October 18, 2007

Servant of the Sahibs: A Book to Be Read Aloud

Over the years I've put together a pretty good little collection of late 19th century and early 20th century Tibet/Himalayan exploration literature. For years these books have been tucked away in boxes in the attic, but with our recent move I’ve finally had a chance to put the collection together on the shelf. Tonight I unpacked a book called Servant of the Sahibs by Rassul Galwan. It’s one of my favorites-a the dairy of a Ladakhi Muslim guide whose many adventures included a trip from Leh to Yarkland with the legendary Sir Francis Younghusband. The book was published in 1924 and recounts travels spanning 30 years.

Some excerpts:

There were much rocks and darkness and the rain made mud. We fell into unluck that night.

Now I said to these lie-men. "Please tell true, how lost those ponies." They said: "You had charge in our hands. We went a little sleep. Then we looked to ponies, and we lost that place, at what place the ponies had grazing. Therefore we waked you." Now there were many up and down places where I could not get. Now from midnight we searched until morning which had little light. We had traveled wrong way the half-night. These men make bad luck. Head hurting mad.


Now my first wife I had not liked very much. That my mother knew. Yet she was not so bad, and after her death I remembered her much. And my mother said to me: "You must look very careful for next marriage." I said, "Yes mother, and I like that kind of wife who will obey, you the same as myself." Mother said, "You will teach her"

One day my mother said at breakfast to that woman who cooked for us: "Do you know any girl, outside Leh town which Rassul would like and who would obey me?" That woman answered "At Shushat village there is a beautiful honest girl and she will obey you." When I heard that from that woman, I liked that girl without seeing. I said to my mother, "I like this one." My mother said "Without looking, how can you like? No good. Before marry you must look."

I said to my mother again, "This one, whatever kind of girl, I like her, you must send word to her mother and brothers. In a few days my mother sent words, and some tea and butter. Then came the relay that they like to give me their daugher. And I heard my wife had liked me, without seeing. I was much glad with this news.

The writer takes up his pen again, after that long interval of war. I have lost my art. I am not much remember where was much happy. All that, not remember. The difficult and hard place are good remember. And the youth-time remember were very good. In the old-time is not good remember as youth. Anyway I am written with very careful. Not got any wrong, though I had no learning besides travel.

posted at 02:36 AM by raul

Filed under: travel

TAGS: exploration (2) ladakh (1) leh (1) travel literature (1)

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