This volume is based upon essays written over the last de cade in an efort
to come to terms with what I have seen and felt during yearly visits to
Kashmir. In 2003, after a gap of eight years, my parents resumed living in
our family home in Srinagar. My father’s professional life as a metallur-
gist had taken him to Bengal and Bihar, but once he retired in 1980, my
parents moved to the home my grand father built in the 1920s. Like some
others who thought of Kashmir as home, they were able to aford a flat in
Delhi, where they planned to spend the winter months. They followed
that pattern for a few years; in 1989, as in earlier years, they moved to
Delhi in November. But that winter Srinagar, and Kashmir more gener-
ally, altered unimaginably, and though my father made short trips in the
next three years to see how our home fared, the grim situation in the city
and the breakdown of civil life meant that they were now forced to live in
Delhi throughout the year.
They were of course fortunate: most other Pandits, the Kashmiri Hin-
dus who left Kashmir in 1990 and in subsequent years did not have alter-
nate homes. They were cast adrift, as were the Kashmiri Muslim families
who also moved because they feared life in the valley or the higher towns
and villages. The Pandits sufered in refugee camps in Jammu and other
cities in India; they, and those who had access to other accommodation,
began to rebuild life outside Kashmir. Initially few thought that their dis-
placement would last long. They expected that once matters stabilized in
Kashmir they would return to their own homes, neighborhoods and com-
munities and resume their occupations. But as the months, and then years,
Introduction
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