Let's hope that this new book by Indian political scientist Navnita Chadha Behera (no relation that I know of), Demystifying Kashmir will straighten out everyone's thinking about Kashmir and finally bring about an end to the jihad, I mean inter-state conflict - or whatever it is that has caused so many deaths and such economic devastation for so many decades.
While I don't necessarily agree that Chadha "breaks new ground," as the Brookings Institute catalog puts it, because she frames "the conflict as a political battle of statemaking between India and Pakistan rather than as a rigid and ideological Hindu-Muslim conflict," I do think she's right to remind everyone of the "rich, complex, and multi-faceted" nature of Kashmir and the fact that this Himalayan state was the beloved homeland of many different ethnic groups and religious faiths before all the ethnic cleansing began.
Now whether recalling these historical details will really convince the warring parties to come together and call a truce, well, I'm in the agnostic camp on this one. That said, I do think this is one of those instances where maybe some persistent faith could work some magic.
I remember the first time I saw Notre Dame in Paris. "Do you believe in God," I asked my traveling companion, who prefers to remain anonymous.
"Does it matter?" he responded. "Look at what faith built."
On that note....But before we leave the subject of Kashmir, I'm happy to report that in spite of the jihad or whatever it is that is going on up there, Kashmiri shawl designs only get more and more fabulous.
As my anonymous traveling companion put it when I showed him my latest purchases, "Uh-oh, Italy has to be getting worried."
And by the way, these were the cheap ones and these photographs do them absolutely no justice.