Women’s Day – Has the Hype Died Down Yet?

Come 8th of March and all ad campaigns start featuring mantras for the International Women’s Day. “Be Bold for Change”, “Inspire Millions” and so on. There are stories of strong, independent and successful women flooding the internet. There are videos narrating tales of how women have brought about changes in the society. After a few million likes, shares and oh-those-apt reactions on Facebook, everybody starts making loud drawing room protestations about how women’s rights are abused every day, how important women are, what should be done to uplift them, how important their education is, what role they play in the society and how an independent woman thinks, looks and dresses up like. There is no end to the talks – some inspiring, some emotional and some encouraging. And so it was this year.

But hold on, has the hype died down yet? Lets get back to reality then!


It has been exactly 4 days. All those inspiring stories have come off the internet now. They can’t capture your attention forever – and so they are gone. And since they are not there to remind you of how you need to value and respect the women around you, lets get back to the reality. Everybody loves the idea of a strong independent woman until she gets up, flexes her muscles and projects her voice. Suddenly she is too much. She has forgotten her place. You love those women as ideas, as fantasies, not as breathing living human beings threatening to be even better than you are.

And so lets get back to eve teasing her, calling her names and hurling abuses at her when she chooses to dress up the way she wants to, lets throw acid at her face when she rejects your proposal, lets ask for dowry and burn her alive when she can’t meet those unrealistic expectations of yours. Lets threaten her with rape when her twitter post is not in line with your views. Lets call her money minded when she wants or needs to work. Lets resort to beating her when she doesn’t listen to you. Lets get back to all of this and more – till the next International Women’s Day.

Celebrating the spirit of womanhood around you for a single day is not going to bring any good to the society till you practice it everyday. Because if you didn’t notice, she is a human being who exists and lives every day of the year and is entitled to her rights, her education and her freedom just like you. Your share on Facebook is useless if you have not stopped eve teasing that lady who dresses up the way she wants to, stopped asking for dowry and done something to bring justice to the lady who got raped. Your rantings on women’s day do no good till you haven’t stopped making a face at the birth of your daughter or worse, killed her in the womb. That women’s special video isa marketing gimmick ,a publicity stunt, & it will remain this way till you decide to open your eyes to the abuses that this male dominated society (including you) does to the women each and every day of their existence.

But ofcourse, this is not the 8th of March so there is no point in discussing this. We will talk about it next year – on International Women’s Day. Till then, lets just close our eyes and get back to sleep!











A Divine Sip of Kashmiri Kehwa

I have always been a tea addict. Like always!

And yet I have realized that the classic heaviness of milky teas has weighed me down, besides the harm which the caffeine inflicts upon my body. But the cravings!

My search for a drink which could quench my thirst for tea and yet protect my body from harm led me to a drink which has been deeply rooted into my Kashmiri culture since times immemorial – The Magical Kahwa.

For those who have never tasted it, the Kahwa is a Kashmiri version of green tea with a subtly sweet and aromatic flavor, infused with delicate whole spices. This magical concoction of a drink is brewed by natural ingredients like cinnamon, green cardamom, green tea and cloves, with the added goodness of Kashmiri almonds. The heavenly drink has a light green hue, which turns to gold in the presence of saffron. One sip of the delightful Kahwa will take you into a wonderful trance, soothing your senses and replenishing your soul, besides relieving you from all your stress and anxieties. For many, this tea is an embodiment of solace. (I hope I have done justice to my favorite drink with my words).


(Credits: Kashmir Box)

The drink is also consumed in Afghanistan, Pakistan and some parts of Central Asia. Irrespective of where it came from, the tea has become a part of Kashmiri culture and no festival or gathering in this part of the world is complete without a “Kahwe Pyaale (A Cup of Kahwa), which is brewed in a traditionally large kettle of copper known as “Samavar”. In routine life, it is not feasible to prepare the Kahwa in a Samovar, which is quite large in size. So people like me who like to drink it on a daily basis use an average saucepan instead of the oversized Samavar.

Time for the recipe!

  1. Take a cup of water in a saucepan and add 3 green cardamom, a hint of cinnamon and a few peppercorns to it.
  2. When it comes to a boil, simmer it and put the lid on.
  3. When it gives out flavor, add a pinch of green tea (Kahwe Chai) and saffron and boil for 2 minutes. Simmer for some time.
  4. Add a few flaked almonds for garnishing and you have yur cup of happiness in your hands!

Needless to say, green tea comes with a whole multitude of health benefits. I don’t want to sound like an online doctor here but the Kashmiri Kahwa does bring some relief for migraines and with liquirice root (locally known as Shangir) added to it, it makes a quick remedy for your colds and coughs.

The Kahwa is generally served with a local crisp bread known as Sheermal, but I don’t really like to pair it with anything. Its subtly sweet taste, made woody by the presence of almonds or walnuts is enough to make my day!






All We Need is a Cup Of Noon Chai

Being a typical Kashmiri family, breakfast at my and every other household in Kashmir is considered to be incomplete without a steaming cup of Noon Chai.(particularly with my dad and sister)

For those who have never seen or tasted something like it, the noon chai is a salty and prettily pink variant of tea and makes a traditional beverage of Kashmir, cherished by its people since times immemorial. The robust liquor of this tea is said to have been introduced in the Kashmiri society by a Muslim missionary popularly known as Shah-e-Hamdan at a time when alcohol consumption was deeply entrenched into its culture. The liquor proved to be a perfect substitute for the alcohol without causing any intoxications. Gradually it evolved into proper tea, with milk and salt being added to it by the locals and made its way into every household. It is because of the Salt that the tea came to be known as Noon Chai (Noon = Salt, Chai = Tea).


The noon chai is typically prepared in a traditionally large copper kettle known as “samavar” which is engraved in motifs native to the Valley of Kashmir. Inside the Samovar is another world where the tea secretly brews. It is made up of parallel chambers – one which hosts burning coals which heat up the entire kettle from the inside and the other  in which water, tea leaves, cardamom, milk and a tinge of Baking soda are added. The strength of Copper maintains the high temperature required to extract the complete essence of the tea.

And just like Kashmiri breakfasts are incomplete without Noon Chai, the Noon chai is incomplete without the local bread like Kulchas, Sheermaal, and the popular 4 p.m accompaniment “Tchotchvor” (this one’s tricky to pronounce).

To summarize, all we Kashmiris need is a cup of Noon Chai to get going!




Seasons of Kashmir – Spring is in The Air

I grew up in the valley of Kashmir – a mesmerizing place known for its charismatic beauty, rich culture, a slow paced life, luxuriant Cashmere, royal feasts and much more. I would want to point out here that when the Mughal Emperor Jehangir came to Kashmir, he was so captivated by its beauty that he said the famous couplet

“Agar Firdaws ba roy-i zamin ast, hamin ast-u hamin ast-u hamin ast,” meaning, “If there is Paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.”

And being an ardent lover of Nature, I tend to agree with this. The place is definitely a spectacular sight with all its seasons showing off a different type of beauty – one that soothes your senses and replenishes your soul. Kashmir is characterized to four major seasons and my personal favorite is the Spring, (known as “Sonth” in the native Kashmiri language) which begins from Early March and extends upto late April.

So are we ready? Lets go!

Spring in Kashmir is a time when the despondence of the winter skies is overcome by a bright and beaming sun. The earth takes on a refreshing green jacket, while snow-capped mountain peaks glisten in the backdrop like a precious jewel. Daffodils and narcissus (also known as yemberzal) are the first to break the barren winter earth, followed by a wide variety of flowers which fill the breeze with their fragrance.

By mid March, almond blossoms, known as Badam Phulei start gracing the orchards in delicate pinks and whites. For those who haven’t witnessed it, the blossoming of almond flowers is one of the most spectacular things you could ever set your eyes on. Take my word for it!  It is during this time that people – tourists and locals alike – throng the Badam Waer (Badam translates to almonds) which is home to thousands of Almond trees, clicking pictures, spending quality time with their families and surrounding themselves with beauty which I cannot put into words.


This is followed by the blossoms of cherries, pears, peaches, plums and apricots, which again lends a fruity incense to the air.

Come April and I make it a point to visit the Asia’s largest Tulip Garden before the seasonal beauties wither out. A colorful riot of tulips flaunt themselves proudly, making an awe-inspiring sight as they do!


(Credits: Getty Images)

But we are not done yet. Take a trip to Pahalgam and you will get to see mustard fields spread as far as the eyes can see in full bloom, their vibrant yellows carpeting the earth in the backdrop of magnificient mountains. And how can we forget our well terraced Mughal Gardens like Cheshma Shahi, Nishat Bagh, Harwan and Shalimar. They too are at their colorful best.


(Image: Huffington Post)

As nature springs forth with a new life, the temperatures are ideally suited to enjoy the beauty of this place. One moment you are dancing in the rain (if you are are a pluviophille like me) and before you know it, you are basking in the subtle warmth of the sun. I must add that colorful rainbows are frequent in this season. Add it to all the beauty I described in this whole write up (yes, I love rainbows too!).

To summarize, the cool morning breeze, songs of migratory birds, blossoms of flowers and everything beautiful are the definition of Spring in Kashmir. As somebody rightly said, “they call it heaven on earth, I call it home”. Cheers!

A Letter To My Younger Self By Charlotte Hill

Here’s sharing a hauntingly meaningful letter I dedicate to myself and all the beautiful ladies out there!

“Dear Younger Self,

You are.

I wanted to write, “You are beautiful,” but that doesn’t do you justice. You simply are. And no one else is — not in the way you are.

Your presence fills the room in a way that no one else’s does. Your shoulders sit at their own angle. You blink at your own rate.

You are uniquely — in the unadulterated sense of the word — uniquely you.

Others will try to mold you into them — or, worse, into someone whose multidimensionality has been stripped, leaving them a two-dimensional object on a magazine page or a TV screen. You are so much more than a photo. You are more than a poised smile on a Facebook wall.

You are.

Others will tell you that you are selfish, that you are self-obsessed, that you love yourself too much. Don’t believe them for a second. You deserve to be enthralled with your you-ness, the way a toddler is mesmerized by a leaf. You are full of wonder and wondrous.

You are.

Someday, someone will fall in love with who you are. He will be intoxicated by you. And then, without warning, he will do the unthinkable, the devastating: he will challenge you.

He will demand that you act differently, dress differently, feel differently. And you’ll consider listening, because at one time, he loved you. You’ll think he knows you better than you know yourself. You’ll feel like less than you are. You will realize that long before, you gave someone else the power to determine your own self-worth. And you’ll consider changing.


You are perfect.

You are.”


This article was originally posted by Charlotte Hill on The Huffington Post.