It Is Winter, Why Is The Development Invisible?

by Aasia Hassan

Why does the government keep shouting development and development when there is none?…

With the mercury on an uninterrupted nosedive, the winters have started showcasing their artworks. This photograph taken from Tangmarg marks the take-off of nature’s winter art. Be ready for Chila-i-Kalan. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

On November 18, I came back home (Kashmir) after a while. I had booked convenient connecting flights, paid higher than normal price only because my final flight to Srinagar will reach at 6 pm. So my flight gets delayed and I am supposed to reach Srinagar airport at 8 pm now. Well, what can we do, Right? These things happen all the time.

By the way on a completely different note, Go Air which is now Go First Airlines never goes first, they are the masters of delayed flights. Speaking from my personal experience, I had plenty of time to kill at the Delhi airport so kept checking display boards, every Go First flight was delayed. You book the tickets at your convenience, and then they delay it.

Coming back to my flight, which was supposed to leave at 6.25 pm left at 6.50 pm, I remember completely because my Papa messaged me at 6.40 saying why is your flight still thereafter I sent him my e-boarding pass, so they are not stopped on the way to the airport, which is completely normalised in Kashmir.

Chillai Kalan begins with the winter solstice on December 21, when the day and night are of equal duration and ends on January 31. During this period, as the valley is cloaked in white, the frozen frames are usually seen everywhere. From taps in the home to terrains outside, the liquid is lost to the frozen state.

Counter Covid19 Measures

Skipping the details finally we reached Srinagar sometime after 8 pm, while waiting for my luggage I went to 2 automatic sanitiser machines or whatever they are called, both were not working. I had my own sanitiser but my hands were just so cold to open my backpack, which I did anyways afterwards.

Thanks to being fully vaccinated for it saved me the time of not standing in the queue for RTPCR.

So now it is almost 9 pm and I successfully exit the gate but is very dark and cold outside, my mamu had come to pick me up, he had set the temperature of the car at 23 degrees Celsius, so I didn’t feel that cold. The entire way from Airport to home, it was dark, the roads are the same, shops closed, somewhere you can find a street light working, but mostly it is you and your car lights and some fellow cars and I am talking about the summer capital city of J&K- Srinagar where I stay. Finally, we reach home, I was too tired, I had dinner and went straight to bed.

Massive Load Shedding

On November 19, when I woke up, the electricity is gone, as the day progressed, till evening I experienced 5 to 6 long power cuts and this is the condition of a fully metered area, and when it is just the onset of winter. We don’t even consider November in the winter months, it is still autumn.

Imagine what happens when winter is actually here. Well, we don’t actually have to imagine because we know and we are used to it, that is why it doesn’t bother us much and even if it bothers, what can we do. Right?

You know I was thinking, the Kashmir that it is today is not actually fit for the survival of human beings. We have 4 to 5 months of winter and no facilities.

A French mother with her children is busy Skiing in Gulmarg in one of Kashmir’s coldest winters. The photograph was taken on February 18, 2021. Pic: Nasir Khan

Winters For Visitors

Kashmir in winters is just a visiting place for tourists – they come, enjoy the snow, take lots of photos in white paradise, even if they feel cold, but it is just for some days, so they go back to their warm spots and cherish those photos.

When you are outside Kashmir, you get asked a lot ‘wow you are so lucky, you get to see snow, but honestly you will not find a single photo of me in the snow in my gallery, even though it makes everything look beautiful for some time, because the whole winter I am struggling to keep myself warm.

You know when winter is beautiful?, if you have facilities because European countries also experience snow, but they have all the facilities available to them, here we have to struggle to get our roads cleared after snow, forget about central heating arrangements…..and the Government keeps talking about developments.

Whither Development?

Where are the developments? Nobody cares about concerts in Chashma Shahi or floating cinema in Dal lake, these are just attractions for outsiders, while the actual population is deprived of basic necessities required for survival that too in a basic society, not talking about civilised society.

Aasia Hassan

The irony is that we have normalised underdevelopment so much that when I was talking about this cold and facility thing to my near ones, they made me feel like I am overreacting. We have always been like this… it is true that we have always been like this, but why is it ok even in the 21st century?

Why does the government keep shouting development and development when there is none?… I had to write this piece while it is still bothering me, with my hands ice-cold, before I accept it and it no longer affects me like the rest of us.

(The author is a research scholar at the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi, pursuing masters in Constitutional Law. She also is a blogger. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)


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