Trading life, laughter and lots of hope
The Trade Fair at Kashmir Haat is a beautiful proof of the new Kashmir that is getting used to its peace, the new prosperity and much promise
by Mareaya Fayaz
THIS week I visited Srinagar and the decorated Kashmir Haat caught my attention. The crowds of people going in and coming out escalated my interest; so I decided to walk in. What I saw was that after many years, the Trade Fair was back in Kashmir and since it was ahead of the G-20 preparations, it was even more enthralling. The moment you enter the area, the fragrance of food pulls you – chicken biryani, pakoda and the iconic Kashmiri street food – aloo pakoda (allu monj) get your gut. And once you move on from
there, you see small kulfi stalls and those selling shakes and fruit chaat. The gola ice cream is a hit and has a major footfall from the little ones. The trade fair does not only display food but people from different states of India have come here to sell their crafts. You can see pottery and wood items being happily bought. Also, clothes from different parts of India, including Kashmir, brighten up the stalls. Almost every woman can be seen visiting the cloth stalls. Among the stalls by J&K, there are those displaying suits and sarees in
Rajbagh silk. Some tourists seem interested in silk sarees and Kashmiri handwork. A visitor, Sakshi, says: “It’s not my first time visiting Kashmir but yes it is my first time at the trade fair and I love the handwork sarees. I am buying them for myself and friends. It’s good to have such variety under one roof”. The owner of the stall looks happy that his business is booming. The natives, along with tourists, are walking in and making purchases
while the locals get to interact with them and show some hospitality!
At the very entrance, you can see people buying decoration items, furniture and clothes.
Also, there is much fun activity for kids. There are different kinds of rides for kids besides play areas featuring bouncing castles, car rides and more. There is a magic show too.
This trade fair is a small step towards normalcy and the generally feel is of enjoyment and
entertainment. There are stalls selling crockery made from bone china. The designs look beautiful and the people gathered around the stall share the view. The owner of the stall, Shahzad, has come from Saharanpur. He says: “Whenever there is a trade fair in Srinagar, we make sure to participate. It’s nearly been five years since I have been coming
here and the atmosphere here seems peaceful. Many people have visited since the beginning of the fair and I am hopeful many more will and I will get to sell my products. Usually only people from Kashmir used to visit the trade fair but this
time it’s tourists too; it’s good to be a part of it”.
Another stall displays chiselled wood, beautiful decoration pieces, utensils made of wood et al. The owner, Sagar, who is from Bihar, says he feels good to be in Kashmir for the first time. He says he is enjoying his time here as he not only gets to sell his stuff but also gets to roam around and see how beautiful Kashmir is. He loves to interact with the people here. The only thing he doesn’t like is the people wanting to bargain, especially Kashmiri
women. “I explain to them I don’t have too much profit margin and then they go ahead and buy anyhow,” he smiles. Another tourist – Rajan and his family – are here from the southern part of India. They are here for a vacation and on hearing of the trade fair, landed here. At the point of talking to us, he couldn’t find his wife since she had been so taken in by the variety of stuff available, that she got lost in the crowd. Rajan tells us that this is his first visit to Kashmir and before coming here, they were afraid that something not very nice might happen here but now, once they are here, they love it. “Kashmir is beautiful, so are its people! We have enjoyed our stay here and also savouring the local food. We would definitely visit again,” he promises before he goes looking for his wife yet again.
The highlight of the fair is kids enjoying the rides, parents buying tickets for them while the little ones go about bouncing around castles, enjoying merry-go-rounds and making beautiful memories. This is the image of a Kashmir which has finally come to live at a normal pace, free of worry and comfortable in safety.