The yearning to see northern Pakistan and the excitement of finally being able to see it for the first time ever.
Winning a free, all-inclusive trip to Kalash in a lucky draw worth Rs. 23000.
5 days & 5 nights.
Far away from city and office life.
Instant click with group mates.
Endless 32 hour one-way journey in a van.
Stop at Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist ruins, a place I had been dying to see for so the longest time.
Trekking up to the mountain to reach this astounding place at 5:30 am.
Seeing their meditation cells with bats hanging upside down.
Rikshaw ride with 9 people, me sitting in Haaris lap with my head hitting its ceiling hard.
Manual chairlift across the river and having watermelon with feet in freezing cold water.
Lowari tunnel closed and having to take the much longer route.
Almost no roads. Extremely bumpy ride.
Full volume Pendoo Patat Punjabi songs by the driver. Stuffing tissue in my ears to avoid brain damage.
The fear after being told by a number of army men that our van cannot reach Kalash.
Traveling in pitch darkness with lethal sound of waterfalls.
Seeing the black silhouettes of majestic mountains, hearing the water and wondering how gorgeous it must be if we could see it in day light.
Wood bridges and passing them on foot as we weren’t sure if it can take the weight of our van.
Feeling freezing cold in t-shirts as luggage was all packed up on van roof
Falling on van freezer and breaking my nail
Enquiring at check-posts how long till our destination and accusing them of lies when it always took us at least 2 hours longer than what they said
Planning to camp at Ayun for the night in a beautiful garden at 2 am.
Being convinced by other tour groups to continue to our cottage in Kalash.
Driver telling us he cannot drive a minute more as he’s tired
Stepping out and stargazing in the Hindu Kush mountain range.
The excitement of finally reaching our cottage in Bumburet at 4:20 am; 32 hours after leaving Lahore at 9 pm.
The warm welcome Ishpata by the locals with their sweetest smiles and hugs,.
Magnificent snow clad mountains.
Intellectual conversations and chai for the first time.
Gup shup in our cottage Bethak.
Exotic glaciers and streams dripping below them.
Kalashi vibrant attire.
No snapchat, no wifi, no mobile signals, yet having the best time ever.
Making fun of each other and the hysterical fits.
Sweet gestures of locals.
Getting everyone’s full attention without any distraction.
Consolation that many of us had gone through similar life events, you too Brutus?
Playing Antakshari, Dum Sherads and cards.
Late night sitar sessions.
Simple lifestyle and minimalistic living.
Chilam Josht festivities and dances.
The shock of hearing a Muslim saying you can do whatever you want to Kalashi kids but not ours.
Colourful souvenir shopping and wearing the Karachi attire.
Graveyard with open graves and the fright of seeing actual bones on every grave.
Exploring menstruation cells and getting surprised by their customs.
Typical English pouring weather.
Getting our hair braided by the the local Karachi women.
Finding out the liberation of Kalashi women and the right to marry whoever they want and whenever.
Wet hair, clothes and shoes.
Hiking and dirty attire.
Night trekking sessions with head torches to the most gorgeous valley in the world where the sky was exuberantly blue after sunset with majestic mountains on every single side.
Having hot pakoras and papars on the riverside.
Enjoying their local yummy crisps, made in Swat.
Making handsome pakore wala friends at shops and thetas.
Exploring untouched river and mountains, natural beauty at its best.
Couple dancing at the edge of the river with my one and only. Group mates singing songs for us.
On the way back, stopping at a picturesque river, stone throwing competitions.
Van having issues on an incline.
Four of us taking a lift from a police jeep for weight distribution
Suddenly getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere with glaciers on each side.
Being stranded and deciding to trek to the closest khokha. Being told there is not a single one on any side.
Getting a hysterical fit after realising we’re stuck with no sweaters, no money, not even signals to contact the group.
Taking a lift from a random open lorry.
Being flown from one side to the other due to sudden brakes applied and laughing like maniacs.
Getting bruises everywhere.
Finding out our van has broken down far behind us.
Marooned at a khokha in freezing cold.
Jumping to keep ourselves warm.
Finally finding a tent and lying down in it as back was hurting. Later realizing clothes and hair wet and the disgust at finding a lot nearby.
Mountain nature calls. Trying to hide from people.
Begging khokha wala to let us use his blanket and getting a No in reply.
Standing in tandoor to keep ourselves warm.
Meeting bikers and photographers to pass our time while being stranded.
Yummiest Daal ever at the khokha.
Finally after hours of being stranded, the exasperation of seeing our van and meeting our groupmates as some long lost childhood friends.
Carrying Tughral on shoulders after he walked on foot to Lowari top as it was in his bucket list.
Laughing on Zeeshans torn shoes.
Brakes fail while coming downhill.
Driver putting Banaspati oil in van engine instead of brake oil
Spare tyre fell in glacier water.
Wheel rolling down the road.
Zaira and I running full speed behind the unstoppable tyre.
Intellectual conversations while van broke-down and repair work was taking place
Molvi telling us off for spouse public affection.
Sitting with different people in the van to keep ourselves busy in discussions.
Long heart-to-heart conversations.
Spending a few hours in a random restaurant in Dir and being offered blankets when they saw us tired; being offered Ludo when they saw us waiting.
The warmth and the affection in the eyes of Kalashi people are only a few of the memories I have brought back home from Kalash. My husband told me that he saw a completely different side of me during this trip, a person he never saw in the last 3 years that we have known each other. I feel this trip has changed me for the better. I normally have OCD when it comes to keeping things clean and tidy. But I didn’t care at all about my clothes getting dirty there. I can be an introvert and talk less if somethings bothering me or if I’m not feeling comfortable with certain people. However in Kalash, I was fully myself and enjoying every minute of the time we had. This trip has really made me think about the benefits of living a minimalistic life. I have started thinking about enjoying life rather than wanting to record every little bit of it, snapchatting less and living the present moments more. I have decided to enjoy the little things and worry less as life is too short, shop less and be there more for our loved ones, friends and family more. Thanks for stopping by.