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"Only in India..."

It's well known fact that Kashmir is unstable. Over 50000 people have lost their lives in terrorist attacks and armed conflict since violence escalated in 1989. However, the more subtle elements of this instabilityare less well known. I speak of a structure which was founded upon five pillars, but only four remain -(To be sure, in keeping with the overall tone of the following entry, the structure and the pillars are both highly metaphorical -)I speak, of course, of the the five pillars of (Sunni) Islam - Shahadah, Salat, Sawm, Zakah and Hajj.Foreign words, only one needs translation: Shahadah,which means'to bear witness'; or more precisely, to bear witness that 'there is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger'.1376 years ago, Muhammad (peace be upon him),like Jesus before him, defaced a temple .... This belief was to become the crux of Islam, the first pillar, and I tell you now that it lies in a crumbled heap on the troubled streets of Srinigar; these people, thepeople I as a tourist met in Kashmir, do not worship Allah, but a false god. An idol. Money.

The story I am about to tell (and Irepeat: it is highly metaphorical) culminates on the 12th of July, my final night in Kashmir. A thunderstorm - the worst yet - bellows outside. Thank god I have a roof over my head - two in fact, for I am stationed in the hull ofa boat. Candlelight reveals: a trapdoor open overhead, four walls coloured top to bottom in a rich umberbrown. And a young man, your narrator, grinning like a cheshire cat. For he has just made a discover which turns the tables in this psychological contest between the Kashmiris and the foreigner. To tell my tale -a taleofcattle and carpets and long hours of intoxication - I must begin with the trout...

(Ai ai ai, but I run out of money at this internet cafe... more to come later)

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Srinigar, Kashmir


:::Only in India...,,1
posted 08 August 2006

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