Sunday, February 25, 2024

Professional Journeys’ Narrative – 9

(An account of journeys exclusively based on true picture of areas and the people there. No poetic or romantic false expressions are included)

During the month of March, every year, this otherwise barren and desolated area of North-West Baluchistan is clad in a specific scenic beauty, unique in its nature. Mildly tolerable hot weather is pleasant. Mixed melodious voices of migratory and local birds are not less than popular music. Under every shade of tree, bushes and hillocks, dozens of pheasants and partridges gathered to enjoy the blessings of spring. Greenery in dry Nawars is more dense and uniform as compared to other areas of scattered bushes. Nawars hold considerable moisture under the dry surface which helps in making the dry surface green with grass and tiny bushes. I was busy in my tent pitched close to the border of Kirtaka Nawar. When I heard somebody calling me to join him, “Babu Sab! Bia, babeen Kashmir jor kurta” (Mr. Ashraf! Come over here and see, Kashmir has been formed here). A local Baluch of the area was calling me. I saw three inches high grass scattered throughout the Nawar from one end to the other. No doubt the scene was very beautiful and for its location and surrounding, was no less beautiful and attractively charming, soothing the eyes, the mind and the soul. I enjoyed the scenic beauty and thanked the man for calling me to share such a natural sight.

Sand Storm

With the start of month of April, sand-carrying hot winds start. It was almost impossible to rest inside the tent. On the other hand there was not specific time schedule for my journeys. Sometimes it was required to be on the road / track during the whole of severe hot noon. The vehicle was not provided with air conditioning. Infact there was no air conditioned vehicle available in whole department, at that time. Weather hot, winds hot and noon time extremely hot. One can imagine the condition of a non AC vehicle moving in the area from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. If you close the window glasses it was oven inside. If you open the window glasses burning sand and hot wind will slap you. The whole vehicle used to be far hotter than the outside temperature. In some journeys we had been moving to places where ours was the first ever vehicle touching those areas. No shelter or tree on the way to relax for moments. For extreme necessities of a break, we used to make use of the shade of the hot vehicle. I always consider it a perfect miracle that the vehicle did not get out of order. By all justifications and theories I have not been able to prove it otherwise. Whenever any of the inspecting officer started form Quetta to visit us, he was never on schedule. Reason as they used to quote was, “The vehicle got out of order”. I have never forgotten that noon time of the month of August, when we had been moving from Dal Badeen to Nokkundi. This noon was so extremely hot that myself and whole of the team felt that if we did not break journey for a while, our skulls will crack.

Snake It was not always possible to travel by vehicle. There were destinations where vehicle could not move due to loose sand or very rough undulation. In such cases we used to leave the driver and his assistant, with water and some eatables of course, and start on foot by the count of days, with least possible luggage on camel or donkey. In one of such journeys when we returned back to the spot of vehicle, the driver and his assistant were found to be near death as they had no water and nothing to eat.

In most of such journeys sand or rock was the bed, the chair and the dining table. Bathing? There was no water for that. Teeth cleaning? Water had to be saved for other requirements. Sleeping on sand or rock and fearing the snakes and scorpions can not go together. During comparatively cool hours of morning and evening, the activities of these creature increase. While sleeping in tent scorpions will gather around the lantern and there was every possibility that they occupy some corner of your bed for attack at suitable time. We had seen scorpions in Sindh but here they were black, bigger and longer.

Scorpion Fierce summer wind storms are abrupt and destructive. After every such storm it used to be our routine practice to start searching our possessions, piece by piece. The tent, the luggage, the utensils etc, were searched and collected from various directions and locations. Sometimes team members were found missing. It used to be later found that some articles had flown far away with the direction of storm and the team members had to cover quite some distance to recover and collect these. in this context incidents of two very strong abrupt storms can never be forgotten. These are the incidents or accidents in which firstly we were stunned, then slowly recovered, then smiled and lastly indulged into high volume laughter, although school or college never gave us training for bypassing the horrors of our difficulties. ——— To be continued…

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Category: Travel

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