Friday, November 18, 2005

Low Walls

It's hard to think of Pakistanis as being anything but Muslim, but about 1500 years ago the area now occupied by Pakistan was home to an important Buddhist empire known as Gandhara. Although very powerful in their time, and instrumental in the spread of Buddhism to China and beyond, very little remains of their towns, monasteries and other stuff they might have built. But there are still a few things dotted around here and there, so I thought I'd check them out. Most of the remains are just a series of low walls from which archaeologists have managed to deduce an amazing number of things:

"They ate here (pointing), slept there (pointing again), prayed there...that's where they carried out human sacrifices (OK, maybe not the Buddhists)"

How can they tell? it's just walls! Personally I think they're just making it all up and are just as confused about the remains as we ordinary mortals, but just don't want to show it. Well, it must have fooled the boffins at UNESCO at any rate as a couple of the less ruined ruins are world heritage listed. I also had great fun traipsing around the remains, which were blissfully free of tourists (a delightful change to China), and clambering about the fortress that "was stormed by Alexander the Great" and sitting in "Darius's palace".

I have, however, been expecting rather more from the food over here. Not that it's bad, I rather quite like it actually, it's just rather monotonous. My meals invariably consist of roti and dhal, which is bread and lentils (or chickpeas). I have become rather adept at tearing off bits of bread with one hand and using it as a scoop for the dhal, though I'm still loathe to use my thumb as a shovel, not due to any hygiene issue, but I just don't like to get it greasy. My bowels are rejoicing at this simple fare as my stools have improved immeasurably since China, becoming world class specimens, if perhaps with a slightly disturbing shade of orange.

1 comment:

Matthias Ripp said...

Interesting report! I would like to visit it one day. How was Your impression of the state of cvonservation of this World Heritage Site?