Book Review: The Cricketer, The Celebrity, The Politician (2009)

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Right-Arm… Over The Wicket… Off Cutter… Bowled!!!!!!!!

The batsman was yet to understand when did the ball release from his hand and when it reached the stumps, all he realized was off the gloves, bat pressed in the wet armpit and there was the pavilion.

Off you go… Better luck next time… Give my love to your sister…

Shall I say, cricket playboy? Shall I say every dream girl’s HBK?

When he was bowling with a breathtaking run-up, he looked like Tony Montana firing ‘Say Hello To My Little Friend‘.

Born in Lahore and settled in Mianwali. Blood of a Pathan and rooting from the Niazis and the Burkis. Descendant of Pir Roshan and ex-son-in-law of Goldsmiths. Alumni of Oxford and Chancellor of Bradford. The winner of the World Cup and builder of the groundbreaking cancer hospital. Two sons from Jemima and a daughter from Sita. Imran Khan is the Cricketer, the Celebrity, the Politician and that’s the book I just finished reading.

This book was written and published in 2009 by arguably one of the finest biographers, Christopher Sandford, who also wrote biographies of many great legends like ‘Primitive Tool‘ on Mick Jagger in 1993, ‘Edge of Darkness‘ on Eric Clapton in 1994, ‘Kurt Cobain‘ in 1995, ‘Loving the Alien‘ on David Bowie in 1996, ‘Satisfaction‘ on Keith Richards in 2003 and ‘Polanski‘ on Roman Polanski in 2007 in the past couple of decades.

Published by Harper Collins, comprised of 402 pages and 10 very interesting chapters, Sandford’s pen proved no ink miscarriage or bleaking malfunction as the man in the limelight was properly life-summarized. The book is like an exclusive documentary or the making of a legend. While reading the pages, you are sensing some footage playing in your clouds of imagination.

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Sandford put three years of his efforts to shape this book from 2006 to 2008. During these years, he conducted many interviews with many personalities linked/associated with Imran’s life and careers like Mike Brearley, Geoff Boycott, Javed Miandad, Pervez Musharraf, and Jemima Khan-Goldsmith. He also collected the cricketing sources from different cricket administrations, Cricinfo, and county clubs. Many of the incidents and quotations have been picked from various books including Imran Khan’s The Autobiography, All-Round View, and Indus Journey, plus various books written on/by Botham, Miandad, Atherton, Sobers, and Parvez Musharraf. The author also conducted his three most prominent interviews with Imran Khan in 2008.

I had read Javed Miandad’s Cutting Edge where he reflected on his cricketing career and dirty games played behind the scenes. So after reading that book, it was easy for me to now understand Immy’s take on all this. The difference was literature; Miandad’s story flows like a river but Imran’s corner details more fish in the river.

Sandford depicts his deep research towards Pakistan cricket and the first two chapters will give you an idea of how good he is in describing the gear-shifting of Pakistan cricket from the 50s to the 60s. In these chapters, enter the central character and his family tree and relatives are penned in detail.

Even the smallest account/incident means a lot for the readers to know the iconic leader as he once bribed a policeman in his teen-hood and enjoyed ammi’s scolding. While his cricket-level moves with his education from Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to the county cricket, the political environment in the surrounding proceeds like East Pakistan partition to Bangladesh and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto regime.

The third chapter is his account of his university-level and county cricket, the beginning of his international cricket career, and his life in England. The fourth chapter depicts life in Sussex county, the political crisis of the late 70s, and furthermore tours including the 1979 World Cup. And the chapters proceed on and on.

The readers will exhume with the excitement of enjoying reading about his high-profile affairs with many ladies that prominently include painter Emma Sergeant, fashion guru Susannah Constantine and former German VJ of MTV Europe Kristiane Backer. The controversial case of Imran’s affair with Sita White is sensitively not protracted as I was expecting. But he is never bothered to call her ‘Drama Queen’.

The 1992 World Cup story is the one that will bring that josh-e-junoon page by page as a magnificent comeback is enthralling when you read it match by match. In all cricketing tours Imran participated in, with obvious picking, it is the great West Indian team against whom Imran was always concerned.

Imran’s philanthropy in the book is adverted towards the foundation of integrity and prosperity with the qualities Imran has been assembled. The building of Pakistan’s first Cancer Hospital is one of the achievements by Imran, the inspiration came after the death of his mother, Mrs. Shaukat Khanum, from cancer. For the purpose of laying the foundation and shaping it into functioning, Sandford has penned sporadically Imran’s effort of fundraising from campaigns, shows, parties, exhibition games, and earnings from his playing career.

Any reader like me will find a wide range of descriptions of his relationship with Javed Miandad. In many situations, Miandad’s book Cutting Edge has been used as an instance where indirectly the (mis)understanding between the two is reflected and perhaps becomes debatable. Most alarmingly, when it comes to the strangest decision of Imran’s captaincy of declaring the inning when Miandad on the crease is mere twenty runs short of a triple century. The arguments don’t match and I feel scratching my head after knowing Imran’s reason for the declaration.

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How can the biography of Imran’s life be without the biggest happening since his cricketing career? Entry of Jemima Goldsmith and launching of his political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice). From here, when more than half of the book has been read, the most critical writing pledges. Sandford surpasses the expectation of translating Imran’s most critical and beyond challenging life into a mind-frame of footages. Many many aspects are surrendered to throw in Imran’s way like rivalries with politicians Altaf Hussain and Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf’s imposing of martial law and beginning of his dictatorial regime, a disturbed marriage with Jemima, libel case against Ian Botham and Allan Lamb, and failure in general elections.

Politics has no bound from here, as he majorly targets former President Parvez Musharraf and his government for being a US ally, and destroying Pakistan’s welfare for many incidents. Cricket fixtures continue to echo in all this. Sandford does increase the volume of Imran over major incidents that occurred in Pakistan cricket like the 2003 World Cup, India’s 2004 tour of Pakistan, and the Hair-Inzamam controversy.

The book from all aspects is a complete Imran Khan book. The first impression of the reader surely comes as a sports biography but the title is enough to convince you that this is the ultimate book where Imran plays three different roles, not only as a cricketer but also as a celebrity and politician. The book is absolutely frank about his good deeds and wrong-doings. This biography is absolute and worth reading for all Immy-lovers. The reader will be moved while moving toward different phases of his life. Visualize the footage of the great ironic legend while speaking its pages. 

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Movie Review: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)

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Run! Run! Run! And never look back!!!!

He did look back and regret. The tragedy during the partition stayed in memory for decades. He was orphaned and lost almost his whole family in teenage.

He was born in 1935 in Govindpura village in Pakistan and had 15 siblings (8 lost before partition). After partition, he moved to Delhi living with his surviving and married elder sister.

Later on, he became dacoit but joined army in 4th attempt of recruitment. The army somehow introduced him to sports. Being a long-distance runner from village to school and vice versa, his running strength knew no bound and famed his running ability to National heights.

This sporting icon accomplished a lot in athletics. As athlete, he was a veteran of 3 Summer Olympics of 1958, 1962 and 1966. He was national champion in 200m and 400m race. Had won 4 Gold medals in Asian Games career. Last but not the least, the most impressive of all achievements is that till date, he is still the only Indian male athlete to win an individual athletics gold medal at a Commonwealth Games.

The legendary sportsman is Milkha Singh a.k.a. the ‘Flying Sikh’. Recently, Milkha and his daughter, Sonia Sanwalka, co-wrote his autobiography, titled The Race of My Life. But it was in the beginning of 2012, when Milkha’s son Jeev presented a script to ‘Rang de Basanti’ famed director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. To a fortune, Rakeysh had known his father’s name back in his childhood days and was source of inspiration. As a result, Rakeysh planned a biographic sports drama movie on the flying sikh with the title ‘BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG’.

Produced by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Rakeysh Mehra’s own ROMP, distributed by Reliance Entertainment, this ₹  30-crore movie was released on 12th July, 2013 and grossed nearly ₹  35 crore in its 1st weekend. The movie reached grossing of ₹  100 crore in 24 days and became the 21st Bollywood movie to gross more than ₹  100 crore. Prasoon Joshi heartily accepted to write the script and spent a lot of time with the flying sikh to shape a perfect story to direct. Milkha is reported to give every single detail of his life story to Prasoon and Rakeysh. Milkha got many offers in his lifetime worth crore of Indian rupees but sold movie rights to Rakeysh worth ONE-RUPEE. 

Rakeysh, in my view, has a strange, bizarre and confused picking for a major role in his movies. In Rang de Basanti, Rakeysh picked Manoj Bajpai for Daljeet’s role which never ever fitted on him, later Mr.Perfectionist Aamir Khan signed and rest was history. In ‘Delhi-6’, central role of New Yorker boy Roshan was supposed to be played by Hrithik Roshan which could somehow have been a little convincing but turned to Abhishek Bachchan, who (forget being in NYC) looked to be pretending a desi wannabe in whole movie. Mehra’s production ‘Teen Thay Bhai’…………………………… ahhh leave it. Then comes this awaiting movie, in which Rakeysh was, to more than a bizarre, gifting this role to Bollywood’s favorite khiladi Akshay Kumar. Later on, an angel of death whispered in Rakeysh’s ear and role fell to Javed Akhtar’s all-round super-talented son Farhan Akhtar.

Farhan has a habit of impressing his viewers and moviegoers anyhow since 2001. First as Director, then as singer (I know he is not that good, but is surely a good singer of his own voice) and now as an actor. He did impressed in his sister Zoya’s movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ but if you want to test a man to his acting skills from all criteria what a successful actor always have or must have in his CV, then you should watch him in ‘BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG’. You will realize, how impressive his acting has become.

It has been reported in various sources that to make himself perfectly fit in Milkha’s role, Farhan spent 18 months in body-toning. He ran in marathon race in 3-4 cities which also played major part in movie promotion.

The movie is remarkably flexible and convenient for all sports lovers and sportsmen to engrave yourself in a running torso. Farhan almost successfully imitates Milkha’s style of running. You need to carefully watch his leg and hand movements and match it to Milkha’s original races of Rome Olympics anywhere (perhaps Youtube). It is never easy to play a hardcore role in such intensifying biographic movie but huge round of applause to Farhan who is not a veteran of acting career to mold in a role.

When you flow with the rythm the movie goes after the first hour, you might go so deep to make your presence in Milkha’s place and understand his spirit. The moment he lose the first race to Sher Singh Rana, you certainly will feel if you lost with the agony you fell like he fell.

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Rakeysh has brilliantly directed the interchanging scenes of present Milkha and his flashback. The depiction of his childhood, village and his family was brilliant but I was confound at first impression when I found versatile Divya Dutta playing role of his didi (whom I thought maa) and role of babuji went to veteran British-Pakistani television artist, Art Malik, who looked more like an octogenarian dadaji. But the fact in Divya’s role is that you can see a mother of Milkha in his didi’s eyes. Swallowing the pains of partition and patience from the beatings of her husband, it was Divya’s beauty of role which blended a specific role in Milkha’s life playing didi’s role and acting like a mother.

Transformation of Milkha’s childhood from Govindpura to Delhi, re-uniting with his surviving married sister, becoming a dacoit and soon to be a romantic vagabond was superlative. Full marks to the boy Japtej who played young Milkha and passed his acting when it came to the utmost depression and mental fatigue of partition era. He was selected in around 3000 boys in the audition.

Bollywood movie can never be without love and romance but Milkha’s life in movie was shown colorful. First entered the screen is Biro played by fashionista Sonam Kapoor who was eye-stopper in simple shalwar-qamiz, then enters Stella played by Australian TV drama ‘Blue Water High’ famed Rebecca Breed and last one was a very brief cameo of swimmer Perizaad played by another debutant, Pakistani model-turn-singer-turn-actress Meesha Shafi.

The best on-screen was unarguably Milkha-Biro one. A highly old-school romance and a tale of love affair garnished with unprecedented romance. Glimpse of love encountering with the help of a cycle and water bucket as ‘miss call’ and later on with the help of cropping a rubber ball half for sending ‘sms’. You will miss this brief love epic till the end. Seems like Sonam, since Ranjhanaa’s commercial success is taking her roles carefully. She did her homework on fitting for role of Biro which was all watched in her catwalks, smiles, voice and dialogue deliveries. In short, her body-language was excellent despite a brief role.

When you see a mother in Milkha’s sister, you will convincingly find a father-role in Milkha’s coach Gurudev Singh played by amazing actor Pavan Malhotra as well as Indian coach Ranveer Singh played by cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s father Yograj Singh. Both coaching characters were like angels to Milkha who were basically the founders of Milkha’s hidden legacy in his strength and accomplishments, specially the former one. The physical training will ease you to copy your physical exercising scheme.

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Milkha Singh (left) and Farhan Akhtar (right)

The musical team of movie is so far the best one. The picturing of every song is blessing to the flow of movie. Songs are motivational, army-opathic, kangaroo-folk and romantic but all of them are self-esteeming and colossal. Musical genius A.R.Rahman was expected to compose like Rakeysh’s last two movies but director picked Shankar-Ehsan-Loy. The selection was never regretting. To the contrary, much appreciating as musical sensibilities speak the toning volume of movie scenes. Specially the agonized race of Milkha where Daler Mahendi’s ‘Gurbani’ was played is heart-boiling. For me, the best compositions were ‘Mera Yaar’ and ‘O Rangrez’.

From start till end, the movie will garnish a platform of solidarity for inspiration, motivation, self-belief and spirit of sportsmanship. The movie is a blend of two humans in one: a boy who lost his family and suffered extreme hardships of life; and a man whose will-power and power of determination made him ever-respecting in decades to follow. 

This is Farhan’s best performance of his career and will be remembered in years. Almost all characters are given a respected time in movie and all artists have done wonderful job. After Farhan, Pavan and Divya as coach and sister respectively are supporting winners for me. Rakeysh presented another Delhi-matic excellency, recognizing the legend’s success and framing it in shape of commercial Hindi-movie to a height. Milkha’s name, fame and honor will double by the movie itself. Highly recommended to all moviegoers to watch this bio-epic.

Rating: 8.6/10

Zee Ain Heritage Village – Al-Baha’s Jewel

Thee-Ain Village
Thee-Ain Village

Tumultuous but gratuitous… Epitome in a page of the diary is unable to wit the writ… Gradually, I am intensive but evenly persuasive to prolong a gospel of wonder imagined to be true, which my eyes want to sue…

Although I am not a historian but a treasure collector from an unknown mystery island. There is a village in Al-Baha, province of Saudi Arabia, which is known as ‘Marble Village’. Yes, exactly a brain cell gimmicked me. To trace the history of the village, some say 400 years and some say 600 years. Centuries ago, the villagers of the land had witnessed the battle between Ottoman Turks and their inhabitants. There has been a local incident in the legacy of the village that a long long time ago, an old Yemeni man was asked to find water using a golden dowsing stick. When he struck the source, it is said the stick jumped from his hands and took out one of his eyes. From that incident, the name of the land widely became “one-eye village” which in Arabic the name you will trace over there is “Thee-Ain Village“.

Coming back to the compass of Keyhole, Inc’s greatest geographical spying gift to mankind, Google Earth, the navigation of route towards the destiny was fixed. The three musketeers were all ready for another adventure as D’Artagnan joined Mousquetaires de la Garde. d’Artagnan is my own brother. The chosen transport of legitimacy is Hyundai Accent 2013. Moving from Jeddah, the total distance toward the destination point is 403 km. We will reach in 4 hours at a limited speed of 120 kph. But we won’t!!! There are numerous places to enjoy during the journey.

Route from Jeddah to Thee-Ain Village  
Matghoot
Matghoot

We left at midnight with an empty belly and intended to consume fats by filling a heavy dinner and drinking fuzzy drinks. After crossing the territory of the local city, we stopped the car at one of the stations where we ate madghut. Madghut is a Yemeni traditional rice with chicken, decorated with the rope of onions and a grove of lemons on a large plate suffused on the plastic sheet. With the final burping of appetite, we left the spot.

 Toy Shop

Toy ShopBefore the beginning of Leith valley, we had another stop with a bizarre gesture of visiting a toy shop and getting interested in considering buying some toyish stuff. Having a toy shop with different varieties to offer, working at the station of one of the non-busiest spots was quite strange a view where surely not many customers will raise their eyebrows despite all attractions. We saw soft hanging car toys of popular characters like Shawn the sheep, Spongebob, Sylvester the cat; different bicycles for kids, varieties of pairs of slippers and sunglasses, and much more. 

The dawn began while crossing Al-Lith located on the Red Sea coast. My wish to see the marking point of destiny at dawn was lost with my dismantled patience waving in my brain cells. I was feeling exaggerated about not reaching the place on time but the chamber of my heart was diverted by God knows a natural slideshow of landscapes. A temporary foggy atmosphere with rays of light burdening some excuse to reveal, the desert was flat silent on the plat. The breeze blew on them and thorny wild bushes stood like a statue of liberty in a sleepy Sahara.  There were numerous towns with petrol stations installed with no. of restaurants and masjid each after almost every kilometer. Many a time signboard bewared us from running camels but the caravan of camelus stayed aside.

We stopped the car on this almost 275km-long road to capture shots of sunrise revealed from the mountains. That was such a lovely view and throughout the trip, I realized that nature was compassionate to us.

Destiny finally had a turn after a long straight road and we moved to the left to reach Al-Muzaylif. From there, more landscapes and huge mountains were welcoming us. Few villages are existing there where we see activities of cultivation and fertilizing. We stopped at a couple of spots to capture wonderful scenes of truly gifted nature. 

Almost 50 km away from Al-Mikhwah, we actually stopped the car for like 20 minutes at a site where we four showed the height of joyful madness by lying and posing in the middle of the road. With no running transport to bargain a piece of time, we utilized the space by posing in a group with a few moody gestures and impatiently waited to listen to the clicking sound of the camera mounting on a tripod. For naturally obvious reasons, we preferred to listen to the clicking sound instead of the raucous horns of speedy vehicles. In any case, our ears had a natural sense of hearing more than a dolphin for the time being to avoid any danger. As soon as we heard a clicking sound, we all started moving our asses swiftly and running simultaneously to look back if a vehicle was close to us. It was a hilarious and worth unforgettable scene, laughing at our tramping behavior. 

We are almost 30 km away from destiny, and here goes another stopping on witnessing innumerable troop of Hamadryas Baboons. Hamadryas baboons belong to the baboon species from the Old World Monkey family. These species are mostly found in the ‘Horn of Africa‘ which includes Eritrea and Djibouti.  Also, you will view the species in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula, especially in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They were sacred animals in ancient Egyptian religions. The fur of males is silver-white in color while females are brown. 

Entered Al-Baha and we saw many ancient stone and slate houses on the hills. Many mountains and greenery attracts the place. Al-Baha is the capital of Al-Baha province and is easily one of the Kingdom’s fittest touring cities. One ‘Sharif of Makkah’ named the city ‘The Garden of Hijaz’.  Al-Baha province is the smallest province in Saudi Arabia with a population of 533,000. The province has 31 administrative centers and more than 50 forests.

Two leading traditional tribes here are ‘Ghamd’ and ‘Zahran’.

1) Roots of Ghamd tribe traces back to the most ancient Arabian tribes of as-Saba’iyūn (a Kingdom that came to power in 1st Millennium BC) which nowadays is Yemen. Under the editorship of George Walters, in the book ‘Arabia’ published in 1920, the tribe of Ghamd is described to be growing and exporting tobacco to Makkah. Nowadays you will find most of Al-Ghamdis in Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam.

2) Like Ghamd, Zahran also is the oldest and largest tribe not only in Saudi Arabia but throughout the Middle East. Most Zahranis migrated to metropolitan cities decades ago for the betterment of life. In Islamic history, Zahranis are known to leave their houses, and properties to join Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) in Madinah. Tufayl Ibn Amr and Abu Hurairah were Zahranis… Both the branches of tribes have sixteen more tribes but in total, 13 tribes work in trade and agriculture while the rest are nomadic.

Al-Baha is divided into two sectors. The eastern region is a mountainous area, 1500 to 2450 m above sea level known as Al-Sarah sector. Out of the six main districts of the province, four belong to Al-Sarah which are Al-Aqiq, Al-Mandaq, Al-Qura, and Baljurashi. The western region is a lowland coastal plain known as the Tihama sector. In Tihama, the climate is hot in summer, warm in spring and mild in winter. The rest of the two main districts lie here in Tihama which are Qelwa and Al-Makhwah. Al-Makhwah is the district where Thee-Ain ‘marble’ village is located.

Entrance
Entrance
Welcome
Welcome
Park
Park

After crossing many curvy roads and lookalike hills, we are welcomed by the signboard ‘Welcome Thee-Ain Heritage Village’. The wonder of historic nature is falling on our right. To our good luck, the visiting timings are complementary and convincing. You can visit the place from 7am-7pm every day. Adults have to pay SR.10 each while a family has to pay SR.40.  We reached destiny at 9 am. It is a very quiet place with a couple of families and a group of few friends entering the place before us. There is a parking lot with a minimum of 50 cars to be easily parked. Also there are 30 seperate small-sittings with roofs surrendered by playground, plants and trees, and street lights. Nearby places are a cafeteria and a stone-made modern masjid. Still, renovation is under process in the whole area for recreational activities of visitors. The renovation work is done under ‘Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities‘ and ‘Fahad M. Al-Suwayegh Est.’

The village was built on a small marble mountain which is one of Sarawat range of mountains. It is comprised of more than 40 houses, many of them have 2-4 floors. If you take a close look in the bottom of most of the boundaries, you will see a lantern almost every 10 steps. The ceilings of houses are made of slate stones with help of wood and juniper trees. To my huge surprise, no mortar or mud (might be little) has been used for the construction of these old houses. which is quite extraordinary. Stone lintels are used for doors and windows.

Wherever we went, we went all together. All houses were certainly of the same structure. We entered one from a centuries-old wooden door and the passage was surrounded by different stones. The ceilings were made of wood pasture and juniper trees. We entered more rooms inside and there was a way to go up. The historic village can never ever be without birds or insects. There are many beetles taking proper care of houses.

While reaching the second floor, a couple of bats one by one flew over us all of a sudden. Never saw them so close.

Many houses are in ruins and need to be properly renovated because reaching the top floors or the fort is a little risky. Despite my weight problem, I had to risk myself climbing and moving slowly on many danger-inviting stones. The plan was simple! reach the TOP. Things did work when we found a passage to reach the top. The top area of the mountain are forts which were used to defend and protect the village from raids or monitoring purposes.

With more altitude above sea level, more air was blowing and became difficult to make videos of the place until I entered one of top central fort.  Same story, many stones were raw and too risky to step forward.

Like I said, the place needs renovation. The families are the most likely to suffer, injuries are most possible. On the top, I certainly was the weakest to attempt the top height i.e., the ceiling of fort. So I sat on the boundary for a while. Furthermore, uninvited insects were serving me to welcome. Yep, bumblebees. They never stung me but their presence so close to me was enough to lose an edge.

Then we began descending down. Drank water and sat in the car. There was another route on our left and we drove on it. We began reaching the height of the top of the fort and when we reached there, we realized that to climb the fort, you have to join this route to reach its back. I had no energy to climb again so other fellows went back. I took rest in car. On my right, I was amused to see a small Saudi Arabian flag waving on top of one large thorny bush.

Ancient Masjid
Ancient Masjid

Returned to the parking lot. There was a cloud of question-mark in one’s mind and asked us if we should go to the plantation side? That beautiful green land was yet to visit. With my energy rebooting in these last 30 minutes, I thought it really sound interesting to make this intention a go. d’Artagnan was exhausted, so the musketeers left him in the car.  There is an ancient masjid of perhaps those times, made of stones without mud or mortar. Prayer rugs are properly placed in all 5 rows.

Boundaries are made to view the entire farmville. Here begins the green forest of your dream. A perfect farmville as if you really have entered the green wonders of most spectacular nature. We found spring water down the plantation and followed the route from where it actually begins. The beauty of green nature was compassionate on us as we witnessed tiny waterfalls. It was already afternoon but it was never warm.  Then I came to understand the origin of the name Thee-Ain. There is a spring which is known for the abundance and continuous flow of its water. The water flows down from the mountain peak, running between rocks disappearing and reappearing at different points painting a rarely ever seen image. This popped out water from the mountain is known as Thee-Ain which is flowing around 750 m above sea level. According to local villagers, this Thee-Ain spring never dries through the year and continuously supplies fresh water and feeds the agricultural production of the area. Thee-ain also means “having the spring”.

Praise to be Lord! This wonderful nature gifted from God to such a historical place is the main factor for the abundance of farms, palm trees and banana trees surrounded by mountain village, and the fact that banana trees need a high percentage of water. This farmville goes more lively with troop of Hamadryas Baboons dancing on the palm trees and counseling the plantation with their hooting, chanting and screaming all over for I guess nothing. This Baboolon visibility was enough to remind my childhood of repeatedly watching one of my favorite animations Walt Disney’s 1967 classic “The Jungle Book” where Baloo tries to rescue the man-cub Mowgli from those chanting idiot chimpanzees. I sketch the same siting where baboons are staring at me and trying to understand with all efforts as to why the bloody hell am I staring these lovely funny creatures. They try to come close, and I intend to make a move towards the water. d’Artagnan joined us.

Albert The Frog
Albert The Frog

One musketeer went ahead before us, returned and informed us that the mystery water starts from the mountain and has no access to make the proceedings. He and d’Artagnan left me and other fellow on our own and we went beyond to view this heavenly forest. He was so excited to see the baby frog hosting him as he began to catch the tiny creature. The baby frog jumped with its utmost efforts for self-defense but our friend didn’t let him go easily. In a few minutes, he dropped it and caught another baby frog. 

At one edge of the stream, we didn’t move beyond to trace the origin of the flowing water. The place was like a myth now. I saw large rocks, floating water, frogs and small fish swimming. I felt a steady breeze. Tyranny of sunlight disapproved and overshadowed by silent large trees. Labyrinth of my world rocking under a utopian nature of daydreaming where I hark chirping of birds and hooting of baboons. Aquatic nature is lighting the bottom layer of rocks.

Never climbed a tree in my life as my mind was in confounding state of higgledy-piggledy whether to try to climb or not.  My fellow musketeer helped me climb the branch of a giant tree like Bagheera of The Jungle Book making the Mowgli climb. The core difference was that Mowgli was very skinny and I carry weight. I climbed and was as if a statue was lying on the branch of the tree. Scared of moving a muscle might slip me down, I remained big-eye open, freaky silent with my legs folded with a branch protecting myself to be dropped down. My fellow eased and encouraged me to lose my limbs and stay low as my weight was easily balanced on the branch. He took snaps and I kept lying for 10 minutes until my belly fats began hurting and overburning. I came down easily on the rock and sat breathing heavily. For me, it was an experience never to forget. A heaven in forest, the joy I harvest…

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Lied on the rock and took a minor nap. Every single existence was like silent with only sound of streaming water. Under the shadow of the tree, I looked up at the branch and kept staring at it. Red ants are not bothered by my lying as they kept marching from hither to thither. Far I can easily see the fort. I daydreamed about beautiful fairies and charming topless mermaids, might they all of a sudden reveal from water and come close to me, call my name, and kiss my lips.  But that never happened. In fact, our waiting fellows came back to see us in agony. They were waiting for half an hour in the parking lot as car key was with us. We left the heavenly forest and left the village.

On our way back, we searched Pakistani restaurants for desi food. As almost all the shops and restaurants were closed after Friday prayers, we felt if we are going to have a heavy lunch in hours. But after ending of Al-Baha territory, we found a Pakistani restaurant where we were the only visitors.  We ordered chicken and mutton karahi plus beans with a loaf of bread. Waited for 20 minutes until the heavy lunch was served with a smell forcing our mouth to eat the fleshes swiftly. It was without a doubt, one of the tastiest karahis I had ever eaten in my life. With a rope of onions and frozen cucumbers add the taste like a sauce or a paste.

Karahi
Karahi
Pakistani Hotel
Pakistani Hotel

We returned to our city at approximately 9 pm. Tired and exhausted, lying on my bed reminded me the rock I was lying on with tree branch on the top. My movement of limbs within a quilt sensed back my slipping from raw stones. Even while sleeping in the usual dark, I felt those couple of bats flew on me. The ringing of the mobile in deep sleep was like screaming baboons from the palm trees. The floor of my room became marble gloaming in the night. Out of my room, my cats walking on the floor were imitating beetles on hard surfaces. I daydream of lying in the forest while working in the office. I wish to go back there. I will go back with my fellow musketeers soon before year ends in winter.

Interested visitors must keep in mind;

  1. Visit the village early morning between 6 am-7 am to enrich the beauty of farmville and marble village.
  2. Have your bag packs with compulsory cold mineral water bottles and first-aid kit.
  3. Go from the backside if you are interested to climb the top of the fort.
  4. Not rely on any ceiling of the floor filled with raw stones.
  5. Wear hard shoes which will guarantee the safety from stones and rocks. 

In the end, I conclude with special thanks to my fellows who took part in the adventure as always and made the trip so special. I also am thankful to the Ministry of Tourism which is working with its best efforts to renovate such places and attract more customers. Last of all, thanks to God Almighty for gifting us heaven on earth where we can explore nature. 

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists – Charles Dickens

Fantastic 4 - Wasey (left), Alpha (center left), Myself (center right) & Taha (right)
Fantastic 4 – Wasey (left), Alpha (center left), Myself (center right) & Taha (right)