Skip to main content


I Love Kashmir More and More…

Some time back when Prof Mohd Ashraf Ganie contacted me over phone to be a speaker for this conference, I was a bit intrigued. First of all, the name of the conference surprised me: I had never heard a scientific society like ‘Metabolic Syndrome, Prediabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Society’. What is this kind of Society, which is trying to bring internists, endocrinologists, and Obs-Gynae experts under one umbrella? Psychiatrists had no place in it, though, Psychiatry is only obliquely related to all these disorders. A number of new generation antipsychotic drugs have been shown to result into metabolic syndrome (weight gain, central obesity, high blood sugar levels) in the users. People with Prediabetes are at risk for developing depression as well as cognitive decline. Women with polycystic diseases also have some mental health issues, which are largely ignored by the patients as well as clinicians. But to call a Psychiatrist to address these medical experts appeared too far-fetched. I thought, since Ashraf has been a good friend, he was being a generous host in giving me a chance to visit Srinagar once again.
Well, I readily accepted his invitation. Who allows a golden opportunity go waste to visit Kashmir! Visiting Kashmir has always been a pleasurable experience, and it would be a fantastic opportunity to escape the scorching Sun of Delhi weather, mercury touching 44 Celsius on daily basis.

Emperor Jahangir once said about Kashmir, “Agar Firdaws ba roy-i-zamin ast, hamin ast-u hamin ast-u hmin ast”, meaning , If there is Paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.”
However, the media was reporting some disturbing events taking place every now and then especially in South Kashmir. Though, there was nothing untoward in these news about Srinagar, but one exercises some caution while visiting it. My apprehensions, if any, about visiting the Valley, were immediately put to rest by Ashraf just by his reassuring phone call. Then I did not look back in making my preparations.
Ashraf wanted me to talk on ‘Lifestyle Diseases and Psychiatric Comorbidities’. During our frequent calls in last few days, he also roped me in to give one more talk on ‘Substance and Alcohol Use: Public Health Implication’. And as if to justify my visit to this Conference, I also volunteered to speak on ‘Depression and Non-communicable Diseases’. Believe me, I enjoyed giving all the three talks to a very receptive audience.
For my Delhi-Srinagar flight, I had done web check-in and selected window seat on left hand side of the aircraft. This way, on a good day, you can view majestic mountains during Jammu-Srinagar sector. I had been fortunate in my earlier visits to Srinagar, when miles on I could view mighty Himalayan snow covered peaks. When I reported at the airport, I was informed by the airlines that I had been upgraded to business class. However, what I realized, to my dismay, was that I lost my window seat in the process. It was not a good bargain, since flying business class for a 90 minute flight gives you no extra benefit except for some more room and extra calories. And I lost the view in the bargain.
Arriving Srinagar on the evening of 10th May was an exciting experience. The venue of the conference, Shere-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), struck as a venue like out of this world. I have attended my conferences within and outside the country, but never in my life did I come to a venue as beautiful as this one. The lush greenery around it, the lake, the flowers all over, the halls, the ease of going around the venue were all breath taking. The entire venue was teeming with delegates, busy in animated discussions. Smart enthusiastic young ladies, who impressed me with their efficiency and courtesy, were manning the Registration counter and helping with scientific sessions. Later in the evening we were entertained by local artists with folk music, dance, and ghazals of popular masters.

The delegates were from various parts of the country, and so many were overseas delegates. They had put away all the media scare-mongering, and did not let it come in way to visiting Kashmir for being part of this Conference. I was told that many invited speakers had cancelled their visits, and I could only feel pity for them, since they had missed a golden opportunity to be welcomed by the generous hosts and local people, and see for themselves that one has to be objective in making assessment, and not be influenced by the media frenzy.
I felt deeply touched by the warmth and hospitality of the Organizers, volunteers, staff, or whomsoever I met over last three days. It is difficult to find so much politeness, courtesy, and love from people anywhere else.
The scientific programme was impressively and imaginatively chalked out. I could find so many illustrious names in the programme, and could meet a number of them. I attended many scientific sessions, and in each session I learnt a few ‘take home messages’; whether it was listening to an endocrinologist, obs-gynae specialist, internist, surgeon, paediatrician, orthopaedic surgeon, oncologist, or a renal specialist, health administrator, or research scientist. Their presentations were rich in scientific content, and had a message about new challenges and novel innovations for everyone on lifestyle disorders.

I did find time to visit the Mughal Gardens once again. They were as beautiful as ever. I also went to Sonmarg and beyond. The drive to Sonmarg was picturesque, and at places the landscape was just breathtaking. The road goes all the way to Leh via Zozila pass, Drass and Kargil. A few kilometers beyond Sonmarg, the trek starts on the right side to take you to Baltal, and then to the Holy shrine of Amarnath. The Amarnath yatra will start in June, and continue till mid-August.

I must put on record my deep appreciation for Ashraf, his wife Sobia and the entire team behind them. Ashraf had been remarkable in looking after each detail, and personally attending to the concerns of all delegates, whether it was about their presentations, their travel or stay arrangements, or looking after their sightseeing trips. Sobia stood like a solid rock behind him.
It had been very heartening to see young people attending the conference. Very impressive had been to see a large number of young women attending the conference. If women are taking up higher education and challenging roles in a big way, there is no doubt that that society is bound to progress further and further. The testimony to that was the fact that all the three award winners for scientific presentations on the Valedictory function on 12th May were young ladies. My salute to them.
I also feel it is high time that the media behaves more responsibly in its reporting on Kashmir. For the sake of TRP, it has been sensationalizing petty incidents, which has unnecessarily put all kind of ideas into outsiders’ mind about the local situation. It only hurts local interests, and prevents people visiting this magnificent paradise on Earth. Let me give one example, narrated by a local resident. A few days back there was a heavy downpour for 2-3 days. The news channel, while reporting on it, showed footage from the havoc of 2104 floods, without clarifying that the footage was an old one. Local people got panicky that some parts were experiencing Nature’s fury once again!
I have been fortunate in coming to Kashmir on regular basis. I have very close and deep friendship with professional colleagues here, as well as with ordinary citizens. And every time I come to Kashmir, I love it more and more.

Read my earlier post of January 2016 on Kashmir:


Poonam Kirpal said…
Simply stated lined with subtle humour, the narrative is descriptive and interesting. The pictures are enthralling. Wonderful to mix pleasure with work Dr. Khandelwal in this beautiful place
Poonam Kirpal said…
Simply stated lined with subtle humour, the narrative is descriptive and interesting. The pictures are enthralling. Wonderful to mix pleasure with work in this beautiful place
Bigya Shah said…
As i read your description, i revisited the place and i am reminiscing the very talk we had when i was confused to make the trip due to the political unrest and incidents that are usually highlighted in the media.Despite all the odds during planning, the trip has been one of my memorable events in India and i cant thankyou enough for encouraging our group of junior residents. We just couldn't afford to miss the trip after we spoke to you :)
Sudhir Bagga said…
Sudhir I am so envious of you. You are enjoying good mental and physical health. hats off to you. I wish you could continue to keep us abreast of your adventures
Thanks for sharing
Poonam, Kashmir offers so much opportunities by way of tourisam, as well as judiciously mixing work and pleasure. I had been lucky lately.
Thank you for your comments and visiting the blog.
Bigya, I am glad you guys made it to Kashmir last year, and during your stay in India. I hope you get more opportunities to visit it. Previously, Kashmir used to be the most favourite destination for honeymooners.
Who were the other JRs with you?
Kushagra said…
Belatedly visited this blog post on Kashmir today and am reminded yet again on how the mountains are my favorite escape in India. So glad we share that love. Beautiful writing and indeed dismayed to hear of the media hyberbole which muddies true issues in our midst. Anyway, we ought to plan a trip / trek to Kashmir some time soon!

Kushagra said…
Belatedly visited this blog post on Kashmir today and am reminded yet again on how the mountains are my favorite escape in India. So glad we share that love. Beautiful writing and indeed dismayed to hear of the media hyberbole which muddies true issues in our midst. Anyway, we ought to plan a trip / trek to Kashmir some time soon!

From one Sudhir to another Sudhir: don't feel envious; Just Do It. In Kashmir and Uttarakhand, there are many places where people of all shades of physical and mental can go easily.
Just two weeks ago, my friend's 70 year old mom celebrated her 70th birthday at Kedarnath.
So you just have to hop onto a flight for Srinagar, or get into a cab to go anywhere in Uttarakhand.
I really enjoyed your vivid description of nature's bounties in Kashmir with beautiful pictures as well as finding out about your positive approach to learning.
enjoyed reading very vivid description of Kashmir with beautiful pictures.
Bikash wrote, 'Interesting. Raising taxes does decrease consumption and increase revenues.But where do you draw the line. If one is taxing cigs then there should be a tax on huge food portions like double cheeseburgers, quadruple paranthas to be fair. Some people are addicted to food. So all bad habits can be taxed so that the good people can live happily ever after??'
Bikash, you are absolutely right on your suggestion. Yes, why not tax all these junk food with ugly huge portions! After all, people are dying because of overeating and obesity related diseases. Even if they don't die prematurely, because we struggle to keep them going, they are long term users of health services, and when health budgets are shrinking, looking after them costs the exchequer huge amount of money that could be used for better purposes.

Popular posts from this blog


When I told my family and friends that I wanted to trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Sahib this August, everyone thought I was just crazy. Besides Delhi, the rain gods had been relentless over Uttarakhand too causing road breaches at multiple sites in various hill towns. There were landslides everywhere and traffic to all the well known pilgrimage centres of Badri Nath, Kedar Nath, Gangotri and Yamunotri were getting cut off from rest of the country every now and then. The group I was trying to assemble had fallen through. But to do justice to the Valley of Flowers, one has to trek there in the month of August only when the entire valley is at its best bloom. So finally, I enquired at the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd ( if they had any vacancy for its weekly tour to Valley of Flowers – Hemkund Sahib – Badri Nath. Of course, they did not have any for the month of August. However, I was banking on some cancellations hoping some people might not like to venture on this…

The Winter Embrace of Kedarkantha


Recently on my visit to Chawri Bazaar in old and real Delhi, where my ancestors settled, lived and thrived ever since Bahadur Shah Zafar left Delhi, the paanwala (read panwaari) gave me a good lesson in Reverse Psychology. Before I give you my story, let me explain what Reverse Psychology is. By the way, Chawri Bazaar is close to Chandni Chowk. Metro stops at both these places. For the uninitiated, the important landmarks of Old Delhi are, Ajmeri Gate (adjacent to the New Delhi Railway station), Sita Ram Bazaar, Lal Kuan, Jama Masjid, Fateh Puri, Town Hall, Nai Sarak, Kinari bazaar, etc. The famous ‘parathe wali gali’ is in a narrow street off Chandni Chowk. Many important historical landmarks are there; Lal Kila, Jain Temple and its world famous Birds’ Hospital, Gauri Shankar Mandir, Gurudwara Shish Ganj sahib, Ghalib’s haveli and many others. This area is famous for many age-old traditions in eateries. Parathe of parathe wali gali, dahi-bhalla of Central Bank, vari…