place where I presently study my academics. Listening to the merciless news, I was almost thunderstruck since I had never heard of such an ugly happening in the holy city of Kurukshetra in my study course of three years.

Following the heart-rending news I was disturbed by nightmares and outlandish illusions as if Sweety was from my own blood in fact like my own sister who also happens to be a class 12th medical student. Ho-hum! How thorny time was it for me and I wonder how harsh would it have been for her family.  At last to alleviate myself from all this frustration I moved out to join a candle march in protest of the killing.

May 7, 2011

Safety Announcements that are no more safe

On a chilly winter morning I had to leave for Delhi from Srinagar. I had booked a flight for my destination so I moved to the Srinagar airport three hours ere my flight. After too much red-tapism in security checking at the terminal I made it to the boarding landmark. 

 Once I boarded the plane, announcements in English and Hindi were aired by the cab assistants regarding the various safety pre-requisites prior to take off. At first it sounded fine but soon I got astounded at their presentation. It was a flight from Srinagar with most of the passengers as Kashmiris so I was expecting announcements in Urdu or Kashmiri besides English and Hindi but when I looked at the faces of my co-travellers, I found almost everyone dumbfounded on listening to the English chit chat by the air hostess. Almost Every passenger was staring at the pompous facial expressions of the lady-wardens with their mouth wide open trying to get something out of their blabbing.

Well I appreciate their grandeur fluency in speaking English and so called “shudh(pure) Hindi”.10 out of 10 for that. But in this way if the crowd is not getting the message to be conveyed then the main objective behind announcements about the passengers’ safety is washed out. If God-forbid any emergency occurred in the plane then what can one expect from the naive passengers to do for their safety when they were not properly informed about the same. It`s very obvious that all the passengers that travel in a plane are not equally educated or at least arrive from different communes understanding different languages and as such when one announces some important message in a language whose probability of being rightly interpreted is very less then chaos results.

The bottom-line is broadcast announcements in a language that`s easily understood and whose probability of being clearly inferred is maximum as per the passengers` background.

Seekh Tujj...the barbecue in Kashmir

The name is enough to make your mouth water like anything writes Abdul Wajid Parray.

“Barbecue” or better call it “seek-e-Tujj”. The name is enough to make your mouth water like anything. This splendid recipe needs no introduction as such; since everyone is well aware of its amazing taste. But for the sake of editor`s feel to give this write-up an OKAY remark, let me define “barbecue”. 

Well ‘Barbeque’ is a special non-vegetarian recipe that is prepared by smoking or baking chopped meat pieces over slow-burning wood or charcoal. Popularly known as seek-e-tujj in Kashmir, the tongue pleasing barbecue which amply rules the hearts of all the foodie people in Kashmir has a tale to enlighten.

First of all, let me throw light on the various varieties of barbecue: In US it mainly consists of pork (pardon me for mentioning that) where as beef prevails there in and around Asia. Even there are many different methods to prepare it including the baking, smoking and braising. Anyways let`s talk about the valley of Kashmir. Here barbecue or Tujj is simply found in the form of minced mutton or beef held through steel rods called seekh over an iron grill and roasted over red heated ember called bath-e-Czini. Once ready, it is served along with chutnee over special Kashmiri bread called lawasa. The mutton or katt-e-maaz claims to be the finest of the seek-e-tujje and costs the most but the cost is entirely worth its grand and majestic taste. After mutton, follows the beef or buod maaz and finally the second-rate option is that of the skull meat or Kall-e-maaz which is considered as the least expensive. Thus the main ingredient of the tujj is the mutton but on account of the escalating price of mutton, the pocket-friendly beef has engulfed the markets. The vendors of the tujj commonly recognized as the tujje-woul usually pile up a small wooden structure, in the form of a canopy, for selling their product, the tujje. These vendors can be seen mostly winnowing the tujje with some handy fan or any cardboard scrap called gatt-e`. Although many fine tujj walas have successfully expanded their petite shops into well organised hotels and restaurants, but as a rule you will find tujje-walas shops as pushcarts held fixed on ground with their wheels detached and supported by some uneven bricks and stones as boulders. I doubt if they have any stay order for that or not but doesn`t matter because we all are well aware of the phrase“ Kashmir mei sab chalta hai” These unstable woody structures are so cramped and less spaced that you have to keep yourselves stand-up all along enjoying the tujj. But that makes no difference at all because the extreme fervour of the tasty tujj engulfs the minds of its users to the fullest. Be it harsh wintry cold or hot scorching summer, the flavoursome non-vegetarian recipe is liked wholly the entire year.

Now turning the wheel to the history of Barbecues. Well many beliefs exist there about the origin of the barbecue. Some believe that the word barbecue has been derived from the root word “barbacoa” meaning “sacred fire pit”. It arrived from the Caribbean to Spanish, Portuguese and French and then to English. In French barbecue means “from beard to tail” indicating the roasting of an animal from head to tail in a hearth. Another claim is that barbecue is a truncated form of bar-bear-cue or Bar-B-Q as it is believed that it originated from the time roadhouses came up with pool tables and thus labelling BAR, beer and Cue or BBQ. In fact, in modern English barbecue refers to any social cookout that has roasted meat as its main ingredient.

 Okay! Coming back to our valley, if one has to trace the history of barbecue in Kashmir then a genuine view is that the Kashmiris were greatly influenced by the cultures which arrived with the invasion of Kashmir from central Asia, Persia and Afghanistan. This sphere of influence reshaped the art, custom, rituals, belief and mainly the food-culture of Kashmir from time to time. There are even more dogmas about the arrival of barbecue in Kashmir as through the ethnic group of northern Pakistan called the Balti. Period! Whatever may be the philosophy and the past behind the barbecue in Kashmir, I will feel proud to kiss the hands of that credible person for such a wonderful gift to the valley of Kashmir. 

 Moving on to the countless devotees of the seek-e-tujj in Kashmir among which the srinagarites have fallen into an extreme romance with the tujj. One can find its vendors (tujje-walas) almost in every street corner of the city. But if you are a non-veg freak and never like to compromise for the yummy taste then there are some picky eating places in Srinagar that rule the roast in barbecue sale and are extensively known for providing the top-notch seekh-e-tujj in Srinagar. Among these popular food-savvy areas include the Khayam chowk, Nowpora; not to mention the exotic boulevard road about which there is a touch of some heavenly add-on. The fact behind the zeal of this eating point is that the splendid beauty of the Dal Lake blends with the extreme taste of the tujj giving the combo a unique identity. Besides the evening hours is regarded as the preeminent time to have barbecues at the Dal Lake. I don`t know the exact reason for this but the tujj-lovers say that it adds to the taste of BBQ`s to have it during the late hours of sundown. Sitting at the parapets along the Dal Lake, the glamorous scene of the sunset plus the soothing breeze from the great Dal Lake adds to the taste of having seekh-e-tujj much the same way as the Lawasa and chutnee adds to its tang. I myself am a big follower of having tujj along the Dal Lake. The aroma that comes out of the burning of fat over the red hot embers attracts the customers like a strong magnet attracting the puny nails. Ha-ha, the Tujje-waalas use this mouth-watering smell as their main advertising strategy to catch their customers. Indeed a very witty marketing policy, I must say.  

Well, the meat-culture in the valley has spread its tentacles all over the valley and has engulfed not only Srinagar but people from other districts are getting more and more addicted to this NON-VEG thing. Ironically the patron customers of the Tujj-walas are the daily wagers including the Bus-conductors, drivers, street-hawkers and the like. Not to mention the young Arnolds, I mean the body-building freaks who feel having red meat is the only thing that can pump-up their physique speedily in few days. For them, it`s becoming more like a staple food, alas an inevitable habit.

 The cult of Seekh-e-Tujj in Kashmir despite being exceptionally appetizing is considered an indecent move in the Kashmir society for it is mainly associated with lewd bullies and other rude foodie guys whose only job is to fart around sitting at the street-corners round the clock. Mostly the shabby people, the hulks and the goons are seen buzzing around these tujj-walas. In fact it`s mainly considered as a manly stuff and rarely will you find any female around a tujj-woul (BBQ vendor). Other reason for labelling it as “bad” is that it`s very much associated with alcoholism. Some more come up with the justification that it is unhealthy due to the fact that it is not well roasted by keeping the meat uncooked due to improper heat. Following this, people feel too shy to have the tujj publicly in the broad day light and usually prefer to take it in the evening hours after returning from their daily work. One can mainly see the tujj-addicts thrashing the streets at the dusk in the late hours.

Even with such demerits, people can`t avoid the tujj because of the magnificent taste of the tujj that`s just inevitable. I too join the same fervour but not so habitually rather socially, once or twice a month as a treat along with my peers. In fact down to the longing taste of the seekh-e-tujj, I never mind its downsides. Oops! I can`t say more about having tujj; my parents will get to know about my romance with the tujj and I don`t want to earn their wrath just for sincerely sharing my secret. So the rest is left for your presumption.

Lastly, I wind up my barbecues with a kind advice: Firstly for those who have never experienced the wonderful tujj, I suggest tasting it at least for one time and I bet my boots their tongue won`t stop licking the leftovers on their fingers and plates...ha-ha.
Secondly, the message for the tujj-savvy people is that the difference between a food-lover and being voracious needs to be underscored. Our fever pitched infatuation towards tujj must not transform into an inevitable addiction. The extreme fervour is fine up to some extent but spending most of your fortune and that too lavishly is not a good math. Last of all, a decent romanticism with the tujj is the only requisite point to finish up this article.
Author: Abdul Wajid Parray.
Engineering student at Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra Haryana.
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