Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Where are the women gone?

This is the street i was staying on in Chitral. Like the other towns in Northern Pakistan, it is surrounded by huge mountains, and there are no women to be seen.

This is because the women are actually working (unlike the men), and are not really allowed in public. The men appear to be incredibly ineffective. My observation is that they tend to sit around and get very little done. Where as the women are always looking busy out on the farms (when you catch a glimpse). This is Sunni territory, where the people are quite conservative. This is where i started wearing the local dress around the place. This way, you get a better reception from the locals.

You can see from this photo why they haven't been able to find Osama here, its like 'where's wally'.

Before 9/11 this town was reasonably popular with foreign travellers (about 1000 per year). Now days i think they get less than half of that, and that includes NGO's and bounty hunters (guess who they're hunting..), because westerners are not keen to come here. All foreigners have to sign in with the police, and meet the chief of police. He told us not to go to the forest, then he signed our permit.

One thing that surprised me here, was when i heard this muslim dudes phone ringing - jingle bells jingle bells. Can someone explain to me how that works?

From Chitral we went to Kalash valleys, which is the only place in Pakistan that is occupied by non-muslims. It is 20k from the Afghan border, amongst the tribal territory (that is, the area in Pakistan that is not controlled by the government, but rather by local law). Kalash is a crazy place, and very beautiful. Its a jeep ride through these canyons into the valleys. The people there are quite fair in their appearance. Many have blue eyes. some have blonde hair, although i didn't see any blonde's. They were quite different clothing, and women come out in public. Pakistani tourists come here to lear at the local women, its pretty gross really.

The greeks argue that the Kalash people are decendents of alexander the great. They built this massive building in the middle of town as a testament to this. It looks totally out of place. The locals were going to say no to the investment, because it came with financial perks. Although it is not agreed by all that the people are descendents of the great mans studly troops.

THere was an earthquake in the night while we were there. I thought the mountains were going to fall down on us, because this actually happens quite often in Pakistan. Infact the day earlier we had driven past a village that had recently been buried by an avalanch, which was caused by an earthquake. I was fearful, but not enough to run for the doorway. I'm not sure how to escape an avalanche when you're in a building thats barely standing as it is.

Things are pretty whack in Chitral. As in, somewhat different from NZ. Streets are dirt, covered in rubbish. There are hundreds of small stores, all selling the same stuff, which is typically of no use to me. The good thing is, they don't hound you to buy things. This is where i started eating again, because i found a place that sold boxes of cornflakes. Cornflakes have never tasted so good (despite having no milk), not even when nana used to serve them to us kids with hot apple. I ate dry cornflakes and cold apples for 2 days. mmm...


Mum and Dad said...

Mum here. Chitral doesn't look as civilized as I thought it would be. It must be weird not having women around I wonder if things will ever change there. great to see what you have experienced but I'm glad you have left Pakistan so you can get well again.

Peter said...

That is an awesome photo... It looks crazy kind of like s.e asia I guess with the complete disheveled service infrastructure.. I'm glad to hear the snow leopards haven't got to you yet..