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Professional Journeys’ Narrative – 14

By | February 21, 2013 | 0 Comments

(An account of journeys exclusively based on true picture of areas and the people there. No poetic or romantic false expressions are included, Excerpt from a book in process)

Baluchistan desertTo make use of the twilight, I asked the camel man to checkup for any camp around, within about two hundred yard radius. Inspite of so tired, he happily and courageously started for the search. After a while, when it was pitch dark, he returned with the news that he did not see any camp light or fire smoke up to quite some distance. It was quite dark now and the songs of birds were no more. After taking very simple meals, everybody took to his tent and went to sleep. Everybody was extremely tired so sound sleep embraced us all. I was awakened by morning songs of the birds. It was twilight of the morning now and the atmosphere fully resembled that of the last evening. The peace of paradise had been reproduced. Colourful birds and sparrows were moving from bush to bush. A brown hare with shining eyes was jumping from place to place. Refreshing sweet breeze was on, adding to the beauty of the scene. It was the approaching daylight that interrupted

Right after breakfast, I enquired about the distance and location of Jilli Jheel which has been prominently shown on the map. In local language Jheel means natural lake of water. Jilli denotes a name locally fixed for the lake. In the vast expanse of desert, anybody at the location reached by us could not resist the idea of a visit to the lake. I was informed that it was about a mile away towards north of our camping sight very close to the Afghanistan border. I decide to see the lake before starting for the search of our team. With the camel man I started towards north and in a short while we reached the spot. There was no lake of normal and usual definition. What I saw was a very old natural water course, about 10 feet wide and 7 feet deep. At places its bed was filled with tiny pits of sand slipping from a lengthy sand dune, slope of which was ending at right bank. At a single spot at top of right bank, a two millimeters thick water fall was continuously coming down towards the bed of the water course. The water tasted saltish. Afghan men and women were filling their containers and pots turn by turn very quietly. There was no conversation and no noise. There faces were absolutely calm and content. Those filling their containers were carrying them over to the left bank where their camels were in the waiting. Well, it was a discipline that indicated a spirit of mutuality. It could be estimated that the process of water collection continued for all the 24 hours, especially during summer. We were told that the tiny water fall was perennial and it was not affected by summer weather conditions. As a result of moisture created by the seepage, strange type of green bushes and creeping plants had grown in a few yards radius. This Jilli Jheel was no less than a miracle as there was no other source of drinking water for distances of tens of miles around. It could be estimated that in cases of exceptionally heavy rains, the course must have been used to be washed away. The sight was considerably charming. There were brown sand dunes all around up to tens of miles with a tiny spot of perennial water flow and small green bushes.

Water course in desertNow we started in search of our team whom we located after an hour of meandering in various directions towards east. This meeting with the team leader turned out to be a long list of difficulties of the area. The most serious difficulty was provision of drinking water for the whole team. Water was necessary for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing of cloths. The camel man incharge of provision of water explained that with start of summer all water ponds, near and far, had completely exhausted. The water was being arranged from a source at full day’s journey through the desert and then the next full day’s journey back to the team. Due to almost daily traveling the camels had become very weak. Some sort of most practical solutions were advised. The following day technical matters were sorted out.

On the third day we started our journey back to Manzil where we had left the driver and the vehicle. We started early in the morning and traveling continuously, without break, reached Manzil late in the evening. The driver and the cleaner were left with little ration. Both were overjoyed to see us back. The first question that driver put to us was, “Do you have cigarettes”?

The camel man was paid more than what had been settled with him. In addition to that I apologized for rash words that I spoke to him. I appreciated him whole heartedly. I also appreciated the cooperation of whole of his tribe and thanked them all. Without causing any further delay we started back to our camp at Nukundi. The reason of this hurry was that we wanted to be on main highway before dark. In the dark we would have been nowhere. There were no signs of identifications throughout the area. We chose a direction towards the highway and kept driving in that direction whatever track was there. The driver was taking small pieces of cigarettes out of his pocket for smoking. He could not drive without smoking. We reached our main camp late at night. All the members of the camp were overjoyed to see us. They were ready to submit a report of our missing the very next day. It was natural. We had left for a two days tour only and it was beyond the fifth day. I thanked everybody and retired for a sound sleep forthwith, without dinner of course, because I needed sleep far more than meals after fifteen hours of journey on foot, on camel back and by the vehicle. Boundless thanks to Almighty that our vehicle did not betray on the way. ——— To be continued…

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