Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Between Two Burrs on the Map - Epilogue

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By six in the evening we had left Golain Valley and were on the jeep that the mad mullah drove as though we were being pursued by all the demons of hell. "After a journey of three and half months and over a thousand kilometres the slaty waters of the Yarkhun River are not the most appropriate of ends." I said to Thun Khan. He laughed and we got to Chitral without mishap. But there was no air ticket waiting as had been promised -- I was consigned to the sixteen hour bus ride over the winding Lowari Pass to Peshawar.

The driver who had promised to leave at four in the morning was still asleep at five. Nevertheless, fourteen hours and three buses later I was in Peshawar. But just as the rickshaw trundled into the station the night train to Lahore was pulling out. Someone shouted that we could still catch it at the outer station and for the first time I felt thankful to whoever had invented the rickshaw. It is the only mode of transport that can go over and under other vehicles, into the gutters and out again and defy gravity in several different manners as it attempts to get from one place to the other.

It was a muggy dawn with remnants of the monsoon persisting cloyingly in the thick air of Lahore. In the foyer of the railway station I paused to stuff my ice axe and rope into my rucksack. I had unwittingly stopped near a pair of taxi drivers: pot bellied, unkempt, unshaven, scratching their groins and spitting all over the place.
"Hey, is he an Angrez?" I heard one asking the other.
"Don't be silly. Ever seen such a dark Angrez," came the reply.
"But he's got all the stuff that the Angrez carries." This made some sense. The other one came towards me with one hand still on his groin.
"Taxi, Sur. Pearl Continental. Four hundred rupees," he tried. Ye gads, four hundred rupees for four kilometres!

It was five o'clock, too early in the day to shock these good men. Therefore, in the most English accent that I could muster I said, "Thank you my good man. I'd rather walk."
"Oy Angrez, teri bhen di siri!" one of them called after me and they both guffawed.

Hey White Man, your sister's head. As Punjabi invectives go this one is almost innocuous; something that could only have been invented by Lahoris.

It felt good to be home again.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 17 November 2014 at 12:04, Anonymous Naveed said...


At 30 December 2014 at 19:03, Anonymous Muhammad Athar said...

A great book review, love to read this book


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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