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Himalaya

Day 8: The Kalash Valleys

Michael Palin - HimalayaPale faces look curiously at us over the dry-stone wall that divides our compound from the lane outside. The fact that some of them are women is a great contrast with the rest of the North-West Frontier, where the rule of purdah is so strictly observed that no woman will look you in the face in public.

The Kalash ladies who peer so frankly at us, often dissolving into giggles at what they see, wear wide black dresses, tied with woollen scarves with multicoloured threads attached and strips of coloured ribbon on hems and cuffs. Their hair, which they never cut, is braided or plaited tight against the scalp and a long headdress, decorated with beads and cowrie shells, runs down from their crown to below their waist.

Saifullah Khan, a man of around 40 with grey threads in his thick dark hair and a face broad and olive-skinned as a Spanish farmer, is proprietor of the guesthouse and spokesman for the community. He's the only one of the Kalash to have received an education outside the village and after a breakfast of walnut bread he takes us on a walk around, pointing out this and that and constantly hitching up the pants of a grubby brown shalwar-kameez as he does so.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 8: The Kalash Valleys
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Rumbur
  • Book page no: 26

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