The Kashmir Bakers!

By Shah Tavseef Mairaj

Winters are known for their harshness in Kashmir. And talk about Chillai Kalan, the toughest forty days of the year, you would have to negotiate umpteen times with yourself and your wushnear to venture out of your cozy home till the sun is already halfway through its dawn to dusk journey.

But one thing that draws at least one member of each family right out of the wushnear of their cozy homes is a local newsroom- a local variant of discussion table for Cricket and Politics, a place for negotiating small deals, a place to get fresh hot embers for kangri, a thakpaend for the insomniacs and primarily a place for fetching home a few crisp lawaas. And, if you get along a bit too lucky, you may even get to have a sip or two of the steaming hot noon-chai at the versatile Kashmiri Kandur-waan!

The primary purpose of one’s tour de Kandur-waan is obviously to fetch home some fresh and crisp bread early in the morning. But there is always something secondary to a primary.

The latest news from the neighbourhood is first heard at the Kandur-waan and the person who braves chilling gutsy atmosphere in the morning to fetch some lawaas returns home with a bonus- the breaking news! If it happens to be a morning when the preceding evening (or night) witnessed the match between India and Pakistan, the customers at thewaan forget what they had actually come for! For all those who are a tad unfortunate not getting a hot kangri at home, the waan is the ultimate solace, providing fresh hot embers for the kangri.

Insomniacs, or raatmongals as we call them, find Kandur-waan a good place for a nap. And in the meantime, the late comers to the waan take advantage of this nap and take home the lawasas. The insomniac being among the first ones to come, is the last one to go back home.

An often experienced thing at Kandur Waan is that the time for which one has to wait for his turn is directly proportional to the number of lawasas he has to take home. The ones asking for less than 4 lawaas have the kaandur on their side with a sympathetic jibe, Amis chhi nin kami (He has to take too few to wait here).

Apart from lawasas, a Kandur-waan has a lesson for us to offer. We are in this world with some primary purpose, and secondary purposes come along. Fellow customers come and go. Let us not become the insomniacs and lose sleep over matters sub-critical and fall asleep when the primary purpose beckons!!!

Shah Tavseef Mairaj is a student at National Institute of Technology, Srinagar. Feedback at[email protected]

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