In my early life of service and before I got married, I was posted to Nowshehra. The place, besides many other things, was famous for the cloth shops, specially for the ladies. And loads full of ladies would visit the place from the down country to buy cloth in abundance. And naturally being a bachelor I did not have much interest in the cloth. For our routine training, we would often go to general area Mardan, across the River Kabul very often. Bt never ventured beyond it, till I got married.
So the story and the travel beyond Mardan began when I got married. Soon after the marriage, my spouse asked me to take her to Rashakai. “Rashakai??, where the devil is this place and why would you want to go there,” I innocently inquired. I never knew what was waiting in store for me and my poor wallet. So one day, I ventured beyond Mardan for the first time, just little ahead of the place I had been frequenting in the past as a bachelor. And there it was – Rashakai. A small place, but with a thriving market full of ladies cloth. To be exact, the market is called “Shireen Kothay” and is generally obscured from the main road behind a railway embankment. So that was my first, and later many, visit to Rashakai.
The route to Rashakai starts from Nowshehra, crossing over the River Kabul, traveling on to Mardan and then the next stop was this place. And we followed this “
Silk Route” for years. Yesterday, I was again asked to go to Rashakai. But I was told that the recently inaugurated M-1 motorway also has an interchange near Rashakai. So we started off – the weather after months of dry spell was cloudy and we would come under light drizzle every now and then. The country side looked beautiful with green patches and some recently ploughed ones in the hope of rain, which finally came, thanks to the Almighty for blessing us. And soon the interchange came and when I descended from the interchange, to my utter surprise the Rashakai market was right in front of it. And I just smiled. Someone in the motorway project must have been requested by the some women organization to align the interchange in such a way for the “benefit of ladies community.”
Rashakai market is a small market, which basically deals in ladies' cloth. And on weekends, the place is thronged by visitors, mostly from down country as for people in living in NWFP there are many other places (I will write about these some other time). However, in order to compensate the men accompanying the ladies, a few shops also deal in men's cloth, specially for shalwar kameez besides suiting. A couple of shops also deal in curtain and sofa cloth. This time I was surprised to see three new extension streets in to the existing complex. These three "streets" were cleaner and well managed as compared to the older ones. But the bargaining techniques remain the same. The shop keepers always quote a higher price since they know ladies would in any case insist on discounts. So by this clever technique, they still manage to get "their" price even after hectic efforts by the ladies. You cant win them over.
So now ladies, it is easy – take M-1 motorway from
, or if you are from outside Islamabad , and coming on M-2 motorway from Islamabad , continue to go from M-2 to M-1 and exit from Rashakai interchange for shopping of your winter or summer shopping. And if not satisfied, take the old route; go to Nowshehra for a bigger market. And still if you don’t find the cloth you want, Peshawar is the last place. Lahore