On September 26th 1978, I was in Peshawar.
I stayed in Peshawar after a great ride from Kabul in a fast bus, sliding through the bends of the Kabul Gorge and wandering the earthy streets of Jalalabad; then I was afforded the view from the top of the Khyber Pass of the line of green in the plain approaching the desert and the hills. Where else to stay, after the Amir Kabir in Teheran and the Green Hotel in Kabul?
The Rainbow Guest House was a world on its own, full of all sorts, freaks and non-freaks, many who had flown direct to Pakistan or India and had not come overland. The better rooms were downstairs, 8 rupees a bed. Upstairs the rooms were 6 rupees and that was where the junkies stayed and those who always chose the cheapest route. The rooms themselves were OK, quite spacious and airy, a little like the wards in a hospital with 3 or 4 beds, but it could never be an ordinary hotel. For outside was a railway line and a truck repair yard with the brightly painted trucks and constant hammering, and at your feet, inescapably a morass of mud. In many ways this was one of the most characteristic places on the hippie trail.
Beyond was a bright busy city, full of lights and high buildings, incomparably rich after the closed down, almost besieged, gloom of Kabul in the last days before the Russian invasion. I liked the Qissa Khwani, the Bazaar of the Story-tellers and the backstreet souks around it. I found good food, vegetables and dhal, guavas and bananas, garland sellers and wandering holy men, and in the background in the side streets, the mud-built houses of a more traditional Pathan life.
|Modern Pakistani Trucks. Picture by Amir Taj, CC|