Delhiwale : A face from Kashmir

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Delhiwale : A face from Kashmir

Delhiwale : A face from Kashmir

 Delhi Jan 03, 2021

It’s cold, & he’s away from home. At night he misses his parents.

Azim Jawed is a winter migrant from Kashmir. Like scores of Kashmiri people every year, he undertook the great seasonal migration from the freezing villages & towns of the valley to the regions across Delhi, to escape the harsh winter climates & find work.

Like Mr Jawed, many Kashmiri migrants settle in the Walled City during their winter migration, especially around the Jama Masjid. Right on cue, the tea stalls of the area start to serve Nun chai, the Kashmiri pink tea. This year, however, scores of tea shop owners & guest house managers confirm that the pandemic has restrained people from coming to the capital in large numbers.

Mr Jawed is one among that slow trickle. Aged 19, he has found a temporary job running a footpath chai stall belonging to an eatery. This morning he is sitting behind the counter, waiting for customers. 

“It’s snowing at home,” he says while talking of his village in Badgam. Mr Jawed’s father is a farmer. Like the rest of his family, he could have stayed back in the village — “but I don’t like cold.” At this point, he pretends to shiver & vigorously shakes his head.

Currently alone, the young man has been to Delhi before, & he says he is fond of its great crowds, & its noise. He likes the fact that “it is so different from Kashmir… when you are in Delhi, you cannot think that a place like my village exists… & when you are in my village, it is difficult to believe in a place like Delhi.”

Starting into the empty pan — still no customers — Mr Jawed focuses on what he wants from life. He has no plan to be a farmer like his father. No, not even a tea seller. Neither does he intend to live permanently in Delhi. 

He eventually wants to set up his own business of “tent supply & wedding decoration” in his home district. His logic sounds sensible—“All other trades stay fluctuating, but people will always get married, so wedding decoration business will always guarantee money.”

Looking contented with his argument, Mr Jawed says he will return home in March, & will then “start to set up my business with my father’s help.”

& in case you are wondering, his tea stall serves the usual chai, not the Nun of Kashmir.

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