You return from the Kashmir valley with a sense of overwhelming melancholia: it is a beautiful but tortured land. What should have been the Switzerland of the sub-continent is a depressed place. The large army presence and the fear of the terrorist has created a universe where anger and resentment co-exist uneasily with traditional Kashmiri hospitality.
Daughters can be unusually prescient: Taking a first look at my book, 2014: The Election that Changed India, she asked why the cover had pictures of both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. “Shouldn’t you just be showing Mr Modi, he is after all the big winner, why do you need a Rahul picture also?” “Because,” I replied, “For every winner, you need a loser!”
The Indian army has always been reviled in the Kashmir valley. The army has been accused of human rights violations, of fake encounters, of oppression and being a symbol of an Indian state which most Kashmiri Muslims see as 'occupying' their land. And yet, today it is the men in uniform who have saved hundreds of lives
The ubiquitous Rotary Clubs are a decent indicator of the urban upper middle class mood. Rotarians are often professionals with a conscience: from blood donation drives to charity runs, they like to feel involved with public service. One of my first assignments as a journalist in 1989 was to cover a Rotary Club event in Mumbai.