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People Called Kashmir

March 6, 2020

 

​Kashmir, the heaven on earth, in the latest years has always been found shrouded in the clouds of disturbance, unrest, terrorism, dispute, and turmoil. It has been saddening to see the heavens fall apart. But a place is not just a few years of concoction, it is a saga of hundreds and thousands of years of legacy it carries with itself.

 

The history of Kashmir dates back to the 12th century. Kalhana’s Rajtarangini is an anecdote to what all Kashmir was (and still is). It is just that maybe we have never been able to witness that Kashmir in its purest form. When a place is earmarked by political movements and unrest, the place is bound to lose some of its original charm and warmth.

 

 

What you hear, see and absorb of that place comes with a lot of baggage and apprehensions. And what we all end up missing is a story that weaves the place into its current existence.

 

We miss those little narratives that happen day in day out to make the place what it is. What we pay for in reality is the stories of the people that make that place. And that is why we believe if you want to feel a place in its native form, you ought to hear from the people to which it truly belongs. After all it is the place that holds the people together and it is the people that give the place a form for the world to witness.

 

It is often said that when you cross the Jawahar tunnel - the smell of the air changes. And it’s true. The air reeks of all those untold stories that are ever brewing and make Kashmir, Kashmir! Imagining the snow around, the sun playing hide and seek from behind the clouds, the chinar leaves adding those hues to the scenery, the shikara standing still in Dal waiting for tourists to throng,  lef hanging on the parapets, kangris lit up to keep the houses warm and pashmina hugging the people strong.

 

Amidst all this, we aim to bring to you 55 Stories that will make People Called Kashmir.


 

कहवा 
 

अर्सों हो गए 
एक कप गरमा-गरम 
कहवा पिए हुए,
उस अंगीठी 
के आगे-पीछे बैठे हुए
और अपने दिलों 
को हल्का किये हुए!
वो कहानियां भी
न जाने कहाँ गुम सी
हो गयी,
जीने कहवे के घूंट 
संग पीते थे
मानो वह चीनी 
से नमक हो गयी!
उस कहवे में 
क़ैद दिलों की गर्माहट थी
अब तो जैसे सदा के लिए
ठंडी हो गयी!
जो जितने भी दूर होते थे
उन्हें वो पास ले आती थी,
इक कहवे की खुशबू
जो सब को बांध ले आती थी,
वह खुशबू भी 
जैसे फुर सी हो गयी
न जाने कब अपनों में 
ही दूरी सी हो गयी!
ज़िन्दगी थम सी जाती थी
उस एक कप कहवे में
अब तो कईं प्यालों में जाकर
छल छल सी हो गयी!
 
अर्सों हो गए एक कप
गरमा-गरम कहवा पिए हुए
अपनों के संग बैठकर 
अपने दिल की कोई बात किये हुए!
कभी कहवा एक हकीकत था
हमारी ज़िन्दगियों का
अब एक मीठी याद बनकर रह गया
जब ज़िन्दगी से पहचान जो हो गयी!

 

 

With the poem Kahwa, I along with People Place Project officially announce the onset of a journey ‘People Called Kashmir’, that is going to unravel the most beautiful stories from The Valley.

 

 

 

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The People Place Project is an initiative to chronicle the life and times we live in. Through a lens of people and places, we hope to pin together the narrative of how we have come to be here - our language, our thoughts, our attire, our structures - everything that defines us. The Project will travel through cities of the world to unravel fresh individual narratives that add to the whole. Started in 2014 under the title People Called Mumbai, the project now aims to travel across the prime cities of India and the globe. 

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