NARAN AWAITS- Karachi to Khunjereb Pass.
“There is a very fresh and clear stream of chilled water up there at the mountain on our right,” our driver Yaseen sahab stopped the bus at the left side, insisting that we should fill up our coolers and cans.
At times like this, only Emad would push through his exhaustion and he did it again. Went up on the mountain to fill the cooler and cans for us as we all waited down by the bus.
The scenery was enthralling. We could see the entire Abbottabad city from there. I visited Abbottabad before, almost nine years ago, with my husband on our honeymoon. Now it was bigger and more developed .
Emad came back and we drank the water like thirsty camels. It was really very refreshing.
As we started towards Naran, my tiredness flew away by the mere sight of the scenic views.
We took a stop at a petrol pump to fill the tank and offer Asarana prayer there.
“Hurry up everyone! It’s past Asar time. We are near Kaghan, we have to cross it and be in Naran before dark.” said Bhaiya.
“We can stay at Kaghan too, as we will reach it by daylight” suggested Riaz Bhai.
“I have already talked to a camp guy at Naran and he is waiting for us there. We have to be there before dark or else he would give the camps to somebody else,” explained Bhaiya.
So, we kept on going towards Naran. When crossing Kaghan the traffic was fine but when we got near Naran our bus was suddenly stuck in a jam. We kept on crawling like a snail for about two hours.
“We should go on foot and find the place I booked, so that we don’t waste more time,” said Bhaiya.
“That”s a good idea,” said my husband.
Bhaiya, Riaz bhai and Shahid bhai left the bus in search of the place. It had been dark for over an hour then and we didn’t know if the camp guy had kept it for us.
“Mama, when are we going to reach Naran? You said we will be there before dark but it’s dark already and it’s been much long time! We haven’t reached yet, is it still far away. I want to go out of the bus now,” said Zunaira my elder six-year-old daughter.
“Yes, baita. We are almost there, it’s the traffic that’s making the delay. See our bus is not even moving.”
For about another hour our bus crawled. My husband took the kids out to stretch a little. I followed them too as my body was aching miserably and I couldn’t bear the stuffy bus anymore. Finally the traffic started moving as if it was waiting for us to get out of the bus. We rushed inside and within no time we were rushing out again, this time we had a big smile on our face.
“Mission accomplished.” I said.
NIGHT AT NARAN;
Whenever I thought about camping, it always used to come with fun and adventure. Camping that night was adventurous, but not at all fun.
We were tired and exhausted like hell. Every single one of us just wanted to sleep on a bed, but when you go on a trip with this many people you have to suffer the consequences. Yes Like SUFFER.
“We lost that nice camp here, the guy gave it to some other family just before we arrived,” informed Bhaiya in an exasperated tone, when we reached the campsite.
“So, do they have any space left for us?” asked my husband.
“Yes Come, Hassan Bhai. I think we can manage to stay in those two big camps. They are not very comfortable but at least we have a place to stay,” said Riaz bhai as my husband followed him.
We waited at a tea stall for them to settle the deal with the guy, and had our dinner that we had previously brought with us preserved in cans. We were crazy hungry and ate like it. The rotis (flat bread), we bought from the stall, were hot and fresh.
“Let’s go to the campsite and rest now,” suggested Api.
It was a dark night and we could hear the water flowing on our left, but couldn’t see it. We used the lights in our mobiles to see what was up ahead. As far as I could see the camps were glowing like a cluster of stars. It was beautiful. But as we went near our camps, the area became congested and smelly.
At the very end of the site, were the two camps, side by side and large enough for all of us. As we got closer, the smell that was a mixture of damp clothes and mud began to grow stronger.
“All the males will stay in this camp and in the other will be the females and kids,” Shahid bhai announced.
“Manahil, we will sleep here, ok?” Baji asked as she pointed at the place near the mouth of the camp, where there wasn’t any mattress. The carpet was thick, yet it was not covering the dampness of the floor.
“It’s fine by me,” said poor Manahil who’s Shahid bhai’s niece, a teenager from Dubai, that came with us for her first tour to the Northern Areas.
“I am sleeping here,” Bhabi said while spreading a thin sheet on the carpet.
“Bhabi, you can squeeze in here on the mattress if you like,” I knew it would be hard to sleep without one.
“It’s ok I’ll be fine here,” Bhabi insisted.
“At least take these sleeping bags to keep out the damp.”
“Will it be enough for us? There are a lot of kids,” Omaina was standing at the mouth of the camp waving her hand with disbelief.
“You have any better solution than this?” I asked, “Plus, it seems like it is enough”.
“We can manage,” added Api.
“It’s the smell that’s killing me,” said Taymia.
“Zunaira, Hashir and Salama come and sleep with me here, there is enough space, plus I would love some cuddly stuff with me,” Taymia said, she always cuddles while sleeping and prefer a fluffy pillow. Since there wasn’t any she managed with her siblings.
“All the stuff is damp here,” added Omama making one of her faces.
“What will we do about the light here? Can it be turned off?” said Omaina.
“I don’t think so,” Api said. “We can cover it with something to reduce the brightness”
“Yes, can we use this,” I pointed towards an old newspaper. I rolled it and placed the paper over the bulb, but it didn’t do much.
“We should put some thick cloth, say maybe a fleece or something, over this rope that’s going beneath the saver,” suggested Api while applying her suggestion. It worked out fine and the light dimmed.
“I have to take some clothes out for the night from my carry-on, please can you bring it here? It’s the dark brown one,” I asked Emad who was standing at our camps mouth.
“You should have asked me before! Now I have to go to our coaster again to fetch it,” sighed Emad.
“Please, you’re my best bro!” I pleaded with both of my hands, and he retreated solemnly.
The most dreaded nightmare was the bathroom. The public toilet, the only one for more than five camps all together. We had to take somebody with us and wait for our turn. I was scared, what would I do if any of my kids wanted to go in the middle of the night, but thankfully it never happened.
To be continued. ..!!