‘Siri Paye’-by Habib Khan

Habib Khan from Quetta: I had been to the Kaghan valley twice in the nineties and the first time in 1993 when we hired a jeep from Shogran to Naran, the driver suggested to visit “siri paye” first. I felt a bit nauseated at the thought, and after consulting the family decided to go straight to Naran.
Why had they named a picnic point after a food, and that too “siri paye”? –little idea but anyway thank goodness we could manage to avoid the place.
However, in 1999 when I went to Kaghan valley again, and this time solo trekking and in order to climb the MakRa top I had to pass through Siri and Paye which I came to know were two different places and that “Siri” was at a lower altitude and “Paye” at a higher one.
This time no nausea but added bemusement to confusion “Why and how was Siri down and Paye up???
I asked every person I met during the hike but no one could answer my question to the extent that when I reached “Paye” there was a chai (tea) hotel, and when I started asking the picnickers and hosts most of them took me as a mental case, and waved me away with the gesture of their hand.
On my return to the hotel, I put the question to the hotel staff, but as usual no one was interested, and the manager suggested that why does it matter to me anyway if Siri was higher or Paye was?

“O siri thullay howay ke uttay twanoo ki?”

I even tried to or imagined myself looking at the place from afar, if it resembled an inverted goat or a cow?
For the last thirty years I have been putting the question to anyone I had come across from that region, but instead of answering, most laughed at the presumed absurdity of my question.

Well, I am so grateful to the great travel writer of the country “Salman Rashid” who is also a wonderful story teller that he, in one of the episodes of his “Aik musafir ki dunya” on YouTube (which I watched last week) not only answered my question but also put my “thought level” to shame by suggesting that we cannot think of anything but overfilling our tummies.

So what Salman Rashid said was that in the local language “Siri” means a small lake and “Paye” means pastureland, which was exactly what I had seen at the two places.

When I moved ahead of Paye towards MakRa, I noticed a person climbing a snaking track with a huge load of firewood. I shouted “Assalam o Alaikum”. There was no answer. Very impolite I thought, or may be a case of hearing impairment??
Well, I managed to reach my target, took a few pics, ate my sandwich and took the same trek for return journey.
This time I saw the same person from a distance climbing down without the load, and I made up my mind to start a conversation by asking the reason for not answering my salam.
But as I got nearer, to my utter surprise–rather to my total horror, I realized that the person was a woman. I quickly moved ahead with increased speed, probably the best of my lifetime, thinking about the dire consequences of interacting with a female in certain conservative tribes. I could hardly notice the existence of Paye and Siri and took a sigh of relief when I reached Shogran almost at dusk.

“Ghar ke buddhu ghar ko aaye”.

FEATURED VIDEO: Aziz Mian Qawwal on Paya