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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:47 PM, , links to this post

Life on the G T Road

Travelling on Grand Trunk Road all my life, it captured my imagination as a cultural curiosity when I read Rudyard Kipling's Kim. At the beginning of the last century Kipling called it "a wonderful spectacle.... without crowding.... green-arched, shade-flecked ... a river of life." But Pakistan's National Highway Number 5 (N-5), alias the Grand Trunk Road, or simply the GT Road, presents a different impression now. Commuting up and down the GT Road are caravans of trucks, buses, cars, animals and animal transport also auto-rickshaws, all having equal right of the way. On the GT Road every bus, truck, and a car must pass the vehicle ahead. "The GT Road," a veteran traveller John Otto wrote says, "really belongs to the trucker." And he is right in a way.

So much has changed since Kipling's description of the GT Road, which he saw "brimming with all manner of travellers -- rich merchants with elephants and camels laden with merchandise, guarded by retainers. The aristocracy on colourful horses and elephants with gilded howdahs for the ladies, their silk drapes fluttering in the wind, the raggle taggle of the gypsies roaming from one village to the next in search of food and work." The old identities have steadily defused by the common objectives for prosperity and development. Since partition, the new social and economic objectives have been the major engines of change. The only thing that still remains on this strategic, economic and cultural artery of Pakistan is that it is "the river of life."


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:30 AM, , links to this post

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