Don’t go chasing Waterfalls!
It was a marketing session in progress at Excel Labs and we were finalizing the photographs to be included in our corporate calendar for the year 2014, being developed around the theme ‘Celebrate Pakistan’s natural beauty’. There were these very fine shots obtained from the professional photographers, we were shuffling with. It was another shuffle on the deck, something abrupt, just like that, a photo reached my hands and I just got glued to it. A shot taken by Irfan Abubakar, titled ‘Waterfalls of Sajikot, Abbottabad’, and I said to myself, “Abbottabad! how come I’ve missed the place!”. Just to add a perfect ‘high octane’ touch to the burning desire, my heart had already been engulfed in, the photo was accompanied with this beautiful quote from Goethe:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Around mid nineties (a decade devoted to culture and media), a recording group TLC produced a song titled “Waterfalls“. An immense hit of it’s times, the song still lives on, evergreen and can be recalled as part of childhood memories by the generation that grew up in the 90s. The lyrics rhyming around the line “Don’t go chasing Waterfalls” are in fact a mother’s advice to her son to keep following the used-to path along known lakes and rivers cautioning him of the consequences of deviating to any temptation, excitement or addiction. Just to have a feel of it, my readers are invited to enjoy a brief rendition of the song from a recent movie…
The Sajikot Waterfalls photograph obviously got included in the calender and got very dearly hung on my office wall. Following the usual routes along the used-to lakes and rivers as part of the routine, that wall with 2014 calender on it gradually became a refuge, an inspiration and, dear reader, ignoring all the cautions, I generously let loose my emotions to shape up into a temptation, an addiction to “go chasing waterfalls; either having it my way or nothing at all”. It was around end May that Goethe’s quote got eventually realized when the ‘group’ decided to just ‘begin it’.
The waterfalls lie in the area of Sajikot, a suburb of Havelian short of Abbottabad. Group leader (being a meticulous person) had initiated a formal email chain with pictorial attachments. Owing to the diversity in the geographical coordinates of origin of the participants, a plan was at hand. The road movement involved three echelons each traveling from Peshawar, Lahore/Faisalabad and Islamabad, and these were tasked to eventually converge at Havelian, set as the Final Rendezvous (FRV) with Sajikot set as the eventual Objective. The weekend night was supposed to be spent at Havelian, whereas, the visit to Sajikot and travel back (as far as up-to the limits of Lahore) was left at the mercy of the available hours on Sunday.
Variations from Standard
There were some add-ons to the standard composition of the ‘group’. In an endeavor to increase the provincial representation within the group, one entry ticket was extended to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. The group (as the tradition goes) has always been encouraging the student exchange program to accommodate some young and forthcoming interns to pass on the benefits of acquired knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. Consequently there were two additions this time; Khattakkum (I m Khattak; not to be confused with I m legend) joined me from Peshawar as we drove towards Havelian. Carrying a domicile from Karak, a Khattak is never a true representative of Pashtuns but for the time being we had to settle for the credentials at hand. Mister the Vice, a student from GC University Faisalabad and Vice Chair of IEEE (third E of which is the color of pink) was the second addition. He got more than excited upon receiving the email and set course for Sialkot from Faisalabad, and as my readers would also endorse, having found no waterfalls in Sialkot, the gentleman eventually got diverted towards Havelian, the FRV for Sajikot.
Some thoughts on Pashto as a language; and some more on Pashto Music…
Of all the regional languages spoken in Pakistan, Pashto stands out aloud due to some unique characteristics. Whenever spoken in a non-pashto environment, it just obstructs the normal flow of the conversation, and it will do so even when not addressed to the audience but being spoken to a person on the other end of the phone, as all those on the home end of the cell phone would, at once, stop conversing, even thinking, with their minds unintentionally entangled in deciphering this heavenly code of words. The situation, dear readers, is identical rather more pronounced in case of Pashto Songs as these get played in the audio player of the only car that is transporting the other four non-pashto speaking travelers as well. Khattakkum’s inclusion brought a pleasant change in group dynamics and for him ‘it was just part of the package’.
Havelian, VIP Room 3 & 4 and Fish Tikka on KKH (obviously not from Mr Chawla of Hoshiarpur!!!)
The group converged at a wayside hotel short of Havelian to have a shot of truck-driver style doodh-patti, then entered the limits of Havelian together. The audacious Officers’ Club of Pakistan Ordinance Factory awaited us there. VIP Room 3 and VIP Room 4 (the word VIP was even engraved on the key chains to assure the guests of their VIP status) accommodated the members for the duration of stay with all the associated luxuries and lavatories. Having settled into the rooms and freshened up a bit, we were out sniffing food only to discover that the mess at the club was usually on a vacation on the weekend; and weekend it was! We eventually settled for fish tikka at a (literally) chappar hotel on KKH, and there, dear reader, at the outskirts of Abbottabad, in the romantic calm and darkness of a moonless night, out in the wilderness in the love of Sajikot waterfalls, we rediscovered the delicacies of the fish cuisine. It was one divine fish, something our taste buds will take ages to dilute and for all that the credit goes to none other than Kaboom and Khattakkum.
Sunday, Sajikot & the Waterfalls
It was Sunday morning and the leader was the first one to get up to remind individually to Kaboom, Rashid Minhas, Mister The Vice and Khattakkum that we had to set course for Sajikot. Amidst the typical waking up laziness and confusion, there were combined shower orgys (pardon me the expression here), some borrowing and a generous use of toiletries and every now and then an occasional bite from the pack of Dunkin Donuts (a gift from Peshawar, from whom, I rather won’t say). The breakfast was realized at another wayside restaurant, and the group did go wild on Parathas and Omelet (the recipe of what was tipped to the hotel walla by Rashid Minhas straight from Naani Maa’s kitchen).
The drive to Sajikot from Havelian was in one car, took around one and a half hour and was through some beautifully winding roads and picturesque scenery (a value added feature). There were songs, both decipherable and not so decipherable alike, conversations, mobile snapshots through a variety of smartphones and a lot of wisdom to learn from for Mister The Vice. Upon the first sight of the waterfalls we all had a different impression and it was then, dear reader, that the entity of the group ceased to exist and each one of us enjoyed the scene in his individual and private space. Right in front me, there in the hills of Sajikot, flipped that one page from Excel Labs 2014 calender, and it was different this time, as I could sense it, feel it’s existense right on my face, out of the bounding dimensions of the paper. The place, dear reader, simply put, was out of this world…
Sajikot waterfalls is a three step structure naturally formed in the hills of Sajikot village. Water being fed in through a tiny stream, getting accumulated into the crevices of the first two steps and then falling down below as twin waterfalls, making a pond in the valley bed, from where it flows out again into a tiny stream. The place had it all, the terraced ponds, the waterfalls, that beautiful rock studded face of mother earth, fresh green meadows, the sombre grazing herds accompanied by their even sombre shepherds. The place was the wholesome package and each one of us had it’s share to the fullest. The water, though cold to the core was tempting and this did not prevent us from getting ourselves immersed into water, swim around and be in that showery and frothy feel you only get to get once you come around water in a free fall. Khattakkum was the exception who only allowed his feet to be immersed in water upto his ankles declaring other parts of his body a No Water’s Land. We let him as Khattaks, dear reader, have their own way of going about the things and obviously you can’t contest logic with a Khattak.
The trip back to Havelian and further backwards was equally eventful as we stopped by for a Chappal Kabab snack complimented with tea, paid a tribute to a Pak Army Shaheed buried in a graveyard off Havelian suburbs, visited the Havelian Railway Station; a north terminous on the branch railway line Taxila – Mohra Shahwali – Usman Khattar – Kot Najibullah – Haripur – Serai Saleh – Baldher – Havelian. The photographs of the railway station are the exclusive courtesy to Mister The Vice. Having arranged for the lunch short of Hassan Abdal, we all parted ways to our individual destinations, ready to take on work from the following days onwards.
It concluded to be a wonderful trip, owing to an amazing destination and equally amazing company. This company around me, dear reader, is a different breed, an exception from the convention and addicted to life at the very core of it. It’s conventional and safe to stay around the used-to lakes and rivers, but we, all of us, while exiting Hassan Abdal, reassured ourselves of keep going in this chase of waterfalls…