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Friday, 22 May 2009

ZAMANABAD (5 MILE) - MUZAFFARABAD


Monday 18/05/09

Day 17

Not only did I pass Kohalla (The intersection of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir enroute to Muzaffarabad) last night, I made it to Zamanabad...more commonly referred to as 5 mile or Paanch Meel in inference to being 5 miles in from the intersection cited above.

As warned by the doctor yesterday, the pain in my bones in the morning is almost unbearable. It's just as well that I took advice in eating eggs last night which were duly cooked by my host who happened to be the owner of the restaurant that I stayed in last night. His kindness streched to the extent of providing me a bed to stay the night and a hearty breakfast in the morning before seeing me off.

Muzaffarabad was now only 28 kilometres away and the road ahead was pretty straight. I continued receiving suggestions of using a motorbike, that the road ahead was difficult, why don't I put myself and my cycle on a wagon? etc. I was in no mood to entertain such thoughts and had to politely brush such advice away each time I saw it coming.

As I edged closer to my destination, it seemed as if the wind was pushing ever more firmly in my direction. Even when travelling downhill, I had to peddle vigorously in order to keep the bicycle in motion.

As has been normal upon entering previous cities of Azad Kashmir, everybody appears to be doing their own thing with only as much as a quick glance here or there upon the unusual sight of a cyclist with rucksack in tow.

Despite the cool breeze emanating from the River Jhelum (which begins it's journey from the Vale of Kashmir, flowing through Srinagar), the mid-day sun appears to beat down on me like never before and with just a few kilometres before the finishing line, I decide to break for Zuhr (afternoon prayers).

Tired, bruised and jaded: yet the shopkeeper and his friends near the mosque insist on joining them for lunch. As I narrate my story over a meal of scrambled eggs (I couldn't have asked for anything more apt), their reaction confirms that i made the right decision this most ardous of journeys.

I explain that I can't wait to get to my destination in the city and that I would bear the pain for that little bit longer. I assured them that my first destination would involve meeting a doctor friend of my fathers, upon whose medical advice I shall act promptly upon.

I learn of the gruesome murder of Hoshiyar Singh and his family in Samba (near Jammu) via Kashmir Times Online. This terrible event of the 11th of May takes away another broad-minded thinker from our midst.

A blow for Kashmir and a blow for humanity.

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