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« 9-11.. Random thoughts | Main | Putting Rick "Goodhair" Perry in a moral bind... »

September 14, 2011


It will always be for me too a place of " apple, apricot and walnut orchards, chinar trees, shimmering lakes, snow capped mountains, houseboats, fine pashmina shawls, lacquered papier mache ornaments and the valley's light skinned aloof inhabitants." Here is an old post I wrote about Kashmir and it links to an old one Namit wrote as well.Kashmir remains a terrible quagmire...

The beauty still remains, despite the troubles.
I found the links that you supplied fascinating - Basharat Peer's perspective on boycotting the Harud literary festival, and the Al-Jazeera article on what happened with the Hindu Pandit population, albeit with a propensity to try and diminish the numbers claimed by more militant Pandits as being 'ethnic cleansing' and 'Holocaust-like'. Neither can be lightly dismissed. One wonders about how the newer generation in Kashmir is growing up, what are their wishes and aspirations for the future of Kashmir, rather than voices from semi-outsiders- one-time Kashmiris who have left for foreign shores.Surely, there must be more of those coming out now.

Marvelous! I can't believe how great the photos. The serene otherworldly beauty amid all the struggle for turf and precedence -- very hard to hold in the mind at the same time. Thank you!

Beautiful pictures. I wonder whether your post, published as a travel brochure, would attract more or fewer tourists from the West than the industry standard. Shamefully, my view of Kashmir has for decades been filtered through one highly Orientalist evocation.

Your friend Ali, Ruchira, went by Shahid Ashraf Agha when he completed his dissertation in 1984. It was about the career of T.S. Eliot as editor of The Criterion during the '20s and '30s. From the abstract:

Though hints of Eliot's political interests can be discerned in the earlier issues, The Criterion became openly political in its later years, and imaginative writing was pushed more and more into the corner. Started as a vehicle to support the cause of Classicism, the journal became increasingly insecure and helpless in face of events and ideologies overtaking Europe. A sense of despair overcame Eliot, and the last issue of The Criterion came out in January 1939.

I learned about the name change (sort of) and the many other things that happened to Ali after he came to America but only after he had died. I learnt of his death with some shock. I first knew him as a grad student and then as a very young lecturer in my college in Delhi U (he never taught me). He used to hang out with us more than he did with his faculty colleagues. I knew him during this period in his life.

Well, your filter of Kashmir through Led Zeppelin wasn't too bad. But note that I chose Ladakh as the Shangri-la over the Kashmir Valley. So, what do you think? Would you be more inclined to visit because of my post or the standard issue travel brochure of the place?

No question, I'd visit prompted by your post and John Bonham's drumming. The more difficult question is: Which would I prefer to visit, Ladakh or Kashmir? A couple of those photos of Ladakh remind me of traveling north up the 605 freeway from Whittier past Irwindale and on to Pasadena, minus the smog. Both locations come with an "edginess" factor, but that isn't necessarily an attraction. Like movies based on novels, travel for me is often a disappointing derivative of the book. I might settle an opportunity to visit either one or the other with a coin toss, and then just enjoy the ride.

I didn't realize Ali had died. The account by his friend ten years later is touching.

Edginess had a lot to do with the beauty of both places, in different ways. Ladakh has a rough hewn, intimidating physical beauty. Its bare granite and sandy mountains are amazingly desolate and imposing. There are some major rivers and lakes in Ladakh but hardly anything grows at those unforgiving altitudes. (See the bare shores of Pangong Lake) However its people are a cheerful and easy going lot. Kashmir is gorgeous in a soft velvety way and it is at a much lower height. The mountain ranges there too include some of the high peaks of the Greater Himalayas (see the Dachigam photos) but the valley faces mostly the verdant sides of the mountains. Also, it is a moist place with lot of rain and many waterways. Kashmir's edginess is political - the vigilant and jumpy Indian military and the surly and wary locals.

I always love to watch himalayas in google earth..

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