Simple, grounded, pleasant, caring, more adjectives can be used for Balbir Kour now Ruby Vaibhav Bhalerao. Ruby grew up like a true Kashmiri girl. Growing up in a peaceful environment of 1970s & 80s, surely did wonders to her. No overlap of cultures or duplicity, she had her dream, her goals. With time she refused to change her basic nature, that of a true Kashmiri.
Excerpts from an interaction with Shrishti Nanhorya
Share your journey from school onwards.
I hail from Baramulla. Born to a Sikh family, I grew up in Srinagar with my grandparents. My parents stayed in Baramulla, and this was one reason for me to often visit Baramulla. My reason to be at Srinagar was purely academic. In Srinagar, most of my time was spent at Jawahar Nagar. The initial schooling was done from DAPP school , Hazuri Bagh. After finishing my schooling, for graduation I joined Women College, M.A. Road. Those were very exciting times. I applied for Post Graduation course in Mass Communication. But I could not qualify. The second option I had was to opt for MA in Sociology. Halfway through MA in Sociology, I got an opportunity with Doordarshan. As I always wanted to be part of the media, I just took the job and thereafter, as it is said, there was no looking back.
What do you miss the most of Kashmir?
Friends in Srinagar are missed the most. The days spent at Radio Kashmir. Srinagar, when l used to host Western Music program and the discussion on various issues in the Yuva Vani section of Radio Kashmir. The discussions at times used to be sensitive also, but always in a lively and cheerful atmosphers with with Mr. Humaiyun Qaiser, Nissar and Ashfaq. I also miss the opportunities when I used to write for Mirror Kashmir and its Sunday edition. These are not memories. These are part of me.
As it is, there are always highs and lows. Anything in particular in your journey so far?
Life is mixture of sweet and sour experiences. But so far as I remember, with God’s grace my career and my life have been very smooth.
Any anecdote that you would like to share with us of the time spent in the State of Jammu & Kashmir?
There have been so many sweet memories of the days spent in Kashmir. I really cherish the memories of my childhood when during winter vacation we should to play ‘stapu’, making a snow man, sitting near ‘Bhukaries’, eating walnuts and peanuts. One thing that l really miss about Kashmir is the food. That taste you won’t be able to find anywhere in the world.
Is there anything besides your work which interests you?
I like listening to music, reading, writing and above all cooking and looking after my house. I am very passionate about these things which form part of my life. The other thing which I am very particular about is my my living room, my bedroom and my kitchen to be well organised. And I love to try new recipes and make and serve. It gives me a lot of happiness.
What efforts do you make to keep the culture of Kashmiri alive?
Kashmir and Kashmiri people are known for their hospitality and their warmth. They are the most beautiful people with a beautiful heart. Though I am living in Mumbai, a cosmopolitan city, but I am still a Kashmiri from inside. I have not blended myself to the cosmopolitan culture. I have not forgotten the culture of Kashmir. It is in my blood. I make ‘Kehwa’ very often and make ‘Nun chai’- one of my favorite. And my family is so fond of Kashmiri food and I cook. But I miss the ‘Kander sout’ that we used to eat with butter and nun chai.
What is your opinion about the true culture of Kashmir where different communities used to live together before 90’s?
During the last 17 years or so I have been living in Mumbai, I have met so many people, but a Kashmiri is a Kashmiri. You won’t find such people anywhere in the world. The warmth, the hospitality, the neighbourhood. All these things I have missed. No one can match with them in this. In Kashmir, my friends were from different background and different religion, but culturally we never felt that we were different.