As chill grows in Shopian, locals curse concrete houses, pine for old warmth of mud

As chill grows in Shopian, locals curse concrete houses, pine for old warmth of mud

Shopian: ‘Huen Hamam’ is a Kashmiri proverb which means that dogs make plans of construction of hamams during winters but forget to do the same when summer comes. Same is the case with Kashmiri people, particularly those living in higher reaches.

The plunging mercury in Kashmir valley since last fortnight and particularly in Shopian has punctured the modern concrete houses. People now curse these cement, brick and glass houses and many are now planning to raise mud structures for winters.

Farooq Ahmad, a villager in Shopian’s higher reaches, said that his family of four including two little daughters were shivering the whole night on Thursday. “Even our LPG cylinder was frozen. The water in the kitchen bucket, too. We waited for two hours to have morning tea till the cylinder warmed enough to release the gas,” he said.

Farooq said that he had a hard time keeping his daughters warm with the use of a Kashmiri fire pot (kangri). He said he has taken a pledge to build a mud house now.

Jawad Nasir, a Kashmiri doctor based in Delhi, wrote on his Facebook account, “Kashmir forgot that it is a geo-sausage between the protruded bellies of Karakorum, Pir Panjal and Zanskar ranges. Clear this time that the Pir Panjal range is breathing frost owing most likely to new afforestation and/ or the wind patterns. It is reminding Kashmir of its real climatic geo-location: that it is mostly a cold altitude valley with a brief and hot summer. The design of our modern houses that conforms only to mindless fashion than to weather has become a laughing stock. Our old people were wiser; now nature is laughing at our stupidity.”

Abdul Khaliq, a 95-year-old resident of Pargochi village, said that the concrete houses were rubbish. “We had less resources in our days but life was easy. We used to have a few blankets but the number of windows was less and mud houses acting as natural insulation,” he said.

Now people spend the whole day trying to melt frozen pipes, he said. “There is everything in concrete houses but no comfort,” he remarked.

Abdul Basit, a civil engineer, told Kashmir Reader that concrete bricks, steel and cement become cooler than mud and more quickly.

Many Kashmiris are of the opinion that the race for concrete houses has not only burdened people financially but also made them helpless before winters. “If it costs Rs 10 lakh to raise a concrete house, it takes similar amount to keep the rooms warm during winters. Haven’t we built our torture centres ourselves?” said Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Shopian town.


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