Covid pandemic has disturbed the normal life of people all over the world. Each and every country of the world got affected some less, some more. It impacted all the sectors especially economic activities and education. The continuous and partial lockdowns have made people suffer and Kashmir is not an exception. The second wave of covid-19 made things even more difficult for businesses, traders, transporters, those earning from hand to mouth, and also the student community. They didn’t have seen their schools and colleges from the past more than two years. This created a void and gave rise to physiological problems among the student community. They feel like in jail so to kill time and live their lives happily, bring smiles to the faces of people, make them realize that the place they live in is very beautiful, and inspire others to follow their path to explore the surrounding areas and enjoy the beauty of nature. I introduce my readers to a group of young lads who despite facing hardships because of the covid-19 pandemic thought of exploring the surrounding areas of their place of living and try to bring smiles on the faces of people and inspire others through their vlogs. One Sunday evening a group of four boys habitually met near a shop for an evening chat. In Kashmir, regardless of age, customarily gathered on roadsides and shop fronts to discuss different issues from day-to-day events to international politics and find solutions to the discussed problems and issues. One among the four boys put few chairs in front of his shop where his other three friends were to arrive. When they arrive words started floating over the table. As they sip the hot coffee while discussing issues, the discussion got hotter and shrill noise pierced the silence of the evening. Among the four friends flouts an idea of exploring the local forest area and the idea instantly got approval from the other three. They name their vlogging channel “Bunk and Vlog”. Aadil Sheikh (25), senior-most in the group, is mature enough to make the right decisions. He has completed his B.Tech. Degree from DCRUST Sonipat Haryana, two years back, and due to prevailing circumstances, he is unable to make ends meet. Sheikh is unemployed despite scoring well in the B.Tech course. Now he has started a shop named “Chai N Chill” at Badragund a few meters away from Srinagar Jammu national highway. It is the first of its kind in the area. A coffee shop in a less-populated village is rare. A small narrow shop has an extended pavement to accommodate customers, and people find it easy to kill their time. Sheikh says, “I don’t know if it is a good business idea but what matters to me is that this place attracts and engages people and gives them a break from their worries, at least for a while.” He is the main organizer of “BunkAndVlog” and has to accomplish the “voice over” part of the whole Vlog.
Figure 1 from L to R: Aadil, Hurair, Asrar and Umar
Umar Bhat (24), completed his graduation from Anantnag College in the year 2018, he then did a diploma in hotel management and went outside for a job. After a year and a half, he had to return after the outbreak of deadly coronavirus. During lockdown like other sectors suffered ours too got affected, and to avoid boredom and other issues at home one has to engage himself in other activities, he said. Bunk and Vlog is not just a YouTube channel, but a source to connect with people from all walks of life. “We bring out the unexplored places of Kashmir to our subscribers at their fingertips, we are privileged that we have got breathtaking and mesmerizing places here and numerous of them are even unexplored, Umar added”. His work is to identify places and help in the camera work during the vlog making. The other guy, Asrar Rayees (21) is pursuing a diploma in civil engineering at polytechnic college Kulgam. Asrar finds it absurd to continue the online classes on the zoom app. It’s disturbing and irritates him. He feels, there is no meaning in these online classes and in no way can be compared to the offline/physical classes. For him, it is depressing to sit idly at home, with no one to interact with. COVID hasn’t allowed people to interact, so depressing thoughts and memories take a huge toll on our mental health, to avoid all this, Asrar feels, it is better to explore few places in the Anantnag district and put it out before the public through Vlogs. Asrar, the co-organizer is doing camera work and editing part in a team of Bunk and Vlog. Another guy, Hurair Bhat (19) is a medical student who recently passed his 12th with a high percentage, has been receiving tuition at Srinagar coaching institution. But, these times are terrible to him too; he had to return home amid a spike in Covid 19 cases. Hurair too at times bunks online classes to join his friends on these trips. He says, “I was fortunate enough in my family to get tuition for NEET at Srinagar but I think my fate has other plans.” Leaving behind the troubles the last few months threw, he feels few moments with friends will comfort him.Hurair helps Asrar in editing videos and is best at poster making (thumbnail for vlogs). The group in a planned manner decided a day in a week for the trip. Other days they do their routine work and then plan their next trip a day before, at the same place where they sipped a cup of coffee at the beginning of their other side of the journey. These young guys will be having trips to different locations particularly within Anantnag and Kulgam districts to bring out unexplored places to the public through their YouTube channel “Bunk and Vlog”. Exploring these places is not just a picnic, it is a way to get out of depressive thoughts. We have seen a rise in suicides, and other social evils that pervade the young lads. Exploring nature and forests gives you the idea of how vast our universe is, says Asrar.
P.S:- Explore the forests, but kindly don’t take junk food there, forests are real jewels preserve them. Exploring is good, but kindly take care of forests and meadows. Don’t throw unwanted things there; polluting our own green gold will be another catastrophe. In this season of trips take extreme care of each other – be kind to nature, be a reasonable and responsible citizen.
(The author is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Govt Degree College Boys Anantnag. Views are his own)