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This article was prepared for the June 5, 2002 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Between the Lines
In past times in bucolic Princeton, wars and rumors
of wars could seem very distant. Even now, if you avoid listening
to the news on radio and television, if you skip the world news section
of the New York Times, and if you don’t happen to be near Palmer Square
during an anti-war demonstration, you might persuade yourself that
whether Diane Allen or Doug Forrester won the June 4 primary for the
Republican Senate nomination is the most important political question
of the day.
But as war talk rises toward a crescendo in one far corner of the
world, it reverberates here at home. Take the situation in Kashmir,
located in the Himalayas between India and Pakistan, created by the
partition of India when British colonial rule ended in 1947. Last
week Preview writer Patricia Summers wrote about a show of handwoven
Oriental rugs at Ten Thousand Villages in Princeton Shopping Center.
The rugs, all fair-trade items, were all made in Pakistan. Some 600
families in 100 villages around Lahore, the country’s second largest
city, are part of an artisan group that was founded in the late 1960s
by a Pakastani Baptist pastor.
"Since both Muslims and Christians are involved in the rug making
operations, an added advantage is the interaction made possible by
their working together," wrote Summers. "Because artisans’
wages go toward improved food, housing, education and health care,
those who purchase rugs are investing not only in beauty and quality,
but much more basically, in people — many of them — and their
financial stability in an unstable environment."
In a thank-you to the author, the manager of Ten Thousand Villages
noted how dangerous the current situation is in Kashmir. Today, 1
million troops are ranged along its 1,800-mile borders, and the presidents
of Russia, China, and Kazakhstan are meeting with the presidents of
India and Pakistan in a determined effort to tone down talk of nuclear
"Pakistan is in such great difficulty right now and some of the
villages are only three miles from the border," writes Ingrid
Heinrichs-Pauls. "I am really hoping that we can reach, teach,
and yes, even sell, these beautiful rugs to many people and thereby
support the artisans. How lucky we are to make decisions about whether
we should buy something and whether we like it enough, not decisions
regarding our immediate survival."
Kashmir’s bucolic past is vividly described in a new book by Pennington
resident Sudha Koul, interviewed in this issue by Joan Crespi on page
42. "The book is gracefully packed with memories of extended families,
legends handed down through generations, magic and superstition, religious
festivals, smells, fragrances, foods, and — at the beginning —
easy days of pleasure," writes Crespi.
Koul grew up in the Kashmir’s high valley, where Hindu and Muslim
were strongly bound by a common language and culture. "We were
all Kashmiri and we lived in the most beautiful place on earth,"
writes Koul. She will read from and sign copies of "The Tiger
Ladies: A Memoir of Kashmir," at Barnes and Noble, Marketfair,
on Thursday, June 6, at 7 p.m.
Wars and rumors of war are not so very distant from Palmer Square.
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