As winter is about to descend and fall in Kashmir, the whole valley will assume a new form and shape in all its dimensions and avatars. While the snow capped mountain peaks will look all the more resplendent in their white glory, the valley, however, will be enveloped by severe and biting cold. The most intense period of this cold time in Kashmir is and will be the famed and even notorious chillai kalaan, a period of biting and freezing cold that lasts for a period of forty days. If, as is well known, it snows during this period, it freezes. While the initial euphoria and feeling of snow and the weather thereof is great, but the onset of chilllal kalaan, also makes life unbearable for the people of Kashmir in so many ways. This is all the more poignant and salient for the underprivileged segments of society who bear the brunt of not only the chillai kalaan but also the entire length and breadth of the harsh winter of Kashmir. Many elderly fall sick; the already ill feel into sickness mode from which many never recover. The infants also face a difficult time during the winters of Kashmir. Businesses suffer a loss of productivity. Purchasing power of people dips considerably as market conditions take a deep hit. There is virtually, except for a trickle to Gulmarg, no tourism in Kashmir then. All in all life assumes a bleaker and a dimmer shape and form during winters in Kashmir. This is overlaid by bleak conditions where there is little electricity, very little by way of heating and other amenities. Roads get clogged which , at times, leads to shortages of essentials and so on. Conditions overall in Kashmir in winter then are bleam and people turn inward. It is the kanger and the pheran that come to the rescue of the people of Kashmir which people use profusely and are perhaps the lifelines of many given the harsh wintry conditions especially in terms of heating and so on. The irony is that all this need not be so. That is to say, while yes, the wintry conditions of Kashmir are harsh, but there are many regions of the world that are even more colder and harsher but life goes on there with almost full verve and people do not suffer the ravages of winter as they do in Kashmir. Alas!
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