Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Postcard from Kashmir

Ten minutes after he landed at Srinagar airport, Chris Terry felt he was in a Will Smith action flick. The Canada-born musician who lives in New York was dazzled by the sight of the guns, the armoured cars, the camouflage, the nervous organiser shouting to the driver, “Go! Go! Go!”

The next day was better. Terry, bassist of the Pakistani band Junoon, was on the stage and he had a familiar sight before him: thousands of youngsters screaming and cheering, singing along and swaying to popular Urdu numbers. What was unusual was the setting.

In the heart of a ‘war zone’, the rat-tat-tat of the AK-47 was replaced by the thump of percussions on Sunday evening as something unimaginable until now played out: a Pakistani band playing in Kashmir by the Dal Lake in the presence of a frenzied audience. In the crowd there were also people from outside Kashmir who have experienced conflict — and worse: former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Afghan Minister H.B. Ghazanfar.

There were schoolgirls in headscarves; young women in jeans and designer glasses. There were students in school uniforms. Behind them, the Dal Lake looked dreamy in a film of mist, flanked by the lofty Zabarwan range. It was as picture postcard as it could get in the Kashmir Valley.

One young man laughed and said, “Why didn’t these guys come 20 years ago? We wouldn’t have had had to take up guns!”

It was a joke many in the front row would take very seriously, of course.
Was this part of the peace process? Nope.
It was just an enjoyable concert for youngsters craving for popular culture in Kashmir. Did people on ‘both sides’ — and Junoon itself — try to wrap the event up in the complex politics of the region? Oh, of course. Everything is not politics in Kashmir, but everything becomes politics here.

Read the rest of the piece, which appeared first in the Hindustan Times.


cashew84 said...


It amazes me to see how you write on topics as diverse as Cyclone in Maynmar to current trends in the Entertainment industry. While I feel that a significant part of the journalist fraternity operates within stereotypical and predictable paradigms you manage the tough task of thinking laterally and always manage to come up with something interesting to write on, which appeals to everyone!

You are a prolific writer

Happy writing!

ps: Btw I did read the edit piece - interesting

vikas pandey said...

Hi Neelesh,

How have you been? I agree with Nipa, It's always good to read your blog. Your selection of topics makes reading interesting. You must have enjoyed the concert.
Keep writing!

Priyanka said...

Hey i like this post..specially the way it begins..!!
And despite ur diverse interests..nobody writes quite as well as u do when it comes to the good ol' Kashmir!

Keep up the good work "Roving Writer!"

Have a nice day!


ganiet said...

Dear Neelesh,
i really appreciate your work and writing, and i am ashamed for my act, but i was not aware of that it is written by you, still i got your name with this artilce and i forwrded this with your name as well but unfortunately it is missing there.
you have complainted pfizer which is totally out of this issue.
Pfizer suspended me and demanded clarification from your side to withdraw your complaint against me and pfizer.
Further i am going to republishment of the same article with your name in additon with apology note on my behalf.
As being such a great personality i think you should not esclate this matter to my officials.
it is really a mistake but unfortunately.
if you will not withdraw this complaint then my service with pfizer will be over and what will you get by offending me, if i felt sorry and agree to present apolgy note i think it is the high punishment to me.
Further if you think that you will stop my carrier here then it is not a problem... you can, it is upto you now.
But still i agree that you are a great writer and great personallity and i think i will be a routing path in your future life and it will be a big acheivement for you, isnt it?
No matter i am totally out of this knowledge but it is not so good that i will start getting this knowledge with this bad edge.

i request you , please punish me personally whatever you want but please withdraw your complaint against me and pfizer.

Tariq Ganie

Anonymous said...

Hi Nileshji... lovely article and fab pics.. i guess u'll make a gud photographer as well...

(All photos by the author, except when credit mentioned otherwise)