Kashmir in Freeze Frame: Stepping Into Snow Shoes
With the sudden scenic shift, the fresh snowfall has brought out a lot of emotions in Kashmir.
Just before dawn, muezzin wakes up to check the clock. The septuagenarian grabs his phone on the side of his bed and gets up to perform ablution. He puts on his pheran before stepping out for the wake-up call.
While moving towards the mosque, he breaks the silence of the night by crushing the fresh snow under his feet. He leaves behind a series of footsteps from his house to the mosque.
On his weathered face, he hardly conceals the joy of fresh snowfall.
By the daybreak, he opens his room window and sees snowflakes swirling their way through the air. On the street below, he sees a 10-year-old kid from his neighbourhood looking towards the sky. The kid’s keenness makes the elder smile.
Support Our Journalism
You are reading this because you value quality and serious journalism.
But, serious journalism needs serious support. We need readers like you to support us and pay for making quality and independent journalism more vibrant.
Putting his tongue out, the child tastes the fresh snowfall of the season. It apparently tastes like crushed ice cubes from the hot summer days.
The spirited boy continues to look up — his face fills up with the layer of white crystals, before his mother pulls his hand towards her and gently cleans his red cheeks.
Seeing snowfall for the very first time in their life is nothing more than a miracle for the couple from the peninsula.
Jumping with excitement on the rim of Dal Lake, they voice the familiar phrase uttered by the outsiders: “It’s more than how it appeared on the TV sets. It’s so beautiful!”
Clearly, the snow brings out a lot of joy to the people. However, it also brings uninvited problems. An odd slip here and there, and one can end up as the long line of patients in the ‘fracture’ hospital.
But for kids, the only way to enjoy snowfall is through a snowball fight. They also make snowmen and slide on a slippery slope.
These young and cheeky Kashmiris often outwit their parents while stealing a moment in their bogged down lives to make some snow memories.
Most of these children come home with numb and pink hands. Their excitement reflects from their flustered faces and shivering bodies.
Snowfall is one of the ways with which they break the plague of their indoor routine.
And while they play with cold, a street-side bonfire delights their whole snow experience.
These small joys in life make one forget the trembling power cuts that have become the cold culture in the carpeted valley.
These local hardships, however, get conveniently buried under the broadcasted excitement of sightseers from outside.
They come and make merry, while natives crave for some normalcy amid the prevailing frigid conditions.
The warmth of Kangir saves the situation for locals as the cold gets intense with the fresh snowfall. The need for ember-stoked firepot grows even more as the electricity goes off the grid.
Meanwhile, the muezzin on his windowsill can’t stop smiling by imagining his own childhood in the 10-year-old’s snow play.
By twilight, when he steps out to pitch the prayer call, the shadows of the people start emerging from the pool of the puddle.
The romance ends when the white carpet becomes water and floods pathways.
Become Our Ally
To help us strengthen the tradition of quality reading and writing, we need allies like YOU. Subscribe to us.
Mumin Gul is a documentary photographer and multimedia journalist based in Kashmir. His focus mostly lies in long-term photo projects. He is currently a multimedia intern at the Mountain Ink.