Sunday, June 05, 2011

The pamphlet

The word pamphlet has Greek origins. Originally called Pamphilus, it roughly translates to friend of everyone. Ever since Abdullah-I’s time pamphlets have been extensively used in our neck of woods. Partly because the then democratic state won't take a book by some poor publisher too kindly and partly because pamphlets were easier to read and circulate. Geelani sahib, as usual, authored a lot of them in his trademark wolfish Urdu.

Curiously during Abdullah-II’s brief and erratic reign Mr G didn’t find it worthwhile to be quite the pamphleteer, choosing instead to drown the fat king in his [G’s] genteel but firebrand Urdu. He speaks it with a minor twitch of mouth and a mild wink, which many don’t notice. The inhabitants of Gupkar road have forever hated the nonchalance.

If you thought the belles lettres in him was dead, you are entirely mistaken. He is back with another pamphlet, this time to bother Abdullah-III. Dubbed ‘For Tourists and Pilgrims’ the one page bulletin comes in three languages and is entirely downloadable on Ipad2. It is asteriated for the benefit of Twitter-baba-log since longish pieces tend to be slightly out of focus in an age of 140-character communication.

Everyone must rack up a few hundred of the fliers and just as you bump into a Sadhu with a chilam or a happy family from Madras [sorry Chennai] gadding about the Dal lake in the evening, quickly slip them a pamphlet which basically talks about friendly info. Do’s and don’ts. About not to sleep walk if you are staying in a house-boat, else you find yourself tangled in the weeds of Dal. Basic stuff.

Since some of the Sadus can’t read and write [not Ramdev types, I mean the lesser mortals] they can well ask fellow pilgrims to read out the Hindi version, although it was quite an effort to translate Mr G’s dense Urdu in the first place. Again nothing rebellious, just simple details. How the grandson goes outbacking to woods near Srinagar and clicks himself near boulders where late Mrs Gandhi once spilled her tea.

It notes other little bits. About how Abdullah-II attends all weddings in the city's elite circle where everyone and their uncles call him doctor saab, doctor saab, giving him an impression that Kashmir is sunny this summer. And how the grandson, wearing democratic shades, just won’t let an elderly person step out of his gateway.

As it were, the pamphlet awaits readers. There is a small rider though:

Ink may be injurious to health in Srinagar.

© Sameer