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Day 13: Chitral to Mastuj

Michael Palin - HimalayaOn the road again. I have a different jeep, and a different driver. Raza Khan is younger and less earnest than Nadir Begh. Whereas Nadir used to comb his hair every time we did a shot, even if we were a tiny speck on a mountain panorama, Raza is a little more relaxed and wears a baseball cap, reversed. He's a Chitrali and everyone we meet on the road seems to be either an intimate friend of his or a member of his family.

Long before they were Chitralis, the inhabitants of these mountain areas were collectively known as the Kho, and I've acquired a modest, locally printed guide book that has a glossary of words in the language they still speak here, known as Khowar. It's pleasingly phonetic and in between gasping with awe at the scenery I try out a few words on Raza. Father is tut, mother is nun, grandfather is bap, grandmother is wow and foot is pong. This is the sort of language I like.

There is a page of Miscellaneous Phrases, which is short but has an interesting theme. 'Have you a wife?', 'Do you love your wife?' 'Is it late?', 'At what time shall we start?', 'Well done', 'Thank You', 'Don't go naked', 'There is a pain in my leg' and 'When will you come back?' It conjures up images of a lusty life in the mountains.

We climb slowly up the valley, the river rushing past us at great speed, huffing and puffing and occasionally leaping ostentatiously into the air as if trying to attract our attention.

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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 13: Chitral to Mastuj
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Chitral
  • Book page no: 33

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