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The Marred Gift of God

It is something that the world remembers you after death,

But for a moment I would burn our love and reclaim my freedom,

As in our times it is a convenience not a dedication.

 

It is a wonder that God still has faith in humans,

For they have mutilated the grand design,

And changed living to a process than a phenomenon it is.

 

The sunrise still reveals the wonder of nature,

But the world runs by a dollar,

Our best hopes are materialistic.

 

Why have we surrendered to physicality,

Where have we lost the spirit of grand ideas,

Why isn’t sacrifice the great bliss?

 

What was given to man and what he has done with it

Will remain forever a dagger in man’s heart,

Our loss immeasurable.

 

 

Suffern, New York, November 13,2022

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul@yahoo.com

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Stillness of Being

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Where Do We Find You Bhajan?

Where do we find you Bhajan,

In the shy Wullar waters of Sopore,

Or in the regal Nishat and Shalimar gardens?

 

Your carefully managed long tresses of hair,

Well groomed mustache and stylish kurta and pajama,

Created the image of a slick socialite or an actor just out of a performance.

 

What were your secrets Bhajan,

What were your heart aches and ecstasies,

What were your frustrations?

 

Your enigmatic smile revealed little,

That you had devoted your life to strings from five,

Long burning hours doused in perspiration.

 

Maybe your Kashmiri Dhun reveals a little,

Sopori Baaj some more,

But your mystery you have taken with you.

 

Suffern, New York, July 14, 2022

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul @yahoo.com

 

 

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Walking Toward the Sunset

 

There were times when some people thought

I was a pure specimen of life,

But such adulation was rare and far between,

Most of my life I was a mystery man.

 

They came to me as I was clean and harmless,

Curiosity was often rife

As how a strange person like me existed,

Or why he existed.

 

Love was given to me sporadically

As I could never surrender my aloofness,

I was a privileged specimen of some disorder,

A mystery shrouded in an enigma.

 

Ambition was my engine,

Achievement my goal,

But I did not want humans to judge it,

My ideal was the yardstick.

 

Heaven and hell were to me the same,

Twain they existed,

One was the prize,

Other its price.

 

The hardest thing was to live amidst materialists,

The day-to-day artists of existence,

The blind and the deaf,

The greedy and the selfish.

 

Life by itself does not give anything,

At best it can return you what you put in it,

It is your ideas of life that open the lockbox:

Your vision is everything.

 

What is love:

A relationship between the observer and the observed,

Held in reverence and grace,

Eternal compact without conditions.

 

Some of the journey of life is mindless:

Inanities thrown at us without reason,

Imaginations of the crass and benighted,

Dreams of the destitute and vulgar.

 

How to turn pain into elixir is the challenge of life,

There is no one we can complain to,

The almighty who designed human life,

Is soft on reason and long on imagination.

 

Stupid I have tolerated but insane I can’t stand,

Life is a long journey of ignoring and compromise,

But the true principle of life is life itself,

Rest is a convenience or mere convention.

 

I have been victimized by the cheap labeling of the world,

By its false innuendos and vulgar narcissism,

Un-eclectic choices and brutal selfishness,

By a visionless journey and blind faith.

 

I have seen good ideas mutilated by expediencies,

Imagination crushed by practical solutions,

Good of the community dwarfed by the ambition of one,

Infinity reduced to a momentary thrill.

 

I have been crushed and beaten by the majority,

Humiliated and tousled by the powerful,

Jeered and lectured by the popular,

Laughed and maligned by the special.

 

But now I have gained the rest of my freedom,

I have come to the end of my journey,

My sunset beckons me,

I can only look forward and not turn my head.

 

Why is life so difficult,

It is not so as it comes from nature,

But has been made difficult by the world:

Culture, religion, politics, economics.

 

Life is a fairy tale but we make it into a project,

We squeeze its music out,

And turn it into an achievement machine,

Results and not reverberations.

 

Suffern, New York, February 4,2022; Rev: January 14, 2023

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul@yahoo.com

 

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Ode To New Year

 Why are we blindly welcoming the arrival of new year,

Weren’t last few years our pained existence?

 

Does man have wisdom,

Or is he a natural phenomenon unguidable?

 

If man is susceptible to illusions

Then why not build a path with them?

 

Personal resolutions and planning

Are dousing of a grand fire.

 

Our fate was written in our evolution,

Search for happiness our greatest illusion.

 

New year is another year in a wrapper,

Don’t squander it in wisdom but live it in your veins.

 

 

Suffern, New York, January 4, 2022

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul@yahoo.com

 

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Trip To Kashmir 2021

My six-week trip to India was a boutique of reciprocated sentiments for my motherland, especially the part spent in Kashmir. As the nature of human life is, it was not perfect. Along with the flowers there were some thorns.

I spent seventeen glorious days in the lap of my mother, Kashmir, in spite of it being in the throes of winter. I visited the sites that are usual for me when I visit it. Place of my birth in Malik Angan, place where I lived Malikyar, my college Amar Singh College, my later matamal  sites at Mandir Bagh and Jawahar Nagar. Also, visited our close relative Shangaloo’s house at Kralkhud, near Habba Kadal. Visited also Tullamulla, Hariparbat, Zyeshta Devi temple, and Shankaracharya. Went also to Shalimar, Nishat, and Chashmashahi, visiting the first two more than once. Throughout my stay Srinagar was under the blanket of fog, which diminished the beauty of Dal Lake. But in spite of it I had three shikara rides on it, and its beauty was still enthralling, though reduced. I made umpteen visits to Ahdoo’s for their authentic Kashmiri cuisine.

Outside Srinagar I visited Sonamarg, Baltal, Pahalgam, and Gulmarg. Baltal was stunning, its grandeur especially under snow is awesome. Pahalgam was the same paradise as it has been before. A pearl of beautiful small valleys studded with awesome mountains and ethereal pine trees. I first time went to Betab Valley, Chandanwari, and Ashmukam. Also visited the temple at Mamleshwar, and Chris Zasndee’s Himalayan Cheese Factory. Pine and Peaks hotel where I stayed, which was recommended by my travel agent, was excellent. Its view of Pahalgam from its rear side is great. Their food was excellent.

Gulmarg was beautiful too, but I am repelled by its 3.5 square mile central valley, which has been neglected, I believe, throughout its history. I have written about how it can be converted to a beautiful valley studded with gardens, trees, picnic spots, walkways, etc. My friends have urged me to send it to the government for their action. But knowing its caliber I have been reluctant to do that. Rest of Gulmarg is awesome, especially when you go up on the Gondala to Kongdoori. I also went to a waterfall in Tangmarg.

I spent seventeen very beautiful days in Kashmir. My micro-planning of the trip paid off. The selected hotels were very good, but Shaw’s Inn at Gulmarg was off the mark. Four days at the fabled Taj Vivanta at Srinagar, at about 30,000 INR per day, were great. It has a great location atop a hill overlooking Dal. But due to the persistent fog that was not visible, the sole reason of my selecting it. But otherwise the hotel is very good.

I took about two hundred pictures of the trip to Kashmir. I am vicariously reliving it through them. I have put them on FB.
Here are the pics. Best way to see them is to use the slideshow option, located in the settings section, top right of the Google Photo page.
1. Trip To Kashmir, 2021 (Pics From The Flight To Srinagar, 25 Minutes Before Landing)
https://photos.app.goo.gl/spXoemygwWYZjBL66

 

 

 

Suffern, New York, January 1, 2022

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul@yahoo.com

 

 

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Reminiscences of Bhabi – Kamla Cherwoo

                                                                         

 

It seems some things in life are destined to fail, especially among those that you cherish the most. When I was a boy, I used to think I would marry a village belle. It was because I thought she would be pure of heart and simple in demeanor compared to a city slicker. Good luck opened up for me, I married one. Along with that came the relationship with a village family, which I was attracted to for the same reason as the belle.

It was in late February 1969 when I first met Bhabi, Kamala Cherwoo. The meeting was initiated by her, as she wanted to see me, the first time, and talk with me before I was married with her daughter, Mohini, which was scheduled about a week later, on March 2, 1969.

I did not have any inkling of what kind of a person and a personality she was, but I had never heard anything bad about the Cherwoo family, in the Kashmiri Pandit society in Kashmir those days. She had set the meeting in a restaurant in the main bazaar of Jammu, escorted by her middle son.

Setting my eyes on her the first time, I found a very compassionate person, who held herself in good control, and was diligent in being respectful and charming to the person she was meeting. I was buoyed by her kindness, transparency, and generous respect she gave me. Years down the road this initial assessment of her has never wavered.

Bhabi was born in Srinagar, Kashmir, in a Kashmiri Pandit family. Her father Srikanth Mattoo        was a medical doctor, specializing in pathology. She had a younger sister, who died young. Lack of a male offspring compelled her parents to adopt a son, Jawahar Lal, considerably younger than her.

At the age of fifteen or sixteen Bhabi was married in Cherwoo family, living in Anantnag, about thirty-five miles south of Srinagar. Her husband, Vish Nath, was the younger son of the family patriarch, Halder Joo Cherwoo. The family was engaged in the wholesale business in edibles, spices, and cloth. Their success in it had made them into a well to do family, concomitantly earning them social status. Cherwoos were a well-knit clan, spread over a few families, living at the same general place. The families were independent and yet had the thread of togetherness connecting them.

How a sixteen-year-old girl learned to live with them is the quintessence of Bhabi. By her culture and by her personality, Bhabi did not fit with Cherwoos, but yet she successfully lived with them virtually all her life; in fact, becoming one of their leaders. She molded herself to the new reality, using her salient qualities of tolerance, patience, inter-personal skills, and diplomacy, to be in control of the family; which her status as the family scion’s wife demanded. She acquired the ability of deflating the family feuds and giving it the semblance of unity and congruity.

Even bigger challenge for Bhabi was to live with her husband, Babuji. He was of fragile tolerance, hyper sensitive about his self-image, dictatorial, and temperamental. Here was a colossal challenge for Bhabi. She had no special training to meet it, except to the extent what almost all Indian women of her generation had when they got married. Deep respect and tolerance for their in-laws and the husbands, a religious zeal to succeed in this endeavor, and, above all, not mind the hurt if bruised in interactions with them. It was a missionary work they had silently agreed to do. Over the years Bhabi managed to live with Babuji by sacrificing her right of equality, perseverance, and tactfulness. Over time their marriage became one of gratitude, tolerance, and love.

After my marriage in Cherwoo family, I visited them several times during my visits to India from U.S. Also, they reciprocated visiting me and my wife in U.S. several times. Because of these I came to know Bhabi more.

During her almost annual visits to U.S., after the demise of Babuji in 1995, at the age of seventy-three, up to early 2,000’s, she stayed with us without fail, along with staying with her two sons. She was disciplined in daily activities: walking, eating, sleeping, and praying. She was always in control of her mind. But it is not difficult to imagine that at times she would have been travelling down her memory lane to the great times of Cherwoo’s in Anantnag, her times with Babuji, and other relatives. The mega-family atmosphere has its own charms. Then, especially living in Kashmir, her birthplace, had its own gravitational pull of memories of childhood and youth, when her children were born and raised. It is a stroke of misfortune when a person is compelled to move from his place of birth, childhood, and youth to another country. Babuji’s untimely demise, I am certain, has played a significant part in her subsequent emotional life. She would not engage me with her past, and, I guess, anyone else. That came from her inherent shyness and control over herself. For the same reasons she would not complain about anything to me.

I several times went to the airport to receive her when she was coming from India. During travelling she would put on an aggressive posture, just to feel secure and be alert. After my retirement I would generally be the one attending to her lunch and dinner. I, also, made sure that we had honey in the house, which along with milk, she would take before going to bed. She would occasionally take walks outside the house. She had a long praying period in the morning. Whenever her middle son Balji would visit us she would be excited, as he was her favorite child. He had equally a weakness for her.

Overall, Babi’s personality is unique. She is a long suffering and a controlled personality, who believes in the grace of God, and is at peace with the world. No wonder all this has contributed to her longevity.

We developed a special relationship, which continued on till 2013, after which due to my divorce with my wife, it abruptly ended. It was not her who ended it, but her children, who decided not to tell her about the divorce, on the assumption that doing so would jeopardize her health, as she was already in her 90’s. Nothing could have been farther from the reality. Bhabi had seen many deaths among her close relatives in her lifetime, including that of her beloved Babuji; my and Mohini’s divorce would not have been unbearable for her. This was a tragic situation for me, as I could not do anything to mitigate it.

I treasure her gentle touch, cool control, and sheer goodness. My memory flashes to trips we took to Pahalgam, Khirbhawani, and the times we spent in New York. She was a shaft of tranquility, forbearance, and silent fortitude; the kind of which I have only seen in my mother and a few others.

But memories of her will remain strong in my universe, as there was a relationship of love and respect between us. I have been told that old age has encumbered her heavily. I am certain that she will bear it gracefully, as she has borne other calamities in her life.

I am ending this tribute with the following words:

Upon the altar of life there are not enough sacrifices one can make,Bhabi burnt her ego and interests to irradiate her world with compassion and love.

 

Notes:

  1. All pictures taken by me.
  2. The frontispiece picture of Bhabi taken in Sept., 2007.
  3. The pictures below are of Bhabi, Babuji, and Kakni (Bhabi’s mother)

 

 

Suffern, New York, May 25; Rev: May 26, 2020

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Buzz: The Light Through The Woods by Maharaj Kaul

Book Buzz: The Light Through the Woods by Maharaj Kaul

 

Maharaj Kaul’s The Light Through the Woods: Dreams of Survival of Human Soul in the Age of Technology offers a surreal and philosophical experience intended to revive the slowly diminishing connection between humans, nature, and the divine.

In his second book of poetry, out of the six he has written, Maharaj continues to rejuvenate our spirits. His poetry explores the crushing emptiness of modern life and the appalling disconnect between our flesh and soul. With every page, Maharaj invites his readers to go beyond their preconceived views about life and explore the depths of their being. Each verse was masterfully interwoven into a poignant piece that evokes deep-seated emotions and unspoken truths about life.

The author laments how technology and modern living have gradually affected our inner peace and genuine happiness. He believes that man is born with natural freedom, joy, grace, and grandeur. But, as we grow up, the existing culture gradually corrupts us and prevents our original nature to grow. By creating and living in the present culture of materialism, the author also wants to put a spotlight on the precious things we tend to overlook in our fleeting moment in this world.

Maharaj did an excellent job in speaking the language of love for freedom and human service. His writing reminds us of what it really means to be alive in this complicated world. He believes that life is a short journey meant to be a celestial dance over the worldly abyss. Humans are here to help the unfortunate and offer respect to nature.

His style comfortably navigates through the mystical terrain to hopefully guide us in this physical world.

There’s no coming back once the light through the woods shines on your soul. You will find yourself absorbed in a series of captivating stories, thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences. Celebrating his nostalgic memories from his birthplace, the author paints stunning imageries and delivers a bleak atmosphere of the sufferings he endured in the past. He expresses his joy in reminiscing his childhood while echoing the sadness and drudgery of the place, emphasizing the tragic dispossession and diaspora of the people in India.

Maharaj’s creation will surely transport readers into a winding path of pain and joy, love and loss, disenchantment, and self-discovery.

“In this illuminating compilation of poems, Maharaj Kaul plumbs the depths and scales the heights of human existence in the modern world, with a clarity of vision that speaks to the heart with stark honesty and graceful candour.”

Lynn Harper-Cheechoo, Amazon Reader’s Review

 

The Light Through the Woods by Maharaj Kaul

152 Pages

ISBN 9781450233545

Maharaj Kaul was born in Kashmir, India, where he spent his childhood and boyhood. He graduated from Banaras University, India, in electrical engineering and went on to Polytechnic Institute Of New York for a master’s degree. He is the author of “Inclinations And Reality: The Search For The Absolute,” “Meditation On Time, Destruction And Injustice: The Tribulations Of Kashmiri Pandits,” and “Life With Father.” He retired from engineering after forty years of work and lives in Suffern, New York.

Suffern, New York, Oct. 14,2021

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul@yahoo.com

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koi ye kah de gulshan gulshan – Jigar Morarabadi. Translated by Maharaj Kaul

koī ye kah de gulshan gulshan

laakh balā.eñ ek nasheman

 

let someone proclaim from garden to garden

there are innumerable calamities but only one nest

 

qātil rahbar qātil rahzan

dil sā dost na dil sā dushman

 

expert guide killer highwayman

no friend like heart no enemy like heart

 

phuul khile haiñ gulshan gulshan

lekin apnā apnā dāman

 

flowers are blooming in gardens

but each flower has its own fate

 

ishq hai pyāre khel nahīñ hai

ishq hai kāre-shīsha-o-āhan

 

it is love dear game it is not

love is a work of glass and iron

 

ḳhair mizāj-e-husn kī yā-rab

tez bahut hai dil kī dhaḌkan

 

let the spirit of love bloom O God

very fast is the beat of heart

 

aa ki na jaane tujh bin kab se

ruuh hai lāsha jism hai madfan

 

come without you do not know since when

soul is dead body a grave

 

aaj na jaane raaz ye kyā hai

hijr kī raat aur itnī raushan

 

today do not know what the mystery is

it is night of separation but yet it is illuminated

 

umreñ bītīñ sadiyāñ guzrīñ

hai vahī ab tak ishq kā bachpan

 

lives have been spent centuries have passed

has remained the same till now love’s childlike innocence

 

tujh sā hasīñ aur ḳhūn-e-mohabbat

vahm hai shāyad surḳhi-e-dāman

 

as beautiful as you and slayer of love

I have a fear it may turn out to be bloody

 

barq-e-havādis allāh allāh

jhuum rahī hai shāḳh-e-nasheman

 

lessening of calamities oh God oh God

dancing is the branch holding the nest

 

tū ne sulajh kar gesū-e-jānāñ

aur baḌhā dī shauq kī uljhan

 

by straightening the tresses of beloved

you have increased the tangles of my love

 

rahmat hogī tālib-e-isyāñ

rashk karegī pākī-e-dāman

 

it will be merciful for one demanding rebellion

jealous will be your purity of soul

 

dil ki mujassam ā.īna-sāmāñ

aur vo zālim ā.īna-dushman

 

heart’s image is being a mirror

and that tyrant is the mirror of the enemy

 

baiThe ham har bazm meñ lekin

jhaaḌ ke uTThe apnā dāman

 

sat in every gathering but

got up leaving what transpired

 

hastī-e-shā.er allāh allāh

husn kī manzil ishq kā maskan

 

life of a poet at mercy of God

destination of beauty is love’s abode

 

rañgīñ fitrat saada tabī.at

farsh-nashīñ aur arsh-nasheman

 

colorful nature simple state

floor sitter and clestial

 

kaam adhūrā aur āzādī

naam baḌe aur thoḌe darshan

 

work incomplete but expecting independence

big reputation but low essence

 

sham.a hai lekin dhuñdlī dhu.dlī

saayā hai lekin raushan raushan

 

candle yet dim light

shade but illuminating

 

kāñToñ kā bhī haq hai kuchh āḳhir

kaun chhuḌā.e apnā dāman

 

even thorns have some rights

who is to save one’s fate

 

chaltī phirtī chhāñv hai pyāre

kis kā sahrā kaisā gulshan

 

world is a transient moving shadow

whose desert which garden

 

Videos:

 

  1. Begum Akhtar’s rendering of the ghazal, but it is incomplete. https://youtu.be/gCpVLciXIJg

 

  1. Rageshri Das’s rendering, also incomplete.

https://youtu.be/SXc290fYlFs

 

Suffern, New York, Oct. 10, 2021

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul@yahoo.com

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How I Became a Writer

When I was born, English was not my first language, Kashmiri was. English was the language of my motherland India’s occupiers, the British, who ruled India for 200 years; so, it became the language of the education imparted in many schools and colleges in India.

The story of my love affair with English is more than straight forward. Let me begin:

I was born a very sensitive, shy, and introspective boy. As if they were not a liability enough to have as a young boy, I was sent by my parents to stay with my uncle and aunt for six years, from the age of 12 through 18, 400 miles away in Kashmir. My familial shield was replaced by a foreign one, magnifying my vulnerabilities. The loss of my natural environment of my parental and sibling’s love for me had a lasting effect on my outlook on my life at that time. This period of six years, till I left for an engineering college far away, became the most difficult period of my life. In fact, I have called it my heartbreak number 1, out of a total of six, in my autobiography, Inclinations and Reality.

I had to develop a strategy to negotiate my survival. Out of my introspection came the idea that if I developed a communication skill, I could manage my ordeal. By my being able to communicate with my uncle’s family and the much larger Kaul clan, which existed in Kashmir, I thought I would be able to shield my vulnerabilities. And I hit it very well, as I became among the most popular boys in the clan. My uncles, aunts, and cousins became very fond of me. Relatives much older to me would confide their problems in me, as they thought I was very intelligent, and more valuable than that to them, I had a remarkable patience to listen to their tales of woe. This was also an entry for me to understand human nature, which became my life long quest.

Beyond managing my environment, I still felt a need to communicate deeply with someone. But my inherent shyness was still a block. One day I wrote a letter to one of my uncles living in another town of Kashmir, a communication that could have been better conducted on a phone. But as phones had yet not come to Kashmir for non-governmental use, I had no choice but to write a letter. A few weeks latter when my uncle visited me, he gushed on my writing abilities. I did not know whether to take it as my inherent talent or a one-time success. But another letter to a cousin created a similar response. So, I thought I may have a talent for writing. A little later I wrote a three-page short story, A Night to Remember, my first writing, and sent it to my father. He thought it was well written, though lacked a plot. By now I realized I had some writing skills.

So, that is how I became a writer, to satisfy my need to communicate with others and myself. But that skill would still be primitive, if it would not be pregnant with substance. My introspective nature provided that mass in the form of my philosophical inquiry into the nature of human life. My writing became the vehicle of my existence, the instrument of the exploration of my consciousness.

Many people have come to me throughout my life to learn how to write, especially the young people, as writing is among the most intense and uplifting self-involvement for them, after, perhaps, their self-love. Most of them had been attracted to my writing because of my style. Understanding their passion well, the first thing I would tell them was that they should forget the style in writing, instead they should concentrate on the substance of writing first. Style would evolve later.

So, writing for me is the exploration and shaping of my consciousness.

 

Suffern, New York, May 21, 2021

www.kaulscorner.com

maharaj.kaul@yahoo.com

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Journal

The Marred Gift of God

It is something that the world remembers you after death, But for a moment I would burn our love and reclaim my freedom, As in our times it is a convenience not a dedication.   It is a wonder that … Continue reading

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Where Do We Find You Bhajan?

Where do we find you Bhajan, In the shy Wullar waters of Sopore, Or in the regal Nishat and Shalimar gardens?   Your carefully managed long tresses of hair, Well groomed mustache and stylish kurta and pajama, Created the image … Continue reading

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Walking Toward the Sunset

  There were times when some people thought I was a pure specimen of life, But such adulation was rare and far between, Most of my life I was a mystery man.   They came to me as I was … Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Ode To New Year

 Why are we blindly welcoming the arrival of new year, Weren’t last few years our pained existence?   Does man have wisdom, Or is he a natural phenomenon unguidable?   If man is susceptible to illusions Then why not build … Continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Trip To Kashmir 2021

My six-week trip to India was a boutique of reciprocated sentiments for my motherland, especially the part spent in Kashmir. As the nature of human life is, it was not perfect. Along with the flowers there were some thorns. I … Continue reading

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