Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bub, bunkers and beyond

There is an unseasoned mutiny in Mulk-e-Kashmir this summer. The boatsmen in Dal have revealed to intrepid journalists – clad in bullet proof vests – that the usually calm carp fish have been nibbling away at their oars of late. The defiance, it seems, has drained into the lake. A little ahead of the weed-infested Dal, an entire company of CRPF with chest-nut color guns in their hands, fingers on the trigger, chased a few hundred street urchins through a tulip garden, completely squishing the flowers in the process. As a result the Zabarwan foothills are stippled with mutli-colored floral boot-marks.

The only mills working in the city are the ubiquitous rumor mills and the word on street is that the Gregorian calendar would soon be replaced with a standard Geelani calendar. Heck that Gregory XIII was a pope anyway! Meantime the newest chairman of JK bank is mulling over the 2011 calendar with special green-color numeric for Hartal days and red color numeric for Curfew days. Parleys shall be held with Geelani sahib, when he is a little less angry and Omar, when Devinder, his chief of staff, goes on a sabbatical and leaves him alone, God willing, for a day or two. Besides there are chances that -- with autumn fast approaching -- the CM may finally take his sunglasses off. Eye to eye contact is always better than an eye for an eye.

Kids having a field day till end-September this year [three months of unlimited holidays] thought in their juvenile abandon that the summer holidays [locally, 15 dohan hinz garma-chutti ] might stretch forever. Alas it was not to be! Early October the education minister clad in an ill-fitting suit strode out of his Kokernag home to his Srinagar house and called the media men – who assemble quicker than you can say Jack Robinson – to cut short the forever vacations. Uniforms not washed for 100 days quickly went into buckets, much to the chagrin of teenagers, and lo and behold, the lawyer-minister from Kokernag was giving student attendance stats to media men – who assemble quicker than (okay the joke is stale now!) – the next evening. Only his son didn’t attend school, choosing instead to go by the now-famous Geelani calendar.

Apart from sad politics over body-bags in the last few months there are glad tidings too. Out of more than 1600 small and big bunkers located all over the province (mud and cement, brick and sand, trench and pillbox types – but all unanimously ugly) 16 bunkers shall be removed with immediate effect. Mostly unaesthetic these sandbagged formations pervade the mental landscape of people, apart from littering the stunningly beautiful (but seriously jinxed) geographic landscape of Kashmir. Called Bankers by most locals, these bunkers have a small slit for the gun barrel, serving a constant reminder to the hoi polloi that the Maginot line is not to be trodden upon in Kashmir.16 such monstrosities shall go now! We must smile!

A deadpan face-off is going on (which merits another blog, actually) between Gupkar and Hyderpora. Betwixt these two residential locales the destiny of five million people is calendared -- week after another week. These days the Blackberry Czar is at odds to break the deadlock set up by the Padre of Resistance. There have been numerous brainstorms and smear campaigns but nothing seems to be working. Be as it is, the government has now begun to fast forward Urs holidays, originally scheduled for later this month to Hartal days.

Talk of doing away with the Gregorian calendar, altogether.

© Sameer