My Life in Kashmir II

Jammu Tawi was a beautiful and clean town on slant of mountain. Rains were usual and after rain roads and streets used to glitter. Town of Jammu had a specialty. It had flowing waters on its three and a half sides…

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

Jammu Tawi was a beautiful and clean town on slant of mountain. Rains were usual and after rain roads and streets used to glitter. Town of Jammu had a specialty. It had flowing waters on its three and a half sides. On two and a half sides was river Tawi and on one side was a canal fed by river Chenab. This canal had icy cold water. After passing through electric power station, the canal passed under the river Tawi where Tawi crossed over the canal through a man-made channel bridge.

Inhabitants of Jammu were fond of picnics on the waterside or over the hills. They were also good swimmers. We used to have picnics on the banks of canal in summer. We did not go to the canal on holidays because large number of people used come from Punjab on holidays. In winter, we used to go to Tawi or on mountains across the river Tawi which had some flat areas on the top. There used to be monkeys on these mountains. Once during picnic on the mountain, while we were playing, monkeys took some of our rotis (bread). In summer 1946, we went to the mountain passing through Tawi at the up side. On return, we noticed that water level in Tawi had risen and speed of flow had increased many fold. We started passing through river Tawi. While crossing, we lost our belongings and my elder sister and a female cousin were carried away by water (they didn’t drown). They were rescued about 10 meters down stream. During picnics at canal, we used to place basket of mangos, melons, water melons or milk bottles in the canal and tie them to a tree with a rope. They used to be refrigerated.

We used to spend our summer vacation in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, which was a valley of river Jehlum. There we used to live in a house-boat which had two bedrooms with attached bathrooms and a large drawing-cum-dinning room. A cook-boat was attached to it which housed the kitchen and residence of servants. Vendors used to sell fish and vegetables on boats. Fish they used to catch with net after getting the order. So it used to be jumping fresh. Sometimes, I used to put fish in water tub and enjoy seeing them swim.

We could sail in river Jehlum in our house-boat but generally we used to go on a nicely decorated small boat called Shikara, particularly, during moonlit nights. While in Srinagar, we used to visit natural springs on mountains, beautiful gardens of the Mughal times and high mountain towns like Kulgam, Gulmerg, Tanmerg, Pehalgam, etc. The large mosque, known as Hazrat Bal, was a very sacred place for all the Muslims. In one room, Moo-i-mubarak (a hair of Prophet Muhammad, SAS) had been kept.

The state comprised 6 distinct areas:

  1. Ladakh
  2. Baltistan
  3. Gilgit
  4. Kashmir
  5. Poonchh
  6. Jammu.

All of these have distinct culture and language but they formed a well-knit state. Nobody ever spoke like G. M. Syed [Sindhi nationalist leader] or Abdul Wali Khan [Pashtun nationalist leader]. Gilgitis resembled Baltis, and people of Poonchh could speak Kashmiri like people of Abbotabad can speak Pashto but their culture was different to Kashmiris. People of Poonchh, in my opinion, were more aggressive and clever than even Dogras. All other Muslims were soft-spoken and simple people. Baltis were most simple and honest people in whole of the state, perhaps, due to remaining cut off from the outer world for most part of the year. Some people in Ladakh were Buddhist. In whole of the state, Brahmins, though very soft spoken, were very clever. People in Jammu were generally prosperous, next Kashmir, next Poonch, next Gilgit, next Baltistan, next Ladakh. Literacy in Jammu was more than even Punjab and many other parts of India. Qudratullah Shahab [famous bureaucrat and writer — ZA] and Khushi Muhammad Naazar [poet and governor (?) of Jammu — ZA] of Jammu gained world fame.

Next in this series here.

Browsing List

You might or might not have noticed my browsing list on the sidebar. It is just below the list of books on the right. This “browsing list” will comprise of any interesting stuff I find net-surfing. Putting a URL on that list does not mean that I agree or endorse the contents of that webpage; just that I find it interesting and would like to return to that page. In fact, of the links on my list right now, I haven’t actually read or explored any yet.

It is sort of similar to Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s Particles sideblog.

My Life in Kashmir I

My great-grandfather, after getting fed up with high handedness of the British rulers of India, took refuge in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (here-after called state) from Qila Sobha Singh, District Sialkot [in the Punjab province of Pakistan and very close to Jammu …

See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.

My great-grandfather, after getting fed up with high handedness of the British rulers of India, took refuge in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (here-after called state) from Qila Sobha Singh, District Sialkot [in the Punjab province of Pakistan and very close to Jammu — ZA]. His father and grand father were Zamindars (land owner/cultivators). The Maharaja, based on background of the family, granted him provisional citizenship of the state. He purchased a house in Jammu Tawi (the winter capital of the state) and settled there. All land in Punjab having been forcibly acquired by the British and Sikh rulers without any compensation, he had to start from the beginning. So, he had hard time in getting established again.

My grandfather shifted to south India and started business in Madras, Bombay and Hyderabad state. Luck favoured him and he became an international merchant. He used to visit countries in southern Europe, northern Africa and Far East. He had not attended any conventional school due to bad days of his father but learned to speak seven languages including three major languages, Arabic, English and Chinese. He purchased and built property in Jammu and came to be known as the richest Muslim of Jammu. He was granted First Class Citizenship of the state which was a rare favour to an outsider.

My grandfather first had two daughters, then one son (Abdul Ghafur), my father, born on Thursday, September 17, 1908 at Breli, India. One daughter had no children. Her husband died in Egypt in 1946 when she was in Jammu to visit her parents. Thereafter, she lived with us. My father married daughter (Noor Fatima)1 of his maternal uncle Haji Allah Ditt on Saturday, March 29, 1930. In early 1930’s, again clashing with the British rulers of India, my father shifted to Egypt where his father-in-law was already living. Soon he shifted to Palestine and established his business there.

My eldest sister was born at Cairo, Egypt and the next at Jabalpur, South India. Then, I was born on Friday, the 6th August, 1937 at Jammu Tawi. My grandfather was so happy that he celebrated my birth with great fervor and gifted gold necklaces to his two daughters and all the nieces.

I was still an infant when I started having fever and losing weight. After couple of months an abscess was diagnosed at junction of right leg with body. That was operated upon to remove puss etc then the cut was not getting jointed. All efforts failed and there remained no hope of my survival except by prayers. As a last effort, the surgeon applied hot steel rod. Allah, Soobhanohoo Ta’ala, granted me second life.

Next in this series here.

Continue reading “My Life in Kashmir I”

My Dad in Jammu and Kashmir

So the long promised series is here. My Dad sent me his writeup about a month ago. But I have been too lazy and too busy to do much with it.

He wrote it in Microsoft Word. I am going to break it up into reasonable sized chunks and post them over the next few days. I will do only some minimal editing, so it’s all my Dad’s writing.

I thought about how to post this and decided on creating my Dad as an author in the Movable Type system. So the posts will have his byline. But don’t let that fool you, I am the one posting them. I’ll respond to any comments etc. as well.

I’ll add an index to the posts here as I continue to post them.

You can also access all the posts about Kashmir from the category listing on the right.

Book Review: Paris 1919

In the foreword to Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan, Richard Holbrooke argues:

In the headline version of history, the road from the Hall of Mirrors [where Versailles treaty was signed] to the German invasion of Poland only twenty years later is usually presented as a straight line. But as MacMillan forcefully demonstrates, this widely accepted view of history distorts the nature of the decisions made in Paris and minimizes the importance of actions taken in the intervening years.

I think Holbrooke is overstating the case here. MacMillan does state in the last chapter:

Later it became commonplace to blame everything that went wrong in the 1920s and 1930s on the peacemakers and the settlements they made in Paris in 1919 …. Eighty years later the old charges about the Paris Peace Conference still have a wide circulation. “The final crime,” declared The Economist in its special millennium issue, was “the Treaty of Versailles, whose harsh terms would ensure a second war.” That is to ignore the actions of everyone — political leaders, diplomats, soldiers, ordinary voters — for twenty years between 1919 and 1939.

I agree that the popular impression of the importance of Versailles treaty in starting World War II is wrong. However, reading about all the provisions of the different treaties, one sees a lot of the issues that started the second war. Despite MacMillan’s conclusion, she never does make a good case against a relationship between the Paris Peace Conference and World War II.

The book however does provide a good view of the peace conference and what went on there. The most interesting thing about the book are the anecdotes and quotes. For example, the chapter about Greece is titled “The Greatest Greek Statesman Since Pericles,” referring to British Prime Minster Lloyd George’s praise of Greek Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos.

One thing I would have liked more of is a discussion of how the peace treaties affected the future of those countries. Usually, there is only a paragraph or two of somewhat shallow analysis at the end of each chapter. I understand that this is a book about the peace conference and a good discussion of later history would have made it huge (it is already 570 pages), but that’s how I feel.

Another interesting thing about the history of 1919 is the attitude of the leaders of the great powers towards non-Europeans. It is clear that they do not consider others to be equal to Europeans in any way. In most cases, they did not think that those primitve people were capable of self-rule. They were also much more likely to decide on the fate of a non-European people based on imperialist and colonialist ideas.

Although I don’t follow the soc.history.what-if, two alternate timelines intrigued me.

  • What if Japan got the racial equality clause in the League of Nations covenant but did not get Shantung in China or the Pacific islands? Would Japan have turned nationalistic and militaristic? I don’t know much about Japanese history, but this has aroused my interest. Please recommend any 19th-20th century Japanese history books.
  • What would have happened to the Ottoman empire if Eleutherios “The Greatest Greek Statesman Since Pericles” Venizelos had not overextended Greek claims? Would Ataturk have risen as a leader? Would Smyrna (Izmir nowadays) still would have more Greeks than Athens?

Any ideas, Ikram Saeed?

UPDATE: Also see my post about Woodrow Wilson.


Jay Allen has come up with version 1.5 of MT-Blacklist to combat spam in comments and trackback. I have installed the new version and it works great. No more errors that I got with version 1.0beta and no slowing down of the rebuild process.

I haven’t been getting too much spam in my comments, but there are a few every week. It’s just been a small nuisance to delete those comments. Hopefully, this will fix the problem before it gets too big for me.

My blacklist is here.

Imitation Fitness Blog II

Unqualified Offerings was wondering whether I would be posting regular fitness updates. He gets half his wish: I’ll post updates, but irregularly.

As I posted in my first fitness post, I am trying to increase endurance and muscle strength but I am not overweight. I had orginally settled on three different exercises:

  • Running/walking on a treadmill
  • Weight training
  • Swimming

Swimming has not worked out well. It’s the activity I enjoy most but due to time constraints I scheduled it over the weekend. The problem, as every regular reader knows, is that every other weekend I go home to visit Amber (or she comes to visit me). That obviously means that I haven’t done much swimming at all recently despite our nice Olympics pool.

For cardio, I started out with a slow-run/walk with a high grade on a treadmill. I ran into a few measurement problems: How do I measure my progress? In miles, calories, speed, grade, or a combination? I was talking to a friend about it and being the nerds that we are, he suggested a weighted combination of everything. I was doing that already and was not satisfied. So I have scratched that plan and am now following the 5K/10K program at ExRx.

For weight training, I do 2 sets of 10 repetitions each of the kind of exercises recommended here. The first set is done with 50% of the weight of the second set. For the second set, I try to use the maximum weights that I can do. I increase the weights every week or two.

I did not select these exercises because I thought they are the best. I am doing them because they seem reasonable and they give me a program to follow where I know what progress I am making.

In other health related stuff, I got smacked upside the head in the comments to this post at Alas, a Blog for suggesting that obesity is a health problem. Now, I think I did phrase it incorrectly, but I still think obesity is part of a problem. It might not be the cause, but it is definitely a sympton of health issues in a majority of cases. While there are people who are overweight (but most likely not obese) due to an excess of muscle or who are physically fit but are big, this is not the case for the majority of obese persons in the US. There is probably a high degree of correlation between obesity and sedentary lifestyle plus bad eating habits.

Happy Birthday

To Amber, my lovely wife. Many Happy Returns of the day. And don’t worry that you are old. Thirty is just the start of life.

Obviously, there won’t be any blogging today as I bake a carrot cake for her and then we go out to dinner.

PS. In case you were wondering where I had disappeared since Friday, it’s just that Amber is here.

Blogosphere Ecosystem

Looking at the TTLB Blogoshpere Ecosystem, I have been a slithering reptile for quite some time. This designation is based on the number of incoming links to my blog. I am currently ranked #1226 with 29 incoming links.

What is interesting is that my traffic has been increasing steadily but my ecosystem rank is stagnant. According to the TTLB traffic stats, I get 298 visitors per day and am ranked #224 by traffic (the traffic ranking does not include all the blogs in the ecosystem).

To check whether my ecosystem ranking and traffic are comparable, I decided to get the data for the top 447 blogs by traffic. This makes my blog the median by traffic in that list. The traffic varies from 76797 visits per day for Instapundit to 110 visits for Randgaenge. When I organize this list by ecosystem ranking (incoming links), I am #338 (or 114 positions lower than the median). The links ranking starts again with Instapundit (#1, 2195 inbound links) and ends with JenLars (#4579, 0 inbound links).

It seems then that I don’t get as many links to my blog as my traffic would suggest. That seems correct as quite a lot of my visitors nowadays come through search engines.

I wanted to do a regression analysis on visitors per day and number of inbound links but for that I would need to write a parser to extract the data from the HTML files. Too much work! I have grading to do.

League of Nations and Racial Equality

An interesting chapter in the book “Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” is related to Japan. Japan was on the Allied side in World War I, though it hadn’t done much fighting. The Japanese had three goals for the Paris Peace Conference after the war:

  • to get a clause on racial equality written into the covenant of the League of Nations,
  • to control the north Pacific islands (the Marshalls, the Marianas and the Carolines), and
  • to keep the German concessions in Shantung, China.

In the end, they got 2 out of their 3 aims. It says something about the major powers of the time that they didn’t get the most legitimate of their goals.

The racial equality clause was born out of the discrimination and humiliation that the Japanese faced in the West. When the Japanese made their intentions known about introducing this clause, the most vehement opposition came form Australia, which was part of the British empire delegation. Here is the British Foregin Secretary Lord Balfour about the clause:

The notion that all men were created equal was an interesting one, he found, but he did not believe it. You could scarcely say that a man in Central Africa was equal to a European.

The Japanese delegation in the Commission on the League of Nations introduced the clause as an amendment to the “religious liberty” clause. Their original version read:

The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the High Contracting Parties agree to accord, as soon as possible, to all alien nationals of States members of the League equal and just treatment in every respect, making no distinction, either in law or in fact, on account of their race or nationality.

This went nowhere in the Commission. However, the Japanese pressed on.

It was an issue that was very popular in Japan and very unpopular in some other places, for example, the western states of the US. Also, President Wilson wasn’t exactly an enlightened person when it came to race. An example of US conduct is that African American troops were put under French command for the Great War.

The greatest opposition, however, was from Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes who was mortified about the future of “White Australia” if the clause was accepted. He refused all compromise attempts by the US delegate Edward House. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, William Massey, agreed with Hughes. After British efforts to reach a compromise, Hughes put a condition that he might accept the racial equality clause if it had a proviso exempting national immigration policies. The Japanese balked at that.

Finally, the Japanese delegation introduced a watered-down version which simply asked for “the principle of equality of nations and just treatment of their nationals.”

Delegates from Greece, Italy, China, France and Czechoslovakia spoke in favor of the Japanese amendment to the League Covenent. The British delegation opposed it. US President Woodrow Wilson was worried that the League of Nations Covenent might not get the support of US senators from the western states if it included the racial equality provision. (Remember that the western states had put in a lot of restrictions on Japanese immigrants at the time.) He asked the Japanese to withdraw their amendment, but the Japanese insisted on a vote.

What do you think happened next? Well, the majority of the delegates voted for the Japanese amendment. But Wilson announced that the amendment could not carry because there were strong objections to it.

As a result, the Japanese threatened to not sign the peace treaty. That threat played some part in getting Japan the Shantung area that it had captured from Germany.