I can start well while having this yummy taste of that one piece of pizza still in my senses and my mouth still watering, being one of my initial tries I baked only one regular size pizza and there are four of us to eat; being the host I let my hubby and his friends eat the rest. Sadly so, I plunged to bake one today as I got chedder and mozerrella cheese all the way from Islamabad, 18 hrs of drive away, after the wait of one month as the cheese available here, in the only visible shop, in my neighbourhood is the ‘happy cow’, processed cheese, which can happily make me a cow but not so happily a yummy pizza. Yup, this is Gurikot to you.
A feeling known to all of us is a feeling of dreams coming true, yes, very seldom, but dreams do come true, in my case, they do more often, as I always say and the people around me can complete the sentence before I do is that I feel I have given God my own script and so he has made my life exactly like that, well, now I believe that’s a little exaggeration because I so want something for a year and I’m still waiting for God to answer my prayer. He must be planning to add the adjective ‘amazing’ to that ‘something’ so it’s taking longer to come.
Coming back to dreams, when I got married to my dream man we came for holidays to a place called Skardu, one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan. I wished then, around four years back, to have our posting in a similar place, where I would have a beautiful wood cottage, surrounded by the snow peaked mountains, a wide lawn, an orchard full of fruit trees, a river running right in front of the orchard, where weather stays pleasant 24/7, and you can witness some good amount of snowfall in winters. Coming from plains of Punjab, snow is a heavenly luxury for me. Well, this is also Gurikot to you.
After two months leave, on completion of our deputation in KSA, Kingdom Saudi Arabia, we were told about our new destination, ‘Gurikot, Astore’. It was the first time when I heard this ‘Name’. The first reaction was of course a relief as I was going to be with my husband. It was a dream come true, because after a long period of deputation we were expecting either a war zone or at least a non family station, although work here’s very hard for my hubby yet he’s loving the place. The first thing that I did right after receiving the posting order was to Google the place, and the information I found was so huge, so plenty that I could grasp that in less than a minute. There are so many beautiful things about our country but to all my sadness, the world only knows what’s bad here. Today you go Google about it and you will find that stuff, and it’s actually so huge, so plenty.
Anyway moving back to the dream place, there’s no airport over here, of course there’s a helipad. If you are coming here from the capital, Islamabad, you land in a city called Gilgit and from there you find an HMT, hired mechanical transport, if you are not some high official or something something you definitely cannot get a helicopter, dream on. You can also come by road to Astore through a bus with an adventurous driver who loves to risk his life and delightfully yours. Weather here is akin to Pakistan cricket team, predictably unpredictable, conditions do not allow regular flights, and sometimes plane has to go back without landing. Moving on the curvy crooked road, on one side of which are mountains and on the other, deep down, the ferocious river Astore, this road definitely is a marvel of creation. I salute the people who work here, clear the roads, maintain communication, and protect the border. Sometimes the road gets so narrow that you feel that u will move right into the river and sometimes the snow clad peaks are so close that you feel that you will stretch your arm and touch them. You probably will also feel, sometimes, that this is the last journey of your life. Well that’s Gurikot … ahem … road to Gurikot for you
On my arrival I was served with ‘trout’, that’s found in freezing cold waters and it swims in the opposite direction of the water flow. I’d never eat fish even in my dreams but that day I loved it, and now eat it quite often. I’ve heard it’s one of the best fish, probably it is also the cook who does wonders with the recipe, please don’t be envious, it’s the only thing that he cooks good. So, as soon as I could, I got over the kitchen myself, now he only makes me fries, cuts veggies and helps me with other chores in the kitchen. One thing he also does great, being a local, he owns a cow, so he can provide us with some fresh milk, two glasses of hot milk daily which he says will not last longer especially not in summers. Yea we asked for it, and to our surprise he said it cannot be arranged as here they do not consider it as a good gesture to sell and buy milk, they give it for free to friends and relatives but never sell it. It was quite strange to me and sad too because my only source of fresh milk is gone on leave, and I can only have it in my dreams. I created a little controversy recently by putting a picture, on my Facebook profile, of cooked Markhor ( Himalayan Ibex, you can call it), it’s a goat like animal found in places like these,
national animal of Pakistan, and an endangered species, hunting it can cost you loads of money in fine. Still, some people get this extremely costly licence to kill it. The money is used in their care and protection. I told my friends, had it come alive to me, I would have given him some grass to eat and some water, but poor Markhor came to me in cut cubes and I had limited options. Now this is specifically Gurikot to you.
My husband is terribly busy, we cannot even complete a single sentence of our conversation that his official phone rings, he also has to go ahead to detachments for days and I have no single lady in my neighbourhood, yup not a single woman or any neighbour as such. A good number of helpers at my service, a baking oven that I gifted myself once, my books, my prayer mat, my Quran, this centuries old dial-up connection, a land-line, a satellite dish T.V with majority of Indian channels showing advertisements of products like ‘Shakti Prash’, trust me you don’t want to know what it is, and some Ayurveda medicine for knee problems, and ‘HBO’ and ‘Star Movies’ have always ‘Rocky’ and ‘Mummy’ to show, and the likes, yea these were good movies in their times but it’s not that you can watch them like forever. I have some unwanted guests too, every day I meet a new one from their family, they are called beetles and flies. I am happy I have not yet encountered the alive rats, but yes, I had arranged the funeral of the two dead ones I found. My first project was to get all the holes blocked in the house, because I cannot bear such creepy creatures even in my dreams. So, that’s my Gurikot to you.
And hey did I tell you, you see ‘Nanga Parbat’ on your way to Gurikot, ‘the killer mountain’, 8th highest peak in world and deadliest, and you can see it from Gurikot as well, but all the mountains seem so similar to me so I could not find it, probably it was hidden behind the clouds . Yes this Gurikot is in the northern areas of Pakistan where Karakoram and Himalayas exist and where K2, the second highest peak in the world, also happens to exist.
My husband is quite successful in making me jealous of even his ‘boring’ official trips which he has around the town like visiting Deosai, the second highest plateau in the world, after the Tibetan Plateau, on snow vehicles; these are closed for tourists now and open in summers once all this snow is cleared up. Then, going for a VERY tough job at Minimarg, a beautiful small village. He has promised to take me to the neighbouring places in summers and I hope to share some more tales of this place called heaven.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed and keep dreaming because dreams do come true, sometimes.