Stories about mountains

When six single women travelled from Karachi to Skardu

It was our Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) moment. Six single women, in their 20s, boarded the Business Train to Lahore – the first destination of our trip from Karachi to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). Karachi Cantt Station. As we settled in to our cabin, we revelled over our triumph of coaxing our parents into saying: “Ja Simran ja, ji le apni zindagi.” (Go Simran go, live your life) But we were scared too. After all this was no Euro-rail. The afternoon was bright and sunny, and after taking in the cabin amenities, we were content. The cabin door, with a stable, iron lock and ...

Read Full Post

Chagharzai and other valleys: An epiphany in itself

Every now and then, we hear someone singing odes to the beauty of Pakistan’s North-West regions. Be it by one of those recent sing-along tourism promos running on nearly every news network these days, after a prolonged wave of violence in Malakand Division, or some bunch of local yahoos who’d just returned from a trip from any of the numerous valleys and lakes. The fact remains that the actual beauty and splendour of these areas is still quite underrated, despite all such praises. Even though the last few years’ armed conflicts have labelled the entire region as a no-go zone, ...

Read Full Post

Getting high in Pakistan

I believe words do not suffice when it comes to describing the emotions that run through you when you’re standing at the foot of a mountain. The raw beauty and power of these mighty mountains make you realise how small we really are. No matter how many times I see them, those mountains, valleys, glaciers or plains of multiple coloured flowers changing after every few feet, I am always left speechless. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow, just being there instils this faith that there truly is a higher power out there. To truly understand these mountainous areas and northern valleys, one ...

Read Full Post

Overcoming adversity and reopening schools in Swat

As one travels, on the highway, from Peshawar to Swat, the lush green fields, dotted with tall poplar trees, appear breath-taking, and gradually the silhouette of the mountains become visible. The low-lying mountains gain height and the sound of water springs, gushing from the crevices of rocks create a melancholic music. Photo: Sameera Rashid   On a winding road from the Chakdara to Mingora, people are seen crossing the clear waters of river Swat, on makeshift bridges, and plum trees with delicate pink flowers bloom on the roadside orchids. Photo: Sameera Rashid Not only does Swat cast its ...

Read Full Post

When we were too poor to afford Blue Band margarine

I still remember the day that Blue Band margarine was introduced to Alamdar Bakery in my home-town of Quetta, Pakistan. The glossy silver packaging and the light blue printing stood out among all the other butter in the bakery’s refrigerator. However, I refrained from taking an interest in this new product since I was well aware that my parents would not be able to afford it. I continued to consume the inexpensive Liaquat Makkhan for breakfast even after the older brother of the baker recommended Blue Band with great zeal; I consoled myself by thinking that he was just trying to improve his sales. As the weeks ...

Read Full Post

Katoora Lake: An awe-inspiring spectacle of beauty

Katoora Lake (also called Jaz Dand) is situated in the Lamoti Valley of Upper Dir, KPK at an altitude of 11,500 ft approximately. Most of the time, this lake is surrounded by high mountains covered with snow. The best season to visit it is August/September. However, June and July are also good months for a tour, if you are prepared for random monsoon showers. The level of difficulty for trekking in the area may be considered ‘moderate’ for regular trekkers/hikers. Moderate weather, fresh air and stunning views – a winning combination. Photo: Murtaza Mahmud Travel towards Jaz ...

Read Full Post