Just when everyone is drunk on cricket and India meets Pakistan in the semi finals of the world cup cricket, how can tiny Kashmir be any exception? Cricket is just about the only safe, neutral, middle-of-the-road topic one can broach in an atmosphere as surcharged as waadi-Kashmir. Anything else is likely to antagonize a potential Geelani or a Yasin or an Omar fan and vitiate things. These days you can’t even tell who is who.
Notwithstanding the overwhelming support for Pakistan cricket in every home of Kashmir, an aspiring bureaucrat lurks about in each alley. Ever since the local doctor turned civil servant, who says the Hippocratic Oath and Ghalib’s prose with equal ease, hit it big, all kids want to imitate him. Besides bureaucrats make people feel powerless and there is something strangely sinister about making others feel inadequate.
The grapevine is that agencies [local for intelligence operatives/agencies which outnumber the dogs of Srinagar] are happy. They couldn’t have asked for a better bargain to amalgamate minds into the mainstream. Sometimes things happen for the good.
Since a lot of kids have been put in jails, for teasing the largest democracy in the world, naturally there is competition brewing in prisons also. Reports suggest that some of those jailed have taken to writing the civil services exam. One such captive, it appears, made it to the last rung of the much fêted services examination. Handcuffs jangling he was brought to the interview panel.
What followed next is pure yarn but one that we need to spin. Yarning is redeeming, many-a-times.
Three member panel and a prisoner-aspirant.
Panelist: What is better – democracy or dictatorship?
Aspirant: Democracy. Especially when they hang you by the feet at night.
Panelist [clearing his throat]: Why do you wish to become a KAS officer?
Aspirant: The guards who kick me now would guard my children later.
Panelist: How can you calculate the number of stones the agitators threw last summer?
Aspirant: Total number of bullets fired (the authorities may have the figures) divided by hundred, Sir.
Panelist [changing the motif]: For some IQ testing now.
What happened, young man, when the wheel was invented?
Aspirant: It caused a revolution, sir.
Panelist: Revolutionists don’t occupy administrative posts. How would you explain this passion in Kashmir?
Aspirant: We are the poshlust.
Panelist: That is a Russian word.
Aspirant: Yes, unique to that language but holds true for us.
Aspirant: It means cliché, smugness, sameness -- all rolled up into one.
Aspirant: Thank you, Sir.