Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

When there is nothing to write about

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There have been some few, very few, occasions that I have been somewhere for the express purpose of writing about that place but failed to produce anything. One not so recent example was going to Chunian with my dear friend Zafar Abbas Naqvi. There were some incredibly beautiful old houses to photograph but that was not enough for me. I had never read about Chunian in any of the Mughal histories and after the visit I spent days trying to find Chunian in these and earlier histories. I needed an interesting episode to hang the tale on. Nothing. I turned up only blanks. And so, despite the few images of some lovely houses, I could not write anything.

In Chunian I met a pigeon man - the typical kabootar baz. And did he have interesting stories to tell and hundreds of pigeons to show! And I by mistake deleted his interview from the recording machine. That was pure bad luck. Though Chunian is just an hour away, I have not returned in three years. Perhaps next winter. The pigeon man's story needs be told.

What I need when I go someplace is an interesting historical tale to hang my piece on. Travel writing is something more than just a piece about beautiful bazaars and good food. For me it has to be history; stories that are untold; facets undiscovered. Besides Chunian there have perhaps been four or five other occasions when I failed to turn up something.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:30 AM,

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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