There’s a strange dynamic to the architecture of hotels in Kashmir that have existed during these times of siege since the last few decades. Today, as I walked through the barbed wires boldly glistening in the faint sunlight of an unbecoming winter, I noticed that most of them, or least of all the ones I saw, were holed up in the first story. Such buildings that are either too inconspicuous or are too far in the middle that it is highly unlikely to think of them as ‘active’ as far as business is concerned. But there is a catch to it I think most of us don’t seem to get; either these ‘billboards’ or these ‘signs’ are barely artistic or they were deliberately designed to disinterest you. Even the doors are a quarter of the size of otherwise remarkable entrances of hotels.
We know the Lala Sheikh, the oldest joint to meet in the heart of Srinagar? Even Agha Shahid Ali has mentioned it in his poems and while its discreet structure isn’t just a strange coincidence, it also serves as a hidden orchestra of an unappealing struggle. Which begs the question, why are these hotels around the clock tower of Lal Chowk fashioned not to appease?
It’d have been interesting to know why that is but there are no professional insights to it. Personally, I think the architecture was only designed like that to keep the hassle away. Think of it as a wonderful facade. As is understood by all, that commerce is the primary victim of resistance here in the valley, it might have been the effective means that helped them out from being affected to a certain degree if not completely.
Keeping in mind that to bring closure to this absolutely common observation of mine, I had to build these walls of the reason for myself by basing it all on the experiences that I have had as a resident of Kashmir and for it to make complete sense is intriguing at the most. Everything is born out of conflict here, you either thrive in it or you become elusive to it. Those are the only two extremes you conform to, almost like a religion. It cannot be separated from us since the conflict has always been our first line of thought. Our minds are literally a back-room and a small door; a small hotel that is and always has been trying to hide from the line of fire inside small discreet shops.Subscribe to read full story.
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Ubair Fayaz Fazili is the Staff Writer at The Mountain Ink. He is the author of the poetry collection, Pain(t).