[Reader-list] hello some notes from the trip

Vipin Bhati vipinbhati at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 23 12:19:29 IST 2002

Hello everyone
I am writing this from the holiest of the hindu cities

Kashi or benares.It has been exactly six weeks of this

long and arduous trip that we have undertaken.I am on
a nationwide shooting spree for a documentary.The
director is Saeed Mirza of NUkkad fame.He is an
intractable old man.Garrulous , verbose , a master of
platitudes.If i had met him for a day , i would have
thought he is a tolerable , possibly intelligent man
but as it happens i have to spend three months with
him and it being a small crew , have to engage in the
laborious discussions that border on the fringes of
intellectual bankruptcy and the obvious.Rarely does it

rise to the a level that behoves such an eminent and
erudite personality.The trip so far has been extremely

hectic and barrring a few exceptions , very tiring.WE
have covered Gujarat, Rajasthan , Delhi ,Punjab
,Haryana, Jammu , Kashmir, Laddhakh, leh, Himachal,
Uttaranchal and U.P. We have had only a day's break at

Lucknow and that too because our two zeeps had to be
serviced.We have been given two Armada grands by
MAHINDRA and MAHINDRA as a gesture of goodwill for a
cause.Thankfully the AC works but we have the
gargantuan figure of Saeed Mirza in the front seat
trying his very best to prevent us from getting the
cold breeze.We keep on devising ways and means to keep

him at bay. Also we have to keep on conjuring new
strategies to  counter his hackneyed and banal phrases

eg "what have we done to this country"  "Oh my god did

you see that stupid cow in the middle of the road with

her son.She is a bad mother....... repeat
......repeat.I wont get into the gory details of his
verbal diarrhoea.I am a bit surprised at his fame all
across the country.People have loved his serials and
they recognise him everywhere specially villages
where only doordarshan exists.
The good part of the trip is that we are staying in
relatively lesser known places and meeting people one
would never come across.The trip has not sprung any
surprises in as far as people are concerned.The
country has multitudes of poor, homeless, destitutes ,

unemployed and underemployed.People betrayed by
successive govts, , middle and upper classes and a
compassionless establishment.People for whom
economists' proclamations mean a naught.There are no
eyeopeners here.We are an ocean of  starving people
being driven to the wall slowly but ever so
decidedly.The hegemony of the affluent and influential

has stamped its authority on every nook and corner of
the country.On top of that we have the horror of
gujrat..We went to a village sardarpur where 33
muslims were burnt alive.The local hindu population
had the audacity to say that nothing happened.They
even dissuaded us to go there.We managed to reach the
spot.There were a few speechless children around the
charred remains of what were once muslim houses.the
terror in the eyes of the muslim kids was to be seen
to be beleived.You could sense that they were living
on leased life.
In gujrat as well as else where we have met the most
marginalised sections of our society and one is
alarmed at the presence of many muslims amongst
these.They , along with the dalits and adivasis emerge

as the most oppressed , victimised and systematically
neglected groups. And yet they have the magnanimity
of heart and generosity of spirit that is hard to
fathom.I have been overwhelmed by their modest dreams
and clear aticulation of what they perceive as the
betrayal of the poor and helpless.
The hardest part of the journey was Jammu and kashmir
, where we faced triple threats of militancy , army
and the landslide.When we reached jammu , a bomb
exploded in a bus 1 km ahead of us.On the srinagar
road there was a gun pointing at you every 100 yards.A

single wrong move and you could be fired at.Once
approaching srinagar we tried putting our camera on a
tripod inside the car, the army javan in a vehicle
ahead of us aimed his Ak47 at us and almost fired.We
had to fold our arms and quickly remove our camera to
show him. Luckily he realised fast that we were a film

crew.There was a land mine explosion in banihal (Doda)

just after we passed it.Dras , the second coldest
place in the world after siberia , where we stayed a
night was bombed by pakistan after we left.we reached
Kargil only to realise it had been shelled last night.

And yet people go on with their lives.The army and
state repression is very conspicuous.People of kashmir

are peace loving and very benevolent.They hate the
army the most then Bsf and then Militants.There is no
sympathy for militancy but they dont mince words in
their criticism of the governmnts that have donned the

mantle of power in the state as well as they are
eloquent in their disregard for pakistani
intervention.Indian army has commited some of the
worst crimes known to humanity.I will leave the rest
for you to surmise.

The srinagar leh road is the most beautiful road in
the world.It is exclusively used by the army.On that
road you get a feeling that you are in an occupied
territory a la paris by Hitler.The valley of Sonamarg
was incredibly picturesque.It is a pity it is totally
a domain of Indian army.Laddakh is truly the roof of
the world.You see long stretches of nothingness , no
vegetation , no signs of life.You se e snow peaks that

are below your eye level.The overididng emotion is
that you are on an unknown planet a la star trek.Just
before Leh there was a point called the magnetic hill
where if you keep your zeep in neutral the zeep starts

going up the slope.It was surreal and mind you the
slope must have a gradient of at least 30 degrees.Leh
Manali road is the highest motorable road in the world

and probabaly the most dangerous.The highest point in
the world is at Khardungla pass at a whopping 18328
feet.You are hard pressed to breathe.if you walk a bit

you are breathless.I was wearing two sweaters , a
thick woolen jacket , legwarmers , two pairs of gloves

etc and still shivering and i had a hard time holding
the mike.We were interviewing labourers from bihar who

were ironically wearing hawai chappals and pant and
shirt.They were building the roads we even feared to
tread.Bihari labourer rushes in where angels fear to
tread.The bihari labourer is the most ubiquitous human

species.You find them everywhere toiling hard , on the

highest roads in the world , on tiger hill in kargil
carrying army supplies, in dense forests of Corbett
cutting river stones.They are the most hardworking ,
sceptical often cynical and very largehaerted.They
know exactly what they have been subjected to.They
explode the myth of silent , ignorant majority of
poor.They are laconic , curt , polite and incisive and

informed.I am amazed that they are not on the streets
creating the largest revolution in human history.

I must confess i am surprised at coming out alive of
the LEh Manali stretch.472 kms of the most
breathtaking scenery and scary roads. Sometimes there
was just no road.After a while you realise the road
along with the mountain has plummeted into the INDUS,
one of the most beautiful rivers in the world.WE came
across a small village near Lamayuru in Laddakh on the

banks of the river Indus.The tribe there is believed
to be the original Aryans.They are blue eyed blonde
people , extremely poor nowadays.Many german women
came here earlier to get impregnated with what they
beleived was pure aryan blood.so much for fanaticism.
rest later .the voyage continues.

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail Plus - Powerful. Affordable. Sign up now.

More information about the reader-list mailing list