Friday, February 27, 2009

Life is a whistle away in Kashmir

Pprrrrr, Pprrrrr...! You walk on the roadside and there is a man behind you with a whistle, you drive and the case is same, you breathe and the situation is unchanged, unmoved Naseer A Ganai portrays the grim surrounding which have become the order of the day in Kashmir

Life here depends upon a whistle. So much that people here always try to recognize whistles to differentiate whether it is direc¬tion to stop or move forward pprrrrrr.
Kashmiris whether they live in this part of valley or in hilly districts of Doda, Poonch and Rajouri and other areas of Jammu division are not unfamiliar with a whistle. They have two decade-long association with different kinds of whistles and God knows when this association will end.
Some say Srinagar is beautiful city and it has so many beautiful old buildings. Some constructed by British, some by Muslims Rul¬ers, some by Dogra Maharajas. They are worth seeing. One wants to gaze at them for hours together and praise their architectures and engineers. There are monstrous struc¬tures as well. A mere look at them repels one and reflects the mindset of those people who have con¬structed them.
The new secretariat and High Court building are examples of how ugly buildings could be con¬structed in the middle of the city. That too in this age of technology. Still I wanted to stop and gaze at these buildings. To see how En¬glish Architecture is different from an Islamic Architecture. I had a long cherished desire to touch bricks of these buildings. But I was al¬ways deprived of to have a long look at them. And I never got an opportunity to touch the bricks.
Whenever I tired to stop to have a look at them, and to touch bricks of these old buildings, some one whistled and I realized that I am being asked to move forward. I often tried to have a look at the person who whistled. I wanted to tell him why you whistled and what does it mean. But I never ever dared to. With heavy heart, I always followed the dictations of a whistle. It is not only me, who move for¬ward meekly on hearing a whistle. Everyone here follow the same path. Because, they understand that if they fail to comply with the direction the whistle wants to lead them, they will be in peril.
I don't have any vehicle and I don't want to have one. Not because I don't need, I require it desperately. But I just cannot handle the pressures of whistle while driving a car. Those who own cars know it better how dif¬ficult it is to drive in Kashmir. Because when they look around they find troops, paramilitary troops having gun in their hands and armed with armed forces spe¬cial powers act.
Moreover, they all carry whistles. What happens while driving when one hears many whistles at once from different sides. This creates confusion in person who drives the car. He fails to under¬stand whether he has to move or stop. This confusion could be fatal. And I being chicken-hearted per¬son am in no mood to purchase a ve¬hicle and suffer these dangerous di¬lemmas everyday. Consequently, I have long back stopped even thinking about pur¬chasing a vehicle.
Many a time one gets confused who is whistling and why. But no¬body ignores it. If a person hears a
whistle, he stops immediately. Then tries to figure it out, what it really means. If he' fails to find anyone, he still doesn’t move. But waits until he satisfies himself that no one has whistled or if someone has blown it, he seems to be far off and it might be for some body else. After completely satisfying himself, he decides to move. 
During night it is tough time for driver as well as passengers. Because, when troop¬er whistles from bunkers, one fails to understand whether it is gesture to stop or move forward. If at all in rarest of rare case a passen¬ger vehicle ply on the road during evening, then you will come across a different scene. It has been seen, drivers who are always in hurry, often argue with passengers that whistle at night is an indication to move forward but passengers implore the driver to stop and see what "they" really mean by whistling. The passengers will not elaborate "they" and driver will never ask what "they" mean. We even understand implicit meaning of words, which have different explicit meaning for others. The argument between driver and passenger creates confusion and fear among passengers. They fail to understand what is in store for them,   
This is one of the reasons that one sees neither vehicles nor passengers on roads when dusk approaches and every house closes its doors soon after sunset. After sunset there is no life in Kashmir. Everyone prefers to be inside his home to have 'peaceful' life. But this ostensible 'peaceful' nightlife in Kashmir homes turn into nightmare when some one whistles outside.
It is every student's curiosity to imagine how Gullivar was walking among Lilliputians. They will get feeling of the same if they happen to have a look at militarily con¬voys when they pass through roads in Kash¬mir. Pprrrrrr, Pprrrrrr, Pprrrrrr and this is sign for we Lilliputians to lay off or face con¬sequences.
I know a person who had minor hearing problem. He immedi¬ately rushed to ENT specialist. There he was told to come after three days. He refused to wait for his turn. His argument was that if he failed to hear a whistle, it could be fatal for him: Realizing strength of his argument in a given situation, the ENT spe¬cialist examined him then and there.
Heart problems and whistles have apparently no link. But in Kashmir it has. There is interesting story of a woman who one day went to Psychiatrist with complain that she hears whistles every time. "Doctor I hear whistles, when I wake up, when I move around, when I sleep. My heart beats fast on hearing these whistles. Please Doctor, help or I will die," she told the doctor.
The doctor presumed she is suf¬fering from hallucinations. But when he asked her where she is residing, her reply calmed the doctor. Her house was on the roadside. She was not hear¬ing imaginary whistles but she was hearing real ones. The doctor told her that it is whistles of paramilitary troops who maintain the road outside her house, which she hears. She is not alone who hears whistles here.
There might be hundreds of examples of drivers and bus con¬ductors who might have suffered on account of their failure to hear right whistle at right time. The drivers of the public transport vehicles and their conductors are worst suffer¬ers in this whistle business.
I have yet to come across a person who could tell me how much money government spent on purchase of whistles for different security agencies and what kind of color these whistles have. This, I think, deserves a research. But don't try to see the color of a whistle when you hear the whistle. This could prove costly.
I don't know whether whistles have some psychological impact or not on one's psyche. But some say it has tremendous impact on those who are complying with its' shrill sound for last two decades with¬out raising an eyelid. One day, says a friend that he was in Delhi and he heard a whistle. "Abruptly, I stopped and looked around. Then I realized it is not for me and I am in Delhi," he says. But in Kash¬mir no one takes any such chance.
Everybody hears it and obeys.
It is a perfect example of mili¬tarily life of common masses, who move, sit, sleep, wake up, and do¬ing all such things on a mere whistle. This could not be found anywhere in the world.


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