Monday, January 23, 2012

Salman Rashid: Wheels of Empire

By Syed Asghar Javed Shirazi
Salman Rashid is clearly Pakistan’s most notable and erudite travel writer. His work is informed not only by deep insight but an even deeper love of his subject. A signature Salman piece welds impressive knowledge of geography, history, ethnography and ingenious and tradition with a writing style that quivers with life.

Salman Rashid is also an accomplished lensman with a sensitive eye for landscape photography that further enriches his travelogues.

In a career spanning some 30 years, he has contributed to numerous publications and authored several books including Riders on the Wind, Between Two Burrs on a map, Prisoner a Bus, Jhelum: City of the Vitasta, Sea Monsters and the Sun God and most recently the Apricot Road to Yarkand

Those who are familiar with Salman Rashid’s work (remember the Little Railway Bazaar he did and which is no less amazing than the Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux) may already know about his love for railways. He has extensively travelled on rail tracks (some of them don’t even exist now) throughout Pakistan. He has inherited his love for railways from his father Abdur Rashid who was an engineer serving in railway before partition. 

And now Salman Rashid has recorded Pakistan Railway History in Wheels of Empire – the book of days for the year 2012. Thanks to Saquib Hanif from Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) who has been a moving force in bringing out series of diaries Salman Rashid is doing since 2009; each one of them is equally unique. PPL's work is one very noble examples of social responsibilty of any corporation. 

In Wheels of Empire - a book of days for 2012- Salman Rashid has some of the most hidden gems from glory days of Pakistan Railways (you have to believe that Pakistan Railways once was one the safest, economical and preferred mode of travel). Diary contains tales about Indus Valley State Railway, Kandhar State Railway, Chappar Rift Line, Chaman Extension Railway, Nushki Extension Railway, Attock Khurd Railwa Station, Golra Railway Museum, Sindh Sagir Railway, Rawalpindi Mianwali Line, Zohb Valley Railway, Meter Gauge Steam and Jassar Bridge; all supported by amazing imagery.

On a personal note, I am not going to write anything on Wheels of Empire sir. To me it is a book, not a book of days. It is a delight for any collector.

[ via Doodh Patti ]
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