Such is my Kashmir.
Tragedies bring out either the best in us or the worst. We come to know of our capabilities, strengths and vulnerabilities. Then, what decides the best and worst is how we approach the situation.
Modi government’s demonetisation and the war on black money has made everyone suffer. But, the positive aspect that has come out of this cash crunch in India is, my conviction — that Kashmiris are the most warm and helpful people — has got stronger.
The shocker about currency ban — at a time almost whole of India and the media was thinking that PM Modi would declare a war on Pakistan — is still sending ripples across the country. It goes without saying that the middle and lower middle classes are the ones most affected.
I am surviving on the last Rs100 currency note, of course, not wanting to stand in an ATM queue, as long as it works for me. From paying online to making debit card transactions, from Paytm to Uber, Big Bazaar to buying food on credit from the office canteen, we are all getting through somehow.
Six days have passed and it is a chaotic world out there. People are literally on the road, suffering and complaining about how difficult it has become for them to survive without much cash.
It immediately reminds me of Kashmir. More than four months of curfew, with a ban on almost everything and people are still managing their lives pretty well. More than 120 days of being caged with no access to basic necessities, leave aside luxuries.
|More than four months of curfew, with a ban on almost everything and people are still managing their lives pretty well. (Photo: PTI)|
What's amazing is that I haven’t heard of a single incident where anyone went hungry or heard anyone complaining about food or money – the basic necessities. And no, I am no supporter of endless calls to strike!
It is not new to me, when friends and colleagues visit Kashmir, they come back with stories narrating how hospitable Kashmiris are. I have heard countless such stories that fill me with pride about my home and people.
I have had endless discussions where I was told that a random Kashmiri stranger went out of his/her way to help a tourist, with one thing or the other, without expecting anything in return.
It would be no exaggeration, if I say that in the last ten years that I've lived outside the Valley, I have hardly come across any non-Kashmiri who's as warm and loving as Kashmiris.
We have survived it all – conflict, harsh winters, floods or the endless curfews and hartals. We have survived it well and happily. I have not seen such resilience anywhere. Even after four months of hardship, you will find Kashmiris living happily, with their heads held high.
When the unrest started in July this year, there were thousands of volunteers lining up in hospitals offering help, and many contributing money and food. Such is my Kashmir, such are my people.
All this has been possible because we are a closely-bound society — to each other, our families, friends, neighbours, relatives. This is not the case in other Indian cities.
There is a joke in Delhi that every Kashmiri knows every other Kashmiri. It is more or less true. This is how we are. I might not meet many Kashmiris in Delhi or Mumbai, but I get a strange sense of happiness when I see a random Kashmiri in a market or even a vehicle bearing Kashmir’s registration number. Weird, but true!
We have a strange sense of belonging to our home, than most people have to their places. I have felt it. I have known it and realised it.
I called my aunt yesterday to ask her about the decision of education department to promote students up to class 9th and 11th without conducting examinations. While asking her details, I casually asked her about the cash crunch situation, that we are feeling here.
And she had the best answer in the world: "Cash or no cash, normalcy or no normalcy, Kashmiris know how to live and resist." And I realised what a pointless question it is to ask to those people who have .
Demonetisation or no demonetisation, Kashmiris know how to survive.
Watch: Man goes to bank, given Rs 2,500 in a sack of one-rupee coins in Pithoragarh