Monday, June 14, 2004

The girls are very solemn after a hot & uneventful but memorable day back at Jinnah Terminal.

It was sole moving experience!

We bid farewell to the Mounds of the Dead

John Murray the arhaeologist is remembered by his legacy a FORD Model T. Unfortunately it has been allowed to rot locked up in a garage.

That was refreshing & essential. Our heads were hot.

And our guide retrieved a couple of wheat grains 5,000 years old from the granary

Large cross-ventilated rooms, store room, toilet & other rooms made up a double-storeyed living unit.

Even then the chief priest & the wealthy had different quarters than the plebs

A public garbage collection point. Different to today's standard NGO dustbin USE ME written on it & the trash all around it.

Our guide stands between two public toilets, something we can still take a page from & have simple, clean & functional loos instead of one central one at the foothills of the Margallas.

We needed to support each other - we were standing at the public tandoor.

The saint in Divinity Street a celestial connection for sure the sun made its mark on us.

An open drain covered by stones to maintain hygenic conditions in the streets. For more of the Indus Valley Civilization visit

The right one is sun baked 5,000 years ago. Left one as you see is the modern kiln-fired brick. Much of the structure is made up of the old bricks, re-inforced on occasion with today's materials to protect from weather decay.

Only three of the 12 mounds have been excavated. It is expected that similar quarters would be found with relics such as pottery, jewellery of stones, ivory & items of daily use made of animal bone will be found. No money to excavate and sustain the findings!

The Indus is now further away. Water reflection in the distance past the excavations of the craftsmen quarters can be seen. However, it is still nearby & a well at the excavations can draw water.

One time the Indus banks were along the town where the trees are seen in the distance. Twice the Indus flooded the town & finally it is said it was an earthquake that buried the town under the mounds. The course of the Indus has since changed.

And we start at the Buddhist Stupa of the Kushan period 2nd AD that has a monastery, accommodations for the monks, communal Great Bath & other spaces of use for the community. These were built on top of the Mohenjodaro civilization structures that had collapsed.

The girls use their brains & stay at the Dark Bungalow. We use our brawn & set out to survey what John Marshall uncovered some 80 years ago under the Mounds.

The staff of the rest house are very friendly. We are moved into the entrance. There is a cross breeze. We are served tea. Our thaadal, cool water, chewra from Rano Mumbai come in handy to referesh

We are done at the Museum. The PTDC motel or restaurant is CLOSED no one knows why. We move from here to the Dak Bungalow of the Dept of Archaeology.

Within half an hour we had twice been around the scanty display inside the museum. Much has disappeared & we were told some treasures are on display at the museums in Lahore & Karachi, apart from much is in homes of feudals & vandals. The girls are already tired.

Haroon & I stand in front of Mohenjodaro murel inside the Museum, as imagined to be 5,000 years ago.

Sunday morn, June 13 we took off for Sukkur. Flight was on time. Car was waiting to ndrive us to the Mounds of the Dead. Enroute we stopped at Ghari Khudabux Bhutto to say prayers for the lost nation - Family graveyard of Bhutto family - I am by 'Shaheed' Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's side. Sons, wife, parents & grandparents rest there. A covered structure is coming up

Jyoti & Haroon arrived June 10 to share our warmth of Karachi

Sunday, June 06, 2004

We are back before the ALTO SEASON began & we will stay put in Karachi till it ends

On June 5th flight from Lahore few Aitchison College brats returned home.

That is the beginning of the ALTO SEASON

Thousands of people from our plains of Punjab start flocking to the North in their Suzukis. On their heels are Karachiites. Sports front page of NEWS June 7, has the favourite ALTO SEASON spots which the ALTO crowds throng to during 'Happy' Summer Holidays!

That is all very well & good for the tourist industry. I wish they would not take with them or be offered obscene Indian movies on large screens by the hotel operators or play film songs at full volume causing unbearable noise pollution. Similarly waste, particularly that is not bio degradeable should not be littered as eye-sores for those who follow.

You will not find me there till ALL educational instituitions in the plains have reopend & the ALTO crowd has returned with the instruments of pollution [noise, smoke, rubbish]; or I may initiate a trip end August to where only a 4x4 jeep can get to - no ALTO!

The other advantage of being done early June is, the weather is cooler, cattle & villagers have not yet reached the higher slopes & most trekkers are yet to come. So we had the places to ourselves; no fresh cattle cake & thus hardly any flies on the paths.

June 10th Feisal, Jyoti & Haroon Shaikh from Mumbai visited us for a week.Work continues in our living & dining rooms. Another 10 days to go, at least.

Taniya & Diesel are good friends. June 3rd 2004

What a delight in HOT Lahore

Got to meet Apa and persons whom I had not met for years..... above all TZK!!

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Mashebrum Base Camp - from isLOO & back

June 2nd back in Islamabad.
Finnessed PIA by predicting its inability to land in Skardu, NAY take off from Isloo.

It is a regular feature. May 28 PK 451 to Skardu was also cancelled. So we drove off from the airport at 10:00am shortly after the flight was cancelled & reached Skardu at 7:30am May 29. Continued after breakfast to Khaplu where we hired a jeep for Hushe. But wisely, we had retained our vehicle & driver in Khaplu for our return trip, just in case the flight were to be cancelled again.

On arrival in Hushe, we trekked for 2 hours to Dumsang & camped for the night. Hushe Village Conservation Committee held a traditional song & dance evening there.

Next morning, May 30th we took leave of Hushe citizens at Dumsang & reached Brumbrammah after a total of 4 hours of trek. After some rest, four of us went up to 4,200m to Base Camp & returned to Brumbrummah in 3-1/2 hours to stay overnight.
May 31 Returned to Hushe.
June 1 Drove back to Skardu. It had been raining since 3:00am & there was no point in staying in Skardu when it was severely overcast. So, after lunch at Shangrila we left at 3:30pm for Isloo. Arrived at 9:30am on June 2nd - a total of 18 hours; an improvement of 2 hours over the last trip to Skardu. We got back just as the Skardu flight was to take off from Isloo. But as expected, found it had been cancelled!

For more details about Hushe & trek to Mashebrum Base Camp

Range: Karakoram; Grade: Easy; Max Elevation: 4200 meters.
"A small grassy patch below the cliff face, looking across the glacier at the fluted ice gullies and steep rock ridges of Masherbrum is the campsite. This is top of the valley, a dead end in a wide bowl completely filled with glacier. Ice faces soar out of deep crevasses, sheer rock walls enclose the bowl and a curtain of 7000 meters peaks prevent the access to the Baltoro glacier beyond." extract from Pakistan Trekking Guide ~ Isobel & Ben Shaw.

June 2nd we are home in isLOO treating ourselves to a hearty breakfast of Halwa Puri & Nihari, while PIA announces cancellation of its flight to Skardu. We were the smart ones not to wait for the Great People who take to the skies only when it suits them.

Believe it or not! This jet-ski is on the lake of Khanpur Dam an hour away from isLOO. Could be developed for leisure but the laser eyes of double MAs on bikini suits could burn holes through.

Ominous clouds in the sky, thunder, lightning & huge rocks landslide all part of the 8th Wonder - KKH. HE leads us & we proceed.

TWO RARE SIGHTS! A double rainbow & halo over a saint in real life......

UNBELIEVABLE! Polo as it was played in years gone by - at Rhondu - shot from Karakoram Highway a good 1/2 mile away - digital photography zindabad!

PIA's unreliable flight pattern to Northern Area is a hinderance to development of tourism. Although we had confirmed seats for June 2nd to isLOO, we opted for a 20 hour drive instead of a 40 min flight. Outside Skardu a lunch stop & visit to the site of the remains of founder of Shangrila - Heaven on Earth.

Till next time - Mashebrum will be visited by many overseas & national Groups this season. I retreat to my urban habitat hoping the visitors will leave only their footprints and take only photos for others to enjoy the beauty that all of us can be proud of.

And it poured for hours into the morning of June 1st. We left Hushe as planned for Khaplu at 7:00 am on the dot.

NATRUALE - drink to your heart's delight without fear - chilled, crystal clear no bottled water can ever match.

Make shift arrangements must be resorted to as the scene changes daily - new pathways, moving glaciers, shifting moraine & falling rocks are to be taken in one big stride.

May 31st - A chilly morning but must bid farewell to Base Camp & pack my Penn House to return to Hushe - a good 6 hours trek.

Mashebrum was up in the clouds but the sunset behind Mashebrum 2 reminded that another day was coming to an end & we had over an hour's trek back to our camp

Despite my insignificance I feel very tall for HE did lead me through safely to the Base Camp at 4,200m height. How can I then feel small, after absorbing a spectacle unsurpassed in its purity of exquisiteness.

Dil se dil ko rah - staying connected with loved ones........

Elbowing into His Window

In God's Window

Ancestral summer hut in the background. Hussain remembers coming every year with his grandmother to tend to sheep & cattle.

Good company - honest to the core - have nothing to hide

After an hour's rest we are off to Mashebrum Base Camp

Advance party has set up my Penn House at Brumbrammah as we arrive early afternoon.

Now it is my turn for R&R - Yak-cow up at cooler climes

Parbisan to Brumbrammah is a very steep climb. Resting to recover - R&R!

May 30 at 6:30 am Farewells said at Dumsang & off to Mashebrum Base Camp

All good things come to an end - Lights out after a hectic evening at Dumsang