Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mess in Kangri




Mess or the water chestnut (G'aaer). Once the staple winter food of Kashmir. Part of winter life. One of the best things about winter. And the best way to have them...



Roasted in a Kangri.


I don't even remember clearly when I last had them. I think I was eight and still in Kashmir.

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Previously:
Panjayeeb G'aaer

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Zov Tcharaan

Zov Tcharaan. Picking lice in warmth of winter sun.
December 2012. Jammu.
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Baking no help

[Dec 14, 2012] Follow up on Help the local Kashmiri Bakery [Dec 5, 2012]


'So you received no money.'
'No.'
'But, I know quite a few people are interested in helping.'
'Yes, some people did call. Said they have collected money. Wanted to know if they should send cash or cheque. Then they wanted to know some bank number. I told them I don't know all this.'
'So still no money.'
'No.'

Just then a late middle-aged Panditji, probably a regular customer who lives nearby, walked into the shop and exchanged Namaskars with the Baker. Then it was business as usual. He asked about the price for Wangan Hat'ch (dried Brinjal, which seemed to have freshly arrived from Kashmir or Jammu). Then he started to bargain for a discount worth ten rupees.

I continued.


'How much did you lose in fire? It was an electric short-circuit?'
'Yes. Lost some quintals of walnuts, pulses (Var'muth), masalas and stuff like that. All from Kashmir. We were preparing for Shivratri season. It was a good thing I hadn't ordered for new Janthris. I was going to order 8000 of them. But I didn't have money at that time to pay upfront. It was a good thing. We would have lost them too.'

Panditji interjected,'Fire? Was there a fire here? That is bad. Very sad.'


I talked some more to the baker and then started to leave. But the Baker stopped me and handed me a  some freshly baked warm biscuits packed in a sheet of newspaper. He refused to take money for it. It was free. Embarrassingly, I was still getting freebies from the bakery.








Again posting.

Name: Roshan Lal
Bank and Branch: J & K Bank. Sector 18, Noida. [IFSC Code: JAKA0GHAZIA]
Account No: 0319040100093092
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Roohafza and Flit, 1960

A couple of photographs I came across in the book 'Asia' by Dorothy W. Furman (1960).

Roohafza and Flit!
Michel Serraillier - Rapho Guillumette

Roohafza is still Roohafza. But Flit. My father still calls an insect killer, of any brand as 'Flit'. It must have been quite effective at getting rid of those lovely T'chars, Khars and Kan'hepins.

Dal Lake
Ewing Krainin - Monkmeyer.

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ghulam Da'en, the three card trickster

Based on a random conversation with my father and some uncles. Story of Ghulam Da'en, Golaam the witch, perhaps the greatest three card trickster from Kashmir.

Every month. At the start of every month he would pocket half of my salary. He was a real  trickster. No one could catch him. He would clean your pockets with you only complying willingly. And he had all these techniques. Some so obvious. Like at first, after his cries of - Begam ko Pakdo, Begum par Lagao - had your attention and you moved in to see what was going on, why the crowd, you could always see him handing over money, to some lucky winner who had just picked the queen from three random cards. And then another one from the crowd would win. Then another. You would feel lucky. Like this day your luck would hold out against Ghulam Da'en, Golaam the witch. You too would bet. And of course, you win. Your lucky day. Crowd cheering. You bet more. You loose. You bet more. You loose. And soon you realize what happened. That Ghulam Da'en tricked you again. It was a setup. It should have been obvious. Those other winners were of course with him on it. Wearing a fur cap on his head and an old worn pheran, he would do this to random people at Pratap Park and to tourists at Boulevard Road, but his favorite haunt was Karfali Mohal near Sharabi chowk, near Parimoo Chemist, Habba Kadal where even his victims were his regulars. And fast. He could switch cards with a gentle flick of his nails. You wink and you miss. Once while dealing he showed me a deck full of queens. From the deck placed three cards down. Asked me to bet and catch. Of course, I bet and picked a card. And I lost. I lost. Then to rub it in, he turned the other cards too. Not one of them was queen. Not one. He would play you. He would play you like a fool. But some days he would let you win too. Go home with a real winning. He would show you three cards. He would show you which one is the queen. Before the serve, while the cards are still in his hand, you would notice that the queen card has a little tear on a corner, or a fold, or a quirky mark. You would memorize it. This is easy. He would lay the cards. You would place the bet, pick a card. He would flip it and of course, you win. He would give you the money. He would tell you this is your lucky day. You bet to play again. The mark is there. Raise the bet. You win. You start believing in you good stars, in God, in Ghulam Da'en's bad luck and your smartness. You raise the bet. He tells you not to steal livelihood for a poor man on his bad day. You raise the bet even higher. You want round. There is old debt to be settled. You would clean the house this time. He serves the three cards. You can't believe your luck. What treachery is this! What witchery! All the three cards this time have the same exact little tear on the corner, the same exact fold, the same exact not so quirky mark. And that is how you would lose half you salary to Ghulam Da'en. Go home to get an earful about it from your wife or parents. And you couldn't fight him over it. It was all fair and square. You definitely couldn't fight him. He once pulled a snake on me. He actually had a live snake in his pocket. That Ghulam Da'en, the three card trickster.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Help the local Kashmiri Bakery

Back in 2009 I had written about Kashmiri Bakery in Noida Sector 53. [here] Over the years, I have posted quite a few photographs of their produce. Some of which are now doing the random rounds of social networks. I have a crazy theory about these bakeries: you can tell the state of Kashmiri society, or any society, by the state of its bakeries and the state of the people running them. On one of the photographs of Kashmiri bread that I posted to Facebook page of this blog, someone from Srinagar actually complained about the fact the now these varieties of bread [roth] are even rare in Kashmir. It is nothing-less of a miracle that these things are relatively easily available to the Pandits living outside Kashmir in Delhi thanks to a handful people. This bread culture is a remnant of  a way of living. If you were a kid in Kashmir, and if one day your family sent you out to buy the bread from the local bakery, you knew you were not a kid anymore, you were now a grown-up ready for all kind of responsibilities. I remember of first few visits to the local bakery in Srinagar. I remember dogs getting fed by patrons and kids getting freebies from the baker. There was a kind of good freebie culture in Kashmir, I guess...even Milkmen, Dahi sellers/Zamdod wol often used to offer freebies to kids. Anyway...

Recently someone wrote in to inform that the good folks running the Bakery in Noida Sector 53 are in real trouble. Mukund wrote in to say:

 "The KASHMIRI BAKERY talked about in this blog is in SERIOUS TROUBLE. There were two brothers working at this bakery one of whom died(i don't know how). It brought all the responsibility of his family(plus his own family)on the second brother who was running this bakery alone, until a few days back. I went to his shop today and to my horror his ENTIRE SHOP WAS BURNT because of an electricity accident. According to him the accident caused damages worth A FEW LAKHS, which is a lifetimes earning by this man's standards. Poor guy was still working on the choolah which was the only thing that seemingly survived. The guy was so depressed that wasn't even accounting properly and was making mistakes which were lowering his profit(i.e. asking for lesser money than he was due), until an elderly gentleman told him. Im saying all this just to let our people know that this is the only kashmiri bakery in the entire Noida/greater Noida area and has been around with us for at least past 10 years(maybe more). And every kashmiri in this area have had his girdas, lavassas, telwurs etc at some point in time.WE SHOULD SPREAD THIS ND HELP HIM AS MUCH AS WE CAN VIA MONETARY DONATIONS. PS: he hasn't asked me to do anything, its just that i felt moved by what ill fate he has struck."

I hope the community living in the area would come forward to help. Here are the bank details of establishment. I the folks running the bakery and they already plan to open it this week.

Name: Roshan Lal
Bank and Branch: J & K Bank. Sector 18, Noida. [IFSC Code: JAKA0GHAZIA]
Account No: 0319040100093092

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