The Richest Poor Man In The Valley Essays

The Richest Poor Man In The Valley Essays-53
I came face-to-face, fleetingly, with a real person who owned land, not just the enemy of the nation.

I came face-to-face, fleetingly, with a real person who owned land, not just the enemy of the nation.Now this land was said to be occupied by the Rajwar Tigers, an Indian Army unit.He doesn’t think that India is a mostly democratic, mostly peaceful, mostly progressive, caring nation state; quite the opposite, in fact.

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Youth specially ignore this change, immersed as they are in the new by their energy, without knowledge of their real loss; by the time they realize it, it is usually too late.Was this slogan, I wondered, directed as a reassurance to tourists that they have come to the right place, to the nervous army jawans seeking comfort in a hostile environment, or to the suspicious locals who find neither in their daily lives?Life looked peaceful enough, though, as we winded our way in between sheep being herded on the tarred road by nomadic Bakarwals.It was surreal, though, passing through the town of Sopore, the district of Baramulla, and the town of Kupwara whose names one associates only with violence.We passed Vatavan Chogal, with Badam Bagh opposite which Hashim told me, matter-of-factly though I suspect to hide his sadness and anger, is 200 acres of land that once belonged to Afsal Guru.Today, we sailed through without anyone so much as giving a second look, with the army men going about their daily business as in countless bucolic army cantonments across India.Hashim had booked me at the government tourist guesthouse at Chandigam.Kashmir, ironically, has (mostly) kept these disruptive cultural forces of commerce and consumerism at bay only due to the extended decades of often-violent political unrest.This volatile political situation goes through phases of ‘normalcy’ and ‘militancy’, and organised tourism continues to mark time due to inadequate infrastructure outside the Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam circuits.Some places, with languorous beaches and placid weather or scenic mountains and cool valleys, viscerally grab the attention of the tourist class; desultory visitors with little commitment towards the locals; or even an understanding of the light touch, quietude, listening, or observing.Tourists who consider themselves sensitive too are a part of this assault on the local culture.


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