Thursday, May 11, 2006


When General Charles Napier conquered Sindh for the British in 1843 it is said that he sent the one-word message peccavi (Latin for "I have sinned") to the Governor-General. It's a pity that the story is apocryphal, especially as it's doubly appropriate, as he was ordered expressly not to attack Sindh. Due to family engagements (we're planning a small reunion in Iran in a few days) I've had to cut short my wandering of the mountains of northern Pakistan, though I hope to return one day. Instead I aimed south and west, towards the city of Quetta. Three days, and over 2000km, later I arrived, tired, smelly, and covered in dust that is an inescapable part of train travel in Pakistan. On the way, though, I had to stop off at Moenjodaro in northern Sindh. Moenjodaro is the most impressive of the Indus Valley Civilisation sites, that stretch from Afghanistan to northern India, and one of the 6 Cradles of Civilisation. The ruins will not stun the visitor with their majesty or grandeur, but what they represent in terms of mundane life is far more important than grandiose statues and palaces. The city was very well planned, with straight streets and designated city areas for different purposes. Many houses had their own personal wells, there was a covered drainage system and even public dustbins. And all this 5000 years ago. Most cities on the subcontinent aren't living up to those standards even today! But my visit to Sindh was brief as the Summer is already upon the region causing temperatures to rise well into the 40's, making it unbearable to do anything remotely strenuous or outdoorsy during the day. So I quickly vamoosed and fled to Quetta, which has the advantage of being at altitude and the weather is therefore pleasantly warm at the moment.

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