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Day 12: Chitral

Michael Palin - HimalayaTherapeutic recovery time at Hindu Kush Heights. The food is good and varied here, cooked with a light touch and the emphasis on home-grown vegetables and treats like mushrooms off the mountains, quite a relief from the heavy curries of Peshawar. The scenery is magnificent without being overpowering, mountains with a human face, and our last night in Chitral is to be marked by a visit to a baipash, an old Chitrali house where local music and dancing will be laid on. My heart sinks as the dreaded spectre of a 'folklorique' evening looms. Siraj is enthusiastic, though, and describes what we shall see and hear as the last of its kind, a style of music and poetry that is 'locked in the mountains'.

We drive out, crossing the river over a sturdy suspension bridge built by the British in the 1920s at the personal request of Siraj's grandfather. He'd been so excited by hearing of the invention of the car that he ordered a fleet of Baby Austins to be delivered to him in Chitral, without realizing that cars couldn't cross rivers. The bridge was obligingly completed by sappers from the garrison in two months.

His grandfather's ignorance of cars sounds pretty comprehensive. Apparently, when the tyres wore out, he just sold the cars. A lucky dealer from Karachi bought the whole lot, changed the tyres and sold the fleet in mint condition.

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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 12: Chitral
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Chitral
  • Book page no: 32

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