Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Wish I was in Budapest

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In December 1984, I climbed, for the first time ever, the spiral stairs of Minar e Masumi in the old town of Sukkur to look out across a fascinating vista of crowded multi-storeyed houses and the Sindhu River rolling magnificently through them. On one bank sat Sukkur the newer city and on the other Rohri, steeped in early medieval history, oozing that hoariness.

Of a sudden, I thought of Budapest, the Hungarian capital. Now the towns of Buda and Pest are two distinct towns separated by the Danube River and yet connected with a number of bridges. Similarly our Sukkur and Rohri are discrete but still joined by the spans across the Sindhu. I thought this was an analogy and as much as I scoured my mind I could not think of any other twin cities like this that were divided by a river.

Three years later, in the summer of 1987, I met a Hungarian tourist in Gilgit. He said he had a document at home that told him that his family came from one of the several Magyar tribes. I knew from my childhood stamp collecting that Hungary was Magyar in its own language.

The man was on his way to Xinjiang whence the Hunnic Magyars emerged during the early Middle Ages to migrate west. He wished to seek distant kinsmen he had never known. I told the man that my ancestors also came from the same land and before I could say it, he said, he knew we were distant cousins.

The man was from Budapest and I could not resist telling him that we had a Budapest on the Sindhu. Before we departed, his stories had built an image of a river-bisected city. Back home, I read up on Budapest and discovered a city of incredibly beautiful architecture and culture and I knew I had to see it once in my life. What drew me ever more to Budapest was the fact that as the Sindhu forms an island between Sukkur and Rohri so does the Danube.

One day, I wish to be in Buda, climb a tall building to look out across the Danube to Pest and see what those two share with Sukkur and Rohri. So far, with several trips to Europe behind me, I have not made it to Budapest.


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posted by Salman Rashid @ 09:00,


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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