Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 8 - Westwards - Mulbek

We started the next morning and continued westwards to stop at the village of Mulbek at 10,600 feet.

The only highlight of this otherwise ordinary place is a monumental bas relief, a 30 feet high sculpture of Maitreya, the future Buddha, carved on a cliff. The standing figure with 4 arms and a small stupa on its head was probably carved in the 8th century when Buddhist missionaries from Kashmir were heading eastward to spread the religion to Ladakh.

Unfortunately, a gompa, built in 1975, bang in front of the giant Buddha, hinders a clear view of the lower part of the sculpture.

There are several roadside restaurants opposite the rock carvings gathering crowds and their noise taking away from the monument the solemn air that should have been about it.

What should have been a protected monument surrounded by clear manicured lands on all sides with an entrance and a pathway leading to it, is a half visible roadside statue suffering daily neglect from petty shop owners full of their wares and the chai sipping customers...

It was in one of these restaurants/tea stalls that we had our breakfast before moving on...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Returning Awards

Dear BJP,

Want to return awards do they?

This is how you should respond to them.
Open an Award Wapsi bank account, publish the details of it and ask them to transfer all the award money to that account; after all what is use of returning a medal or a piece of paper and keeping the award money?
Let them transfer their award money to this account – tell them this money will be used to provide compensation to all those poor victims of intolerance that they are custodians of.
Assure them only Muslims and Christians will receive the benefit of their money; no Hindu will receive the benefit of it even though they may have been the victims of Muslim/Christian intolerance.
The scores of RSS workers being killed in Kerala or the anti beef worker who was killed recently or those in Bengal who are not allowed to do Durga Puja or the Kashmiri pundits awaiting rehabilitation since decades or the Hindu woman starved and beaten up by her Muslim husband for not converting to Islam will not receive the benefit since you do not have a serious problem with their predicament.

Start publishing on national television and other media on a daily basis the amount of money that has flown in into this account – who has returned what amount and the balance remaining.
If someone does not return the award money or returns partial amount, call out their names and shame them.

The next time a Hindu or Hinduism is the victim of Muslim/Christian aggression, summon a notice to all of them artists asking them to air their views.
Most of them will not have anything to say, a few will render lip service.
Publish the statement made by those few who do make some reluctant vague statement and also publish the names who have not made any statement.
Ask them why they won’t react with the same vehemence this time.

Tell the country so and so artist was outraged at that incident when a Muslim or his religious sentiment was hurt but did not feel any anger this time when a Hindu was offended.
Shame them.

Find out where they live.
Every time a Hindu is offended, send activists to their streets - let the activists hold banners - 'Hindus are humans too', 'Hindus have rights too' and chant slogans. Lets see how many of them artists come out of their houses to join the rally, what they say and air the whole thing on national television.
Shame the anti Hindu, pseudo secularists!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 7 - Westwards - Lamayuru

6th July 2010

As we drove towards Lamayuru and the moon valley, I hoped the sky would be completely clear and I would take many many pictures.

But that was not to be.

My folks wanted a tea break and they would not wait until after we had reached Lamayuru which was an hour or so away.

By the time we reached Lamayuru, it was evening.

I took a few pictures of the moon valley. Did not get to walk on it, touch it, feel it,..

We debated for a while if we should halt in Lamayuru for the night, decided to move on and drove on the Leh – Srinagar road.

As we drove upwards, the landscape below had more contours, more creases, more colours – how grand it would have been if we could cover that stretch during the day...

It got dark and all the beauty around went into oblivion.

With no prior hotel reservations or arrangements for the night, we were dependent solely on our driver for guidance and help.

For a long time, there was no village, no sign of human habitation. It was dark all around. At last we saw a few lights twinkling in the distance and we felt some hope.

We stopped by what was supposed to be a government guest house of some sorts. It was locked and the keeper was not in the premises. We felt marooned. The driver went to a few houses to make enquiries about his whereabouts and when he returned, the keeper was with him.

He unlocked the place and turned the light switch. It was tube light. It was an elongated room with some beds.
It was something to thank God for, given our condition of being in the middle of nowhere a few minutes before.
If I were alone, it would have been easier, for I never doubted my safety, but with my folks expressing constant fear and apprehensions, it was another thing.

“If only you guys could take your tea break later, I wouldn’t have missed the Lamayuru pictures having come all the way” said I.
To this they said, “if it were your cousins in your place, they would have made tea themselves for their parents”

Yeah right, they would. And that’s the only thing they would do for their parents. Making tea or lunch.
I alone, among all my cousins, was capable of taking parents to Ladakh and managing the whole trip.

That night, I felt very very lonely, wept bitterly and asked God why.