Hot Summer

Superiority Complex, Inferiority Complex, Oedipus… Oops! Ever heard of the Shopping Complex?  Not of the shopaholic variety, or any other variants of the shop-till-you-drop syndrome. No? Then welcome to Srinagar, and the rest of Jammu-na-Kashmir.  The italicized phrase is actually a purported version of itself, but that has nothing to do with why it has become laa waaris. Waaris, as many would recall, was a block-busting (or rather chart-busting) Pakistani television drama, or serial, as they are called now on both sides of the Radcliffe Line (not to forget the Line of Control) where they have become much like cereal. Life depends on them. And why not. One can, at least, vouch for Srinagar where serials are the staple, but cereals… Refer to the words in this space yesterday. Saturday, that is.

But back to the original subject. Waaris. In other words, Kashmir’s Shopping Complex.  And therefore bakra qiston pe, that Moin Akhtar classic (can one help if it is Pakistan again) that took Indian Academia, particularly the vaunted IITs, by storm. Till then the poor chaps had only heard of bakra eid, and to the best of their knowledge, that did not come in installments, or piecemeal. Lump sum was the only way they of knew it. And rumour had it that observances lasted for a full two-and-half days. It could not be done qiston pe, or by phases, or stages, or behind-the-scenes. If things appear to be getting a bit mixed up here, these columns hasten to clarify that it is Ramadhan and not Zil Haij that is round the corner, and neither is a Track II Dialogue with the Divine, even if Subject to the Appearance of Moon – and the Grand Mufti of Kashmir.


Granted that Ramadhan has its own Eid, still a good thirty or thirty-one days away, where no sheep  – or increasingly camels – are required to be slain, but what in the name of heavens has that got to with la waaris, and of all things, the Shopping Complex? The answer will resound over loudspeakers in mosques, shrines, imambargahs and eid gahs on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr – after the fasting is done, after special prayers are held, after martyrdoms are commemorated, after holiest nights are celebrated.  Meanwhile, there are more important things to do. Like instituting Ramadhan Inc. Decking up Shopping Complexes even if they are illegal structures, innovating new iftar preparations, particularly for iftar parties, stocking up on choicest dates, mashroobaat and other nutritious brews to reward oneself on mortifying the flesh from dawn to dusk. Regardless of other connotations of the phrase, Kashmir does have a history of hot summers.