Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Fahd Rasul Butt - He seemed indestructible

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Fahd was tall, I never asked him how tall, and he was well-built and good-looking. To go with that brawn was a very sharp, active mind that gave him an interest in everything around him. He was an electronics engineer and also had some sort of qualification in finance. Our extended family met him when my niece Maria and he were interns with a bank back in 2003 or thereabouts. (Or, were they already working as bank officers?) 

There was nothing make-believe about him
Fahd was the kind of person you would immediately like. With his ready grin and merry laughter, he was the fun chap always a treat to have around, and he simply grew on you.
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Jadoo Nagri Chuttok

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Urdu article Jadoonagri Chuttok, the lovely tangi in Moola Valley where water flows everywhere appeared in newspaper Roznama Pakistan [double click the image below to enlarge].
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Wonderland in Moola

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The Moola Gorge, for centuries a favoured route between the Kalat highlands and the fertile plains of Sindh, is a wide u-shaped, well-watered gorge. It cuts clear across the otherwise unbroken barrier of the rugged and barren Khirthar Mountains providing a travel route that could be used by ancient wheeled traffic. Keen to promote this beautiful valley as a tourist destination, a group of local young men have organised a Spartan rest house (N28°-08.754’, E 67°-08.434’) in the Keel hills.


Just behind and to the west of the rest house, the hills are riven by a narrow circuitous chasm, a feature that would be called a tungi in the Pushto-speaking parts of Balochistan. Here in Brahui-speaking Moola Valley, they call it Chuttok – The One that Drips. This is the site that the young men hope to promote.
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Feat of Clay

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Humans are known to have experimented with clay for nearly 30,000 years when they first began to create figurines for domestic and ritual use. But it was with the establishment of the first settlements that works of clay were mass produced. From the first sun-dried objects it was only a short way to fired pieces. The basic pit kiln firing at 800 degrees Celsius was followed by the updraft kiln capable of attaining temperatures of up to 1200 degrees as seen in Harappa dating as far back back as 2400 BCE. Working clay into ringing terracotta had come of age.

A red slip is applied to a miniature Harappan urn before painting it in the same ancient style
As he sits on the edge with his feet turning the wheel in the shallow pit to turn the smaller wheel on which he shapes the formless lump of moist clay, Mohammad Bashir of Harappa knows he keeps an ancient tradition alive. Belonging to the Kumhar or potter clan, Bashir follows a family profession handed down through more generations than he can count. Though he does not know how long man has been creating clay objects, he says that living in riverine areas like the Punjab, there was never any shortage of material and it was only natural for it to be put to use.
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Train tourism

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Railways is among the more enduring legacies of the British Raj in the subcontinent. There is virtually an inexhaustible body of extremely interesting lore and history of the building of this great system of transportation discussed in a few excellent books and in the esoteric journals in the Punjab Archives. It is another story that the ignorant and asinine bureaucrats do not permit access to that great treasure trove.


Even if one has not read about the intricacies and heroism of the laying of the line from, say, Ruk (near Shikarpur) to Sibi, one can still stand on the platform of Ruk and wonder what the letters KSR and IVSR that adorn the façade in blue on white ceramic tiles mean. The lettering signifies that this little-known station was the junction of the Indus Valley State Railway coming up from Kotri and the new line to Quetta and Chaman called the Kandahar State Railway.
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Deosai - where earth meets the sky

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Deosai - where earth meets the sky [Image from Deosai: Land of the Giant] - Book is available at Sang e Meel (042-3722-0100), Lahore

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Sincerity

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This piece appears in the January 2015 issue of Herald 

I have a handy little volume titled Murphy’s Law Complete, by one Arthur Bloch. Among a few hundred other gems, the book contains a priceless piece of advice that has long been the guiding principle of our political class. It is called Glyme’s Formula for Success. Now, don’t even ask me who this Glyme chap is because I have no clue and neither does Bloch or he would have told us. The formula states: ‘The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.’

Going by his name, this Glyme cannot possibly be a Pakistani. I therefore suspect this piece of very useful wisdom so much in use in Pakistani politics, as well as in daily life, was actually thought up by a local sage who put it into practice without taking out a patent on it. Unprotected by law, the formula was filched by smart aleck Glyme whose name then stuck to it. I suspect it was fear of legal action from Pakistan that kept old Glyme from passing on his full name to Bloch.
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Built Heritage

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days