Maximum City – A Young Kashmiri in Town

The Delhi walla‘s pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls – Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
Contact for ad enquiries.

Maximum City - A Young Kashmiri in Town

Being Indian in the Indian Capital.

[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

On August, 2009, Ahmed Dev, 21, will move to Delhi from his ancestral home at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, Kashmir. This soft-spoken, English-speaking, hip-hop playing young man will be pursuing a pilot training course in an institute in Gurgaon. But Mr Dev is hardly in love with Delhi.

“People in this city are selfish, they don’t know how to drive and the air is really polluted,” he told me while we were taking a walk one late night in Nizamuddin Basti. Mr Dev is staying at a budget hotel in this Muslim-dominated neighbourhood. He claims that back home in Srinagar he re-mixes Kashmiri folk songs with techno music. No fan of Bollywood songs, Mr Dev “respects AR Rahman for his original compositions.”

However, like a few other young Kashmiris I have met in Delhi, Mr Dev is not an admirer of India though he does consider himself an Indian. “I eat the food of this place, after all, and I also like India’s secularism where Hindus live next to Muslims, Sikhs and Christians,” he says. But Mr Dev understands that why his people are unhappy with India. “I’m not saying that all Indians are bad but your army there sometimes kill innocent people and we can’t even go to the court,” he rues. “Kashmir is a heaven which is burning like hell and you people are responsible.”

This is Mr Dev’s third visit to Delhi and during an earlier stay here he came across a person who dismissed Kashmiris as uneducated, poor, filthy shepherds. The remark left a deep impact and so much that Mr Dev’s decision to come to Delhi and train to be a pilot here is partly motivated out of the anger that that comment generated. “I want to prove that we Kashmiris can sit with the most respected people, drive the most expensive cars and study in the most respected institutes,” he said.

While Mr Dev continued to be soft-spoken, his discomfort with India became clearer as he grew franker with me. “Yes, we want Azaadi,” he said at one point.

If he has such decided feelings towards this country, why come all the way to Delhi to become a pilot? “But we have no pilot training school back home,” Mr Dev shot back, “Majboori mein gadhe ko bhi baap banana padta hai. (If you have no choice, you have to make donkey your dad).”

When Mr Dev will move permanently to Delhi in August, he will be taking a flat somewhere in DLF, Gurgaon. While returning to his hotel room, Mr Dev added, “I’ll get educated fully, will do a job in India, earn handsome money and finally I’ll tell you Indians that look, we Kashmiris are capable of all that is good.”

The Delhi Walla wishes him good luck.