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Day 12: Chitral

Michael Palin - HimalayaThe baipash is a carefully preserved 300-year-old house, approached through a large garden with tall and immaculate dry-stone walls, reinforced with horizontal timbers to protect against earthquakes. The layout inside is the traditional single chamber with a central hearth and opening in the roof above for smoke to escape. Around the walls are darkened wooden stalls where cattle would once have been kept. The columns that support the roof are also wooden and carved with plant and flower motifs. It's dark, stuffy, cosy and presided over by a tall, gaunt man with white beard and thick, sprouting eyebrows. With a strong and piercing gaze, he reminds me of a manic Scots preacher.

He's 77 years old, with a wicked sense of humour. At some length, he expounds on the abundance of hallucinatory substances in the sylvan glades of Chitral.

'Did you ever try any of these drugs?' I ask him.

He shakes his head.

'Oh no. But I've been smoking hash for 40 years.'

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

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