The unhappy land.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In its issue dated 21 April 2012, Open, a Delhi-based newsweekly, published a cover story on Kashmir titled βSorry, Kashmir is Happy.β
The author Manu Jospeh asks: βWhy is it obscene to accept that a historically wounded people are ready to move on?β
In the story, he writes:
Srinagar does not have pubs or discos or cinema halls. Most young people there do not drink. A popular form of fun is sitting in a cafΓ© and having coffee with friends. They are still uncorrupted by city slickness and there is an endearing honesty in their words.
The Delhi Walla is in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, a divided region under the control of India and Pakistan in which thousands of people have lost their lives in their violent struggle for independence.
Trying to search for happy Kashmiris, I found my happy Kashmir in an outdated guidebook. Kashmir Tourist Book was published during the 1950s when the Delhi-Srinagar airfare was Rs 172 and Srinagar still had cinemas (Neelam, Regal, Palladium, Sheraj, Naaz, Broadway, Firdaus and Khayam).
The guidebook delves deep into Kashmirβs happiness.
The happy vale of Kashmir is renowned most for its wonderful air, lovely scenery and excellent beauty. This is that happy valley where one can make life most enjoyable to different tastes and interests. This is that happy valley where spring appears in all its glory. This is that happy fairy lotus-land where the lotus blooms to greatest perfection. This is that happy valley where trees like chinar and poplar are most beautiful at all stages. This is that happy valley before which the title βEden of the Eastβ blushes and artists find undreamed beauties of colour and scenery for the brush.
This is the final volume of the Kashmir Diary series.
Scenes from a ‘happy’ Kashmir
God bless Kashmir