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Noor Khan | all galleries >> Galleries >> A NOVEL Photo Gallery from the book and additional photos > INTRODUCTION and Cover
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Peshawar was the seat of activity for Afghan Mujahideen fighting across the border in Afghanistan. When they weren’t fighting and dying in Afghanistan, they were roaming the bazaars of Peshawar. Bombings and political intrigues were the norm. It was a time of aid-wallahs, ex-pats, journalists and spies, living mostly in University Town (simply called ‘Town’) outside of Peshawar City (old city) on Jamrud Road, leading to the Khyber Pass and Afghanistan. Heroin factories abounded just outside the city in Tribal Territory and across the border in neighboring Afghanistan.

This story takes place in this environment and in this time, but only has passing concerns with these matters. I lived in Peshawar City, in Hashtnagri, with Bibi Ji (a local PPP* leader of a respected and prominent Sayid family) and her family. One could say this story is about Pakistan, though parts of Pakistan most travelers don’t get to tread—a diary, a travelogue of sorts.

It covers from January 1988 to November 1991, starting with a visit to Hira Mandi, the famous red-light and nautch district in Lahore, and prayers in the Shrine of Data Baba and at the majestic Badshahi Mosque (also both in Lahore). It tells of a five month 1000 mile horse expedition through the Hindu Kush, the Hindu Raj, the Karakoram, and Himalayan Mountains from Peshawar to Chitral, Kalash (Kafiristan), Gilgit, Kaghan Valley, and Azad Kashmir. Witnessing the world’s highest polo match on the Shandur Top, delayed by road blocks in the Karakorams, crossing the Babu Sar Pass, and intermingling with migrating Gujars and Koochies.

I was involved in the Pashtu music recording scene in Peshawar, though only bits of that come out in these journals. Running through this story of life in Pakistan is my ongoing relationship with a Pathan courtesan and her family in Lahore—afternoons spent lounging on a charpoy visiting friends at a Pathan ‘house of pleasure’, an evening shootout with Punjabi pimps, smoking charras with malangs and policemen. All roads travelled brought me back to her side in Lahore.

In the second half of the story there is an entertaining brief interlude taking place in Thailand and a wild month abroad fringing on insanity staying with Waziri taxi drivers in the desert outside of Dubai on a crazed search for her after her disappearance. Back home in Pakistan my ongoing search for a wife, including chaperoned meetings with several girls on the Frontier.

Finally our relationship caused me to be kidnapped to Bajaur Agency (Tribal Territory) where I found myself miles off the paved road in a mud fort a short walk from the Afghan border, tied to a charpoy with her.**

A Poem

In this world of infinate possibility
I look around for the second step of desire
All I see is one footprint...
Mirza Ghalib
(another poem)

Che pa meena ki, Majnoon ghunday, sadiq vee
Che Layla pa darwaza ki, darbon neeshta

(When you are in love, like Majnoon
When Layla is at the door, there is no guard)... Rahman Baba (Pashtu)

A Dedication

For Nasreen, who couldn't see beyond the borders of her own life

And for Noor, who couldn't see beyond the borders of his own illusion

And for ALLAH, Who has power over all things

* * * * * * *


It is my sincere wish that none of the sentiments expressed in the following pages be offensive to Pathan people (Pukhtun Ghirrat), women, or to the good people of Pakistan (or Pakistanis in general). It must be said that the majority of this was written (and experienced) under extreme pathos and the outermost extremities of obsessed and insane love.<

This is not a history of Pakistan. I am not a historian nor an academic. The bits of history appearing herein are purely coincidental. Nor is this an anthropological or cultural study, though I imagine a fair amount of that finds its way in here as well (including a detailed glossary). I did not study Pakistani culture and tradition; I merely found myself living it. One could say it was a gradual progression, a natural osmosis. This is the story of my life in Pakistan circa 1988-1991, as seen through my eyes, the only ones I have.

********* Postscript 2008 *********

Pakistan is a country much in the news nowadays (and much maligned). It is a beautiful country with wonderful, warm hospitable people.

This story is basically my private diaries, collected and organized in 1993-94, when all the events were still fresh in my memory. I could have rewritten some of the story without so many personal painful details, although at the time it was written I felt it was such a fascinating view into a world that so few Westerners (or even Pakistanis) have tread, that I decided to omit nothing! No holds barred! Definitely parts of Pakistan one doesn’t read about in your usual travel novels! These events occurred more than twenty years ago. There are things I did that I might not necessarily repeat, yet nothing I‘m ashamed for having lived at the time.

Incredible adventures in Pakistan and an intriguing, maybe scandalous relationship run throughout the story. Looking back, the truth does seem rather harsh at times. I could have changed her into just a nautch (dancing) girl, but ‘the profession’ is so different in Pakistan and both are interwoven. As her mother told me, it was their zot (caste). Her mother had done it, as had her mother before her, and her mother’s mother before her.

Yet she was a Muslim girl, of a Muslim culture, with many Islamic values. She believed it was her taqdeer (predestination), where and what she was born into, as it was my taqdeer to fall in love with her. She was a ‘family girl’ by many standards, doing housework and looking after family and children. She wouldn’t think of going outside the house without a chaddar to cover her head. She was more modest and family orientated than so many Western woman I see. It all seems so different to me.

Am I only naive? When we look into that special set of eyes, we have no choice where God will cast us. From the moment she walked into that room in Lahore and I looked into her mesmeric eyes, I can not forget her. Prostitute or queen, it was not my choice.

All is God’s will.

This is how it happened and this is how I present it to you....

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Noor Khan21-Feb-2013 15:24
Wa aleikum asalaam Ahmad Khan wrora. Very briefly I came to Afghanistan in 1975 because I wanted to see it and was very interested in the music. I played sarod at the time and there I discovered the rabab and fell completely in love with it, and Afghanistan in general. By 1978 I had accepted Islam-al humdu lillah. I studied rabab and recorded musicians and started exporting handicrafts. In 1982 I came to Peshawar and many Afghan musicians were coming to Peshawar and I brought recording equipment to start a small recording studio. I had no "official" job in Afghanistan/Pakistan but my love for the country/culture/people. I have been involved with the area over 35 years. Bilkul yo Pukhtun shivee yema. Zama zera halta pata shoo. Khpul kor pa Pekhawar ki wakhist ou Insha'Allah halta ba wapass osayday shoom.
Pashtun 21-Feb-2013 02:22
Assalam alaikum Noor Khan sahab! While your book explains about your life from 1988-92,I am very curious as to what you came to Pakistan originally for,in 1982?Did you have a job or something here?And what were you doing in Afghanistan before that?And India? Dera manana...
Hans Brandenburger 14-Jun-2011 21:15
Hallo Noor Khan,
How can I buy your book from Germany? I cannot order it from USA, since I do not use credit cards. Here in germany we are used to pay with paypal.
Thank you
Hans Brandenburger
Noor Khan01-Jun-2009 23:30
Interesting to hear from somebody who is aware of Khyber Knights, and surprised. Asadullah (CuChullaine) is a great story teller and he wrote a great story based on true adventures that actually happened to us. My book is more of a journal of years 1988 to 1992. Unfortunatelly I never saw her after Bajaur (though I did go back up there twice), but my story covers it (and the horse trip) exactly as it happened. It was 'romantic' and adventurous enough, in my opinion, to tell it just how it was.
It should be out in a few months on Amazon (Createspace).

How do you connect the two books? Asad did not use real names, and the horse trip is not even in this pbase preview. Most people do know HE DID IT!
Guest 01-Jun-2009 22:06
i was aware of your story in your friends novel the 'khyber knights' would like to hear what happened after bajaur.
Guest 01-Feb-2009 13:30
Just finished reading this introduction, already my heart feels heavy, isn't it funny how love can change faces from its appearance as a curse to its appearance as a blessing? But my advice to everyone is don't hang around to find out, whatever Allah (swt) wills, is what is best for us, leave everything in the hands of Allah (swt) what better comfort for a broken heart?
Noor Khan18-Sep-2008 19:40
Yaar, kala pa Pekhawar ki raghaium, Farci jebi estamal kuri, ou khaliq sooch kur che zeh yo majur woom, kho pa asel ki zama moranay jeba anglaizee dee. Powaygee, kena?
Guest 18-Sep-2008 13:19
In ur novel u say u barely speak pushto (in 80s)Why your Pushto isnt good? arent you from Peshawar originally? what is your mother tongue.
tariq shah 27-Jun-2008 14:54
hey so nice but can i know abut you noor muhammad khan !!
me tairq shah from mardan chamtar /
me wanna to know you !!! if you wanna to know me then see i m
you send email ok i m waiting for you by tk care
i like so much nice poetry and nice indroduc !!!!may you live long whit all pakhtoon and muslim
Hodero04-May-2008 09:39
As I said,Khaled Houssain is nothing compared to you !
I'll leave the rest of commenting to my sister Aisha
Latifa Messaoudi16-Jul-2007 19:27
what a grain on this picture! i like it!*
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