Monthly Archives: December 2009

My name is not Khan, I am Mr Kaul

Tarun Vijay Tuesday December 22, 2009, 08:55 AM
Link – http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/indus-calling/entry/my-name-is-not-khan

I am not Khan. My name bears a different set of four letters: K A U L. Kaul. As those who know Indian names would understand I happened to be born in a family which was called Hindu by others. Hence, we were sure, we would never get a friend like KJ to make a movie on our humiliations, and the contemptuous and forced exile from our homeland. It’s not fashionable. It’s fashionable to get a Khan as a friend and portray his agony and pains and sufferings when he is asked by a US private to take off his shoes and show his socks. Natural and quite justifiable that Khan must feel insulted and enraged. Enough Masala to make a movie.
But unfortunately I am a Kaul. I am not a Khan.
Hence when my sisters and mothers were raped and killed, when six-year-old Seema was witness to the brutal slaughtering of her brother, mother and father with a butcher’s knife by a Khan, nobody ever came to make a movie on my agony, pain and anguish, and tears.
No KJ would make a movie on Kashmiri Hindus. Because we are not Khans. We are Kauls.
When we look at our own selves as Kauls, we also see a macabre dance of leaders who people Parliament. Some of them were really concerned about us. They got the bungalows and acres of greenery and had their portraits were worshipped by the gullible devotees of patriotism.
They made reservations in schools and colleges for us. In many many other states. But never did they try that we go back to our homes. They have other priorities and ‘love your jihadi neighborhood’ programmes. They get flabbier and flabbier with the passing of each year, sit on sacks of sermons; issue instructions to live simply and follow moral principles delivered by ancestors and kept in documents treated with time-tested preservatives.
They could play with me because my name is Kaul. And not Mr Khan. I saw the trailer to this fabulous movie, which must do good business at the box office.
There was not even a hint that terror is bad and it is worse if it is perpetuated in the name of a religion that means Peace. Peace be upon all its followers and all other the creatures too.
So you make a movie on the humiliation of taking off shoes to a foreign police force which has decided not to allow another 9/11.
The humiliation of taking off the shoes and the urge to show that you are innocent is really too deep. But what about the humiliation of leaving your home and hearth and the world and the relatives and wife and mother and father? And being forced to live in shabby tents, at the mercy of nincompoop leaders encashing your misery and bribe-seeking babus? And seeing your daughters growing up too sudden and finding no place to hide your shame?
No KJ would ever come forward to make a movie, a telling, spine-chilling narration on the celluloid, of five-year-old Seema, who saw her parents and brother being slaughtered by a butcher’s knife in Doda. Because her dad was not Mr Khan. He was one Mr Kaul.
Sorry, Mr Kaul and your entire ilk. I can’t help you.
It’s not fashionable to side with those who are Kauls. And Rainas. And Bhatts. Dismissively called KPs. KPs means Kashmiri Pandits. They are a bunch of communalists. They were the agents of one Mr Jagmohan who planned their exodus so that Khans can be blamed falsely. In fact, a movie can be made on how these KPs conspired their own exile to give a bad name to the loving and affectionate Khan brothers of the valley.
To voice the woes of Kauls is sinful. The right course to get counted in the lists of the Prime Minister’s banquets and the President’s parties is to announce from the roof top: hey, men and ladies, I am Mr Khan.
The biggest apartheid the state observes is to exclude those who cry for Kauls, wear the colours of Ayodhya, love the wisdom of the civilisational heritage, dare to assert as Hindus in a land which is known as Hindustan too and struggle to live with dignity as Kauls. They are out and exiled. You can see any list of honours and invites to summits and late-evening gala parties to toast a new brand. All that the Kauls are allowed is a space at Jantar Mantar: shout, weep and go back to your tents after a tiring demonstration. Mr Kaul, you have got a wrong name.
A dozen KJs would fly to take you atop the glory – posts and gardens of sympathies if you accept to wear a Khan name and love a Sunita, Pranita, Komal or a Kamini. Well, here you have a sweetheart in Mandira. That goes well with the story.
And you pegged the movie plot on autism.
I wept. It was too much. I wept as a father of a son who needed a story as an Indian. Who cares for his autistic son, his relationship with the western world, his love affair with a young sweet something as a human, as someone whose heart goes beyond being a Hindu, a Muslim or a proselytizing Vatican-centric aggressive soul. Not the one who would declare in newspaper interviews: “I think I am an ambassador for Islam”. Shah Rukh is Shah Rukh, not because he is an ambassador for Islam. If that was true, he could have found a room in Deoband. Fine enough. But he became a heartthrob and a famousl star because he is a great actor. He owes everything he has to Indians and not just to Muslims. We love him not because he is some Mr Khan. We love him because he has portrayed the dreams, aspirations, pains, anguish and ups and downs of our daily life. As an Indian. As one of us.
If he wants to use our goodwill and love for strengthening his image as an ambassador for Islam, will we have to think to put up an ambassador for Hindus? That, at least to me, would be unacceptable because I trust everyone: a Khan or a Kaul or a Singh or a Victor. Who represents India represents us all too, including Hindus. My best ambassadorship would be an ambassadorship for the tricolour and not for anything else because I see my Ram and Dharma in that. I don’t think even an Amitabh or a Hritik would ever think in terms Shah Rukh has chosen for himself. But shouldn’t these big, tall, successful Indians who wear Hindu names make a movie on why Kauls were ousted? Why Godhra occurred in the first place? Why nobody, yes, not a single Muslim, comes forward to take up the cause of the exiled and killed and contemptuously marginalized Kauls whereas every Muslim complainant would have essentially a Hindu advocate to take on Hindus as fiercely as he can?
If you are Mr Khan and found dead on the railway tracks, the entire nation would be shaken. And he was also a Rizwan. May be just a coincidence that our Mr Khan in the movie is also a Rizwan.
Rizwan’s death saw the police commissioner punished and cover stories written by missionary writers. But if you are a Sharma or a Kaul and happened to love an Ameena Yusuf in Srinagar, you would soon find your corpse inside the police thana and NONE, not even a small-time local paper would find it worthwhile to waste a column on you. No police constable would be asked to explain how a wrongly detained person was found dead in police custody?
Because the lover found dead inside a police thana was not Mr Khan. No KJ would ever come forward to make a movie on ‘My name is Kaul. And I am terror-struck by Khans’.
Give me back my identity as an Indian, Mr. Khan and I would have no problem even wearing your name and appreciating the tender love of an autistic son.
The writer can be reached at tarun.vijay@gmail.com

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Memories of kashmiri Winter,Kangir and Samavar


I remember vividly my maternal Grandmother calling me for a Bath “Come on, get out of your bed, Water is Boiling in Samavaar” The shrilled tone of my Grandmother had a sense of urgency and Authority leaving me with no Choice, but to follow her orders. The Samavar, which my Grandmother used was a Heavy Brass Made utensil with a capacity of around 3-5 Liters. “Samavar” is a traditional Kashmiri Utensil, believed to be introduced to Kashmiri Culture by the Iranians 8-9 centuries back. It can be bifurcated into two Hollow cylinders inner and outer cylinder. The inner cylinder which is At least 10 times smaller is enclosed in the larger outer cylinder or body. Burning coal is placed inside the smaller inner cylinder and the outer cylinder is filled with water.

Samavar is traditionally used to prepare tea especially Noon-Chai(salted kashmiri tea) and Kahwaa.Among Kashmiri Pandits who are living in a Exile, Samavar can be seen only at the Marriage functions. However Kashmiris who live in Kashmir make use of Samavars, if not that frequently , with samavar now mostly confined to rural areas.

There is a silver lining to the legend of “Samavaar” and “Kehwa”.Though “samavaar” is becoming obsolete and has been replaced by new and tech-savvy kitchen appliances, “Kehwaa” is still in the vogue. During last couple of years, I could find Kashmiris selling hot “Kehwa” made in colossal “Samavaars” at a number of Indian Hill stations. “Kehwa”, it seems is slow but steadily making its place among the health conscious people of the Indian Metros and cities.

Winter in Kashmir is really bone-chilling and classified in typical Kashmiri nick-names. The names sound horrendous as well as Humorous . With the names like “ Chillai Kalaan”, “Chilla Baccha” and “Chilla Poot” who sound more like the Three Bandits of “Sholay” ,It somehow reminds me of Gabbar singh’s famous Punch line Dialogue “Aree o Sambaa,Kitne Aadmi the? ” Sarkaar teen”. These names always tickle me leaving me with a grin.

“Chillai Kalaan” which comes around 21st December and stretches till 40 days and is considered to be the coldest and harshest among the three “chillas”. Next comes “Chilla Khurd” which is less severe than “Chillai kalan” and stretches for 20 days.At last comes “Chilla Baccha” which lasts for 10 days and finishes somewhere around first week of March.

With such exciting names given to different winter months, It is Obvious that Winters play a significant role to the psyche of every kashmiri. As a child, I always used to shy away from taking a Bath in winters, With sub-zero temperatures, which would often go down to minus six or seven. Taking a Bath was like a ritual which needed courage and was observed twice or thrice a week. Winters was like a powerful yet beautiful opponent. In reply, I was no less a competition and my armory consisted of lot of woolens, ”Pheran” and powerful “ the Kangri”.

“Kangri”—the traditional fire pot used by every kashmiri in winters to beat the chill is no less than your time tested and reliable savior and Multi user friend. Not only It keeps you warm, you can also use it to roast potatoes and hard shell eggs.

Kangri has a powerful influence on the day-to-day activities of common Kashmiris. It is widely used by Kashmiri Pandits in socio-religious ceremonies.Elderly women take a pinch of Sesame seeds with their right hand and touch the right hand gently to the newly-wed brides, Grooms as well as children. The seeds are put into the burning coals of the Kangir to cast off evils and to protect them from the witchcraft.The staccato of the burning sesame seeds is very appealing. This practise is still used by KP’s irrespective of their current location.

This write up will be incomplete without mentioning “Kangri Jung” which can only be witnessed in winters of Kashmir, when sometimes two emotionally charged jilted lovers duped by a girl for another man, met accidently in the middle of a road,And their eyes meet each other in freezing cold and instead of flexing their muscles decide to Check the accuracy of their throw and fumingly hurl philippics at each other, when their entire vocabulary of invectives gets exhausted, then they throw their respective “Kangir” at each other and thereby give a vent to their anger and frustrations, but most probably repent later on ,seeing the deteriorating condition of their beloved “Kangir” which was more dependant,loving,caring ,silent, never complaining and never ever duped them…