I’d Rather Be… 

I’d rather be walking this bridge and heading to the mountains and be lost in nature get acquainted with the winding paths and the gigantic mountains. It’s the vastness and expanse of nature that engulfs you in it’s myterious attraction. These rickety bridges are a regular feature throughout the Northern areas of Pakistan. These are the only means of crossing the speeding rivers and streams coming from the melt glaciers. It’s a beautiful experience when you are one with the nature.



Face in the crowd

Community events are the best places to spot a face in the crowd, everyone is busy doing their stuff and then there is one person daydreaming or is indulged with his own self. I love the fact that there is a doll face in front and back both.


I had a chance to go to this art show and some people are so involved with the paintings that they are transported into the painting and are unaware of their surroundings.



Weekly Photo Challenge Silence: Waterscapes

Silence: Waterscapes

Silence is the whisper talking to you

Silence is an ocean deepening in you

Takes you to your soul, to your goal

Brings harmony to a restless heart

It’s the loudest cry of a troubled soul

It’s the softest murmur of true love

Meditation of a thoughtful mind

Thousand words of a wise sage

Silence of the woods and mountains

Silence of the Rivers and oceans

The un-agitated poise of the mountains

The tranquil appease of the waterscapes

The calmly floating and sailing clouds

The peaceful rise of the golden disc

The placid motion of the morning breeze

The smooth sailing of the flock of geese

The quiet calm and cool blue ceiling

Nature in its elements heals and soothes

Helps me find my place in the universe

Brings my inner self at peace with the world






The rising sun and the songs of birds, the spreading light over the dark blanket of the night! serene, oh so serene. Birds are getting ready to go out and search for food for their young ones, the ocean is glistening with the first rays of light, the harbor is setting the boats and kayaks for the enthusiasts ready to harness the waters of the ocean. There are peace and harmony in the air. The ocean is embracing the sun, it had waited the whole night to take this bliss. The cool breeze is touching the hearts and the warm sun is cuddling it to invigorate the soul. Every living thing is intoxicated with the gold dust, ready to take on a new day, a new beginning!!




Venice is the city of love, romance, and culture. This city is mystical as it’s solid and liquid at the same time. A lot of artists, poets and writers have fallen for this city. It was the July of 2015, a hot and humid day when I set foot in the city. I experienced what love at first sight is? I was spellbound by the splendor and beauty of its mesmerizing beauty. This was the only city run by councils when every city in Europe was run by the kings. Venice has an attraction that allures the tourists. When you are roaming from one street to the other looking at the chapels and churches set in the special architecture typical to the city you are transported to a different time via the enchantment portal.


You lose track of time and become a character from the merchant of Venice, roaming in the 18th century Venice. The first floors of almost all the buildings are ruined by the water erosion, the walls are showing some signs of wind and rain weathering. The interesting fact is that this erosion is adding a magical glamour and charm to the city, making it more charismatic.

Where the fairies roam!!!


I got a chance to visit the northern areas of my beloved homeland Pakistan. It was a long-awaited trip. It was a hot and humid month of July 2016 and we packed our bags and got ready to spend 10 days with the staggering beauty of the north. After spending the first week in the summer heat of Islamabad we were about to embark on a journey to a different world, where everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin that you are in love with nature from head to toe.IMG_6822

Naran is a medium sized town situated in upper Kaghan valley which is a part of Khyber Pakhtun khwa province of Pakistan. It is one of the most beautiful parts of northern areas in Pakistan with an elevation of 2500 meters above sea level. The road to Naran valley travels alongside river Kunhar which starts from the glaciers up north and flows deep down in Mansehra. You can witness river Kunhar splashing, burbling and hopping over the rocks. This river is the liquid soul of the valley and the way it curves and moves around the whole path was enough to rejuvenate my soul. The soul that was hiding somewhere drenched in the monotonous day to day worldly worries and routines. The sparkling and glistening water from the river rose up transferred its diamond bliss to my soul and I started flowing with the river, hoping and jumping through all the rocks within my self and then my daughter shook me and said, Mom: are you daydreaming, again? We have reached, and I started thinking. Maybe the fairies do roam here!!!!IMG_6843

Our first stop was Shogran, Shogran is a place that takes you to Orlando, Florida to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. I thought it’s a scene from Tinkerbell, and Tink is giggling and playing with her friends somewhere in the trees. The emerald green fields were covered with gold showers from the afternoon sun. Clouds like tufty pillows glided across the sky, carrying an enriching drizzle with them, the rustling and pattering leaves were hosting the tiny drops of rain, glistening like tiny green jewels. The scene was spirit-renewing, we sat there for quite a while and had our coffee and some sweetmeats under the leafy umbrella of pine trees. The food tastes heavenly when you are in such an enchanting surroundings.


Lake Saif-ul-malook is situated 8 kilometers north of Naran. It takes 1 hour to reach Saif-ul-malook from Naran. One can find a lot of  4×4 jeeps at the outskirts of the town. These jeeps take the tourists from Naran valley to Lake Saiful Malook. It is situated in the middle of mountains, which throughout the year are covered with snow.  One of the renowned mountains is Malika Parbat which is placed on the left of the lake. Saif-ul-malook is named after a folk tale. It is the story of the prince of Persia who fell in love with a fairy princess at the lake. The impact of the lake’s beauty is of such extent that people believe that fairies come down to the lake in full moon. We reached the Saif-ul-malook lake around 7:30 am, the place was so calm and serene that you could hear your own breathing. The scene was picturesque and unreal, I wanted someone to pinch me to make me realize that it’s real. It was the epitome of nature’s beauty. The crystal clear waters of the lake paint a flawless picture of the surrounding mountains, you don’t need to look up to see the sky and clouds, It’s all there in the lake.

We were lost in the magical surroundings of Lake Saif-ul-malook, we were awed by the bleating sounds of a herd of sheep with a young shepherd. It was like a group of little kids from a kindergarten class,  walking, chatting, giggling so close to each other as if they are scared to be left behind. We saw two little naughty ones who were more interested to look around and were ready to be left behind and experience the novelty of roaming free in the wild.


Lulusar Lake is another prominent feature of Kaghan Valley. The turquoise blue lake in the middle of the mountains is like a piece of heaven fallen on earth. The scene took my breath away, it was vault still and restful, unruffled by wind or rain. I stayed there close to the bank of the lake and tried to contemplate the events of life. It was a soul touching experience. A lot of windows opened in my heart and some fog gathered over the years was cleared. I could see deep into my heart and mind with clarity.IMG_7123

Lalazar is a plateau once known for beautiful wildflowers and soothing pine forests, still enchanting view of Malika Parbat lush meadows make it a must visit. Lalazar can be reached through a muddy jeep track of one hour starting from Battakundi. Some people prefer trekking overriding the jeep. One famous, moderate trek starting from Lake Saif ul Malook through picturesque Hans Gali ends at Lalazar.






The lush green lands wore a white blanket when we reached Babusar top. Kids enjoyed playing in the snow.


Have you ever heard of Nature’s refrigerators, they don’t run on electricity and they work with high efficiency? The locals are close to nature and that makes them intelligent enough to use their resources to their best.



Camping in and around the outskirts of Naran is an experience of being one with nature and it’s surroundings. The crisp morning with a freezing breeze and the enchanting sound of river screaming joyously over the fact that it houses one of the most beautiful valleys on earth. Th wakeup calls of the sweet and melodious chirps of birds of Kaghan valley like Yellow-breasted greenfinch, White Capped Water Redstart, and Cinereous Tit.


Water rafting is the most thrilling experience on the wild, raging and rocky Kunhar river.  Luckily the river was a little less torrent here and we enjoyed the experience, although not recommended for weak at heart.


Horse riding is another activity that took my breath away, had to cross the wild rocky river on a horseback. When the horse stepped into the water my heart started thumping and it was about to jump out of my mouth. Rafting was nothing compared to this.


The beautiful valley of Muzaffarabad was our last destination before heading home. Muzaffarabad is the capital of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan. It is located on the banks of the Jhelum and Neelum rivers. The valley of beautiful apple orchids and rows and rows of alluring and attractive flowers filling the air with their pleasing scent and spreading their radiant colors on the canvass of the city.IMG_7648




This journey connected me to my soul and my inner self. I realized how teeny weeny I am in this world. Staying close to nature is an eye-opening experience, it makes you think about your nothingness and you are awed and inspired by God’s creations. I brought back the calmness of the surroundings and the melody of nature’s creations as my treasures from this trip. I will cherish and keep my treasures close to my heart for the rest of my life.


The beautiful, cozy and luxurious cottage that was our home in Naran.

Camping: An Ordeal or an Odyssey

Camping: An Ordeal or an Odyssey

Camping and staying outdoors for the night is the worst nightmare for me. It’s a lot of fun as long as it ends before the night falls. As soon as the night creeps in it starts becoming a Hollywood thriller with a killer lurking out in the wilderness in search of a family stranded in the woods and then there is no end to the sufferings.

There are two biggest incentives, that force me to go and take a sand bath. One is the outdoors in the desert is synonymous with sand all around, the beautiful shifting and curving sand dunes, the cool breeze and the pleasing aroma of Bar B Q. The second is you get to drive the 4X4. Get to harness the power this beast that you can only dream of driving in the sandbox.
This weekends camping trip was located at N 27 12.120 E 48 10.500 to the mastodon bones. It is an overhang where bones of early animals are preserved and exposed. The jaws and skulls of many animals embedded in the ceiling of the overhang can be clearly seen. We drove off from Dhahran around 10 am in the morning packed and loaded with stuff for two days and a night. I had stuffed the car with everything that might be useful for the campout tents, sleeping bags, food, snacks, warm clothes, water and don’t forget the photography gear.


The journey started with a hiccup, as soon as we left the house we realized that the waypoints and coordinates were not copied to the GPS. Oops! a U-turn won’t hurt but not having the GPS will definitely!! Finally, we hit the road and ready for the beloved outdoors. Left the main road at N 27 13.695 E 48 24.974, drove west for about 24.5 km on a dirt road to the mastodon bones.


The site can be reached easily with 2WD cars but the last 1km as you turn off to the overhang from the main dirt road can be sandy at places unless you follow the many desert tracks. Although it was the first week of November it was still hot and the sand was too dry and loose.
The irony of life is if you are scared of something it will definitely come to haunt you. This trip holds a special place in my heart because all the nightmares came true on this single trip.
Getting stuck in the sand
First stop was searching for the petrified wood. Petrified wood is a fossil. It forms when plant material is buried by sediment and protected from decay due to oxygen and organisms. Then, groundwater rich in dissolved solids flows through the sediment, replacing the original plant material with silica, calcite, pyrite. We struck gold and gathered a couple of samples in the scorching sun. A big relief was getting back to the car. We had the waypoint to the bones site and set off to relax and have lunch there.

When the sun is high up the desert deceives you and you cannot assess the true relief. This results in a sudden drop in the dune face. We got stuck as there was a sudden drop by the edge of the dune. Tried to engage and disengage the 4-wheel drive and ended up in getting the tires deep in the sand. We were lucky enough to have the walkie-talkie working, we called for help and got pulled out by the other car.


Lost in the wilderness
While searching for Mastodon bones we were lost and were looking for the waypoint that was supposed to be the destination. This is very peculiar of the desert that if you are lost you are actually driving in circles and no matter how hard you try you end up coming back to where you started. There was no sign of the other cars, did they vanish into thin air or we are on another planet, it does look like a planet from Star Wars Tatooine. There was a possibility that we run into Jabba’s palace and get petrified like Han Solo. A couple of weeks before the trip we had a ladies gathering and came to know that a family was stranded in the desert and all of them died while trying to get out of there, although I doubt that it actually happened in 2017 with all the technology around us.
Night and the stormy winds
The night fell and finally, it was time to go and relax in the tent. It was about 10:00 pm and all others were asleep. I was trying to go to sleep and the cool and dreamy breeze turned into stormy winds. The whoosh and howls were so loud; I could imagine all of us flying off in the tent. It brought back the memories of my childhood, I was a wee four-year-old and the winds in Quetta, one of the southern cities of Pakistan are notorious for blowing things away. This same wind took me along and threw me to another street in the neighborhood, luckily the neighbors heard the crying sound of a baby and took me in. That was not the time of mobile phones, the landlines were a luxury at that time.

People used to walk to neighbors houses to know their whereabouts. The storm was really bad and it took four hours to settle. It was then that my mom realized that the nest is missing one chick when my dad returned from his friend’s place. Mom thought that I was with my dad and he thought I was home. Whereas I was being pampered by their friends, they were very fond of babies. Panic attack, running here and there, no clue where the kid might be, a husband-wife love affair aka the argument rather a small skirmish. That’s when the bell rang; ding dong; and I was there as a UN peacekeeper. Mom and dad forgot their ordeal and suffocated me with their tight hug. Ah! the warm feeling of mom and dad’s hug is worth a million dollars.


Using the outdoor toilet at night
It was time to go and relax in the tent, wait a minute I had to do the inevitable, i.e. using the tent toilet, YIKES! The wind was blowing at 400mph and the tent was about to blow away. It reminded me of a story “Red Wind” by Raymond Chandler, it goes: “There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. “
Anything can happen to the toilet tent on a stormy night like this.


The crunchy food bites
It’s the desert, not dessert!!
I made my favorite shortbread pecan squares and blondie bars. No matter how hard you try to protect the desserts from the desert when it’s time to have them they are as crunchy as they were cooked in the sand. If it’s windy then the Bar B Q becomes crunchy as well, don’t talk about the salads or other condiments.
Besides, these few glitches it was a memorable trip. If you ask me am I going out again? Well! Um! Um! Um! Um! Um! Um! Yeah! Maybe! sure!!!!
The calm and vast desert becomes magical at night. It becomes a place from a storybook; with zero light pollution, you can see the starry sky. It’s like a ceiling adorned with millions of small lights and buntings. The experience cannot be described in words, it has to be felt and seen there in the middle of nowhere. A night in the desert is the best meditation therapy you are alone with yourself and your God no gadgets, no luxuries no distractions. A time to explore yourself, go deeper and have a meeting with your soul a time of rejuvenation. Then you get mesmerized by the early morning scene, ember glow from the east, the morning blush, the chill of the morning gust and me; a teeny weeny speck poking out of her cocoon to get a glimpse of the spreading honeycomb in the east, a glowing medallion growing from the ground and rising up to shower this world with it’s saffron glow. That’s the scene that makes me go back in spite of all the uneasiness that a city dweller experiences in the desert.