January 16, 2006
Planned to leave Karimabad already, awaiting for the coming jeep from Sust which I can hitch for free, but the friend who is going to go together delayed his journey for unlimited time. Meanwhile the bus ticket from Karimabad to Rawalpindi arouse to 821 Rupees, too expensive for me.
And another bad news, there was road block somewhere between Gilgit and Pindi, so all buses will not operating for these 2-3 days. What a luck. Again, I am trapped in Karimabad.
Yesterday, to pass the time, I decided to join some local guys climbing up to the Eagle’s Nest. From here we can see the whole valley. I have been there two years ago, and it was a terrible walk in summer. Now in super cold winter, nobody is up there. All hotels and houses are empty, and the road was slippery of ice and glacier. Luckily I was not alone, so there was someone (Mr Karim) who held my hand along the way….
The snow was thick up there, and it was land of nobody, with empty houses and buildings, left-away agricultural fields, resembled a ghost town. the wind was very stark, then we found an empty hut and started a fire while enjoying the picknick food. Yeah, picknick in a cold, snowy, icy ghost town.
Being trapped here, I spent my time talking with the locals concerning the current news. It is the mass accident of pilgrims in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. As people here are almost all Ismailis, they dont have the commitment to go for pilgrimage. Aga Khan, the 49th Imam, the spiritual leader of the sect, suggested that people donate the money to jamaatkhana (Ismaili’s mosque), and the jamaat khana will organize the money to be used for the real needs of society. The literacy rate of the people in this valley is an amazing 99% rate, compared to the national average of merely 40%. The Aga Khan himself also visited the earthquake areas and wished the Kashmiris to be able to use the money to build the houses and educate the children, as the donation from his followers are “blood” of the Ismailis. The accident in Mecca, say some Ismailis, were due to the grediness of the pilgrims. Indeed, the Saudi government also blamed the pilgrims for their indisciplinity while throwing jumrah.