Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Remote Place We Visited - Peshawar, Pakistan 1981

The past few weeks I've been thinking so much about the recent news - the big news about Osama bin laden. And I've been thinking how back in 1981, one of our first and most exotic buying trips was to Pakistan! We landed in Karachi to begin our travels and eventually ended up in the remote ' village ' of Peshawar where we stayed at the Khyber Intercontinental hotel. Of course Joel HAD to take a picture of me next to the door man! In Pakistan ( at least 30 years ago ) the men all dyed their beards red with henna!
Karachi even back in 1981 was much more modernized than Peshawar with cars and paved streets. And the women walked around without their faces totally covered as you can see in this photo.
It still though certainly wasn't what we were used to here in the U.S. -
A camel pulling a cart!
Never in our wildest dreams did we think when we had this rare opportunity to visit this almost ' frontier ' village ( on the Khyber Pass ) in 1981, that it would make the news 30 years later as being the out of the way location where a "senior al Qaeda commander" was captured by Pakistani security officials! Terrorism wasn't even on the radar back then.
Muddy Peshawar Street 1981
The capture of Muhammad Ali Qasim Yaqub, a Yemeni citizen was instrumental in finally tracking down al Qaeda leader Osama bin laden.
It was reported that almost a year ago, Pakistanis working for the Central Intelligence Agency drove up behind a white Suzuki navigating the bustling streets near Peshawar, Pakistan, and wrote down the car’s license plate.
The man in the car was bin Laden’s most trusted courier, and over the next month CIA operatives tracked him throughout central Pakistan. Ultimately, he led them to a sprawling compound at the end of a long dirt road and surrounded by a tall security fence where they found Osama bin laden.
When watching the news, I couldn't help but be struck by how much has changed over the past 30 years - not just how it's no longer safe to travel there, but how Peshawar is no longer a ' village ' but a bustling ' city '!
When we were there on a buying trip, most of the people we encountered in Peshawar traveled by an oxen driven cart - certainly not a car!
Or a horse drawn cart
Peshawar was probably the most exotic place that Joel and I traveled to and where I acquired a number of fabulous beads that I sell in both my Etsy vintage supply shop and my shop as finished jewelry.
Here is an example of a pair of ornate brass beaded earrings made with beads purchased during that incredible trip.
And these earrings which are currently for sale in
I mention in my listings that the place that I found these beads was in a little ' hole in the wall' shop. I actually found a picture of me ( with my 1980's hair style ) with the shop owner! The shop owner is holding an ornate copper and brass vase that I lugged home on the plane.
Peshawar as I said earlier was quite primitive back in 1981. We took some of the best pictures we've ever taken on that trip. This photo has always been one of my favorites where this gentleman was sitting on the dirt road cooking a meal for himself in a large brass pot. ( And yes I managed to lug one of those home as well! )
The shops were open to the street and what always struck me was the contrast of the bright colors of the items for sale and the drab browns and grays of the dirt road and garments that the men wore. You rarely saw women in Peshawar and if you did, they were of course completely covered in black with only their eyes peeking out.
Westerners ( and especially women) were rarely seen in Peshawar. I've always loved this picture that Joel took of this group of children. Joel had left me with our driver while he went to meet with a gem dealer. ( Women weren't allowed under any circumstance in such a setting.)
As I stood on the street, I felt like I was in "The Wizard of Oz" when all the munchkins came out! These children didn't quite know what to make of me as you can see!
One of the places we also visited was an emerald mine in the village of Swat - in Northern Pakistan in the foothills of the Himalayas.
I was told that I was the first woman ever allowed to go there!
Here's a picture of me looking rather cold! Not much to look at but we had to document the fact that I was actually there!
And lastly, what would a trip to Pakistan be without a picture of a 'snake charmer'!
Hope you enjoyed our exotic travelogue!
Debby and Joel