Valley Warming

Arshid Malik

Tucked inside the warm comfort of a heavy quilt (kinds that are only found in Kashmir) is the penultimate stance of life in Kashmir during winters, or to be more accurate and fact-full at least that is the way most Kashmiri people would want it. The alternating fact is that people have to come out of their homes and brave the intense chill of the winters and attend to their jobs and stuff inside places which are very low equipped on implements of heating.

People here have been very brave to face harsh winters but now since the climatic conditions have turned a major leaf, especially this year, winters were not so severe with the whole month of February being sunny. People were happy about the quite pleasant weather, quite upbeat about it without realizing that the major climatic change could have very strong impact on the survival of ecosystems here which would eventually bear upon the lives of the people in Kashmir. Most educated people here know about Global Warning but all the time want to “believe” that it remotely concerns them since the valley is “blessed” by Almighty with abundant reserves of water and glaciers which is a totally lackadaisical untruth since Global Warming has its impact everywhere and has as a matter of fact left a good footprint in Kashmir.

Anyways, I wanted to start off on a kind of a personal narratives. I used love winters here in Kashmir as everywhere else but since I have not been able to travel to places which experience extreme cold climates the latter does not practically apply to me. Winters were my special abode in which I would wrap myself and immerse myself into habitual reading and writing. Most of Dostoevsky’s novels and short stories I had read had to a large extent imbibed this folding into the winters into me. Winters were lovely times especially when it was snowing.

I had to move outside for some five years, to a place which experiences very hot climate. I had been comfortable with extremely hot climates during my travels outside to hot places so I adjusted to the hot climate at my place of residence during those five years with ease. What I experienced however was that my productivity improved to a great extent during the prolonged hot summers and decreased during the winters when it was mildly cold, which meant a few months only. I experienced that the people in this hot place were very hard working and had very stretched work hours, which included everybody. These people did not shy from any kind of job and during the hottest of summer days they worked just as diligently. This changed my perception about the variance in hot and cold climates. When I returned back to the valley the winters depressed me. I just could not take the fact that I had to be home by 5 PM and settled into bed well before 10 PM no matter how late I went to sleep. Winters in Kashmir did not only potentially decrease my output in terms of work but as I mentioned earlier I got depressed. Things had changed so much that even the rains and the subsequent cold depressed me.

Now my experiences with cold and hot climates were not only temporary but had marked a change inside of me just because of the fact that I had realized how dark and dingy the overall feeling it can be during winters in Kashmir and how charming it can be to work in a hot place, for no fault of the people living here and there.

I now realize that my misadventures with the winter in Kashmir maybe because the winters of yore never return to the valley. Global Warming or should I say Valley Warming!


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