Finding a place in a new environment is no-doubt a challenge. With time Sanjay Kaul was able to align himself in this new cosmopolitan culture and also was able to adapt to the fast life of professional world. In this 2nd part of his interaction with TheCherryTree.in, he speaks about his love for Kashmir and its culture and its people and how he likes to spend his time when not working and his love for photography.
Excerpts from an interaction with him.
You grew up in an environment, which was more secular in nature (in Kashmir). Share some memories from those days.
Kashmir was bound by its Kashmiriyat, which was to love and show respect to everybody. Love and respect was a common thread which bound people of all sects and religions. I remember sharing naveed of Tulmul and Hari Parvat with our Muslim brothers and in turn receiving the same on festivals like Eid.
Wedding ceremonies were attended and conducted with help from the entire neighborhood across all communities. As also, moments of grief were shared by all. I would still like to carry those happy memories of my childhood. I wish that the pain and sorrows Kashmir has endured could be erased somehow.
How difficult was it to adjust in cosmopolitan culture?
It was indeed a very difficult phase for me. I was not used to hot and humid weather of Delhi, traveling in buses and auto rickshaws for long distances was tough. Getting tuned to paying hefty rent for my accommodation was new to me. From the early days of struggle of meeting my ends together has enabled me to remember that nothing comes easy in life without sweating it out. In Delhi life was always on a fast track and was too mechanical.
I also had to get attuned to the culture and ethos of working in various companies. One had to deliver results quickly in order to climb the corporate ladder.
You are a science graduate and then pursued MBA. Was this move circumstantial or a well thought career move?
My father was in government service at Regional Research Lab in J&K. I had an easy option of doing MSc and PHD post my graduation. But migration changed our lives and I landed up in Delhi with my cousins seeking new options in life. I spent my first few months in a camp at Kali Bari near Guradwara Bangla Saheb. Subsequently, I took up a job to meet my ends and that started the long tedious struggle to align with the alien cosmopolitan life.
Seeing the tough phase that I was going through, my family insisted on coming back and taking up MSc in Jammu. However, I wanted to do things differently and hence I continued being in Delhi. I also took up MBA to enhance my skills. It was a planned career move, which fructified quite as desired.
Most aspects of life are never taught in text-books. Life itself is a big teacher with no theories but only practical learnings, which should be imbibed in a most humble way. Mental toughness with a quiet mind is the epicenter of success and I have understood that success is just a journey but not a milestone.
Besides your professional what else interests you?
Travelling is one of my favorite hobbies and it offers a great learning trajectory. I have travelled to more than 70 countries on business and leisure trips, which has further enhanced my view of life.
I have also developed a passion for photography and would like to pursue it in a big way as a post-retirement hobby. I am in the process of making a portfolio and then having exhibitions of the same.
What do you do to keep your Kashmiri culture alive?
I am a strong believer that our unique culture should be preserved. I make it a point to talk to my kids in Kashmiri at home. Although we no longer reside in Kashmir, I took my kids to my ancestral home in Rainawari, Srinagar to show them our roots. We celebrate all the Kashmiri festivals with fervor so that they imbibe the culture in the most natural way. Listening to Kashmiri folk songs, stories of the rich culture of Kashmir from their grandparents, attending community functions also help them stay in touch with our culture.
Food plays an important part and kids love to have all the Kashmiri delicacies cooked at home.
Much has changed in Kashmir since early 1990s, when various communities together used to represent the culture of Kashmir. What are your feelings about this change?
Most changes since the 90s cannot be claimed to be progressive in any way. In fact, it has been regressive in nature on all fronts. The combined strengths of communities have been washed away. The history of more than two decades has been written in blood. No one has gained anything from it.
Progress and development is what each human being aspires, but it can never happen in disturbed circumstances. Things in life never happen by chance, they happen by the choices, which we make. So the choice is ours, whether we would like to go back and revisit history to see the result of choices we made. We had love and affection as our foundation and now it rests on distress, anger and hatred. History can never be rewritten but corrections can always be made with a clear mind and good intentions.