Wednesday, January 30


Yaqub Shaw
A Pakistani driver brings me home from the airport and we get to talking. He has four children from teen to six months and has lived in Sussex since age five with the exclusion of several years when he returned to Pakistan to study religion and engineering. He's otherwise 42 or 43 I would guess. We discuss being Muslim in the UK, and he says he is British first - "we all are." He says without question England is the most accepting place in Europe and the least concerned about his religious beliefs: "It is the best place by far." On radicalism and young people, he says the young are easily brain-washed and have nothing else but anger, which they do not understand. "I just want to live my life. I am too old to be angry." 

In the summer of '97 Sonnet, Katie and some friends with Columbia Professor Ray Horten traveled the 1500 kilometer Karakorum Highway connecting Pakistan and China a the Khunjerab pass or 17,500 feet. The road descends into the Taklamaken desert at the base of the T'ien Shan mountains. It was hard to do this trip then, and probably impossible now. My photo of Yaqub Shaw, who provided our security - Yaqub is a retired Lt Colonel in the Army and otherwise presents a menacing, emotionless presence which was used on several occasions beyond Rawalpandi where not a Westerner can be seen. Yaqub owns the Sky Bridge Inn in Sust, the last small village on the KKH before China. It is surrounded by sky touching and jagged mountains. He is proud of his property no doubt, and on this evening we light a bonfire on the roof and a friend plays the flute and chants long ago tribal songs which bounce off mountain walls and back to us.