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Himalaya

Day 2: Peshawar

Michael Palin - HimalayaThe side walls are hung with various examples of gnasher-related art work: a collage of glamorous lady film stars with big toothy grins, a framed set of photos of drills at work in diseased mouths (fortunately in black and white) and a faded chart depicting 'The Four Steps Of Dental Decay'.

I avert my eyes, only to catch sight of an ancient rusty drill, standing to one side of the chair like a withered arm.

With fingers the size of small trees, Abdul Wahid stretches my mouth into a rictal grin and feels around inside, squeezing each tooth in a vice-like grip. He doesn't seem impressed by my Disneyland of caps and bridges, and suggests I give up using toothpaste and use powder and my finger instead.

His charges are reasonable: 100–300 rupees (£1–£3) for an extraction, fillings from as little as 50p and a full set of acrylic dentures from £15, though these look as though they may have been enjoyed by more than one previous owner.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 2: Peshawar
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Peshawar
  • Book page no: 15

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