Sangam Playhouse






Kashmir Kashmir

A Play by



The entire dramatic text. Please contact the author (rramu.ramu@gmail.com) for rights to perform, publish or use this text in any form.




A play for Mohit Takalkar and Ashish Mehta

The characters:
A VOICE … a smoky, hazy, blurry image on an A/V screen.
MAN alias RAJIVLAL
WOMAN alias CHAMPA
MAN 2 (also agent / local)
WOMAN 2 (also agent / local)
MAN 3 (also agent / local)

A DISTANT VOICE
static, crackly … the VOICE could come and go

To begin at the beginning.
For … in these parts … everything has a beginning.
It is wintery.
It is snowy.
There is a full moon.
There is an empty town.
There is a silent street.
And because it is a silent street …
… there is silence.
This is the middle of nowhere.
That’s where I am.

A solitary bulb flashes on and off.
Some of the action juxtaposed on a/v screen. It’s all a blur.

Hush, everyone is asleep.
You hear the snow falling.
And the sound of people breathing.
It is the sound of reassurance.
Millions of noses breathing.
In out.
In out.

Sound of an automobile.
Automobile juxtaposed on a/v screen.

Listen.
That is an 1100 cc car. 2006 model.
On NH-1A near the Hyderpora Bypass.
A bit of grass is growing although you can never hear grass grow.
The engine which has been souped up is straining on the winding mountain roads.
It’s at the T junction.
Left for Gulmarg.
It is very cold, someone is coughing.
That someone needs a new pair of lungs.
The car comes to Narbal crossing. Straight ahead – Baramulla – and Uri.
Bread from the bakery near Lamayuru Gompa is being eaten.
And then the woman says …

Light flashes on the woman – briefly.

WOMAN:
According to this … er … communiqué from the hotel we MUST be careful. This is a weak bridge. Only one vehicle at a time. Why don’t you switch on your fog lamps?

A VOICE:
There is silence. Then a reply.

Lights flash on the man – briefly.

MAN:
Have you kept Rs 30/- ready?

WOMAN:
Is it Rs 30/- or Rs 35/-?.

MAN:
How would I know?

WOMAN:
Well, don’t you …

MAN:
Preserve the toll ticket. They will ask for it. Remember what happened the last time?

WOMAN:
Do you’ve to bring that up, again? Everytime?

MAN:
Oh I see?

WOMAN:
Oh you see?

MAN:
What do you think?

WOMAN:
There is no point getting annoyed with me, is there?

Lights vanish.

A VOICE [returns]:
Listen.
We hear a harmonium on the radio.
It is almost dusk.
And time, that heartless bastard, it is passing.
Listen.
Time is passing.
The automobile passes by cemeteries with tomb stones in the snow deep mountains.
Everyone I know is dead in those cemeteries.
The fading night knows it.
That’s why it is wounded.

Light flashes on the man and woman.

MAN:
Have we reached?

WOMAN:
We should have? Shouldn’t we?

MAN:
Why don’t you check your … er … notes?

WOMAN:
We passed the military checkpost and took the second left after the third right. Didn’t we?

MAN:
We did … na?

WOMAN:
So we are here?

MAN: Yes, we are. Aren’t we?

Silence.
Nothing happens.

A VOICE:
Welcome one lady and one gentleman to HOTEL KASHMIR KASHMIR
Rated as almost the best hotel in the country.
[Blows a bugle, clumsily]
My great grand father lived here.
He was a hermit who survived on hot water from a nearby spring.
One day, someone asked him how he could live alone in a single cottage
On top of a mountain
A mile away from habitation.
My great grand father replied he could eat the sweetest apples which grew on the solitary apple tree in front of his single cottage.

Fairy lights flash.
A/v screen jazzes up HOTEL KASHMIR KASHMIR flashing.
There is a burst of gramophone music.
SONG AND DANCE routine ……..
A traditional (typical, very slow moving) folksong and folk dance routine.
Scented water is sprinkled.
An apple is offered to MAN and WOMAN.
The gramophone record gets stuck.
Awkward pause.
Everyone is chewing apples.

Silence.

MAN 3 appears. He tosses the apples like a juggler.

Pause.

A Voice vanishes

MAN 2:
I’m the hotel manager. This is my Wifey. She house-keeps. She knows a few Tibetan words.

WOMAN 2:
Tashi Delek … Hee Hee Hee.

MAN 2:
Once she met the Dalai Lama. Show them the photograph, Wifey. She is having a torrid affair with the chef. That’s why she had an abortion one week ago. Triplets. This is the chef. Be careful: He is very suicidal. But he’s a brilliant chef.

MAN 3:
Tonite – you will be served …. yakhayn (lamb cooked in curd with mild spices) along with hakh (a spinach-like leaf) and rista-gushtava (minced meat balls in tomato and curd curry). For dessert, you will have Eno.

MAN 2:
Lets get down to processing vital information from our guests. Okay?

MAN and WOMAN are handed green and red bulbs.
When MAN and WOMAN flash the bulb – the bulb flash on a/v screen.

MAN 2 [continues]:
It is important you hear this fully and consider how the content may impact on your decision to proceed with your stay at Hotel Kashmir Kashmir. You are embarking on a stay at Hotel Kashmir Kashmir which will be intrusive yet require complete discretion from you. If you feel this is in any way problematic, you should consider carefully whether to proceed with your stay. Okay?

MAN and WOMAN flash green bulb.

MAN 2:
You must be a citizen. Are you?

MAN and WOMAN flash green bulb.

MAN 2:
You must be over 21 years of age. Are you?

MAN and WOMAN flash green bulb.

MAN 2:
Have you used drugs. For example, Ecstasy, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Cannabis in the last 12 months?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN 2:
Are you being treated for an addiction (e.g. alcohol, gambling, wife beating)? Are you currently bankrupt? Is this your first visit to Kashmir Kashmir?

MAN and WOMAN flash green and red bulb … uncertainly.

MAN 2:
Good. Have you met a terrorist? … Ever?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN 2: Have you met someone who has met a terrorist? … Ever?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN 2:
Are you certain?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN:
Well … we read the books of Salman Rushdie.

MAN 2:
Ooooh. Treacherous.

WOMAN:
Not me. I can never read more than 25 pages …

MAN 2:
Still … I’m sure you don’t want to become a widow because of … so-called good taste. Eh?

MAN and WOMAN flash green bulb.

MAN 2:
Have you heard of Hurriyat?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN 2:
Have you heard of Hamas?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN 2:
Do you approve of Azaadi?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN 2:
Do you own a Kalashnikov?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN 2:
Have you heard this: Wa inna Hezbullah-e-ummul ghalibun?

MAN and WOMAN flash red bulb.

MAN 2:
Have you heard of nun chai?

MAN and WOMAN flash green bulb.

MAN 2:
Excellent. Now, you will be served authentic nun chai, also called salt tea by Jawaharlal Nehru. As you can see it is pink in colour … You will sip it along with a traditional rendition of a Dumhal song from the Wattal region.

MAN 3 appears with tea.
MAN 2 and WOMAN 2 sing a short tune
MAN 3 dances …
MAN and WOMAN sip tea.

MAN 2:
Good. Now, we will finger print you. Don’t worry. These are the strictest hotel industry standards for identity management. You will be issued an ID card. Your ID card will have a unique biometric identifier, which shall include your finger scan and iris scan. Please nb: Your ID card will allow you access ONLY to quarantined parts of Hotel Kashmir Kashmir. If you dare to trespass … you will be shot dead.

MAN 2 pulls out a toy pistol and shoots them. They fall down.

MAN 2:
Ha Ha. That’s part of the hotel entertainment. Get up get up. You … you city dwellers. Good for nothings. Those were blanks. We use them for target shooting in the Valley. Wifey, please show them to their rooms.

WOMAN 2: (Welcoming in Tibetan)
Bkra shis bde legs. Dga’ bsu zhu.

Suddenly loud alarm goes off. MAN 3 has a hand grenade, ready.

MAN 2:
Tssccch. Never-ever do that. Never. Remember, your movement is restricted. You’ve access ONLY to 21% of Kashmir Kashmir. 79% of Kashmir Kashmir is out of bounds for you. Because of …

MAN 3:
Rules.

MAN 2:
Regulations.

MAN 3:
National security.

MAN 2:
To be precise: National insecurity. Wifey, show them their rooms.

WOMAN 2:
(Welcoming in Tibetan)
Bkra shis bde legs. Dga’ bsu zhu. [Under her breath] Mi lkugs pa. Mi lkugs pa.

MAN 2:
I heard that, Wifey. The human race is stupid. We know that don’t we? It’s an age-old curse. Now hurry. Please stop showing off your breasts. It is so-so-so … vulgar.

WOMAN 2:
Hmm. Let me show you your Honeymoon Suite. I must apologise for the corrugated iron shutter blinds on the windows, the un-ironed bedsheets, the cracked jugs and basins, the cockroaches, bullet marks in the wall, no water in bathroom and no electricity. But the floor rugs are original. What would you call it, madame? Ummm. We call it … ambience. Ha Ha. Bslab bya brgyab. God is great. Byang chub sems pa. God is good.

MAN and WOMAN are led out by a chattering WOMAN 2.

A beat.

MAN 2:
So? Vexed, huh?

MAN 3:
Hmmm.

MAN 2:
What is the intelligence assessment? Can they be security cleared? Should we run the lie detector?

MAN 3:
Well … The application management group at Help Desk has character profiled the man and sent a report.

MAN 2:
What does it say? Speak up, man.

MAN 3:
His name is Rajivlal. He drives a big car for his Rani Ma. The car is a fuel guzzler. Rani Ma is a power-control freak and wrathful. Rajivlal is mostly a vegetarian since he was food poisoned when he had prawns on his 21st birthday. He loves mushrooms and a good cup of coffee. Rajivlal is wealthy and pampered. He is a Scorpio. His favourite hobbies are sleeping, drinking and movies. He has two step-sisters and a step brother. He studied B Com and now works as a consultant for a company called Money Market Associates. He doesn’t know who his real parent is. He has an identity crisis. He is searching for his real father.

MAN 2:
And the woman?

MAN 3:
Her name is Champa. Her father is a wealthy merchant, Dinu. Champa travels with her girl-friends. That’s when she met Rajivlal. Near Srinagar. On the back of a truck. They fell in love. She is proud, she is vain, she has a mole on her left thigh … Umm …That’s all we know about her!

MAN 2:
Dangerous. The covert capabilities are multifold.

MAN 3:
Our underground forces have been talking to the Gujjars and Mirpuris; as well as the Punjabis in rural Pakistan …

MAN 2:
… those chaps know nothing. All they do is send invoices to South Block for expenses. It’s a scam.

MAN 3:
They call it the theory of modern-day zakat.

MAN 2:
Meaning?

MAN 3:
Any money that they accept is subject to be distributed to another who in turn will distribute it to yet another, and ultimately it will widen their source of information, which will ultimately save mankind. Bismillah.

MAN 2:
Pah. It has yielded pigeon shit. Their radar didn’t even pick up Hafiz Mohammed Saeed when he delivered an open rally eulogising Lashkar-e-Toiba. Blind as doddering owls. Eating potatoes has ruined their brains. What does Muzamil say?

MAN 3:
So far nothing …

MAN 2: Hmm. This woman must have penetrated our intelligence. Who knows what her intentions are? Regional instability, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illegal narcotics. No intercepts about her? You’re certain? She is Mata Hari …

MAN 3:
On the other hand she could be innocent?

MAN 2:
We are never sure. Keep an eye on her. Activate all the 256 secret surveillance cameras in their room. Okay? What do Ranjan Pant and Ramesh Bose say?

MAN 3:
Ah. They sent us an encrypted music cd.

MAN 2:
Play it maan.

MAN 3:
But it makes no sense.

MAN 2:
Play it maan. Do as you’re told. An order is an order and all that kind of thing. Good lord, I’m so weary. I need to pop two crocins. Get me some of that god-awful kahava from the samovar …

A lap top is activated. A song from Kashmir Ki Kali is played out: Taarif Karoon Kya Uski.
Shammi Kapoor is wooing Sharmila Tagore If possible MAN is wooing WOMAN..

A Beat.

Another part of Hotel Kashmir Kashmir.
Only candles with MAN and WOMAN

A Beat.

MAN:
Where are we? Is this a fucking nightmare or what?

WOMAN:
My colleague in Talent Acquisition recommended this hotel. Remember?

MAN:
The chap who shares the Boss’s PA with everyone – including the peons – in the office? That chap?

A Beat.

WOMAN:
Yeeow. Whatwasthat!!!!

MAN:
Woeey. Whatwaswhat?

WOMAN
I can’t see you, dear Rajivlal. Do you see me?

MAN:
I see a white skull talking. Is that you, Champa?

WOMAN:
Ow. I see the skull. It is a remnant of the Chittisingpora massacre. Don’t you remember, dear Rajivlal?

MAN:
What is a Chittisingpora massacre?

WOMAN:
Hold me, dear Rajivlal, I’m so tired. When you hold me it is very soothing.

MAN:
Aye, aye, darling Champa.

WOMAN:
Should we buy the skull for keep-sakes? A memento for the Thapars? They collect these things no?

MAN:
No I never …

WOMAN:
True. True. I never done what you said I never. Right?

A Beat.

MAN:
That Chef was to send dinner? Wonder what happened? He is so strange no? Are you hungry?

WOMAN:
I’ve some laddoos. Papa packed them for us. You want, dear Rajivlal?

MAN:
Ok.

WOMAN:
Happy birthday, dearest.

MAN:
You remembered?

WOMAN:
Yes, dearest.

MAN:
Aaaaah. When you smile, there are dimples, Champa?

WOMAN:
And when you speak it’s like the Rajabai tower going ding-dong ding-dong. I so want you to delicately scoop my throbbing hotwaterbottled body.

MAN:
Darling!

WOMAN:
Dearest!

MAN:
I am mad with love. I love you more than all the asparagus, artichoke, seakale, broad beans, scarletrunners, beetroot, cauliflower, cabbage that are grown in the nearby fields. I want you, now.

WOMAN:
Discard your smelly socks and your sweaty dirty under-garments.

MAN:
Oh yes. Oh yes. Let me warm your body like an electric toaster.

WOMAN
I will kiss your lips like warm toddy on a hot Sunday.

MAN:
I will warm you with my blazing heart – and like Amrutanjan drive your heart-aches away.

WOMAN:
I will knit you a cashmere sweater of forget-me-not lavendar, with your name embossed with a diamond.

MAN:
Yes, darling, yes, darling, yes, yes, yes.

WOMAN:
And the world will stop and watch our wedding – and celebrate your birthday with an … an … AN AVALANCHE.

Lights return.
Loud rumble indicating an avalanche.
Sounds of winds, storm.

MAN: [looking out of a window]
Ominous. Snow, snow everywhere. Nothing else to be seen.

WOMAN:
Rather ominous. Quite so.

MAN:
Everytime we make love, there’s a natural disaster. It’s uncanny. A fucking tragedy.

WOMAN:
Precisely, a fucking tragedy.

MAN:
Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, train accidents, bombs in tiffin boxes … avalanches.

WOMAN:
What do we do?

MAN: [Loudly]
Ach yahoo! Ach yahoo!

WOMAN:
Stop that you sound like a funeral …

MAN: [Loudly]
Ach yahoo! Ach yahoo!

WOMAN:
What will our neighbours think of us? What will our neighbours think of us?

MAN:
There are no neighbours. We are the only ones in this infernal place.

WOMAN:
We should have gone to Switzerland?

MAN:
True true.

A Beat.

Subhan Allah from Kashmir Ki Kali starts to play. They listen to song.

MAN:
What do we do now?

WOMAN;
What do we ever do?

A Beat.

MAN and WOMAN recite:
Rajivlal and Champa
Went up a hill-a
To have a little honeymoon
Rajivlal fell down
Broke his crown
And Champa was wracked with self doubt, thereafter.

WOMAN:
Aha. What all I’ve to put up with …

MAN:
Yack Yack Yack.

WOMAN:
Never should have married. You never even bought me a decent night dress, in all these years.

MAN:
I paid you for the kissing.

WOMAN:
Whoever does that? Pays his lawfully wedded wife for a kiss?

MAN:
Cause you don’t kiss me no more?

WOMAN:
You’ve … cavities.

MAN:
So? You’re a kisser or a dentist?

WOMAN:
Bad breath.

MAN:
What have our lives been reduced to? Secretive, manipulative, class-ridden, materialistic and emotionally sterile …

WOMAN:
You forgot the bad sex.

MAN:
Bitch.

WOMAN:
Impotent.

MAN:
Alcoholic.

WOMAN:
Bankrupt.

MAN:
But I love you.

WOMAN:
Perhaps I love you too.

A Beat.

MAN:
Nothing to drink … I need a drink.

MAN tries to exit. Loud alarm goes off.

MAN:
Crap. I got an electric shock.

WOMAN:
They cautioned us. We cannot wander, around. We must not …

MAN:
Yes, yes. I know.

WOMAN:
Be careful. The place must be booby-trapped with … land-mines.

Lights come and go with a hiss.
Sounds of winds, storm.
A distant knock of the door.

MAN:
Who be that? … At this unearthly night? In this godforsaken place?

WOMAN:
Where are those binoculars?

MAN:
Can’t see a thing. We are covered from head to toe. Snow, snow everywhere.

WOMAN:
It’s the devils doing. We are trapped.

MAN:
I see people.

WOMAN:
Dead or alive?

MAN:
Can’t make out.

WOMAN:
Ah. Not that it matters.

THREE POOR LOCALS (MAN 2 / WOMAN 2 / MAN 3) draped in white sheets – we must NOT see their visages.

3 POOR LOCALS:
Sir, Madame. Let us in?

MAN:
Who are you?

WOMAN:
What do you want?

3 POOR LOCALS:
We come from the Pir Panjal mountain range.
We have a dying leopard with us!
You can save the leopard!
He is the last leopard in these parts.

WOMAN:
A leopard? Did I hear you say?

MAN:
Why is the leopard dying …

3 POOR LOCALS:
Look at its nose, it’s upside down.
Look at its brains, it’s inside-out.
The leopard sought for meaning in every situation.
It used to repeat human quotations.
Ho Hum.
Ho Hum.
It became a vegetarian
And started eating aloos with dum.

WOMAN:
What a strange parable this is … Does it have a profounder meaning?

MAN:
Not likely. Ssssh ….

3 POOR LOCALS:
Look at the leopard’s smile!
It is vanishing.
Look at it’s laugh!
It is harrowing.
Its wrinkles need a bit of make-up.
That’s why this leopard wears a veil.
That’s glamour for you.
When the leopard growls, out pops words like democracy and sovereignty and Azaadi.
With its tongue it licks.
It warns that the past is static.
The unchanging past …
That’s where we get our lovelessness from.
That’s where we get our anger from.
That’s where we get our anguish from.

MAN:
What does this have to do with us …

WOMAN:
Take the leopard and get lost. It is stinking. Black bood pours from its open wounds.

3 POOR LOCALS:
You don’t seem to love the leopard?
No, no you don’t.
Cross your heart.
Cross your soul.
The leopard is dying.
If you can’t give it real money.
At least give us something phoney.

MAN:
Listen. This is Hotel Kashmir Kashmir not some … judicial tribunal.

WOMAN:
Please get out from here …

MAN:
Someone call the police. Someone call the military.

WOMAN:
Follow the rules. Or you will be … prosecuted.

MAN:
Do not disrupt the natural order of things.

3 POOR LOCALS: [exiting]
We come from the Pir Panjal mountain range.
No one asks us what we want.
No one know who we are.
That’s why we’ve been forgotten!
That’s why we’ve been forgotten!

Radio static.
A qawali on radio.
A Beat.
Silence.
MAN and WOMAN sit in silence.
MAN tries to flash his ID card.
Nothing happens.
MAN tries, again.
Alarm bell rings.
WOMAN tries her ID card.
Alarm bell.
Silence.

MAN:
What do we do, now? Champa?

WOMAN:
See that water painting on the wall?

MAN:
That water painting of the Dal Lake?

WOMAN.
Yes. And DON’T LOOK. I think someone is watching us through that Dal Lake.

MAN:
Who?

WOMAN:
Them, who are watching us?

MAN:
We are under house arrest?

WOMAN:
What do you think?

MAN:
I think it’s a disaster. It’s your fault, really.

WOMAN:
Whose fault was it when you threw a pepperoni pizza on Papa’s face.

MAN:
Is this the time to bring that up? It was a mistake.

WOMAN:
What about the time you pissed-out from the balcony onto Papa?

MAN:
I did not. I missed him by an inch.

WOMAN:
Pah.

MAN:
What is that supposed to mean, Champa?

WOMAN:
Remember Papa’s 60th birthday? In you sauntered, Mr Rajivlal, like Amitabh Bachchan in his drunkard scenes with fish, eggs and pieces of liver and brains in that cane-plastic bag which I hate, and you shouted, ‘I’m God … Can anyone prove otherwise!!!’. Then you vomited all over Papa’s business partner, tripped on the carpet, and went, sprawling and bawling, and the floor was all fish and meat.

MAN:
I don’t remember this.

WOMAN:
And then you pulled down your trousers, as usual you were not wearing your underwear and you said, ‘Does anybody want to have a fight with THIS?’ Oh, how you love to show off. Just because you’ve that … that … nine-inch thing.

MAN:
Give me a kiss, Champa.

WOMAN:
No. You sang SUBAN ALLAH HAI HASEEN CHEHRA HAI like Mohd Rafi.

MAN:
Ha Ha. I always sing SUBAN ALLAH HAI HASEEN CHEHRA HAI. Kashmir Ki Kali is my most favourite phillum.

WOMAN:
And then you did a little dance on the dinner table. Like Shammi Kapoor.

MAN:
I did?

WOMAN:
Fortunately, you slipped and fell off the table!

MAN:
And then what did I do?

WOMAN:
You cried like a baby and said you were a poor drunk orphan in search of your long last father – with nowhere to go but the grave.

MAN:
And what did I do next, my dear?

WOMAN:
It was me who did something. I whacked you on the head with the piece of roasted turkey.

MAN:
And then?

WOMAN:
And then Bholaram and I dragged you into bed and you snored all night.

MAN:
Ha. Memories. Your memories.

WOMAN:
Ha. Antics. Your antics.

MAN:
Give me a really hot kiss, Champa.

WOMAN:
Ssssh. That painting can see us.

MAN:
It has seen many things in this honeymoon suite …

WOMAN:
Sigh. Yawn. Come on get over with it, quickly. No salivating in my mouth. Okay?

MAN:
Okay. Okay.

A beat.

MAN and WOMAN look into each other’s eyes.
Silence.
A distant bell, faintly reverberating throughout the next bit.
MAN and WOMAN disengage.

A beat.

A VOICE returns.

A VOICE:
Listen.
So?
How are things in the honeymoon suite?
I sense a certain melancholy all around!
Why?
Shouldn’t you be making jungle love?
Do you want me to arrange for some Kamasutra coaching classes?
We have an expert from Khajuraho!
Ha Ha.
He does really good business in these parts.
The sex business is the best business there is.
Infinite stock of positions, eh?
Ha Ha.
Come one, cheer up.
I recall the two guests before you.
Mr and Mrs Bandhopadhyaya, sleeping as quiet as death.
Side by wrinkled side.
Toothless, cataracted, dreams ruptured.
Having roast ducks, and humming Rabindro Sangeet.
Till they passed away in bed the next morning.
Ha Ha.
Then there was Happiness and his wife Joy from Kozhikode, they counted stars, all night.
They had triplets.
All sheep-faced.
Singing Ba Ba Black Sheep Have You Any Wool?
The Black sheep, said no.
Next morning Happiness and Joy and the three triplets were dead.
Their bones were frozen.
Rigor mortis of the lungs.
Ha Ha.

A VOICE pauses.

A VOICE
Listen.
And now, for some variety entertainment program.
Instead of a mimicry and magic show,
We will celebrate the Kashmiriyat of Kashmir Kashmir.
We have a Sufi dervish item number.
This is a special item number which we offer to all our secular guests.
We who belong to the same parents.
Why Sufi?
You ask?
Because this is the EXACT spot, same latitude and longitude where Sheikh Yaqub sufi of the Kubravi Order, called himself a Kafir of Ishq.
Tomorrow, if the sun is out, we can organise a guided tour to his tomb.
You’ll be levied charges, naturally.
Guide has to be tipped, extra.
Sandwiches and nimboo sherbet, free.
Okay?
Now, enjoy.
One.
Two.
Two-and-a-half.
Music.

A very short SUFI item number in which a dervish twirls.
Dervish exits.
MAN and WOMAN applaud.
The clock continues to chime. It goes faster and faster.
MAN and WOMAN carry out some of their daily rituals during this scene.

A VOICE [returns]:
Good-morning.
Rise and shine.
It’s time to open your eyes.
Listen.
Time is going sooooooooooooo crazzzzzzzzzzzzy.
Soon it will be time for everyone to get up.
Soon it will be time for sanity to prevail.
No?
Time to unpack, as it were.
Time to put your warm clothes in the cupboard drawer marked warm clothes?
Time to have a hot bath, for it will do you good?
Time not to forget your ayurvedic tablets to ward off sciatica.
If you’ve time, in the morning, feed crumbs of bread to the birds on the ledge.
A good time to give yesterday’s fish to the fat cat.
Time to blow your nose.
Silently, if you please, as the class teacher in our local government school would say.
And in a piece of tissue-paper which afterwards you can burn.
It is, also, the time to boil the drinking water because of germs.
And the time to have ten cups of herbal tea with a jam-toast which is highly recommended.
It is not the time to smoke your filthy cheroot.
Smoke it outside somewhere
Under that walnut tree which was born a long time ago.
The house-keeping lady, who doesn’t come on time has to be told to add fire wood to the fire-place.
Tell her to dust the dressing-table and replace the zero-watt bulb.
When the time is auspicious, and the day is nicer, watch the clouds
Watch the cloud move
Please welcome it into your room with a smile.

The clock chimes at its fastest.

Sudden silence.

A VOICE:
Listen.
On the other hand, time, the bitch that she is, she keeps a count.
Listen.
13, 47, 123, 786.
The graves are multiplying.
Does one count the tomb stones?
Or does one simply live?
Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock.

A cock crows.

A VOICE:
Listen.
Time is passing.
Listen.
Time is passing by.
The sky is turning red.
It means someone somewhere has died.
Today is the birthday of my son.
I recall things.
I recall his ninth birthday.
He was wearing my shirt.
He liked to do that.
I never saw him again.
The sky is bloody red.
I’ve never seen a sky like that.
Happy birthday to you …
Happy birthday to you …

A VOICE fades out.

Roll of vigorous drums.
Black out.

Radio static.
News about an earthquake in a solemn voice.

A beat.

Some lights.
The three LOCALS appear.

3 POOR LOCALS [like a school recital, prim and proper]:
We come from the Pir Panjal mountain range.
We have a dying Red Deer with us!
You can save the Red Deer!
He is the last Red Deer in these parts.
We come here – because that’s all we can do
Cause
In these parts everything is fake
Except
For an earthquake
A Rockslide.
A Rubble.
A Rumble.
A Tumble.
Thousands buried.
Families and friends worried.
The government sanctions funds.
Militants abandon their guns.
Mini vans.
Military trucks.
Ambulances.
Motorcycles.
In every gully.
Investments pouring legally.
Bribes siphoned off by kleptocrats, bureaucrats.
No food in sight, so we eat rats.
There’s talk of renovation.
A fool wants to rebuild the foundation.
He hires 100 mules.
To rescue half a million people with pneumonia and TB.
Up above, the helicopters go round and round.
The news from the top is:
They want to revamp HOTEL KASHMIR KASHMIR,
Through and through.
They want to revamp HOTEL KASHMIR KASHMIR,
Through and through.
We carry shovels and picks.
And we try to fix.
We try to fix.
And restore the glory and resplendence of Hotel Kashmir Kashmir.

LOCALS work in their overalls.
In silence.

The following shouldn’t be over-done or over-acted.

It could also be screened on the a/v, simultaneously. That’s the director’s discretion.

It should be choreographed – in a restrained sort of way.

One
THREE LOCALS enter in a meticulous manner like highly organised hotel staff.
Two
Brooms, brushes, buckets are bought on stage.
Three
THREE LOCALS start to tidy up the space – one by one.
Four
It’s very high-brow and classy, and slow in the beginning.
Five
It becomes very low-brow, frenetic, and they start to become quarrelsome and cranky towards the end.
Six
They start to FARCICALLY throw bucket water; they quarrel with brooms and swabs over each other’s work; and soon on each other.
Seven
The stage is made messy with thrash and garbage and rubbish.
Eight
Their faces are ruined with dirty water / garbage.
Nine
Suddenly, sirens go on and off.
Ten
Freeze Tableau.
The farce is over.

A beat.

Applause by MAN and WOMAN.

A/v screen jazzes up HOTEL KASHMIR KASHMIR flashing.

Black-out.

A beat.

WOMAN opens a brief-case. It’s a fancy brief-case with a light source – and emits a beep beep beep …

WOMAN:
Champa calling Papa. Champa calling Papa. Over.

PAPA: [burst of static]
Papa hears you – loud and clear. Over.

WOMAN:
Update. Mission Kashmir Ki Kali. Co-ordinates. 34.5° N 76° E. Over.

PAPA:
Hawala transfer complete. We have more monies in Swiss Bank than the Govt of India has in RBI. Over.

WOMAN:
Aah. All well! Rajivlal in bed. His roof afzah spiked with weed-killing pesticide. Over.

MAN sits up ands says, “Champa, give me a hot kiss, babe.” Champa whacks him. He falls down and snores.

PAPA:
What’s the update from ground zero? Over.

WOMAN:
Agent Humpty Dumpty delivered fake currency Rs 1 crore 40 lakhs to Little Jack Honour. Humpty Dumpty used money to buy five cars. Five cars car-jacked from Shekawat, Bhopal, Saharanpur, Rohtak, Bhiwani. Five cars have been repainted and re-numbered in Kathua. Over.

PAPA:
What about fire power? Over

WOMAN:
Good source. Local infantry troops. Genuine stuff. Reliable. Six month guarantee. Goods loaded into unofficially unmarked trucks. Humpty Dumpty completed transaction. 5% discount. Over.

PAPA:
Plan as per schedule? Over.

WOMAN:
Tomorrow is Id. Celebrations. Music, dance, guests, fireworks, bhai-chaara. We will blow up Hotel Kashmir Kashmir. Out of sight. Out of mind. Id Mubarak. Merry Christmas. Nutan Varshi Ki Shubh Kamnayein. Three in one. Ha Ha Ha. Over.

PAPA:
Zindabad. Over.

WOMAN:
Papa?

PAPA:
Yes, Champa.

WOMAN:
Will you buy me a baby tortoise now? You promised me when I was six years old? Please Papa please. Papooooooooooo …

MAN 2 enters talking on a wireless.

MAN 2
:This is Hickory Dickory Dock. Reporting to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Goldilocks has been spotted. I repeat Goldilocks has been spotted.

WOMAN:
Papa, I promise not to starve the tortoise, like I starved the talking parrot you bought me from South Africa. I’ll serve the tortoise, French cheese. Of course I’m concentrating on tomorrow’s mission … What yaar, Papaaaaa …

MAN 2:
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star this is Hickory Dickory Dock. Consignment intercepted. 13,000 Kalashnikovs, 12,000 Uzis. 4000 rockets, 5,000 grenades, 30 tonnes of RDX and over 10,000 land-mines. Their target Hotel Kashmir Kashmir.

MAN sits up ands says, “Champa, give me a hot kiss.” Champa whacks him. He falls down and snores.

WOMAN:
Papa, how long will it take for operation to be culminated? This hotel doesn’t even serve bed tea?

MAN 2:
Goldilocks lost elections in 1987. He trained in guerilla camps in Khost. Participated in Afghan War against USSR in 1994.

WOMAN:
Papa, tell me did you really meet Little Red Riding Hood in Russia? And Little Miss Muffet in Saudi Arabia?

MAN 3 enters talking on a cell phone.

MAN 3:
Arre bhai! Where is my hak? I’m planning to cook a delicious Saag Gosht for tomorrow’s Id celebrations? Also some lotus roots for the vegetarians. Send some morel mushrooms, too. Hahn Hahn, that only. Gahchi are whatever. I’ve given the list to Abu. Ooof. You chaps are so incompetent.

MAN 2:
Goldilocks is Supreme Commander. He has 365 code names. And seven underground outfits: Dopey, Sleepy, Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy, Bashful and Doc. I repeat …

MAN 3:
Please hurry, bhai. I need the lamb and the poultry. I’m planning to prepare a brilliant Kashmiri thali, a la Mughlai style. A 69-course meal. No, not Waazwaan. This will be called the ‘the Wazir of Waazwaan’.

MAN sits up ands says, “Champa, at least give me a cold kiss.” Champa whacks him. He falls down and snores.

A beat.

WOMAN 2 enters. She is learning nursery rhymes.

WOMAN 2:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men Could not ….

WOMAN: [mouth agape]
Papa, I think our mission has been compromised. They know about Humpty Dumpty. That’s why I told you to recruit someone from IIM instead of that village idiot from Faridkot.

WOMAN 2
… All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men …

MAN 2:
Sssh. Be silent. Don’t you realize the situation is serious. Goldilock has activated Dopey.

WOMAN:
Papa, should I eliminate the undercover mole …

MAN 2:
Dopey has developed opium. In the Golden Triangle. They sell to Chinese and Russian dealers like Fu Manchu and Rasputin. Goldilocks is running a training camp.

MAN 3:
And bhai, what about my Gushtaba: I need finely minced meat. Otherwise it is not possible to cook the balls in a thick fresh curd gravy. Okay?

WOMAN:
Papa, should I use arsenic?

MAN 2:
We have to exterminate Goldilocks, mark my words.

MAN sits up ands says, “Champa!!!!” Before Champa can whack him, he stops her …

MAN:
Stop doing that. I’ll have a dent in my skull. As it is my hairline is receding …

WOMAN:
What do you want … a kiss?

MAN:
No. I want to go to the …. My bladder is bursting. This place is so freezing cold.

WOMAN:
Then go.

MAN:
That way …

WOMAN:
Yes.

MAN: [Hums … Kisi Na Kisi Se Dil Laga Na Padega. Suddenly halts]
… Er …Champa …

WOMAN:
Now, what?

MAN:
Is there water in the …

WOMAN:
Yes, of course.

MAN:
Ah. Goodie. Yesterday, when I was bathing you know what happened? Ice cubes poured out of the shower. Brrrrr …

MAN exits humming … Kisi Na Kisi Se Dil Laga Na Padega.

Overlap, WOMAN 2 recites Little Jack Honour, with a stutter.

WOMAN:
Papa, mission is totally compromised. She knows everything about us.

MAN 3:
I’m also planning Dum-aloo, Chaman, Rista, of course Seekh Kababs, Tabak Maz, Roganjosh, Yakhni …

WOMAN 2: [reciting Little Jack Honour]

WOMAN:
What are you saying, Papa? Mission cannot be called off. Okay? I will try. Yes, for the sake of that tortoise.

MAN 3
… Arre bhai; Abu knows all this.

MAN 2:
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star this is Hickory Dickory Dock. Please understand. There is a state of emergency, here. We have to intercept Goldilocks.

WOMAN:
I’ll try.

WOMAN 2: [mixing up Humtpy Dumpty and Little Jack Honour]

WOMAN:
Hello. Nice manicure ya.

WOMAN 2:
Thugs Rje Che. Thank you.

WOMAN:
You’re the Wifey, no?

WOMAN 2: [nods her head]

WOMAN:
Ah good.

WOMAN 2:
But … I … live … separately …

WOMAN:
Ah. A separatist. Papa, big trouble in Paradise. She is a separatist …

MAN 2:
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star my bladder is bursting. I’ll be back. No, no don’t worry. I won’t take the wireless phone with me. Yes, yes, I know it fell into the flush the last time. Sorry yaar. You can deduct from my salary. Aye aye. You find out about Goldilocks in the meantime.

WOMAN 2: [mixing up Humpty Dumpty and Little Jack Honour]

MAN 2 exits … almost bumps into MAN who is returning.
MAN shows MAN 2 the direction of the bathroom.
MAN goes to WOMAN.
By now, WOMAN 2 has reached MAN 3.
WOMAN notices MAN, and hits him on the head. He falters.
WOMAN re-hits him. A chase ensues.

All over the stage. Exit-entry. It should over-lap the following scene.

A beat.

WOMAN 2: [mixing up all the nursery rhymes]

MAN 3:
Arre Bahi: This is the last time, I’m repeating it. Kashmiri Dum Aloo. Haak- Kashmiri Spinach. Kashmiri Pulao. Zafrani Pulao with saffron. Phirni. Shab Deg Kashmiri Roghan Josh. Kashmiri Gustaba. Lamb Koftas. Kashmiri Mutanjan. Pasande Kabob. Kashmiri Qambargah. Kashmiri Qeema Pullao. Kashmiri Roast Yakhni. Rista.
Daniwal Korma. Shami Kabab. Tabak Maaz.

WOMAN 2:
Oh, the beloved star of my eye, I love it when you talk like that.

MAN 3:
You?

WOMAN 2:
I want to have your baby, just like the moon is pounded by meteors.

MAN 3:
You’re married, Wifey?

WOMAN 2:
Pah. I see wives as manual labourers of patriarchy. Let me be the burp in your stomach. The belch in your belly.

MAN 3:
But … but … how can you deceive your husband, Wifey?

WOMAN 2:
It is the man I deceived the most that I also love the most.

MAN 3:
Is that what you feel about me …

WOMAN 2:
You have to be very fond of men.

MAN 3:
Are you fond of me?

WOMAN 2:
You have to be very fond of their vanities to love them. Otherwise they’re simply insufferable … like you. Come lets elope to Bodh Gaya!!!

MAN 3:
How come you’re speaking such proper English, all of a sudden …

WOMAN 2:
Ha. Men like women who speak proper English. Even though they don’t say so. A woman is a language. And a man is a dic-tionary. Now say all those words I love to hear … the salt in my sea …

MAN 3:
What?

WOMAN 2:
Kashmiri Dum Aloo.

MAN 3:
Haak- Kashmiri Spinach.

WOMAN 2: Kashmiri Pulao.

MAN 3:
Zafrani Pulao with saffron.

WOMAN 2:
Phirni.

WOMAN is still chasing MAN.
WOMAN 2 and MAN 3 uttering the names of Kashmiri dishes with passion.

MAN stops, gasping for breath, saying “Time please, Time please. Ceasefire. Ceasefire”
WOMAN picks up wireless. It is MAN 2’s wireless.
WOMAN 2 and MAN 3 rising in crescendo.
MAN 2 enters. He picks up WOMAN’s wireless.

A beat.

MAN 2: [into WOMAN’s wireless]
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star I am back …

WOMAN: [into MAN 2’s wireless]
Papa, this is me …

MAN 2:
Humpty Dumpty … what about Goldilocks?

WOMAN:
Who Goldilocks … what about Humpty Dumpty?

MAN 2:
Little Jack Honour? Er … why did he sit in a corner?

WOMAN:
Hickory Dickory Dock? What is that?

MAN:
Er … what spider …

A few “inspired” moment of improvised chaos, confusion and madness.

WOMAN:
What clock? Why did it strike one?

MAN: [attracts attention]
I found a timer under our bed. To me … it looks like a timer to a nuclear bomb and it is about to strike one. Hickory Dickory Dock.

Everyone reacts.

A beat.

All activity stops.

On cue, everyone pulls out a gun. They point at each other, very professionally.
Tense silence.
The five players circle.

A beat.

Airplanes fly overhead. Leaflets fall from the sky.

Black-out.

A Voice [for the last time]
Listen.
Oh.
I’m so glad you listened.
Because.
That was the story of Hotel Kashmir Kashmir.
How it lived to see another day.
Most of it is a true story.
Including, the fun bits.
Ha Ha.

A solitary bulb flashes on and off.
MAN 3 is visible.

He points his gun to his head.

Listen.
He … he … he committed suicide.
His 99th attempt.
Tis true what they say, there’s no greater grief than losing one’s homeland.

A solitary bulb flashes on and off. WOMAN 2 is visible.

She has a wedding garland in her hand.

Listen
She tried to remarry.
Tis true what they say, when love is excessive it does not realize that it is a travesty
Her husband sensed it.
He sighed.
Tis true what they say, the sins of the wives haunt their husbands.

A solitary bulb flashes on and off. WOMAN 2 is visible.

She puts the wedding garland around WOMAN 1’s neck.

Listen.
They converted to Buddhism.
They traveled from one monastery to another.
Gompa, Spituk, Phyang, Thikse.
That’s when they realized there is no royal road to god.
Hindsight?
It is such a wonderful human invention na?
Ha.

A solitary bulb flashes on and off. MAN 1 and MAN 2 are visible.

Listen.
The two men were alone.
Their wives deserted them.
Their ideology abandoned.
Their postulations and assumptions and treaties were dated.
Hmm.
The nuclear bomb did not explode.
A tiny mouse chewed up the detonator.
Hickory dickory dock.
The mouse chewed up the clock.
The mission was a failure, a fiasco.
The undercover agents, escaped.
Through underground tunnels.
Built by the ancient maharajas of this land.
These tunnels criss-crossing.
Tunnels connected to other parts of the world.
To the Arghandab River near Kandahar.
To the Karnaphuli River near Chittagong.
In spite of the reaffirmations and reiterations.
The resolutions and negotiations.
The narcotics trade continued to thrive.
It is business as usual.
Opium, comes.
Opium goes.
Everyone is on a high thereafter.

A solitary bulb flashes on and off. For one last time.
Leaflets cease to fall from the sky.

Harmonium, as in the beginning.

What happened to the last man standing?
Ah.
You’ve been paying attention.
That’s good.

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
Father? Is that you?

Light flashes off MAN.

A Voice speaks.
It is at moments like this.
I yearn for my son.
My only son.

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
Its at times like this I yearn for my father. My only father. My real father.

Light flashes off MAN.

A Voice speaks.
My only son who will inherit all this.
The future of Hotel Kashmir Kashmir.
Hmm.
I can imagine him in my mind’s eye wearing the same shirt I gifted him when he was nine years old.

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
Father? Remember how you played the santoor for me? Don’t you recall you used to play it on the banks of the Jhelum? Remember how you made me my first santoor from walnut wood? Do you? It took you three years. Twenty five bridges on it. Perfect sound.

Light flashes off MAN.

Diwana Hua Badal from Kashmir Ki Kali starts to play.

A Voice speaks.
Listen.
It is a fair spring day.
Birds in the sky.
A sermon from the distant minaret.
Farm-hands on the nearby field.
The wind-shaken trees warning me.
I was seated at the open window.
That’s when I heard the sounds.
The sounds of trouble.

School bell in background. Children’s voices. The noise of children’s feet on the cobbles.

A VOICE [softly, to himself]
Listen to his friends. He had so many friends. He never had time for me.

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
Father? Is that you?

Light flashes off MAN.

A Voice speaks.
He had so many best friends. Ha.

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
I never had a true “best” best friend.

Light flashes off MAN.

A Voice speaks.
There was Ali, the inseparable. And Nagqvi with whom he bathed in the lake in spite of being forbidden to do so.

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
Ali was a rascal. And Little Naqvi had gangrene. And he always annoyed me.

Light flashes off MAN.

A Voice speaks.
Kumar, the neighbour’s nephew.

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
Kumar had a squeaky cat’s voice. He was the teacher’s pet. Staring down her cleavage. Kumar and that nasty bully, Haldar with the running nose.

Light flashes off MAN.

A Voice speaks.
Son, wherefore art thou?
Why did you vanish thus?

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
The santoor in my hand. I struck 87 strings with the mezrab in my hand. Father had a santoor with 111 strings. It was the only piece of its kind. He had requested Ghulam Mohammed Zaz to make it. I was proud of the santoor. I cycled to Panditji’s home for my riyaaz. Bang bang bang. I started to crawl. Me along with the ants and caterpillars and lizards. Again – bang bang bang Father’s santoor was broken into 87 pieces.

Light flashes off MAN.

A Voice speaks.
Everything is lost. All things come to an end. You know that all things die, once. And yet mankind plods on …

Light flashes on MAN.

MAN:
Everything is lost. All things come to an end. All things die, once. Including music. Goodbye Father … till we meet in Purgatory …

Light flashes off MAN for the last time.

A sudden cry among the children’s voices. A gun shot.

A Voice.
Listen.
They told me.
He is no more.
He had disappeared into thin air.
Not to worry.
I visited morgues, orphanages, grave-yards.
I was assured I would be compensated.
The cheque would be on its way.
The cheque is on it’s way?
Ha.
The three biggest lies of our time:
1. The cheque is on its way
2. I love you
3. This thing … they call democracy. A mighty fine phrase which signifies nothing no?

Burst of radio news and static.

A Voice.
Listen.
Now, there’s a hint of normalcy.
All over the town.
Babies crying.
Children going to school.
With clean noses, oil in their hair.
Old men repairing their walking sticks.
Women warming their palms on the sunlit terrace.
Young men and women penning their letters of love and desire.
Dogs barking till they are blue in the face because they know that little something we don’t.

A bell ding dongs.

Listen.
That’s time, up to it’s old mischief.
Won’t permit me to rest a bit.
My sciatica.
I wanted to stop at the post office and see if there are any letters from old friends and new foes.
Time does not care about these discontentments.
I’m in search for a Hotel Manager.
Plus a Chef.
Not to mention a House Keeper.
And above all, guests.
All of them are gone.
All that remains are … memories.
My memories.
Your memories.
Our memories.
Even this Hotel has memories.
Memories which are buried under that solitary walnut tree.
Six feet deep.
Under the ice-cold earth.
Dead, dead, totally dead.

A wind blows.

Listen carefully.
The night is darkening.
The breeze across the lake sighs.
I wait.

Sound of a cart.

Listen.
It is a familiar sound.

The three locals appear.

3 POOR LOCALS:
We come from the Pir Panjal mountain range.
We have a dying Chiru antelope with us!
You can save the Chiru antelope!
He is the last Chiru antelope in these parts.

Plinketty plonk.
Clicketty cloch.
We are in a cart
Being pulled by a mule
We are at the police check-post near Drass.
We take left for Zoji La, the most stunning view in the world.
Ahoy.
Watch out for the army jeeps and school children
We love the laughter of school children …
We love the antics of school children …

The cart halts.
Some action.

Oh.
Oh.
What is that?
It is Hotel Kashmir Kashmir.
It seems to be so endangered.
So decimated.
It’s underbelly is so shriveled na?
It’s roots are so withered na?
It has to be saved.
We must try to save it.
Why?
Coz
It is the only Hotel Kashmir Kashmir in these parts.

THREE POOR LOCALS (MAN 2 / WOMAN 2 / MAN 3) draped in white sheets – we must NOT see their visages.
They hum.

The Voice speaks.
Who are you?

The Three Poor Locals.
We come from the Pir Panjal mountain range.

The Voice speaks.
So? Who sent you? Speak up!

The Three Poor Locals.
We were sent by the Sheikh Saab?

The Voice speaks.
How is the old fart? Still eyeing other people’s wives?

Silence.

The Voice speaks.
Ho. Ho. You seek work? So? So does everyone?

The Three Poor Locals.
Give us a fair chance.

The Voice speaks.
Na, na, na, na. I do not hire strangers.

The Three Poor Locals.
What about our dreams, our aspirations?

The Voice speaks.
There are rules and regulations. What do you say?

The Three Poor Locals.
We’ve a work permit. We’ve an ID card. We’ve government clearance.

The Voice speaks.
Good. That’s a start. Where did your cart originate from?

The Three Poor Locals.
We come from the Pir Panjal mountain range.
Our cart originates from Gund.
Kangan.
Gunderbal.
Hazratbal.
Muffarabad.
Bismillah.
We came here because of rumours that were carried by the wind
One night the wind said to us, have you heard?
Hotel Kashmir Kashmir is back in business.
That’s night, and it was such a terrifying night, we dared to hope …
For hope is like magic when it is realized, no?

THREE POOR LOCALS (MAN 2 / WOMAN 2 / MAN 3) start to hum. They start to move slowly, ghost-like.

The Voice speaks.
Ah.
So it is.
Don’t just stand and stare at me like cattle.
Get to work.
We’ve lost time to make up.
The outside world has moved on.
We are running out of time.
Yes, time that old fucking fornicator.
Time has moved at the speed of light.
We have to catch up.
Come on.
Hurry.
We need to repair the doors and windows.
We need to mend the roof.
A bit of carpentry.
A bit of white-wash.
Replace the drainage, the pipes.
Perhaps?
Eh?
So much to do.
So much to do.

Lights flash.
A pale version of HOTEL KASHMIR KASHMIR starts to flash.
Roll of trumpet, etc.

A VOICE’s voice resonates.

Welcome to Hotel Kashmir Kashmir, sir.
Welcome to Hotel Kashmir Kashmir, madame.
Come one.
Come all.
Paradise is waiting …
Paradise is waiting ???

Slowly the image blurs. A VOICE falters!

Hurry up.
Time is passing.
Why are you NOT working?
Why is no one working?
Uncouth village bumpkins!
Don’t you see, the solitary walnut tree is shriveling and shrinking.
We need a gardener.
Some fertilizer.
Oh Oh unhappy day.
Oh Oh inauspicious hour.
Can you feel it?
The rumble?
The tumble?
We are sinking …
We are simply being swallowed by the earth.
Slowly.
Inch by tiny inch.
Till there’s nothing.
No night.
No day.
No tomorrow.
Nor today.
No fire.
No snow.
Nothing.
Just stillness.
Only silence.
Words that have uttered their last.
Now, there is no more sound.
Just the cold wind rushing past.
From the cliff side.
All alone.
It’s over.
All gone.
May Hotel Kashmir Kashmir – rest in peace.
Bismillah.
IT IS THE END.
IT IS OUR END!!!

A burst of radio static.
The neon lights start to fade …

THE END.






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