Sunday, May 1, 2016

Those Stones of Burzahom


The is the last piece of 2nd set of my Kashmir travelogue. 3rd set to start soon. 

First dig. Burzahom
1935
Many a discoveries in Kashmir were purely accidental. Among the many is the discovery of Burzahom.

In 1932, Helmut de Terra arrived in Kashmir valley on a geological study tour. On a clear spring day, he undertook an excursion on the river Jhelum. Travelling along the river bank, at one place, he noticed a strange object emerging from the river bank. On close inspection he realized it was a stone knife made of volcanic rock and fashioned like old Paleolithic Levallois blades. It was the first such discovery in the valley, in fact, first sign of Stone Age man ever found in the Himalayan region.

De Terra was to return to Kashmir many times looking for more signs. In 1935 , De Terra with T. T. Paterson as part of Yale-Cambridge University Expedition, finally arrived on the curious stone mounds atop Yanderhom Karewa about 10 Kms north-east of Srinagar, just above the marshy flood-plain of the river Jhelum. To the discoverers it was obvious that the stones were menhirs. In subsequent did, stone axes, pestles and bone tool were found.

The flood plain is now where people live. While the stones still stand, next to a cricket field.

Road to Burzahom 

The burial pits discovered in 1960s 
Burial pit. Burzahom. 1962 . From 1960 to 1971 extensive digging was carried out by T.N. Khazanchi to discover the cultural remains of a civilization.




The people who live around the area believe the pits to be dwellings of Jinns and consider the place to be haunted. Some people come and tie threads on the steel mesh, making wishes.







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Monday, April 25, 2016

Arni Rang Gom


I tell her a nightmare about loss. She sings me an old song about a man who went missing. I stitch a little dream. In our songs, we are home.





Video link
Living in another city, miles away, my wife singing me Arnimaal.

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Here are the lyrics and translation from T.N. Raina


arni rang gom shraavuni heeye
kar yiye darshun deeye

The pallor of fading flowers has fallen
On the midsummer jasmine bloom in me
O, won't I behold his form again?

shaama swondury paaman laajis
aama taavan kotaah gaajis
naam paagaama tas kus neeye
kar yiye darshun deeye

My love has made me suffer jibes,
Given many a burn to sear my soul
Who will bear my message to him?
O won't I behold his form again?

kanda naabada aarud mutui
fanfa karith tsolum kotui
khanda kary nam lookan theeye
kar yiye darshun deeye

Worshipped by me as my old, my god,
Why did he slip away by stealth,
Leaving me a prey to public taunts?
O won't I behold his form again?

suli vwothav sangarmaalan
lala tshaandon kohan ta baalan
pararaan chhas by tihinzi zeeye
kar yiye darshun deeye

Let's go at break of dawn,
And look for my love over hill and dale
I wait for his restoring touch.

O won't I behold his form again?

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ode to Mandul


Brian Brake. 1950s
I have always been a man susceptible to stupidity. In my house, tales are told of my stupidity. One time, during a wedding someone sent me to buy 25 kilos of paneer, I came back with 25 kilos of Dahi. At moments like these, someone would usually quick, "tchay ne'nay mandul chatith, tchay tari nee fikri! Someone would cut off your ass and you wouldn't notice." It is a nice Kashmiri way of saying, " You so dumb!" I never understood why Dodhwol, or anyone, would be interested in cutting off someone's ass. However, I understood one thing clearly over the years: if there's one thing Kashimiris value more than their brain, it is their ass. Mandul, the ass, is intrinsic part of conversations in Kashmiri. You can't talk to a Kashmiri without him pointing to the ass. You could be discussing black holes seriously using arguments from Stephen Hawking, and someone would respond with, "Tchay chay ni Mandlitch paaye! You don't know ass!" End of discussion.

Why is Mandul so central to Kashmiri conversations? Why is Mandul center of Kashmiri lingual anatomy? Mandlu is even a Kashmiri surname! And it is seldom erotically used while speaking. Even though we have a 9th century Kashmiri poetess named Vikatanitamba, (vikaTa=horrible, nitamba=buttock) who wrote erotica.

The Mandul is mentioned in old Kashmiri sayings like:

Soyi seeth mandul chhalun

Wash ass with nettle

Keep bad company

Panzis Dap'ya Ponz zah mandul chhui wazul

Will a monkey tell another monkey that his butt is red?


Pot calling the kettle black

However, in general language Mandul is used more freely.

[Behiv manḍüjü karith, ti boziv. Sit on you ass and listen]

Here's a little list of ways in which Mandul is invoked in Kashmiri language, often in our intelligent discussions about Kashmir:

mandul ne'nay chatith

You are so dumb, someone would cut off your ass and you wouldn't even notice.

Following two are best discussion enders

Tchay chay ni Mandlitch paaye

You are trying to sound intelligent but you don't even know your own ass

If you want to go next level, say

Mandals chui Ghiss lore

There's shit on your ass and you can't even see that

Or, vunyi chuy Mandul oudruy

Your ass is still wet. Yet are yet to come of age, yet talk big.

Or even,

Mandul ye chalith

Wash your ass. You stink.



These lines are usually used if someone has got

Mandlas Kijj

Itchy ass. Deployed if a person is trying to be smart ass.

Or

Mandlas Kyom

Wormy Ass
If a person is fickly and won't sit at one place.

Or, the next level

Mandlas chi chott kyom

Tape wormy ass

The lines often end with the other party getting

Mandlas tatur

Ass inflammation

Mandul woshlun

Ass gone red like monkey

Mandul Asmanas gasun

Bending down.

Mandlas Pyeth kaduss preth

Kick on his ass

To avoid it all, you need

Mandlas aaych

Ass that has an eye. Be super smart.

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Nabas Mandul Havun

In rural Kashmir, among Pandit families involved with farming, if one wanted to make rains stop, one would pick a kid and face it's shining ass to the sky. Yes, that would make the rain stop. Indra Dev be happy. One of those Kashmiri things. They would mock the gods: "We are not afraid. My kid washes his butt with your rain!"

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