Much before the ‘Bavarian Brouhaha’ in Shalimar garden on Sep 07, emissary from Germany visited the Valley on Tuesday to take stock of preparation on ground. Ambassador Micheal Steiner was smiling all his way through, indicating that state of Jammu and Kashmir has put in some serious work in progress to host music conductor, Zubin Mehta, inspite of ‘raging’ resistance against his visit from civil society and separatist camp. Kashmir Life’s photojournalist, Bilal Bahadur visualizes ambassador’s visit.
Heritage Makeover: After whitewash on heritage walls in Shalimar garden, workforce unleashed by state to host Zubin Mehta, an Indian Parsi conductor of western classical music, is busy to dress the garden for the occasion. Mehta is the Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Main Conductor for Valencia’s opera house.
Notice Served: Signs are ominous. They beef the speculation that masses will be held hostage the day ‘alien’ notes start playing in the Mughal garden. With senior separatist leader and chairman Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Monday called for a general strike on September 07 to protest against Zubin Mehta’s concert here, state might use its clampdown exercise once again. “I appeal to the people of Kashmir Valley and Chenab, Poonch and Rajouri belts in Jammu region to observe a complete shutdown on Saturday, September 7,” Geelani said.
Incoming Inquiry: Striding with German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner, the INTACH chairman of Kashmir chapter, Saleem Beg is probably taking stock of heritage structures in Shalimar garden.
Posh Posers: Paparazzi moment for the ambassador and his team concert.
Pulling Leg: As the controversy over the Ehsaas-e-Kashmir is reluctant to die down, ambassador clarified: “It a cultural tribute to Kashmir and its warm-hearted people. September will not change the world. The event is being organised by the German embassy. The invitation will come from me and my wife. This is not an event related to tourism. I know the limits.” He didn’t stop there and went on to say: “It will give them (Kashmiris) joy. Let the power of music play its part. This is not a solution to anything. This is not a peace concert. This is purely a cultural event.”
Ever Empathetic: He is humble! Isn’t he? He shook those labour hands, and smiled. Many say, ambassador is more excited than Zubin Mehta himself!
Strolling Steiner: Meanwhile, civil society activists reacted quite ferociously to concert: “Legitimizing an occupation via a musical concert is completely unacceptable. Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented, was put to horrific use in Nazi Germany. We are sure you will understand that we cannot welcome anything even remotely analogous in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Cultural Connoisseur: Early today, he visited the JK cultural academy, perhaps to cease the speculations that his government isn’t launching “cultural aggression” by means of Mehta’s concert.
Emissary Staff: On Sep 7, Zubin’s concert will clash with a group of people who have decided to hold a parallel event the same day to show the ‘truth about Kashmir’. “We have invited poets, singers, musicians and other artists to our concert on September 7 at noon in the city’s uptown Municipal Park,” Khurram Parvez, spokesman for the joint initiative of various civil society groups and individuals.
Sopori Support: The father-son duo of Pandit Bhajan and Abhey Sopori, who are part of Mehta’s concert, brief ambassador on his visit to cultural academy. Pandit Bhajan Sopori, a well known Kashmiri santoor player and musician based in New Delhi, has been roped in to facilitate Mehta’s concert. “I am sure the Kashmiris will embrace the music with open hands as they are a very receptive and sublime audience,” Sopori told New York Times. He recalled performing in his native town of Sopore in the northern part of Indian-administered-Kashmir in 1984-85 to an audience of 25,000. “After the concert, I could see tears in their eyes,” Sopori said.
Still Smiling: Meanwhile, The banned body of the Kashmir University Students Union in a statement strongly opposed the music concert of Zubin Mehta scheduled to be held in Srinagar on Saturday.
Captioned By: Bilal Handoo