Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Book of Days 2016

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Beginning eight years ago with Tales Less Told, Pakistan Petroleum Ltd again asked me to prepare a theme for their diary and table calendar for the year 2016. After some deliberation Saquib Hanif, the company’s Chief Public Relations Officer (who has since moved on to a higher position) and I decided to do something on crafts.

But we did not want to do what has already been flogged to death by the usual run of the mill diaries. We resolved to look at crafts that are on the verge of dying. Now, in the more than three decades of my life as a traveller, I had seen most of the crafts at some time or the other. In those years I had sometimes worried about the precarious condition of the practitioners of those fine crafts: nearly all of them complained their income was far from commensurate with the hard work and time they put into their creations. Many of them were not teaching their children their craft. Conversely, if they were, the children were not practicing it because it put bread on the table with some difficulty.

Over the years I had felt we would lose these crafts. And indeed we have lost many. Others continue to hang on by a mere thread. There is one, the lacquer work turnery of Dera Ismail Khan, that has picked up. According to Fahim Awan, the master craftsman, it was after I wrote a piece for Herald in 2003 that he started receiving buyers and his business picked up.

In the course of this work for next year’s diary, I learned that some of these crafts are dying because the ordinary city dweller has no idea what can be had. In our ignorance we prefer synthetic rubbish over the finest pieces of creation ranging from rugs to shawls, to shoes, to stoneware.

For next year’s publication, I picked twelve artisans and their craft that most Pakistanis would not even imagine exist. The work took me from Turbat to Badin to Chitral and to a remote corner of Baltistan. I visited Kashmore, Dera Ismail Khan and Thar and a few other places. On purpose I keep this secret for the time being so that you strive to get a copy of the diary. If not, follow the blog to read through the year what we are about to lose forever.

Once again, the work for the diary is an appeal to the institutions and the people of Pakistan to save what they can. But once again I fear my appeal will go unheard.

Related: Waters of Empire (2015), Discoveries of Empire (2014), Stones of Empire (2013), Wheels of Empire (2012), Roads Less Travelled (2011), Sights Less Seen (2010), Tales Less Told (2009)

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 2 December 2015 at 09:23, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Normally It goes unheard such appeals. But I pray that this does not happen in this case. Be Blessed./Ahmed Bajwa

At 6 December 2015 at 09:54, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Ahmed Bajwa, I am afraid we are blinded by our misplaced belief that we are all Arabs. This is a conquered country for us whose very culture and its Nature and trees are all kafir. No one will pay heed, this much I can assure you.

At 12 December 2015 at 17:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly said Sir

At 15 December 2015 at 12:32, Blogger Memoona Ali said...

Sir I am sure it will be a masterpiece and as amazing as the previous ones. Remember Alizain n us when you get your copies :))

At 19 December 2015 at 10:13, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

As soon as I receive my copies, I'll bring one around.

At 21 December 2015 at 16:15, Blogger Memoona Ali said...

Thank you dear sir :)


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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