I really wasn’t sure about reading Jonny Bealby’s account of his first trip to Pakistan/Afghanistan – I’d borrowed it from the library before going on the Wild Frontiers’ trip to the Hindu Kush, and not read it for fear of spoiling my own first encounters, or jinxing the long awaited and much looked forward to adventure.
Fortunately I decided to give it a whirl after the event, and I am very glad that I did too. This book is not merely an account of Jonny’s trip to a difficult part of the world, but it’s also an account of his ongoing personal journey to come to terms with his girlfriend’s death many years before. The combination is extremely powerful and I am sure I’m not the only reader who cried at various poignant moments.
It was lovely hearing Jonny describe his first meeting with Saifullah and the Kalash at the end of his journeys, and his descriptions of the arduous route he took there – from Dehli to Peshawar, over the Khyber Pass and into the Afghan side of the North West Frontier – deliberately echo Kipling’s tale of The Man Who Would Be King, which first inspired the trip. It provides a fascinating insight into the region in the period preceeding 11 September 2001, and leaves you even more aware of how remote and independent the area is, and its people too.
A fantastic book.
Amazon.co.uk link: For a Pagan Song: In the Footsteps of the Man Who Would Be King – Travels in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan – Jonny Bealby