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Himalaya

Day 2: Peshawar

Michael Palin - HimalayaA fringe of painted chains hangs own from the bumpers like beads on a flapper's dress. Multicoloured hubcaps protrude from the wheels, a combination of Damien Hirst and Boadicea.

We're offered tea in grubby enamel cups as one of the master painters begins work on the tailgate of a truck. A green base has already been applied (green being the colour of Islam) and he is now, with extraordinary speed and confidence, sketching the outline of a partridge, a bird held in high regard by the Pathans, who believe it has many powers including the exorcism of devils.

Less than an hour later the partridge is six feet high and standing proudly on top of a pile of stones in a romantic alpine landscape of lakes, snow-capped mountains, and houses set on tree-lined river banks, above which a name has been delicately picked out in Pashto. 'The Flower of Durband', a reference to the owner's home village.

The head and his team of seven take a week to decorate a truck from start to finish, for which they charge 15,000 rupees (150).
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 2: Peshawar
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Peshawar
  • Book page no: 16

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