Zen-like calm of Hunza
I would like to spend my summer, ideally speaking, in Murtaza Abad, a small village in central Hunza valley. Murtaza Abad, consisting of Upper and Lower settlements, has only about 300 houses combined and a rough estimate of 2500 people. There are cherry and apricot orchards on both sides of the main road and the Rakaposhi Range is visible on the eastern side.
The days in this quiet village are short even in summer because the sun disappears behind lofty mountains quite early so everyday activities are discussed in detail at the breakfast table with the host. Every event is planned and time is allocated precisely if you are not staying long but if you are staying on your own in an empty house then you are on your own. That is my plan. My friend, Wafi Ahmed, has moved with his family to Gilgit and now I plan to stay in his Hunza home for a month without anyone to guide me or cajole me out of my lazy lounging. There are about two shops on the main road which can provide everyday food supplies. I hope to find some handmade cow cheese from the neighbours. The entire region is very peaceful and has many walking treks and jeepable roads for spending the day. I have travelled before to Khunjerab National Park but I did not have enough time to explore the shepherd shelters, called harayi in Brushaski. These are often roofless stone structures for the nomadic shepherds who need cook a meal and warm themselves near the temporary hearth, protected from the lashing winds coming through the northern passes.
Even if it is an illusion, I hope to gain some serenity away from the pollution of Lahore. The city has been too much with me for last couple of years. The noise and smoke of rickshaws has polluted the regenerative source of inner calm for me. I hope to recuperate some Zen-like calm after staying there.
Published in The News on Sunday
dated May 10, 2009