This is a question that I am asked quite often. What or who is an Arain Munda? Before you read on, post a comment on what you think it might be, then at the end of this article we’ll find out how close you were! This arain munda thing whatever it is, is my alias and in many instances my username. It is not a nickname, nobody calls me it and as you can most probably tell, it isn’t English. So what is it?

Languages it can be understood in are Urdu, Punjabi, Pushto and Hindi. Punjabi (well the broken form) is actually my mother tongue, but being a Londoner I rarely spoke it after I got to school. Speaking so little of a language takes its toll and if someone fluent in Punjabi heard me speak it now, they’d probably be in hysterics. I do have a desire to improve the language that I first spoke, but it’s not massively high on my priority list, so I guess it can wait.

So now we know what language it is, lets begin with the word Munda. It might be a bit baffling starting backwards, but this is the easy part so we might as well get it out of the way. Munda just means “boy”, “lad”, “chap” or something along these lines! You cannot be a female munda, the word is strictly for the male specimen! Without getting too deep into the language, there are many different words for boy or lad in Punjabi, but munda is a very casual and playful way of describing a guy in my neck of the woods. I see myself as quite a happy go lucky guy, so the word munda was an obvious choice for me.

The word Arain is a bit more complex and not a Punjabi word as such. The Arain are actually a tribe or caste of people who have high numbers in Azad Kashmir and in a southern Pakistani state called Sindh. I belong to this tribe and have done bits of study on them over the last few years. I’ve learnt much about them, and knowing their movements over time gives me a great sense of belonging. I personally didn’t know what I was for most of my life. I initially thought I was Pakistani, I mean, my family grew up watching the Pakistani cricket team and so to me it was obvious! I’m brown, they’re brown, I’m Pakistani! 1992 was the year I felt most Pakistani. Imran Khan lifted the Cricket World Cup (I didn’t know the rules or what was going on, I just knew we won!) and that was that, my uncles, cousins, parents, all cheering and celebrating. I thought to myself “I am Pakistani”. Then I visited the country, fell in love with it, and boasted my nationality in a huge way…”BIG UP PAKISTAN”. Over time, my opinions changed drastically.

I went back to Pakistan in 2000 after a pretty long time since my first visit. I saw the country was a mess but that didn’t bother me until we crossed a particular bridge with soldiers stood around it. I remembered driving across there was a sign saying “Goodbye Pakistan”….I thought to myself “stupid freshies, got their English all wrong…Goodbye??!? What fools!” upon getting to the other side of the bridge where my parents village is, there is a sign saying “Welcome Azad Kashmir”…..back up a second, is Azad Kashmir a country? CONFUSED.COM.

So I speak to my dad about it, and a thousand other people while I’m at it and to break it down as easy as possible….Azad Kashmir is Pakistani occupied Kashmir. Pakistan occupy 33% of Kashmir, India occupy 56% of it and China occupy 11% of it. SO am I some sort of Indian-Pakistani-Chinese cyborg??? Why are these powerful countries occupying our land? It’ was time to do some reading, and it turns out Kashmir is one of the Richest states in the world in terms of natural resources. Makes sense now eh? The way USA walk into Iraq to steal their oil, Pakistan, India and China are sat in Kashmir trying to claim it as theirs. Typical of the greedy world we live in. From learning this, more than anything, I wanted Kashmir to get independence. Kashmir itself is a lot closer to Pakistan in terms of culture and belonging, but even then, the Pakistanis treat Kashmiris like dirt. Kashmir powers 60% of Pakistan, but thousands of innocent Kashmiri’s were killed to build the Dam’s that keeps their country going. Dams need to be turned down in capacity to ensure they don’t blow up, and when they do turn down the capacity, rather than keep it equal? They turn off all power in Kashmir so that Pakistan doesn’t suffer. Back up a second, the two main dams that run Pakistan are in Kashmir, but if they are over capacity, Kashmir’s electricity is turned off and Pakistan’s stays on? That’s like a fat bastard walking into your house and eating your dinner! I remember in 2006, I stood on the balcony of my grandfathers house while the electricity was off in Kashmir. It was pitch black, but I could see across that river, I could see the Pakistani’s had their light, their air conditioning, their fridges, freezers, microwaves….and all the while it’s pitch black in Kashmir. The world can be so wrong sometimes.

So now, I don’t say I’m Pakistani. I mean when I get a form and it says “tick the box which most applies to you”. The options are:

  • British Asian – Indian………nope.
  • British Asian – Pakistani…….nope.
  • British Asian – Other….Yup thats me!

I’m not Indian, not at all. I’m not Pakistani, but I have relations there and I support their cricket team haha! I am Kashmiri, but people laugh that off and say “Which Kashmiri? Indian or Pakistani?”… what can I say? I can say with passion that I am Arain. My ancestors were from Palestine (funnily enough, a place now occupied by greedy Israelis) and they moved across to Kashmir and Sindh in 710 CE when pirates hijacked a boat with innocent women and children on broad. When they saved the boat, they were considered heroes and ended up staying in Kashmir and Pakistan for life. That is who I am. That is my heritage. That is why I am an Arainmunda.

The flag of Azad Kashmir