Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society


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Fakir Syed Aijazuddin is, without argument, Pakistan’s foremost teller of historical tales. Across 16 works, his pen — rather, his keyboard — spans several centuries past and easily glides into contemporary times. He has yet again outdone himself with Sketches from a Howdah: Charlotte, Lady Canning’s Tours, 1858-1861. Meticulously designed and printed on art paper in royal quarto size (10 by 12.5 inches), the volume is a collector’s item.

The title is apt, for it seems Charlotte Canning habitually sketched sitting atop an elephant in an elaborate howdah, complete with a dickey behind for her maid. The book’s front cover and frontispiece bear this colourful scene in oil, rendered by the well-known Raj artist George Landseer.
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posted by Salman Rashid @ 10:33, ,

Peshawar: the First City

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Peshawar is not about the clatter of armoury, the tramp of soldiers’ feet and the raging din of battle; it is not of a city on fire and the cries of the dying. Peshawar is about murmured prayer, of the ringing of the temple bell and the call from the minaret, the clang of the jaras – the bell around the camel’s neck in the caravan – and the soft plop of the animals’ feet on unpaved streets, it is of the vendor crying his wares in streets where rows of shops run on either side and which are crowded with buyers and sellers. Peshawar is about long distance travellers, of caravanserais and story-tellers.

It was April 1977, and I was wandering about Namak Mandi in Under Sheher (Inner City) Peshawar. In a narrow street lined with stores and qehvakhanas, it leapt straight out of a story-teller’s repertoire: the caravanserai with its open-to-the-sky courtyard and spacious rooms on all four sides. A timber staircase led to the floor above where smaller rooms were equipped with fireplaces. But in 1977, the fireplaces were cold, the rooms empty and dusty, unused for perhaps a couple of decades and the downstairs rooms served as warehouse for packaged goods.
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posted by Salman Rashid @ 15:38, ,

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