Born and raised in Kashmir, Raka had only memories of her homeland when she left it in 1990. A supporting family helped her build a life in an alien land, but the longing for Kashmir never ebbed. She is a regular visitor now, and takes pride in her roots which she has kept alive.

Excerpts from an interaction with Rajesh Prothi.

What is your professional qualification?
I am a post-graduate in Marketing and am currently working as Director, Marketing with an American Multinational.

rakaYou were born and grew up in Srinagar. When did you move and how did you adjust to a different culture? Tell us about the difficulties you faced.
I was born in Srinagar and I spent by early years there. We moved in the year 1990 – due to militancy. The initial period was very tough – starting our lives from a scratch – but I am blessed to have the family who eased the transition. Education and career was given the priority.

To start our life is Delhi was very difficult – while it is a great place, great schools, great exposure – but it was culturally different from Kashmir – so it took a while to adjust, not to forget the extreme temperature.

Do you visit your homeland?
I visited Kashmir after a gap of 18 years in 2008. Now I visit it every six months. How can I stay away from Tul Mul?

What you remember most about Kashmir?
I have super memories of my initial years there – be it my school – Presentation Convent, be it the snow, be it playing with my dogs, be it visiting my mom and dad at Radio Station (Radio Kashmir Sringar –AIR) – everything about that place was so special.

Growing up with my whole family together was just terrific. Sunday noisy cricket sessions with the cousins or a quiet evening studying with parents. I miss it all.

How do you keep the Kashmiri culture alive at home?
Language, food, festivals, it is all intact at home and not to forget the khutambad, the carpets and the shawls.

What is your take on the Kashmiri language?
Oh I love it and I can speak it fluently. I am proud of it and you will catch me quite often getting excited about meeting fellow Kashmiris and speaking to them in our language. It also helps to do my secret little talk with family at a huge gatherings!!

What is the time period of their life in Kashmir that your relatives and friends talk about most?
My elders – all of them have fond memories about Kashmir (barring the period 1989/1990). They always talk about the extraordinary love and brotherhood Kashmiris had for each other, going beyond religion. They always highlight the respect for women and ‘lihaaz” of the elders, which they proudly claim is alive only in Kashmiris.

What cultural changes have you witnessed amongst Kashmiris?
What infuriates me most is that Kashmiri’s (living outside Kashmir) don’t take pride in their language and customs anymore. While I understand that things will change and they should, things will evolve and rightly so – but to forget out mother tongue is unpardonable  – Why?

I don’t think I have changed much – my food habits – batta and rogan josh, my language, my obsession for shawls and carpets has only become stronger over time and I am proud of it.

photography wp theme

COMMENTS

  1. Suhail Khan 

    Delighted to know that someone takes pride in the Kashmiri language and culture. Keep it going Raka and pass it on to the next generation. Kashmir is incomplete without its Pundits. We all have at one time or other been taught by Pundit teachers for whom we have tremendous respect.

  2. Wajahat shafi 

    Its really painful to read such articles but on the contrary its really a nice feeling once we see such articles furnished here.It really makes tears roll on our cheeks,as i still remember my school days,there were many pandits boys and girls in my class as well as in our school.But after the hurricane has erupted life has been shattered for all of us,
    hope day will come sooner it will be same as it use to be in our chidhood…..
    AMEEN

  3. Rajesh Sahib 

    I am on same page with her when outside settled generation doesn’t take pride in their own native language or especially seen folks who migrated from valley looked at down by pre 1990 generation.

    We shall not shy away from sharing our experience on how we came out of migration turmoil on our own through education, hard work, patience!

  4. ASHWANI KOUL 

    Hi Mam, Kashmiris outside Kashmir do all the customs that used to be done in Kashmir. i.e., Shivratri, Gaad Batha, Yakshm Amavasi, Ganesh Chouthrithietc. Younger generation feels proud while speaking in Kashmiri..

  5. Akshay Shah 

    Dear Raka,

    It was pleasure to know about your thoughts and views about the Kashmiri culture. I am so proud of the fact that people like you still exist in our community and are willing to preserve the 1000-year old heritage of Kashmir (). I am well aware of then feeling of being a Kashmiri Pandit. We are the only link that connects the Middle-East to the Indian subcontinent. Our language is a true amalgamation of Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian; and that is a constant reminder of its greatness. The only thing that bugs me is the fact that people are ignorant about this fact. Many of my friends haven’t even learnt to speak the language, although it is still spoken in their homes among their parents. They say that they don’t want any part of this life. But I am really against all this. I like meeting fellow Kashmiris and talking to them about our language and culture. It was really nice to know that you still care about the Kashmii culture.

    Thanks.
    Akshay Shah.

  6. Vijay Mohan 

    I admire the courage of Kasmiri children who suffered the miltancy of 1988/89 and yet made it big in their careers after focussing on getting good education.There are umpteen doctors, Engineers, Chartered Accountants, Media Professionals, Journalists and authors who have created waves. But may I ask them one question? Have you done anything to bring back the trust and relationship that existed between all communities for many centuries. The names of Lala ded and Nund Rishi are fine examples of belief in one GOD. Allah Tu Hai, Ishwat Tu hai, Tu hai Ram Rahim, Ishu Tu hai,Nanak Tu Hai, zorashtra Bhi hai, Mahavir tum Ho,Gautam Budh Qarim.
    In our quest for creating wealth we have probably gone far away from spirituality. We have missed the vibes generated by Khir Bhawani or Maqdum Sahab. We have forgotten Baba Rishi or the Charari sharif shrine. Kashmir is now a hot bed ofMoney,Power and Politics. Each institution has an agenda and the real worth of human being is almost zero,

  7. Dilip Kaul 

    All Kashmiri Pandits should be proud of their language ,traditions and rituals.
    But at the time,always remember we were hounded out. And, how our few community members are being hounded out.
    Unfortunately,our few Kashmiri Pandits change their attitude by earning some money.

  8. Chander Mohan Kaul 

    Nice to hear that you are heading the marketing department. Your upbringing by your parents is really great. Both of them working and bringing up both daughters is fantastic. I happen to know your parents. A wonderful couple. God bless you for caring so much for your roots, culture and language. Wish you all the best in life.