For the first time in 45 years since I had left home to pursue Masters program at AMU, Aligarh, it so happened that I have never had reason to stay back in Kashmir during winter, especially through beginning of December untill February end. Come Covid and like most of us here in Kashmir, I had perforce to stay back and bear the fury of weather for the first time since 1975. Considering that the winter this year has been one of a kind in terms of the extent of snowfall accompanied by the clogging of roads, all time low temperatures made worse by frequent power breakdowns and bursting of water tanks and pipes due to freezing, I have been going through a very bad patch and finding it difficult to come to grips with life over here.
(For a comprehensive account of the living conditions during winter in Kashmir, see:
Winter in Kashmir: For local Kashmiris, it’s living a nightmare — https://countercurrents.org/2021/01/winter-in-kashmir-for-local-kashmiris-its-living-a-nightmare/)
Of the most baneful implications involving my disposition to stay away from Kashmir during the winter season has been the unintended loss of touch with the need for putting in place the arrangements to ensure a comfortable stay during winter at home. Which is why I have to make do without central heating or the local version of it – hamam – which happen to provide an effective mechanism to fight shy of the biting cold of winter in Kashmir. In the absence of such facilities, the electric heater/blower or a gas heater provide only semblance of relief in such extremely inhospitable weather conditions.
However, I cannot get myself to say enough about our local masterpiece, the uniquely innovative and ubiquitous kangri – the mobile fire pot – which is a device of a kind – effective, useful, cost effective and above all, ‘user/maker friendly’. That’s one non-electronic, locally produced ‘device’ that I have come to see as the most dependable, effective tool in the circumstances to keep at bay the hostile weather conditions of Kashmir. The fact that it’s a mobile device is a great value addition. Sadly, one doesn’t quite know the origin, the times since it has been in use in Kashmir and in other locations outside this region where it may be in use.
I salute the genius of those of our ancestors who had conceived of this contraption for the first time. In the market-inspired world of today, the sheer innovative skill of those who had conceived of the device would have fetched them a fortune of startling proportions. And we don’t even bother to dig deep into the archives to know more about the history of the device and of the innovative genius of its originators.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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