SRINAGAR, Aug 1: Elsewhere, the northern grid snag may have caused huge losses to businesses and vital services, but in Kashmir people had another reason for disappointment.
This year an increasing number of mosques in the valley, especially in Srinagar, are getting air conditioners (ACs) installed, drawing a rush of devotees who sit late after prayers to worship more and also escape the scorching heat.
Also, with this year’s Ramadan — when Muslims abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk — having fallen in hot summer, many people spend more time at the mosques given the air-conditioned environs.
However, erratic power supply played spoilsport during the last couple of days.
“This is really sad. We got an AC installed at the mosque only yesterday but see what happened. For the whole day today power came in instalments,” said Shabir Ahmed, a regular at Masjid Bilal in Srinagar. “I was hoping that the AC would fight the fatigue caused by heat, but what could be done now,” he rued.
This year, the weather too has been unreliable in Kashmir. Winter was prolonged with intermittent rains and snow in the higher areas till late May, while the days in between were hotter than expected.
June was sunnier and in July the mercury crossed 30 degrees celsius. As a result AC-selling shops are witnessing huge orders from mosques in this month of Ramadan.
“The trend started last year, but I sold only two or three pieces then. This year, it has been huge; in one month I have sold more than 70 air conditioners for mosques alone,” said Jowhar Ahmed of the Oriental Sales in Srinagar.
And he says the demand is not over. “At least 30 to 40 people come enquiring about the cost and energy consumption of ACs.” Another AC dealer, Owais Ahmed, said he has ordered for fresh stock after the earlier lot sold out. “The demand is such that even if there are 100 air conditioners, they would sell like hot cakes,” he said.
(The author is a trainee with Hindustan Times)