The valley, it appears, is cold as blue blazes. Shakespeare wrote in Henry V in 1598 that I felt to his knees, and they were as cold as any stone, and so upward and upward, and all was as cold as any stone. Friends say that water lines have frozen over in Srinagar. The bitter chill of December is permeated only by the political happenstance, something never in short supply in our neck of woods. That also keeps journalists in constant business.
This Chilay-Kalan it started off by a yawning -- but perpetually paranoid -- security grid greatly alarmed by the sudden emergence of a blank diary and a calendar – all of six pages – printed by the same old nemesis of the establishment: the government’s tormentor-in-chief, that old man, who has by now developed an uncanny knack of frightening the largest democracy in the world with just about anything. Even a sneeze.
And this time it has been blank pages of a small pocket diary with innocuously elucidative quotes thrown in. Perhaps something like: Do not drink, all ye faithful, for you see, liquor can be spurious these days. Now when there is a talk of opening pubs in the city, where the chatterati and holidaymakers can giggle away to glory, such incendiary material like a pocket diary and wall-calendar with calligraphic verses can seriously disturb peace.
You never know what invisible ink Mr G might use. Why take chances? So orders were issued to appropriate all the goddamn calendars. There is a possibility now that J&K Bank might fast-forward its 2012 edition of calendars with 5th December, marked in red, with an exegesis: Birth anniversary of Jenab Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. One of the policemen, manning the house-arrest, could be given a copy to slither it under Mr G’s door. Just to ensure that he is cheesed off, proper and sour, in the 80-something Chilay-Kalan of his being.
The little debate on rowdiness notwithstanding, walloping a few photo-journalists here and there while they go about their professional duties, beating up a few dozen Moharram processenists, tearing down pages of wall-calendars, impounding blank diaries as if it were black hash, does not constitute hooliganism. Lo and behold if you show that silly mirror of yours to us, you might just be carrying out the worst form of hoodlumism. Why. Because we say so!
Pugmarks of a leopard were recently seen near the chief minister’s summer residence at Gupkar. A doctor who lives next door had his dog attacked and killed in the dead of night by the big cat. Experts were called in the next morning to figure out the phenomenon. They spent many hours examining and cataloguing the pugmarks in the foothills of Kohi Suleiman and concluded that in all probability it was a huge leopard that had wandered off the adjoining woods. Thank you, wildlife geniuses.
Grapevine has it that the leopard made a hasty retreat after noticing that it had crossed the perimeter -- into the turf of the original lion.