20th August 2018
WF traveller Peter Heywood visited Fairy Meadows on the Karakoram Adventure tour in June 2018.
Travelling along the Karakoram Highway near Kinu-Kotto, a restored section of the Old Silk Road became visible, snaking its way along the opposite side of the valley. People had been travelling by this route for over two thousand years bringing their stories as well as their goods to sell and to trade. Now we were heading for Raikot where a hair-raising jeep drive and trek would bring us to the Fairy Meadows grassland with its welcoming cabins and stunning mountain views.
After dinner, and after dark, the snow peaks of Nanga Parba could still be seen in the moonlight. As the temperature dropped, a bonfire was lit for travellers to warm themselves and drink coffee before bed-time. Sitting in the firelight, I talked to a local guide from Karimabad who, with a little prompting, told me this story from the old Silk Road.
“On a cold winter’s day, Nasruddin was chatting with some of his friends in the local coffee house. The cold didn’t bother him, he said, and, in fact, he could stay up all night without any heat.
”All right,” said one friend pointing to a nearby mountain, “if you spend the night on that mountain top without any heat, we’ll treat you to a lavish meal. But if you fail to do so, you will cook dinner for all of us.” Nasruddin accepted the bet and that night climbed to the top of the mountain. Despite the bitter cold, he stayed there until morning before climbing back down to the coffee house to claim his reward.
“Are you sure you didn’t set fire to anything up there?” asked one. “Well, I was bored,” admitted Nasruddin, “so I did light a candle to read a book I took with me.”
“Then you must have warmed yourself with it!” exclaimed another. “You’ve lost the bet!” Despite Nasruddin’s protestations, the others agreed. Grudgingly, Nasruddin invited them to dinner that night at his home. His friends arrived on time anticipating a delicious meal. Nasruddin told them that dinner would be ready soon and disappeared into the kitchen to check. However, a long time passed without any food appearing. Becoming impatient, the guests entered the kitchen and were surprised to see a cauldron suspended from the ceiling. Under it burned a lighted candle.
“Are you out of your mind?” cried one guest. “How can such a small flame boil such a large pot?”
“”How could such a small flame keep someone alive, at night, on the top of a mountain in winter?” replied Nasruddin.
The guests went home, hungry but enlightened.