Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

What do you believe in?

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I used to believe in all sorts of rubbish. Like the Earth being round and it revolving around the sun. I also believed things that I saw – but that too half because I was never sure if my eyes were not playing tricks on me. And I never believed most of what I heard from ordinary folks.

Illustration by Zehra Nawab

Things changed about ten years ago. I had walked up to the crest of the Makra peak in Kaghan and on the way back hitched a ride in a jeep with a bunch of Lahoris returning to Shogran. The leader – a Butt from Kashmiri Mohalla, who by Lahori aesthetics was handsome: tall, fat and fair-skinned – having ascertained that I had spent a few nights camping on the nearby Lake Saiful Muluk, was full of questions.

‘Do fairies really come to the lake at night?’ he asked, the very embodiment of earnestness. ‘Butt sahib, how old are you?’ was my response to the query.

The boy was twenty-eight.

For a moment, the light shone and everything changed for me. There I was in my mid-fifties having spent my life believing in rubbish that could only be informed by some silly thing called logic. And here was Butt, who had no such illusions. He believed in the fairies of Saiful Muluk because a so-called travel writer of the Urdu language said the lake was infested with them. This was like a twenty-eight-year-old in the West actually believing in Santa Claus and his reindeer-drawn flying sleigh because a lot of children believed in him.

I could have remained iffy about my new Butt-instilled belief system had I not shortly after met with this master haranguer outside Lahore Fort. Quoting from Scripture, he convinced me with a ten-minute lecture that the Earth was indeed flat. Everything else was a fib invented by the evil West to mislead pious people.

Seeing that I looked convinced, he went on to reveal that the Earth was also stationary. The proof: if it moved or spun there would be an endless windstorm whipping around us. And had I never spent an August night inside, say, Bhati or Lohari? There the air is so still and muggy that folks actually die of asphyxia without anyone strangling them, he said. Of course, the possibility of malicious djinns was always there.

I shook his hand and checked myself from kissing it, mainly because he had been scratching between his toes. But I came away fully convinced it is easier to believe in rubbish than good sense. And I now also believe that we are regularly visited by aliens and some of them even live among us. The latter wear wigs to hide their natural baldness and become politicians.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 14 June 2016 at 19:08, Anonymous agha fahad said...

very nice sir. Keep it up to aware us about aliens errrr....politicians....

At 15 June 2016 at 09:48, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you, Fahad. I do indeed intend to keep going.

At 17 July 2016 at 12:47, Anonymous Jay said...

I actually had a Muslim guy with (mechanical)engineering degree tell that earth is flat and not spinning around nor revolving etc at a night shift at work..and I was like wtf.He said if spinning on its axis were true,if you jump or throw ball,it will land on different spot.I instinctively LoL-ed on it,but not being a science person had to google reasonable defence.I'm from India and I guess this is guy was influenced by silly mullah videos like Zakir Naik..

At 18 July 2016 at 14:33, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Jay, there is no shortage of morons. Even education makes no difference to them.


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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