Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Taking a note of it

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All travellers take field notes. I usually do this every evening. Rarely, however, there is something that needs to be noted immediately for fear of losing its essence. Then I stop and write. The essential thing here is to observe as one goes along; to keep all senses at their maximum. Every bit of passing scenery, whether it is the desert or green mountains or even arid heights, is rich with colour and drama, only the traveller has to be observant. 

 Sometimes I tend to jumble the sequence of a full day of travelling: did we pass the ruined homestead first or the beautiful bend in the river? In such cases, the digital camera comes very handy. All I have to do is check the images on the display. But before I went digital in 2005, such situations were helped by travelling companions. Losing field notes is the horror of every traveler. I have fortunately never lost my notebooks. But I did lose one full roll of film with images from Deosai, and twice have I lost my tapes with interviews of people about whom I was hoping to write. Thankfully, I now have a digital recorder that sits in my camera bag.

The sifting and organising of the notes into a readable story comes naturally. I have never really had to think about that. In fact, once I start writing at home - and I write ONLY at home - I use my notes quite infrequently. On the Apricot Road expedition, one night in the Shaksgam River valley, I dreamed I had lost my notebook. I woke with a start and, even though the temperature outside the sleeping bag was below freezing, with sweat on my brow. On a journey, I am almost paranoid about my notebook. If it is outside its usual place in the camera bag, I hold on to it firmly with both hands. I never take it to the toilet for fear of dropping it on the filthy floor - that, incidentally, is one of my great fears. Though I am rather disorganized, I have notebooks from 1983 when I first started travelling and writing. In those days, I used those tiny pocket notebooks. Currently I use Chinese notebooks and have a number of moleskine notebooks waiting to be pressed into service.


posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:26,


At 21 May 2013 at 13:59, Anonymous Rafael said...

Taking notes and keeping them meticulously is a useful habit though some of the hard travels are itched in heart for ever. Nice blog. I am glad to find it.

At 21 May 2013 at 14:57, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you, Rafael.


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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