Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Bengal Tiger, Karachi

I cannot remember ever seeing White Bengal Tiger live. That was the first time I saw it and instantly loved it. I have seen countless National Geographic documentaries on this wonderful creature. Few of them now remain in the wild, thanks to excessive poaching and killing by British colonial rulers of British India.

Directions for visiting this place:

Drive on Sohrab Goth from Karachi. Turn left after Al-Habib restaurant. Turn right on the first cut. Go straight on the road and after 5 minutes of driving ask for directions. This place is approx. 27 KM from the city. This park timings are: 10 AM to 5 PM daily. No prior bookings are required. Rs.150 / person is the fee for entrance.

(Family trip today with my family, Ateeq bhai's family and Sobia Apa's family minus her husband.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chaman railway station

Yup. That's the last railway station this side of the border. And in good times or in any other country this would have been THE station. Unfortunately, disintegrating neighbour, Afghanistan, and some bad political situation within the country has caused this station to be static and very slow. That's unfortunate but till now it still retains its old colonial outlook. And I simply love the timeless posture of this man.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Destroying heritage in Karachi

Yet another building of pre-partition era (before 1947) is destroyed to make way for the new structure. And the government of Pakistan has failed yet again to do anything about it. For more details on historical quarters of Karachi read the following book published by Oxford Press of Pakistan and written by Yasmin Cheema:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Makli: Locked to preserve

Makli is a large necropolis near the modern day Thatta, Sindh, Pakistan. It covers approx. 8 Km and is perhaps one of the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. Oldest tombs belong to Muslim rulers and Saints date back to 14 century. Over a million people are said to be burried here. Unfortunately, like other historical sites across Pakistan, Makli too has faced ravages of time and people. Its stones have been stolen and taken abroad for sale; its walls defaced; its bricks used in newer construction; and the ever presence of vandals around the site have damaged it tremendously. So much so that on my visit here in 2007 I found one of the tombs locked by the authorities to prevent more loot.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

On Assignment: Injection for bee sting

Sometimes while photographing you get nasty hits or accidents or nasty bees out to get you down. I got, along with all my family members, a honey bee sting for which I am seen here getting immediate medical attention. No one got seriously hurt that day at New Jatoi village and we are glad we drove home safely.

Actually we were passing mango and peepal trees when the attack came. It was sudden and sharp and almost within seconds bees were everywhere making us run for our life. Before that day I never have had any experience of a bee attack. It was classic attack and we later had a hearty laugh.

Photograph by Sehreen Faraz.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Jatoi forest area, Sindh

I love woodlands, forest areas and trees. More shade more I love them. No wonder than that this walk among the trees at New Jatoi got me such a classy, wallpaper type image.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tire smuggling, Chaman

Tire smuggling, Chaman
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
Smuggling is the best option in Chaman if you want to survive the cut throat competition from various Pathans out there. And for smuggling you need to have guts, some hard cash for the officials, and a sincere single-minded approach towards life and work. Your children should also be great little-smugglers. And indeed there are, if they work on Pak-Afghan border, second in importance to Torkham border near Peshawar, which connects two troubled countries.

I photographed this man carrying loads of tires from across Afghanistan. He was heading towards Customs Office nearby. No wonder Pakistan needs so much International Aid despite so much business. No one pays the taxes. Not these Pathans driving across from Afghanistan. Certainly not the ministers in our cabinet. And surely not our Prime Minister, who did not pay a single Paisa this financial year. Goodness me.

Friendship gate, Pak-Afghan border, Chaman

That's the friendship gate at Chaman border, which connects Pakistan with Afghanistan. There was no such gate, if I remember it correctly, in the year 1999 (when I visited Balochistan with MAJu friends) or in 2001, when I was here again with Umair Rehman, my longtime school friend from the days of St. Michael Convent School. I am not sure whether my memory is serving me right but I think this gate came up soon after America invaded Afghanistan and Pakistan joined the drumming session. Whatever the history I have always wanted to visit this place. And what a pleasure it was to be here finally. Long live Pakistan.

Reading newspaper, Qila Abdullah

I had always wanted this kind of shot for my archive. i don't' know why, but I think such photographs are an essential part of your collection, if you happen to be a Pakistani freelancer. Or living in any similar Eastern nation.

I like the chai ke chainak in green and the piali (cup) and the newspaper spread in front of these two tribal Pathans. And the entire front wall of this shop painted red with Coca Cola. That's the spirit of real travel.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sugar prices hit sky in Pakistan

Sugarcane trolly, Sind
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
This sugarcane filled trolley reminds me of good old days when sugar cost you Rs.30 and people happily had lots and lots of sugar during their tea times. No more.

Zardari government has seen sugar prices climb from Rs.32 in 2007 to a whooping Rs.125 today (11th Nov 2010). And CCP has done nothing to ensure any price bracketing. They have failed to capture the hoarders because apparently most of the ministers of this govt. are sugar barons. And yesterday I heard some govt. person blare that the govt. has sold sugar at Rs.57 / Kg. What a joke!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bargaining for goat, Dhorr

Bargaining is the key to purchasing in any Asian market worth its salt. So goat market at Dhorr - or any other place for that matter in Pakistan - is no different. This age old custom of bargaining combines with Islamic injunction to sacrifice your best animal sees this old man bargaining for a good price to sell his only goat at this wonderful market, which is set every Tuesday year round at Dhorr, a town near Nawab Shah, and famed for its goat. These animals are also illegally smuggled to Afghanistan, India and Iran, all neighbors of Pakistan. And they are exported to UAE and Saudi Arab, thus driving the prices high during Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Azha.

Bhaitak, Dhorr, Nawab Shah

Bhaitak is a traditional shelter built by the Sindhis and Baloch people of Sindh province, Pakistan, for their guests. Many Sindhis and Baloch even accept people as guests they don't know. Their culture demands them to feed and house anyone wandering around in need of food or shelter. Hence, we found this shelter of Haji Hashim, a Baloch, living at Dhorr and an expert in Scrap business as well as in goats.

This is the scene right after we had a sumptous nashta (breakfast in Urdu) of pure Honey, roti, desi makhan (butter), lassi and chai (tea).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Golden Beach, Karachi

Beaches of Karachi
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
When someone talks about beaches of Karachi there is a chance that you will hear the words Sea View or Hawksbay (where there are no hawks left to boot). And there is a chance, one in 50, that you will hear the name 'paradise point'. But there is certainly no chance that you will ever hear the name golden beach. Because no one bothers to either go there or name it.

This beach is the last place in Sindh province where a civilian can go. After that only army men are allowed in. So much for democracy. But this beach is a beauty but beware of Sunday goers.


Go to Mauripur road. Turn right for Hawksbay. Drive straight till you see a certain gate where it says, COASTAL GUARDS / NAVY. Stop dead. Turn left and viola.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hand pump, Cholistan

Hand pump, Cholistan
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
Using the old, iron hand pump on your trip break is not only a very useful activity but also a very healthy one. For most of the water is ground water and very refreshing, especially for those who've been travelling and require some water. Modern day water bottles - water packed in plastic - has eroded the necessity of this very important source of water. But its beauty - and class - remains unchanged. For one, we were impressed with this fresh water on a pit stop in 2008. This road eventually led us to Derawar Fort, Cholistan's most magnificent fortification walls.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making jalebis, Lahore

Making jalebis, Lahore
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
There is something about eating from the stalls situated just outside the Tombs / Shrines of Saints in Pakistan. There is a certain aroma suffused with mysticism and religion a combination, which has been acceptable to majority of Muslims since its inception. Today, however, this form of Islam is under direct threat from Saud-Wahabi-Salafi funded terrorists - not Jihadis, mind you - in the form of suicide bombings and killings. First it was Rehman Baba in Peshawar, the Bari Imam near Islamabad, then Data Darbar, the most revered Saint in Pak-Hind region. Now, they have blown up the gates of Abdullah Shah Ghazi (RA) in Karachi and Baba Fareed Gunj Shakar (RA) in Pak Pattan, a place I so love.

The place photographed above is just outside the Tomb of Shah Hussain and Madho Lal in Lahore.

Photograph shot during a road trip from Karachi to Jhelum in 2008.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Electricity thieves, Karachi

You've been thinking why, after paying all the electric bills and taxes on time, still you are left with shortfall of electricity. Well, you know why!

It is estimated that some 35-40% of our electricity is wasted - stolen, lost due to old, creaking, broken wires, etc - and yet government, instead of handling the thieves, allow for the increased surcharge on bills. They also bring in rental energy plants which costs us millions of dollars.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Punj Tan ka Bagh, Sehwan Sharif

That night I slept like a king - or someone who almost passed away! This is a place to be, if you wish to see a Pakistan mired in all sorts of traditions, religions and iconography. It is a place which offers fresh water to drink, some miracles, an open air sleep free of cost, and education in Rural area Shia religious themes and myths. I love this place.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pan walla, Karachi

Pan walla, Karachi
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
Just got back home after shooting this shot of a pan walla, which is just next to Alamgir Welfare Trust, Karachi. I think this came nicely.

Fishing, Karachi

Turtle beach, Karachi
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
I really love this serene shot of mine I took two years ago. We were on a hunt for turtle (just to see them, not kill them) and after turtle watching we went to the other side of the beach where these men were preparing and hauling their catch. Some have been in the sea since last night; some were new comers. Under a dim light of the very early Sun, this photograph was taken. I recently uploaded it to my flickr account.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Monkey Business

Monkey Business
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
I was asked to shoot monkey for my assignment on the cultural aspect of Pakistan. Well, now-a-days, monkeys have gone out of business as more and more people become poor due to economic stagnation and lack of government will power. Monkeys, it appears, will go back to the wild while their handlers will do something else to earn their sort-of-a-cruel earning. But that's not true for this Punjabi handler, who has been at the Sea View since last 35 years.

I am not sure what others say about all this monkey show but this is cruel and positively banned in many Western countries. And you can see why. These handlers buy monkeys young (this one was 3 years old and not very co-operative) from Islamabad / Pindi, where they can be found in the jungles at Margalla hills for Rs.5000 (un-trained). Then these monkeys are hit with the stick day and night and kept partially hungry so that they may learn their trick. While I was photographing this monkey walla and his monkey the poor creature got a lot of spanking on his head and hands due to which I had to cut short this show. I paid him Rs.150 and I am not sure whether I did the right thing or not.

Snake charmer with mongoose

I found him at Sea View yesterday (16th October 2010) and asked him to get his bansri out and show me the snake show. He insisted on fighting his snake with this large mongoose, which I objected to. So he took out the snake and showed me the show and I handed over Rs.150 for his performance. Honestly, the snake was a bit slow and very small. It's price was Rs.200-300 and it has been caught from Thatta. No wonder our wildlife continues to dwindle at a very fast pace.

Shot on assignment.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Khobani seller, Balochistan

I was in Baluchistan with my working partner and friend, Danial, during the first half of June, 2010. We were on a mission to photograph certain parts of Balochistan for And despite contrary views by people who've never been to Balochistan, we had lots and lots of fun while doing our work. And one of the better parts of that fun was to eat fresh, delicious fruit right from the trees they grow from.

This is Khobani and we ate so much that our stomachs were upping. But not aching.

This expedition into the heart of Balochistan was funded by

Friday, September 17, 2010

Another bhai killed; more violence to follow

It is a done thing in Karachi and Urdu parts of Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas. That when the MQM leader is killed violence must follow. Karachi, the center of all MQM, is the hardest hit among the cities of this unfortunate country. This mega city, where the infamous center of attraction 90 (MQM Headquarters) is situated, sees the most blood around. And Pathans get the most whacking for God knows why.

Yesterday, MQM's kicked-out leader, Dr. Imran Farooq, was murdered with knives in London, a city much known for love-hate relationship with Pakistanis. First, it was match fixing scandal and now it is the murder of the former top leader of MQM, a terrorist organization, which has paired the names, 'London' and 'Pakistani'. And those two pairings have been rather unfortunate for the entire nation.

It must be noted that this particular leader had fallen out of favor of Mr. Altaf Hussain, the pig-faced leader of MQM, now stationed in London since 1992, some two years back. Since then, as some reports are today suggesting, he has been living in some sort of poverty. Just imagine a founder member of a party like MQM living in 'some poverty', is this not very strange? Not so. In Pakistani politics everything goes. Just look at Altaf Hussain and his antics on TV. He is crying like a fat baby whose most lovable toy has just been snatched. As is known among MQM cadre and party workers, Dr. Imran Farooq was no lovable toy of Altaf Hussain and that these 'crying' stints of its leader are just media-savvy.

In Karachi, the popular version today is that MQM itself has killed this man. One may not be sure because in London murders using daggers / knives is a pretty common crime. So, perhaps, Metropolitan Police, will be looking into this matter with all such facts, not least that he had fallen out of favor of its own citizen, Altaf Hussain. I hope this time around someone in London will catch the thief.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hindu temple, Netty Jetty, Karachi

Hindu, a local of Karachi, feeds the remaining fish at the temple, which was built during British Raj in Sub Continent. This constant feeding has caused extreme level of pollution on the edge of this Arabian Sea. Unfortunately, religious leaders and government officials turn a blind eye to this and other such practices. I was fortunate enough to have been allowed within this temple. Generally, minority Hindus keep Muslims away from their temples in Pakistan.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 - Changed perceptions

I was just reading this nice blog on Dawn today by a former student, who was there in USA when planes struck Twin Towers.

I was in Pakistan at that time and I was also a student, a sort of a fire-brand type. It was evening and darkness had already pervaded our university. I can clearly recall that that day I was sitting in my computer lab and for some reason I was late in going home. Almost all my classmates had already left for home. On another system my classmate, Ovais, was sitting when he suddenly called me over informing me that some building in USA is under fire. I looked at the screen and thought maybe some odd fire had broken inside. I was wrong. Ovais hastily told me that it was some plane, which had hit the twin towers. Twin towers for me was a new term. I went home.

At home, as soon as I entered, my mother greeted me with more than a flourish and invited me to look at the screen, which was positively blackened with the dark, billowing smoke coming out from the towers. It was CNN and the anchor was horrified at what was happening just behind her. I was just beginning to settle when suddenly a plane took a sharp turn and rammed into the second tower, which till then had been standing amidst chaos and drama. It later emerged that planes had been hijacked and used as suicide material. What an ingenious idea that was, I had thought. And I was really very glad, just like my parents and siblings, that finally that great Satan had been 'controlled'. Future events and the consequences for Muslims the world-over would prove us all wrong. These terrorist attacks into the heartland of USA had not only shaken the great Satan, it had in effect woken them up and all of us to the reality of international terrorism. A reality, which sadly has harmed interests of Muslims world over.

Today I and my parents feel that the events of 9/11 were not perpetrated by Jihadis (as CNN would have us believe) but by real terrorists, people who have no faith or religion. Today I can see clearly that killing of innocent Americans, whether Jews or Christians or Muslims, won't serve anyone's purpose. We cannot ask for revenge on a common American for the misdeeds of their Army and politicians in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine. This we all Muslims should understand and realize. We cannot isolate ourselves from the real world and continue to fool around. We must consider murderers and killers as terrorists and not some good Muslim Knights.

Today I am not happy that common Americans were killed that day. I just hope I wasn't happy in 2001, when the events broke out. But I was and I accept it now.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mules Mansion, Karachi

Mules Mansion, Karachi
Originally uploaded by bukhaari
I simply adore this building. And today when I saw this shot I at once decided to blog it. And I got good information from Dawn website, which I would like to share with you all, on this classic building. Here it goes:

'The Mules Mansion was designed by Moses Somake (who was born in Lahore on June 6, 1875 and died in London on April 6, 1947). It was named after the first chairman of the Karachi Port Trust, Charles Mules. After partition of the subcontinent the mansion served as the Naval Headquarters for a certain span of time. Subsequently the place was used for different purposes, including residential. In fact a few pen-wielders used to live in the building in the ‘70s.'

Further, our author tells us,

'Architect Noman Ahmed says: “It’s a lovely building constructed in the Anglo-Oriental style. There is a slight influence of the Renaissance method as well – for example, the orderly arrangement of columns. The Anglican features that can be readily noticed are the beautiful keystones, horizontal grooving and the symmetry maintained in its construction.

“It’s a structure inspired by the KPT building (curvilinear), which is why it has functional orientation, that is, it was made for a particular purpose,” says Noman Ahmed.'

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cricketers from punjab harm Pakistan's image

Yes, you heard it right: Punjab born cricketers including Salman Butt, the Test captain for 2010 summer Test series against England, has taken the bribe and destroyed image of Pakistan yet again. These bastard Punjabis continue to defame Pakistanis at all levels. No wonder then the main culprit besides Salman Butt also appears to be a full blooded Punajbi Mazhar Majeed, the bookie par excellence. Please also recall infamous match fixing scandals of other Pakistani greats, Wasim Akram and Waqar Yonus. They also belonged to Punjab province of Pakistan.

I have just read reports in Guardian paper that investigations are underway and that test match will continue. We hope PCB, headed by Ijaz Butt will take strong action against the proven madness of our players. And that it will come clean on this issue. Thanks to God that finally we have proof of involvement of our players in match-fixing.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Free Iftar @ Memon Masjid

My flickr friend, Raja Islam, took these beautiful shots at Memon Masjid, Boultan Market, Karachi, Pakistan. These illustrate not only the general concept of eating much more than required during the Holy month of Ramazan Sharif, but these photographs also illustrate the remarkable level of generosity of Memons towards other Muslims. For sure, this masjid has the best free menu among all the masjids of this city. You may have as much biryani, fruits, chaat and sherbat as you like. People out there even offer dinner galas at masjids during bari raats and much more. No wonder then every year people especially from Punjab (Punjabis and Seraikis) throng this city for a free lunch, as it were. Thanks to ALLAH that due to ravaging floods we are seeing little of these Punjabis this year!

Enjoy your iftari.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why kill Abid Shirazee?

KARACHI: With reference to a news item in your newspaper about the death of Abid Shirazee, I would say that his murder is a tragedy for hundreds of people who knew him. He was a name among the waterproofing contractors and consultants of Karachi. Who killed him and why no one can be sure. This target killing has been a scourge of this unfortunate city for long. And those who have been targeted have been Pashtuns or Shias. Abid Shirazee may have been a Shia but he had nothing to do with any sectarian outfit or group. It is then doubly tragic that a non-sectarian, non-political person is killed.
As a junior waterproofing contractor still learning the trade of waterproofing I, was really impressed with the skills of Shirazee sahib. He was prudent and would often win many prized waterproofing projects. On a personal level, he was very fond of good food and would invariably offer you some if you happened to be around – even if you were his biggest competitor.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2010.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mitre peak from Vigne glacier

Originally uploaded by Asif Saeed (LUDUS)
I was viewing the gallery of this gentleman by the name of Asif Saeed, a member of our Pakistani community who is at, and was amazed to see such an arresting sight. This mountain is called Mitre peak and is perhaps a known site to lots of trekkers going to K-2 base camp. Evidently it is also one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Wikipedia lists its height as 6,010 m (19,718 ft).

This expedition survived a snow storm sort of a scare. But that's another story and as more photographs are uploaded by the various trekker friends of mine, I will surely share them with you all.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Trekkerz at Concordia (Karakoram)

The Pakistani group known as The Trekkerz is based on some very energetic and knowledgeable persons, who manage various treks across Norther Pakistan from time to time. This time they managed to pull a wonderfully organized trip to that ultimate masterpiece of nature, the base camp of K-2, second Highest mountain on the face of Earth.

I take this opportunity to congratulate my friends, Raja Islam, Zagham, and ZAK bhai for making it through, despite much troubling weather.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flood of the Century?

Not sure if the headline is true but I just read it on BBC website. And I am not particularly shocked after viewing the gory details and the images of what has come to pass. And just now, while I was having my late breakfast (as today is yet another strike by MQM in Karachi) I watched BBC anchorperson discuss with someone from HSBC about Pakistan's economic growth. She asked her how in the world Pakistan can progress if such menacing devastations continue to hamper its growth and wash away its agricultural land (as in this flooding)? Well, HSBC person had no answer to that. And here we are asking for more aid and our good President is out in Paris to discuss bilateral trade and security concerns. How sick is that!

Well, as of now, floods across Frontier and Punjab have killed over 1400 people and made homeless countless others. Every second footage on TV is now showing angry people blocking roads, destroying government properties and shouting in front of foreign media that 'our' government is helpless and useless. And really with no food and shelter that's the case indeed in most parts of Swat (Kalam is one of the worst hit areas), Nowshera and Peshawar, which is cut off from rest of the country.

Pakistan Army has dedicated over 30,000 of its troops for relief operations across the affected areas but people still feel that nothing is being done. That's mostly due to the vastness and remoteness of most of the areas affected by flooding. just imagine a rainfall of over 312mm within a span of 36 hours. And put in one of the largest catchment areas in the world and you have water spilling everwhere, breaking bunds and barrages and bridges and all. But atleast decomcratically elected government should have shown some sense and visited the areas affected by rains and flash floods. No, not at all. Only Army is supposed to do all that. Why, I am not sure.

USA has pledged 10 million USD as aid package to the country and has allowed the use of 4 of its helicopters for aid dropping. But it is the jawans of Pakistan Army and members of Edhi and UNO which have done the bulk of the aid work and it is to them that we salute.

p.s Pakistan Met Office has reported more monsoonal rainfalls across lower Sindh, Punjab and KP proinves. Well, we are in for a bit more hell here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gate crashing the Margallas

The Margalla Hills—the foothills of the Himalayas—are a series of small-elevation hills located north of Islamabad, Pakistan. Margalla Range has an area of 12,605 hectares. The hill range nestles between an elevation of 685 meters at the western end and 1,604 meters on its east.

That's what Wikipedia has to say about Margalla hills. And they have just added an entry for Air Blue flight which took off from Karachi at 8am on 28th July 2010 and never landed. It gatecrashed into Margalla killing all 152 passengers on board.

This tragedy has brought almost no surprises for me so far. Our minister for everything, Rehman Malik, announced hastily that Black Box has been found soon after the incident. Then he denied it. Same apathy towards knowledge and use of proper information.

Then we got our gory Urdu channels shouting that they've been first to make footage of this ill-fated plane. They also shouted about how they were able to film the grieving mothers and fathers of those who perished. And they had the audacity to barge into the homes of victims' families and ask them such stupid questions as, 'How do you feel about your so and so being dead'? etc. Is this how journalists should act? Well, no surprises here. Pakistani Urdu media has the tradition of doing just that.

And then the people. Some of them, off course. People who stole body parts (presumably of females more than those of males) so that they might just get some gold out of them. How sick and familiar is that.

And lastly, I am not at all surprised by the action Pakistan Army has taken. They've been everywhere along with Edhi people. And together they have done what democratically elected government has simply failed to do: Help its people in these most distressing time.

p.s Over 800 are thought to have perished due to heavy rains and subsequent flooding in Frontier and Punjab provinces.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On Expedition : Ameer Hamza in Baluchistan

Ameer Hamza and Reading
Originally uploaded by eDanial
My friend and expedition partner, Danial Shah, who actually arranged this most wonderful, eye-popping, mind-blowing expedition into the heartland of this country, took this frame while we were travelling from Point A to Point B. Wherever we were going (and in this case, we were heading towards Koh-e-Taftan, Iran border) I was reading this very absorbing book penned by English traveller and historian, William Dalrymple. The book's name is, 'The Last Mughal'. It is a singularly absorbing book just like the province itself. He was kind enough to lend me his very cool book reading light, which I duly attached with my book.

I thank Mr. Zeeshan, Director of, for giving us this great opportunity and freedom to capture Baluchistan as never before. We hope our work is agreeable to him and to his good colleagues. We also sincerely hope that in future we will be able to contribute more to this National Project. INSHALLAH.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 13 / Shehr-e-Roghan, Bela

Shehr-e-Roghan, Bela
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
It was 13th June, 2010, and it was our expedition's 13th day. It has been a hectic schedule and most of the days we would wake up at 5am and sleep well after 12 at night. It was an expedition of extremes: We've been at Sibi, where the temperature was 49C; and we went to Ziarat where night time temperature dropped to 9C. So you can imagine what kind of place our biggest province really is. Yes, Baluchistan is a land mass which is perhaps Pakistan's 43%. Or, 48%. Or somewhere between it. And it always has something special for all of us.

No wonder then this beautiful, mysterious city known to local Baluch people as Shehr-e-Roghan (city of caves, city of Jinns, etc) was a fitting end to our brilliant expedition. I really liked roaming around this city. It was maddeningly hot and I was sure more heat was to grace us in Karachi itself. But Karachi appears some 170 Km from this place. I was impressed by the charms of this place. So should you be. I did not have GPS otherwise I would have put coordinates here.

So, this frame ends our expedition, which ran from 1st June, 2010, with a plane trip to Quetta from Karachi and ended at Hub, which borders Karachi.

More photographs of the expedition will be added later on. So you please continue reading this blog.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 13 / Road to Karachi

Road to Karachi
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
As Danial's IBM was due on Monday we had no choice but to head straight for Karachi. And it was Sunday today. After some road blockage near Khuzdar after a night stay there, we went for Karachi. And it was really hot. Yes, it should be. Kalat is at a certain height whereas Khuzdar is down the hill. And as you leave Khuzdar during summers, you really feel the music. But I found road really wonderful and agreed that if entire Baluchistan's roads are carpeted as this road, I am sure much benefit will come to the way of a poor Baluch, whose home this has been for many centuries now.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 12 / Carpet

Any visit to this most beautiful region is incomplete without a mention of hand knotted carpets or its photographs. I really love carpets and when there is a light shining on it. The real hand-knotted carpets are really expensive. But the most awesome carpet of all here in this palace wasn't the one photographed here - it was in the drawing room. And I really have to curse myself for not properly photographing it.

Our Baluchistan expedition was fully funded by

Baluchistan Diary - Day 12 / Reading Quran sharif

Reading Quran sharif
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
We were shown a small masjid, which is inside the main complex of the Palace of Khan of Kalat. And like every other place within the palace, this place was also full of carpets. Light was filtering from one of the windows as asar namaz timing was nearing; we decided to have khadim read Quran sharif so that we may photograph him. Here's the result.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 12 / Palace of Khan of Kalat

Palace of Khan of Kalat
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
This is the main Palace building and was built, according to the grandson of the Khan of Kalat, after that devastating 1935 earthquake, which levelled much of Quetta and parts of Kalat as well.

I was lucky to find clouds and a very friendly light and the temperature was just fine enough for such a good shot. I think, Dr. Kalim's lens, 10-20mm Sigma also helped greatly.

This expedition was funded by

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Baluchistan Diary - Day 12 / Gun of Khan of Kalat

Gun of Khan of Kalat
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
Today, we woke up late and left Quetta finally at 12 noon. Because I had to shop for dry fruits which my mother had specially asked me to bring from Quetta. I also got my favourite perfume from here: BOSS. And then we headed straight for Kalat, a place of my dreams. I immediately photographed this gun of the Khan when I saw it. And the sky was just fantastic here.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 11 / Dump Ghosht, Quetta

Dump Ghosht, Quetta
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
I am not sure how to spell it. But this thing is cooked like this: Sacrifice a goat, pull out everything from its belly, stuff rice and some dry fruits, as per your taste. Stitch the whole goat so that rice don't fall out and cook the goat under ground. Or whatever. And the taste is so unique you have to taste it to understand the whole idea. No wonder Pathans and visitors alike love this dish. It was our last dinner in Quetta and ensured it was the best.

Next Day: To Kalat and Khuzdar.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 11 / Melon farmer, Baluchistan

I really like this image. Farmer is bending, there are mountains in the background and you can see what he is harvesting in the low, left corner: a fully grown melon. And we bought 5-6 of them for Rs.100 and gladly returned to our vehicles for a trip back to Quetta.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 10 / Money changer, Taftan

Money changer, Taftan
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
If you visit Taftan and if you don't get to see Iranian notes, then I think the entire exercise is not completed. Therefore, I first photographed these notes and then got one for my brother, Ovais Adhia. Because he is a great collector of currency notes from around the world.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Baluchistan Diary - Day 11 / Back to Quetta

I mention this photograph in this running blog just because it has a sign board which I have never before photographed. And the moving truck makes it more relevant. The road itself is a patch work of various works: Iranian, Pakistani, no road and Japanese. Well, we were very tired so we stayed up at Dalbandin for night and then moved later on.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Baluchistan Diary - Day 10 / Pakistan-Iran border, Taftan

Well, this is the farthest point we visited on this expedition. And it was a moment we both were waiting for. The place is not so hot as I had imagined earlier. Taftan surely is a place to remember. One may cross into Iran, if one has the visa.

For your information, our electricity for Taftan is purchased from Iran. Additionally, one may buy SIM cards, shampoos, chocolates, soaps and other Irani products from its markets. The trade is excellent and one will be fascinated to find so many different men walking around the streets.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 9 / Lakhpass to Taftan

Lakhpass to Taftan
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
This pass appears suddenly and un-expectedly just after where the board states, Noshki. It is a pass to the wonders of border, which is nothing less than 800 KM from this place. And it is this Lakhpass for which you have to pay the toll. The journey begins here.

Baluchistan Diary - Day 9 / That's the point.

That's the point.
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
Just for the record I photographed this board. In a place full of surprises (read: Baluchistan) one is bound to mix things up. So I know that it was Day 9 of our 'Expedition Baluchistan' and I also now know that we were in for a great surprise

Baluchistan Diary - Day 9 / Lakhpass Toll, Baluchistan

That's where we started off our long, fascinating journey to the ends of Pakistan: Iran border. A place full of wonders and trade and of fascinating history and all. It was a jam-packed two-days sensation.

This expedition and subsequent research in Baluchistan is fully funded by

Baluchistan Diary - Day 8 / Quetta, Night frame

Quetta, Night frame
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
That's probably the last frame from the koh-e-Murdar mountain on the edge of Quetta, which I took on Day 8 of our expedition. I took this shot without the help of any tripod.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baluchistan Diary - Day 8 / Koh-e-Murdar, Quetta

Koh-e-Murdar, Quetta
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
Our 8th day of travel was in Quetta. Which means that we had a rest day after a serious and hard work of 7 days across Western Baluchistan. So we went to Koh-e-Murdar, which is a mountain over-looking Cant area and Maliabad mohalla of Quetta. Our plan was to photograph this part of Quetta from the top. And we both did some photography in our own ways. However, before any work I messaged my friend, Raja Islam, and informed him about my position. Thank God that my network, Mobilink, worked here. However, it seriously failed in most parts of Baluchistan.

Look out for next photograph for a shot of Quetta from here during sun-set.

This expedition is funded by

Baluchistan Diary - Day 7 / Ziarat Residency (Back view)

Lot of people have seen a frontal view of this magnificent colonial structure called Ziarat Residency. But far lesser number of them have actually troubled themselves with a different view of this place. I did and was fascinated by it.