Dinner At the “Point”
O' my passion for chasing swallows
NOSTALGIA BY ZGM
I loved chasing swallows making graceful flights on the streets outside our home. Many times, while running after them, aping these charming birds, I wide opened my arms and believing having grown wings like the fabled horse, whose picture hanged on almost every wall, I tried to catch up with them. Many times hitting at ‘zalgour’ the rubber wheel with small stick, I ran after the beeline of swallows until they took a turn at the Nowhatta crossing.
Out of my passion for chasing swallows, I often volunteered for all kinds of errands jobs at home- fetching tobacco from Salam Kak’s shop and buying a ‘Doodhawar’ from a milkman in distant Kalashpora. In fact, I loved walking through the alleys and streets- they sang songs of life, pleasure and happiness. The day date for “Dal Wassun” - the three-day family excursion, was decided and terms and conditions settled with the Doonga owner, whole preparations for the D- day would start. Except grandmother who was in her ripe age tasks regarding arrangements were allotted to all in the family. For my love of walking through the busy streets, I often offered to inform the waza – professional cook or chef at his home in Naid Kadal about the date and call him for a meeting at our home regarding the arrangements.
The Street from home to Naid Kadal was the busiest; it hummed even both in summers and chilly winters. Mostly it remained jammed with traffic-tongas, tumbrels and bicycles. It had many attractions – besides shops of sizzling nadarmonj and mangagool it was an old blacksmith’s shops that caught my imagination. He who looked to me like a Greek or Hebrew lifted from the pages of history. I loved watching him molding red-hot iron in different shapes…
The house of the chef was just across the small bridge over the Mar Canal. Many professional cooks lived in and around our Mohalla. Moreover, there were some of the Mohallas predominately populated by them. The belief was that some of these cooks called ashpazi had arrived in Srinagar city along with their mouthwatering cuisines from the Central Asian states and Persia along with the great caravan of mystics and traders. Manuscripts do suggest that Kashmiris from very ancient times have been meat eaters but the multi-course cuisines introduced by these chefs from the Central Asian became popular with the Muslims of the state only.
None of the Ashpazi- not even Wasta Muhammad knew their ancestors who had first arrived in Wasta Mohammad’s had two sons, of the two Qadir was very popular with the children. Attributed to him were tales of tomfoolery and idiocy. On the day of excursion, he was first to arrive at our home. Accompanied by with robust rubicund faced assistant- a person from Telil belonging to the Dard race he would be carry cooking utensils in gunny bags. Those days, many Dards from Telil and Gurez could be seen sitting on shop fronts in the area and doing errand jobs.
It was at about five in the evening children were tasked to carry different items to the Doonga. The items that we carried to the Doonga included couple of Dhurries- rugs, beddings, and couple of white sheets and spices. Many a time chopped wood in a dumpcart was also taken to the boat. It was after the dusk that women of the family would leave the home to embark upon the Doonga.
I remember no sooner all the members of the family gathered in the Bushqan- Mala Subhan would ask members of the family not to sit on one side of the boat. Chef and his assistant would move to the Khauth ( kitchen of boat) for cooking evening meals. My mother and aunt would often join them for help and children had best of the time running between Bushaqan, Galaw and Maehtab of the boat.
The boatman would move to the num and disembark the boat. His wife would sit at the keel to steer it. Boat passing through translucent waterways with eerie stillness lending supernatural aura to drooping willows, we would reach Gargibal..that was then called as the Point. It was at the point that we would have three to four course dinner……….
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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