Cups of nun chai records the sharing of one hundred and eighteen cups of nun chai, and just as many conversations. Each cup was a part of a growing memorial for one hundred and eighteen civilians killed in the protests that shook the Kashmir valley during the summer of 2010.
In these exchanges the political unfolds through a profoundly personal experience, and events, places and sentiments that are often obscured from view are given breathing space. People, homes, memory—and flavour—combine to make tangible what so many outside Kashmir do not know.
This is an archive of small moments, marking each loss and moving against the normalisation of political violence and death. Spanning the spheres of contemporary art, literature, social-science and journalism, Cups of nun chai is a poignant act of memorialisation—a means of remembering, reading and reminding.
Adroit, and shot through with an extraordinary, even stubborn, compassion, it reflects on Kashmir, but also on nation-making and colonisation, and on power and violence. The histories, political forces and grief behind this work emerge gradually, but with great sensitivity. And eventually with an unexpected degree of ferocity.
Published by Yaarbal Books and designed by Itu Chaudhuri Design. With additional contributions from Parvaiz Bukhari and Uzma Falak. The book is available in select book stores and online now—further information here.
Enquiries: yaarbalbooks (at) gmail (dot) com
A magnificent conversation with Kashmir, one that will open new ways of seeing one of the world’s most enduring struggles for freedom and dignity. Alana Hunt has created a breath-taking and unforgettable text. I loved every cup of nun chai.
Now more than ever before, the fate of the world must be brokered in the contest between self-assertion and communal allegiance. Here is a work—heartfelt, heart-strong and heartening—that shows how you might turn the contest into a conversation leading to a convocation. It starts by pausing, reflecting, brewing, sharing and replenishing.
Writer, artist & filmmaker
Creates a space that allows people to move out of their comfort zones without in any way feeling threatened… There is a subtle but subversive element in the work, forcing the audience to think outside the old and tired narratives dominated by Indo-Pakistan national security, to bear witness to the unconscionable and ongoing human tragedy in Kashmir.
The simple gesture of having ‘salt tea’ – a common practice in Kashmir – is transformed into the fulcrum of a series of encounters and conversations. This is an act of mourning, but avoids the trope of lamentation. It remembers, but is not trapped by memory… Alana Hunt may be an ‘outsider’ to Kashmir, but this work has a degree of empathy with the circumstances of ordinary life missing in many representations of the Kashmir conflict… It carries the salinity of lived experience, and the tannin of a thinking, reflecting mind.
Artist & curator
Yaarbal Books is an independent publishing house based in New Delhi, India.
It takes its name from a Kashmiri language word for the riverbank, and suggests a place of conviviality, where conversations can take place.
The logo, a bold Y integrated with a slingshot, is a fair representation of its intentions: both resourceful and resolute, at once toy and weapon. It also stands in for a commitment to swim against the tides of power, commerce, and conformity.
Its first title, the 2017 photobook ‘Witness – Kashmir / 1986-2016’ was listed in New York Times Magazine’s year-end list of Best Photo Books of 2017.
Yaarbal is an imprint of New Delhi based Octave Communications, a production house with a three decade long track record in documentary film and television, and headed by film-maker and writer Sanjay Kak.
Publication of this book is supported by The State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries.