Part 2 of my travels in Baltistan, July 2012

Memoir By Hira Nabi
In the second part of her eye-opening memoir, Hira Nabi describes the lessons she learned in a co-ed “teaching garden” in the mountains of Baltistan

Up the garden path
I woke up every morning to melodious birdsong; there were no crows in Shigar. After getting ready and breakfasting in the garden on a stone bench under mulberry and plum trees, I would hoist my backpack on my shoulders and walk to school. On those July mornings, the 40-minute walk was beautiful. There was only one way to get to the school, which sits on Ashkoli Road, also otherwise known as the road to K2. Some days were sunny and brilliant, with clear blue skies and wafts of cloud floating high above. Acreage of planted fields lay next to the roads, with flourishes of mulberry, apricot, cypress and walnut. Jeeps and vans would periodically rush by, snorting out diesel exhaust fumes. I couldn’t have imagined walking on this road if it hadn’t been for the vegetation. There were other days that were cloudy, and mist would descend from mountain tops, rushing down like lava in its haste to enter the valley. Continue reading

back in lahore

students learning about in vitro fertilization to make disease free potato seeds at the tissue cell lab in skardu

I arrived in Lahore late last night. It took longer to make the regular four hour journey by road from Islamabd to Lahore, than it did to make the much longer journey from Skardu to Islamabad. The two day journey by road over the perilous KKH (Karakoram Highway) is magically and mercifully condensed into a 50 minute flight that operates once daily, for those who wish to wait for it. Continue reading

summer stories

viagra online×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ /> shigar through hira’s lens

Skardu is desert, mountains with snow peaks and glacial melt trailing down, lakes and fields of wheat and corn turned gold by the sun, rows and rows of potato plants with flat green leaves, mountains of rock and sand, old acorn trees and so much more. I’m continuously amazed at how much diversity this landscape (and skycape) has to offer in the span of one frame. Secondary school geography could easily become one of my favorite subjects in surroundings with such verdant possibilities. Continue reading

Our three weeks

A brief summary

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"for which of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?"

Upon our arrival in Shigar, Ibtesam and myself got right down to work. We knew from the very beginning that we did not have much time to spare. The resident doctor (Dr Habib) at Shigar’s only clinic was very kind to share his home and provide us with housing – a room for each of us with an office space as an added bonus. His cook Baquer, also ours, would double duty as clininc attendant from 2pm onwards. Ibetsam took over Tahereh’s vacated room and belongings, while i got the entire living room to myself. Continue reading

Anwar the footballer

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Wazir Anwar Ali - Pakistan's football star in the making

Wazir Anwar Ali – our fantastic project manager/contractor is an eighteen year old
talented lad. His days begin at six am. Hes a jack of all – and master of all as well. He manages tasks on site, runs errands, talks politics, occasionally goes through his angrezi moods practicing his English with me, indulges in never ending discussions with Ibtesam regarding the slightest of costs on site (conversations that are capable of prompting a mild head spin), rants, laughs like a shy boy, and – aspires to be a world class footballer. Continue reading

A buzz of excitement.

order cheap cialis onlinewidth=”150″ height=”150″ />The following is a brief summary of activities that we've conducted with the students of the Abruzzi school during the two and a half weeks that Ibtesam and myself have been in Shigar. With little time to adjust ourselves – we got right down to business. Continue reading

Gardens don’t come and go….

While staring at orange tikkas, oil-wet and filled with spiced yogurt (those delicious things shimmered under the hot sun) – my eyes shifted from the grill to a shade just a few feet away – Zorro was obviously basking in all the cool-ness that surrounded him. Little patterns of disturbed light danced as maple leaves above swayed with the slight wind.

I asked (the obvious, considering my recent obsession with everything green) “So how long have these two trees been here?”, referring to the two grown-up maple trees that dotted the two corners of the Khan garden.

Arif bhai answered with a smile on his face “Longer than we’ve been here – you know this is why we bought this house”. You could tell that one was talking to a man who loved and appreciated trees for all their goodness. In his quintessential Arif bhai way, he paused (perhaps thinking of some far away story from a less hurried time, or a poem drenched in longing for the beloved, a ghazal to sing or some wise advice) and narrated the following:

“You know, this is some old story, I don’t remember which Mughal emperor, I seem to have forgotten his name, his servants came running to him, informing him that some palace had been burnt down. The emper

or was worried and inquired “Jungle bhi jal gaya kiya?” (Did the jungle get burnt aswell?). The servants answered ‘Nahin, sirf makan jal gaya’ (No, only the house burnt down). The emperor sighed – “Phir kiya, makan to atay jatay hain, jungle/bagh thori aisay bun jatay hain – un ko zamana lagta hai” (So what. Houses come and go, jungles and gardens don’t get built like that. It takes them ages).

The above story is an Arif Khan abridged version and might contain some severe distortions. But one important message looms throughout – That gardens must be taken seriously. That

“A garden in which one may enter in …and forget the whole world, cannot be made in one week, nor a month, nor a year. It must be planned for, waited for and loved into being” – Chinese proverb.

That gardens are special places for our mind and bodies. A garden is where nature serves as the backdrop to our actions. It becomes a place for our stories, our dreams and hopes – and hopefully in the case of the Abruzzi school garden it will become a special place for the young of Shigar where song, learning and conversations will echo through the leaves and remain forever and ever.