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Himalaya

Day 18: The Shandur Pass

The Shandur Pass, Pakistan 
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Shandur Pass, Nature’s stadium. Crowds find the best vantage point for the big game.
Michael Palin - HimalayaThe weather is perfect.

A crowd, estimated at around 15,000, has gathered at the ground well in advance of the game. Apart from a VIP area on top of the main stand, the accommodation is basic, ranging from purpose-built concrete terraces to standing room on the various low mounds of glacial debris that enclose the playing area. One of these, with perhaps the least good view, is reserved for women.

The six players of each side parade onto the pitch, Chitral in scarlet, Gilgit in blue and white. Protection is optional. None of the Gilgit side wears protective headgear, whereas three of the Chitralis have helmets and one wears a pakul.

I'm squeezed into one of the terraces. There are no seats and we just settle ourselves as best we can on mud and stones. My eyes meet those of a policeman with riot helmet, night stick and dark glasses, sitting at the end of our row. He pulls on a cigarette and turns away. Above us is a line of brightly coloured kites, strung together, stretching right across the ground. (I later learn that there are 105 of them, thus winning, for a Doctor Ejazul Haq of Islamabad, the world record for the number of kites 'aired on a single thread'.)
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 18: The Shandur Pass
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: The Shandur Pass
  • Book page no: 40

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RELATED LINKS

  • Sport and Leisure
  • Day 6 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 7 
  • Full Circle
  • Day 4 
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