Sitting in the veranda of the lawn of my hotel room, I viewed the thick, beautiful jungle of hundred years old pines, cedars & oak trees.
It was the perfect time and place to enjoy the beauty of the nature, different types of birds especially large size cravens and lot other mountain birds cawing/chirping/singing their typical songs all the time. Monkeys doing their usual acrobatics in nature, all what makes you and your spirits refreshed like anything.
RENDEZVOUS WITH CLOUDS, MONKEYS, SUNSHINE AND THE RAINS
by Nayyar Hashmey
We got up in the morning quite refreshed, refreshed this time becoz we spent our night in a quite normal, comfortable room with warm water available for a normal bath, and this time we decided also to try the in-house complimentary breakfast. To our good fortune the breakfast at the Hotel was not only fresh, warm and to our liking but also was very very tasty too. Weather was fine and back at our room, we enjoyed the continuous hide and seek between the clouds, the rain fall and the clouds turning into a mist that used to start dancing on the lawns and veranda of our room.
Since clouds come often on roads, room lawns, hotels, & play grounds in Nathia Gali, the town has rightly earned itself the name The Mist City of Pakistan.
All of a sudden, the clouds disappeared and a bright, pleasantly cool sunlight appeared. Right then monkeys came up on the branches of thick pine trees, from pines they jumped to the loose but sturdy shoots of the old, seasoned cedars and then to a room that was next to ours.
The forests in Nathia Gali have centuries old pines, cedars, walnuts, also oak and maple trees, whereupon we could easily watch the whole tamasha on a variety of these forest trees all on their own and that too for free.
You will get to see monkeys on the roadside on your way from Nathia Gali-Murree to Islamabad, especially so when you pass over Nathia Gali Muree stretch of Islamabad Murree Express way, when you frequently spot monkeys on the way.
Here these three monkeys are basking in the sun, sitting leisurely on a roadside barrier. At the same time, as you spot them, they spot you. The typical monkey way of life.
Now one of them is scratching the body of the other one for catching the lice or then they would start a friendly quarrel between two of them. Later some more would come and join in this friendly match. Together all of them bite at one another and then together all will jump in happiness. From cedar they would jump on the tinned roof of the hotel room just next to ours.
Me, with my sweetheart babe Hira (my daughter) in the façade of our hotel in Nathia Gali.
And now with my better half in the veranda of Restaurant at the Hotel in Nathia Gali.
It was a wholesome retreat to watch these monkeys in the open, jumping now from one twig to another twig of a pine, then from pine, a long jump to the cedar, and from the cedar, would jump altogether in such a rhythm, in complete sync with the beautiful cloud hovering on them and us, with light, cool and pleasant rain drops falling, on them as well as on us. Their jumping in to and fro, created a beautiful symphony when they started banging simultaneously on the tinned roof.
We watched as we enjoyed this drama in nature, each episode unfolding right before us in turn by turn, for about an hour or so. It was then that we decided that we should better leave for home. So we transferred our belongings from the hotel room to the car. The ever-ready Latif, our driver, was there to help us in moving the things at a quicker pace. We then handed over the keys to the hotel reception, cleared our dues and said them good bye.
I don’t know why Hira made a pose like this. May be the sun had become too bright and she needed sunglasses.
On our way back, we frequently came across colorful dupattas (the ones here though are in black & white) and chadors spread on a hanging line. Their varied colors offer another beauty to the colorful landscape that we pass, while travelling on the Nathia Gali-Murree Islamabad-Highway.
Rain and sun umbrellas in varied colors especially for the ladies, offer a rainbow of colors with a background that is a combination of mountain wall, misty environment and light sun passing through the mist – a beautiful panorama of colours travelling all along us while we drive on the Galyat Road.
Frankly speaking, we did not want to leave becoz of the comfortable room, the professional hospitality of the Hotel staff but since out first night at UOP rest house in Bara Gali was quite disturbing, therefore, we decided to leave for home this time and revisit our beautiful Nathia Gali in September once again.
On our way back to Murree and Islamabad, we came across this corn seller, who was scalding the corn on cob in hot roasting sand. The fresh cob from the mountain areas that has fairly white color than the yellow one we have in the plains of the Punjab, being from heirloom seeds, is fresh and raw and has a unique taste of its own.
While we were on our way, coming back from Nathia Gali, we came across many lorries, mini vans and wagons, all loaded with our Pashtun brethren, young and old, men and women, all tightly packed with their Tiffins, hot boxes, big kettles carrying rice, meat curries, typical KPK dishes already made in rich fat, meat and spices, In the background the CD recorders blaring with Pashtu songs, many of the riders singing in rhyme with music on the disc, were going upwards towards Nathia Gali/Abbotabad/Thandiani.
Some will stop alongside the road and start a Pashtun dance in tune with the music on the disc. Then others will stop their vehicle on the road side, stretch out a big long sheet, a dastarkhan (the name is used not only in Pakistan but also all over Central Asia to the traditional space where food is eaten).
The term Dastarkhan usually refers to the tablecloth which is spread on the ground, floor, or on table and is used as a sanitary surface for food, but it is also used more broadly to refer to the entire meal setting.
It is part of traditional Central Asian cuisine. The term was introduced in South Asia by Turks and conquerors from Central Asia. Dastarkhan is a Persian word meaning “tablecloth” or “great spread”.
The food placed on a dastarkhan ranged from simple tea and bread (for small meals shared by each family) to various salads, nuts, candies, shorba, and meat set out for a picnic on the mountains. In this regard I found the Pashtuns of Pakistan much more livelier than us Punjabis, who do such things on harvests & birth/death anniversaries of saints only.
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title image, image 1 to 6 by Hira Hashmey except 7, from 8 to 18 by Hira hashmey, 19, 20
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