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Himalaya

Day 2: Peshawar

Michael Palin - Himalaya'Just to be safe,' he says, apologetically. There are plenty of Taliban sympathizers among these milling crowds, and with the highly unpopular Iraq war only recently over, our presence here in the conservative North-West Frontier Province makes us, though he never actually uses the word, targets. Hence our police escort and the armed guard deputed to stay by my side at all times.

I understand their concern, but emphasizing our separateness seems only to serve the purpose of those who want to keep people apart. It saddens me that extremists, on both sides, should have pre-empted the natural act of communication.

We drink some green tea at a smoky café with a dark and cheerful interior, and carry on regardless. There is so much to take in. The profusion of stuff. Mangoes from the Punjab piled up alongside bananas from Sind Province to the south, onions, squash, pears, peaches, a wheelbarrow of apricots being heaved through the crowd by a tiny old man, two young boys carrying nets to catch pigeons, which they will later sell. Beside a pick-up, a group of men are squatting down. One of them scoops up a half-dozen live chicks, stuffing them into a small cloth bag and pulling the drawstring tight. At a shop-front behind them a man sits cross-legged stirring rice and meat in a pan the size of a small pond.

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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 2: Peshawar
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Peshawar
  • Book page no: 14

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