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The Path Once Taken part II

I thought it was the end of the world. No human in sight, except the tired fellow travelers on that bus. The fear of getting lost was there, for certain. Stories of robbers and thieves lying in wait for such travelers I had heard. But the idea of specifically being targeted and shot in the head had never occurred in my tiny inexperienced brain. But the signs of course were there.

About the Chagai range, one studies in Pakistan Studies. How rocky it is how difficult the terrain. What no text book tells you is that for miles and miles on those rocky hills chalked are the words ‘Kafir Kafir Shia Kafir’ Shia infidels. I kid you not. Go and see for yourself. Even though years have passed by since I crossed those hills, those cold cold words, still chill me to the bone.

We had decided to travel on our own. But on the way from Quetta, we met another family with the same intentions, also hailing from Karachi. They had made the same journey three times before, and hence they decided to ‘adopt’ us clueless beings.

After a grueling 12 hour bus ride we reached the last stop of Pakistan, Taftan. No not the sweet bread. The bus stopped at a rundown, almost haunted rest house greeting us with the picture of the Quaid. Jinnah in case you were wondering which.  Next to him were the words ‘Ghar se duur, ghar ke jesa’ (far from home, yet like home). Seriously where exactly did they think we lived?

Ghar se duur, ghar ke jesa.

As soon as people got down, there was a mad dash stampede towards the nearest restroom. We however were saved from being trampled once again by my uncle’s ‘connections’. Army vans ready to take us to the army mess were a sight for my sore eyes.

More than the breakfast of anda paratha, with halwa on the side, I was happy to find clean bathrooms. But soon, I had to say goodbye to my country and enter Iran. The customs took a while to shoo us all in. And then began the most exciting time of my life. The journey into Iran.

The bored little town of Mirjava welcomed us into oblivion. Deserted as far as the eye could see, my little group tired after the long bus ride braced themselves for what was to come. We van-pooled with another family and reached Zahaidan after two hours, from where another back breaking 22 hour travel awaited us. By now we had started resembling Robinson Crusoes shipwrecked on an island.

The oblivion

The fun however had just begun! The wonderful people of Iran can only speak one language. Persian. No Arabic, no Urdu, and don’t get me started on English. Therefore we were limited to sign language, which we weren’t really very good at. The funny thing was, even though nobody in Iran could read English, most of the billboards and sign boards were in English. What they indicated however was anybody’s guess.

Our stay in Iran spanned over three weeks, during which we experienced things we never thought we would. However never once did the thought of not making home alive entered our minds.

Roza of Imamzada Hazart Shah Azeem

We went about on our ziarats. Visited the beautiful tombs and shrines across the country. Spent a pretty scary night in Tehran where we also had a multi-lingual fight with one of the bus drivers. The shrines on their own were breath-taking. The most memorable one was the one of Imamzada Hazrat Shah Azeem. Located on top of a mountain in Iran, it was so high up that at one point even cars refused to go up. For the weak and the old, a donkey had to be hired while the rest had to walk.

my younger sister atop a donkey

End of part 2

To be continued.

5 thoughts on “The Path Once Taken part II Leave a comment

  1. I’m enjoying the part where you share your experiences in Iran. I appreciate the pictures scanned and made part of this post. I feel a bit lost when you use this post to move the point that Baluchistan/Quetta used to be beautiful and peaceful and now it is not. I don’t know whether to enjoy this post (with your sarcasm & wit) or feel sad (when you mention the horrible writings on the hills). Your post incites mixed emotions.

    I personally abhor wall chalking (spray painting) on public/private property. e.g. “Calling someone infidel” Or “Anti Punjabi words in Baluchistan” ( Or “To pick up arms/Take law into their own hands in Baluchistan against Punjabi people” ( It incites anger and fear in people who read this on walls everywhere.

    I still think it’s a law and order issue in Pakistan. The law & judicial system should support/help everyone irrespective of their faith. This post is interesting. I shall wait for the next post.

    • Hi Fahad, my journey was merely a memory in my mind. what prompted me to write it down share with everyone was the recent spate of killings of people making the same journey. As for the mixed emotions, i think my purpose has been achieved. i wanted to create a contrast between then and now, and those mixed feelings i believe is what i wanted my readers to experience. because that is exactly what i go through every time i hear of another attack.

  2. This is so unfair.. Now you will keep me waiting for 3rd part and so on. This is injustice I say. =|
    I don’t know what to say? I can just imagine how one would feel to be targeted for one or another reason.
    I really don’t know what is going to be the future of our homeland where sorry to say that we seriously lack “religious intolerance”, “cast intolerance”, “culture intolerance”, “language intolerance” and counting….. and with SO many intolerance in hand, how can we even think of prosperity and development?

    Part .3 ?????????

  3. and i to myself at second para ending . i wish the blog story has part 3 too . it has 🙂 . keep them coming . injected … shocked of what the rock chalking had to read .

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