Kashmir People 6

“Chachaji, everybody calls me Chachaji,” the manager of our houseboat on the Dal Lake tells me when I ask him his name. One of the first things he asks us is: “How do you find it here?” When we reply in unison, “Beautiful! Peaceful!” his response is quick and vehement, “It is. The media! It is all the media’s doing. Some incident will take place near the border and they will blow it up beyond proportion…” Later in the night, as I smoke sitting on the steps of the sit-out of the houseboat, he joins me. He shyly requests for a cigarette and sits with me smoking and watching the lights on the lake. He repeats his complaint about the sensationalism of the media. I agree with him. I tell him how every monsoon, after the deluge on July 26, 2005, the news channels park their cameras in the areas in Mumbai that have always flooded since I was a child, and make a big hue and cry about rains disrupting the life of Mumbai again… He smiles at my expression, “Areas that flood even when a dog pisses…” Chachaji has worked in Colaba in Mumbai, in Gujarat and in the Middle East in the bad times, “in the twenty years we lost”.


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