Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

The Apricot Road to Yarkand Title Image

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Excerpt: Journey’s End, Review by Maheen Pracha 

Book is available at Sang e Meel (042-3722-0100), Lahore

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Between Two Burrs on the Map

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I lay dozing on a commandeered charpai in the mellow early September sun of Sost, Pakistan's border post with China on the Karakoram Highway, when I was roused by a crisp 'Major Rashid'? The year was 1990, I was two-thirds through my long trek across the Western Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindu Kush.

Poised at the mouth of Chapursan to walk over the 5,200 metre-high Chillinji Pass into Ishkoman Valley, I had been told to inform before hand the commander at the remote military outpost of Baba Ghundi Ziarat. As I made inquiries about the man and if it was possible to get transport to the outpost, I was told that he, Niyat Khan, had only shortly before been spotted in Sost.
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Weekend World With Sophiya

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Every thing is in a name

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Two-and-a-half millenniums ago, Plato was very strict about travellers who misrepresented details of their journeys abroad. He was of the drastic view of death to such mendacious travel writers. Sadly, in Pakistan we do not have a Plato to set the norm, therefore, what passes as travel writing in Urdu is nothing but the most disgraceful charlatanry.

Pakistani travel writers have no background knowledge of the places they pretend to be writing about and, therefore, their work is of no greater substance than the essay written by a grade five student on how he/she spent the summer vacations. Since readers of Urdu travel writing too are completely ignorant about their country, the rubbish that the writer spews out at them is taken as ‘knowledge’.
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Mystery on an Ancient Highway

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‘Bamaar’s blow was so violent that it clean struck off Sultan Mohammed’s head, and sent it rolling down the hill,’ said the old man that my friend Abbas Ali had enlisted to show us the purported jailhouse and the palace on the crest of the low eminence of Bamurg Kandao just two kilometres due east of Parachinar town.


The jailhouse was no more than a natural cutting in the limestone hill and the palace was simply the foundation of three or four rooms whose antiquity I could not guess. Whoever had lived here in whichever period of time, enjoyed an indisputably magnificent view along the Zeeran stream, a tributary of the Kurram. Below us lay neatly parcelled squares of cultivation, across the river were the houses of Yusufkhel village and far away to the north the dark line of the Safed Koh range dissolved into storm clouds that sparkled with lightening every now and again. Parachinar was sprinkled in the middle ground to the west; a range of low hills blocked the view to the east. And to the south the Zeeran cut through more farmland.
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'The Great Opportunity Is Where You Are'

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Twenty-seven year-old Ali Buksh comes from a poor Shahwani Brahui family of Mastung. His father is a watchman with the Meteorology Department at Quetta. It was no small miracle that on his father’s meagre salary Ali Buksh managed to complete eight grades of school — especially when there were six other brothers as well. Then, in order to augment the small income, it was into the grind of unskilled construction labour for him. Over time, realising that this was not the end-all, he learned driving. By and by he got a license and became a pick-up truck driver.

That was a good deal better than the back-breaking labourer’s work, but working as a paid driver Buksh’s income was never more than two hundred rupees a day. The rattle-trap that he drove would habitually break down and more often than not Buksh was expected by the owner to get it going again. As time went by, more than the driving, it was the tinkering with the engine that Buksh began to enjoy. And so, having done his day’s work as driver, he went under the wing of a master mechanic in Quetta.
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Deosai: Land of the Giant

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From DEOSAI: THE LAND OF THE GIANT - available at Sang-e-Meel Publications (042-3722-0100), Lahore 

Related excerpts: Land of the GiantDeosai National Park and Book Review - Deosai Romance

Odysseus Lahori two years ago: Alexander in Taxila - Episode 4 - Video

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On the first train to the border

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As you read this, the first train originating in Karachi and passing through Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas will have already steamed across the frontier into Munabao station in Rajasthan. Indeed, the first return train will be just about now pounding across the sand dunes en route to Karachi. ‘Steaming’ here being a figure of speech, for the trains are no more worked by those grand old machines of yore, those coal-burning (later furnace oil), smoke-belching steam locomotives. Today a modern diesel juggernaut will haul the train.

Again, now the journey will not require the tedious change of trains at Mirpur Khas, where in the old days the broad gauge line ended. From here onward it was a metre gauge line and this section was known as the Jodhpur Railway (JR). Time was when many of those lovely old workhorses wore little badges above the pony wheels in front that said JBR – Jodhpur Bikaner Railway.
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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