||Chatto and Windus
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Indus Journey is a sumptuous personal view of Pakistan seen through the eyes of one of its most illustrious countrymen. Imran Khan in this book introduces foreign visitors, as well as fellow countrymen to the geographical, cultural and chronological changes that Pakistan undergoes while traveling from North to South. It gives readers an idea of the diversified cultures that Pakistan is made up of and an outline of the subtle changes in lifestyles as this journey progresses via the river Indus along the entire length of the country. Imran's keen observations vividly portrayed by the superb photography of Mike Goldwater are sure to captivate the minds of the readers. This handsomely bound volume has almost a 100 color photographs.
The story of Pakistan, as Imran tells it, is interwoven with factual history and myths. Not being a historian or a regular writer, his own interpretation of events gives a unique freshness to this account. Starting from the arid plains of Thatta, with his photographer friend, Mike Goldwater, Imran travels the whole course of Pakistan using The Indus River as his constant guide and companion.
The photographic offerings in the book blend well with the image that Imran creates through his narration. Images of the notoriously famous Rock, providing shelter to the dacoits during the British Raj along with Mohejodaro, the Babylonian equivalence of Pakistan, have given credence to their respective claims. Quite preserved in this book one will find the now decaying Majestic Palace of Bahawalpur which until 1974, on the request of Bhutto, provided lodging and catering services to some 7000 guests. The red brick and marble shrine of Saint Shah Rukn-e-Alam clearly betrays its otherwise ordinary surroundings.
Some of the facts documented in this book will catch the readers unaware. One learns about Shahbaz Qalandar, a saint from Sehwan, who as punishment for the cruel rajah ‘Cherbut’, waved his staff and turned his entire fort upside down. His fort lies buried to this day as anyone trying to excavate it meets with haunting visions and in some cases, even death. Another such saint, Shamasuddin Sabzware is credited with giving life to the dead. Hollywood comes to life as we visit the Palace of the Nawab of Bahawalpur. It was here in one of his ponds that crocodiles played havoc with the lives of innocent people, resulting in a number of severed limbs.
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Imran recollects his childhood when he visits his regular lodgings of the past. Hunting wild boar and partridges on the Salt Range, the killing of a donkey by a leopard at Doonga Gali, and being ambushed by his own cousins who mistook him for the enemy, during the 1965 war, provide for some amusing and touching anecdotes.
This master product of Imran’s rigors is also littered with quotes from the most interesting sources. Try respecting and upholding the greatness of Ranjit Singh when the eyes of Emily Eden see him as being “exactly like an old mouse with gray whiskers and one eye,” or try appreciating General Napier’s pun when after annexing Sindh to which he had no right, he declares to his seniors in Britain, “ I have Sind”.
At the end of the day one feels that it is we, the readers and not Imran, who have wholesomely benefited from the fruits of his labor.