Normally when I think of fall in Kashmir I think of:
- Chinar tree leaves turning deep red
- the apple, walnut and rice harvests
- wedding season and enjoying wazwan feasts
- saffron fields near Pampore covered in purple flowers
- the final months (and exams) of the school year
- people burning cut tree limbs to make charcoal for their kangris
- cool, crisp mornings and evenings hinting that winter will eventually be on its way
This year nothing is normal for Kashmir. As I remember the parts of fall I used to enjoy in Kashmir I find myself thinking about many other things instead:
- how much longer will this internet and mobile phone blockade last in Kashmir?
- how will people survive economically with so much losses, especially with the stories I’ve read about the apple harvests going to rot and businesses choosing to or being forced to stay closed in protest of India’s revocation of Article 370?
- how many private businesses will have to close and let go of their employees?
- how many weddings have been cancelled, postponed, or held in a very simple manner with no celebration?
- when will kids be able to go to school again and how will they be able to finish this year?
- why is there such sparse coverage of the lockdown, arrests, and restrictions in Kashmir by most news media?
- will violent protests spread in a massive way once India lifts the phone/internet blockade and other restrictions?
- how long can India continue this approach in Kashmir before other world leaders and international organizations put enough real pressure on them to open things up?
- or will no one really care what happens in Kashmir regardless of how long this goes on?
Okay, I’m probably getting a bit pessimistic about what may happen in Kashmir. But it is hard seeing place so close to my heart and full of memories for my family be completely changed and put into a greater state of uncertainty then ever before when we lived there. Whenever I see new updates on Kashmir or grow frustrated at the lack of news I am reminded of real people I know in Kashmir who are affected by this. I wonder how they are doing, what they are doing, and what this might mean for them and their future. How are they experiencing the start of fall this year?